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9 May, 2016

Mali Emperor Mansa Mousa – Richest Man of All Time

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 09 May 2016 (02 Sha’baan 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

SPECTACULAR SUCCESS FOR MALAYSIA AT ARABIAN TRAVEL MARKET 2016

A total of 124 Malaysian sellers from 77 organisations joined Tourism Malaysia to participate in ATM, held in Dubai from 25 to 28 April. During the launching ceremony, guests were shown a 30-second TVC on West Asian market. After that, the Melaka Art Brigade from the Melaka Tourism Promotion Division, Melaka Chief Minister’s Department, presented a glittering spectrum of dances from the various ethnic groups to reflect the unique heritage of Malaysia. Tourism Malaysia helped to promote tourism products and campaigns of other participating states, such as Visit Perak Year 2017, Visit Pahang Year 2017 and Visit Terengganu Year 2017, and assisted during the launching of “Experience Penang a Muslim Travel Guide 2016/2017” brochure by the Penang State Tourism, and “Malaysia Travel Guide” by a local wholesaler agency Explore The Wonders. A local PR agency Media Hub also launched its “Malaysia Tourist Guide” Arabic brochure. The Nancy Ajram concert will be held on 30 and 31 July 2016 at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC). Tourism Malaysia also hosted a Networking Dinner at Grand Hyatt Dubai to thank buyers, media and invited guests for their support and assistance in promoting Malaysia.

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

 

Malaysia as Gateway to ASEAN Market and Beyond

KUALA LUMPUR, 3 May 2016, (Bernama) – Malaysia today continued the momentum of promoting ASEAN integration with the launching of the ASEAN Service Providers Confederation (ASPC) by YB Dato’ Seri Ong Ka Chuan, Minister of International Trade and Industry II at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA)HQ. The launch was held during MIDA’s Seminar on ‘Malaysia Your Competitive Business Hub in ASEAN’.

Also present at the event was Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, Co-Chair of ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) & Chairman of ASEAN-BAC Malaysia; Dato’ Azman Mahmud, Chief Executive Officer of MIDA; Mr. Fermin Fautsch, Chairman of the EU Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EUMCCI); and Ir. Choo Kok Beng, President of Malaysian Service Providers Confederation (MSPC).

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Malaysia to Host 2019 IWWF Waterski World Championship in Putrajaya

KUALA LUMPUR, May 3 (Bernama) – The International Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) and Malaysia Major Events (MME), a division of the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), are thrilled to announce that Malaysia will be playing host to the 2019 IWWF Waterski World Championship happening at Putrajaya come August 2019.

Organised by the Malaysian Waterski & Wakeboard Federation (MWWF), the sporting event is expected to attract 1,400 international and 2,000 local attendees over the 7-day event to be held from 12 to 18 August, 2019.

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Malaysian trade delegation due in Iran

Kuala Lumpur, 6 May 2016, (IRNA) – A Malaysian commercial delegation will travel to Iran next Monday to talk with the Iranian companies and officials of Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.

The Malaysian team is headed by Zolkafili Mahmoud, executive director of Malaysia Foreign Trade Development Organization.

Comprising directors and representatives of the private sector companies, the 36-member delegation will arrive in the capital next Monday on a four-day official visit to the country.

The visit comes a week after Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman’s visit to Tehran and talks with President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Petroleum Minister Bijan Zangeneh.

The economic commercial team is scheduled to confer development of ties in post-sanctions era.

Another Malaysian oil and gas delegation comprising 15 companies are currently in Iran to attend the ongoing 21st International Oil, Gas, Refinery and Petrochemicals.

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Malaysia Produce Investment Promotional Materials in Mandarin

KUALA LUMPUR, 4 May 2016, (Bernama) – The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), that will serve their mutual interests in fostering closer Malaysia-China economic ties. Under the MoU, ICBC will support the production of the Mandarin version of MIDA’s investment promotional video and selected publications. The MoU was signed by YBhg. Dato’ Azman Mahmud, Chief Executive Officer of MIDA and Mr. Yuan Bin, Chief Executive Officer of ICBC (Malaysia) Berhad at MIDA Headquarters.

According to Dato’ Azman, “MIDA has been producing promotional materials since the 1970s. Over the years, we have kept up with the trends and continually produce materials that are relevant to our target audience. These materials are available in multiple languages besides our national language, such as Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, German, French and Spanish. Today, we are pleased to have ICBC on board with us.”

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Malaysian University to Offer Persian Language courses

BANGI, Malaysia, 6 May 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – A Malaysian university, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), will offer a Persian language course for local and international students in the semester beginning September this year, its Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic and International Affairs, Ir Dr Riza Atiq Abdullah, said.

He said that this was made possible due to the good relations between UKM and the Scientific Counsellor of Iran in East Asia.

The Persian language would be taught by Iranians who were currently attached with the university, he told Bernama after his welcoming address on ‘Propelling Research Synergy in Higher Education: Malaysia and Iran Academic Meets,” here yesterday.

“We hope this move marks a good start to enhance further academic collaboration in the future,” Riza said, adding that the collaboration between the UKM and the Scientific Counsellor of Iran in East Asia also extended to other areas.

He said that the university was committed to ensure that the programmes offered were on par with that of world renowned universities.

He said that UKM was also looking forward to further collaborate with Iranian Universities in scientific courses, especially in science social, nanotechnology, electronic, medical science and engineering courses.

“Our link with Iran dates back to 2007 with various international visits and international cooperation, for example with the University of Tehran, The Iranian Research Organisation for Science and Technology and the Institute for Social and Cultural Studies,” he said.

Meanwhile, Scientific Counsellor and Director of Iranian Students in East Asia, Dr Abbas Ghanbari, welcomed more universities and private universities in Malaysia to engage further with Iranian universities.

“We have done many presentations to universities regarding capacities, potential research outcome and further collaboration between the two countries, and now we have started to work closely with local universities in terms of scientific diplomacy,” he said.

He said that currently there were good relations with UKM, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and private universities such as Limkokwing, and Tailors University.

Present at the event were President of Islamic World Science Citation Centre, Dr Mohammad Javad Dehghani, Director UKM Graduate Centre Professor Dr Andanastuti Muchtar, and representatives from top Iranian universities such as Universtiy of Tehran, Amir Kabir University and Tehran University of Medical Sciences.

In 2014, Iran was ranked 16th in the world for producing numerous scientific publications.

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China’s Travel Agents Give Thumbs-Up for Malaysia’s Labuan

LABUAN, Malaysia, 6 May 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — A group of 43 travel agents from China are optimistic that Labuan will soon become a favourite destination among travellers from the republic.

The spokesman for the group, China International Travel Service General Manager Liu Zhigang, said they were impressed with the variety of attractions the duty-free island had to offer visitors.

“Based on what we have seen and experienced during our tour here, Labuan definitely has the potential to be a favourite among Chinese travellers,” he told a press conference on Thursday night.

The group, which arrived on May 2, was brought in by LMB Global Sdn Bhd, a local travel agent, to promote Labuan among Chinese visitors.

During the five-day tour, they toured various spots including the famous Kampung Patau-Patau water village and the Labuan Marine Park which consist of Pulau Kuraman, Pulau Rusukan Besar and Pulau Rusukan Kecil.

Meanwhile, LMB Global Chief Operating Officer Chung Wei Keong said the tour was aimed at introducing Labuan to travel agents from China.

“These travel agents will play an integral part in our six-months charter service which is scheduled to commence on July 15, 2016,” he said.

Chung said a Boeing 747-800 aircraft would be mobilised for the charter service and a minimum of 160 passengers can be flown from China to Labuan, daily.

Labuan Member of Parliament Rozman Isli hoped the arrival of Chinese tourists would boost Labuan’s tourism industry.

“As Labuan’s economy relied on oil and gas activities, the current slump in global oil prices have affected our development.

“We hope by developing our tourism industry, the economy can get back on track,” said Rozman, who is also Labuan Corporation Chairman.

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Telangana’s Infrastructure Sector Beckons Malaysian Investors

HYDERABAD, India, 6 May 2016,(NNN-Bernama) – Telangana, a state in India which is currently undergoing rapid redevelopment, offers tremendous investment opportunities for Malaysian companies, particularly in the infrastructure sector.

Telangana Minister for Information and Technology, Municipal Administration and Industries, Kalvakuntla Taraka Rama Rao said at present, there was rapid development taking place in the country’s major cities, including Telangana, which could translate into huge investment prospects for businessmen of both nations.

“We also need expertise in the infrastructure industry in order to become an established state,” he told Bernama here today after a briefing for a Malaysian trade and investment delegation by Telangana State Industrial Development Board.

The delegation, led by International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, is aimed at promoting business opportunities in Malaysia and to trigger the participation of Malaysian companies in Andhra Pradesh state.

Present were Malaysian Consul-General in Chennai Ahmad Fajarazam Abdul Jalil, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) Deputy Chief Executive Officer II N. Rajendran, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation Senior Director, Strategic Planning Division, Wan Latiff Wan Musa and MIDA Director in Mumbai Sherulanuar Abd Karim.

Spanning over 114,840 square kilometres, Telangana is one of the 29th states in India with Hyderabad as its capital. The state has a population of more than 35 million people.

Kalvakuntla said the state sought collaboration with Malaysia in setting up an industrial hub for various sectors such as food processing, education and pharmaceutical in India.

Besides sharing similar cultures, he said both countries should continue their cooperation to further spur economic growth.

“Doing business in Telagana state is easy…there is a new industrial policy and the government is offering various incentives. We promise dedicated water supply and uninterrupted power supply….you are welcome here,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mustapa said Malaysian companies were actively participating in India and Telangana.

Several successful projects such as highways and infrastructure development were undertaken by various Malaysian companies including the Construction Industry Development Board and IJM (India) Infrastructure Ltd.

“India’s economy is doing well…the local newspaper (The Times of India, Hyderabad) on Tuesday, reported that the International Monetary Fund had endorsed the trade businesses policy in India.

Saying that Telangana was a good place to do business, Mustapa added that he will come back to work closely with the state on setting up a centre for startup companies to create opportunities for the young generation.

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Role of Malaysian Diaspora Vital for Economic Prosperity

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 6 May 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The Malaysian diaspora will continue to be a vital force for economic prosperity and growth of their countries of domicile, said Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed.

“Be friendly with the local people and promote Malaysia to them whenever there are opportunities.

“Everyone of you has a role to play, if we want to have close ties with foreign countries and make Malaysia a regional hub for investments. We need to work hard to attract them,” Mustapa told a networking dinner he hosted for Malaysians here, Thursday.

He said the Malaysian diaspora, especially businessmen, needed to take a step forward and be creative in seizing opportunities wherever they are living.

The dinner was part of the trade and investment mission to India and Sri Lanka led by Mustapa from May 1-6.

Also present was the Malaysian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Wan Zaidi Wan Abdullah, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) Deputy Chief Executive Officer II N. Rajendran, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) Senior Director Strategic Planning Division, Wan Latiff Wan Musa and Mida Director in Mumbai, Sherulanuar Abd Karim.

At a similar networking session with the Malaysian diaspora in India earlier, Mustapa said in the wake of global economic challenges, it was timely for them to set up working groups to review, exchange and promote business growth periodically.

“Let’s make it a point to hold strategic, working level workshops and brainstorming sessions periodically, to enter and tap India’s market potential,” he added.

More than 50 Malaysians staying in India and Sri Lanka attended the session to share ideas and discuss issues of common interest.

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Malaysia to Play Bigger Roles in Global Aviation Market

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 6 May 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia is poised to take a bigger share of the global aviation market for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and component manufacturing and rival its close contenders in the Asia Pacific.

In this regard, Malaysia has the potential to be a heavyweight champion, based on its established reputation as a regional MRO player with world-class facilities.

The country has become an important MRO centre with companies such as Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), Airod Sdn Bhd, Asia Aero Technics Sdn Bhd and Sepang Aircraft Engineering Sdn Bhd, providing heavy maintenance jobs for various types of aircraft.

In aircraft component manufacturing, the United States, Europe, Japan and South Korea have been suppliers of major components for Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

But, Malaysia too has been expanding its manufacturing capability with several local companies, involved in producing key aircraft parts.

The President of ATR Eastern Support Pte Ltd, Luigi Celmi said Malaysia’s expertise and facilities in providing advance MRO works, could reinforce its position and capability as the producer of major aircraft component parts.

“Malaysia has the ecosystem to drive growth with its skill, talent, business friendly policies, proficiency in English language and tax incentives,” he told Bernama.

Celmi emphasised that Malaysia’s economic growth would drive business activities and further propel its dynamism and position as an aviation hub.

This, he said, will enable the country to be as equally competitive as other established centres in Singapore, Hong Kong and the US that have managed to attract a large volume of aircraft movement.

He said that despite Malaysia having a small population and market size, it had managed to attract regional airlines from Asia for MRO works and grown to be an important centre of ATR and turboprop short-haul aircraft, that are gaining prominence due to fuel efficiency and design.

“Malaysia has become a leading centre in Asia for ATR aircraft maintenance work.

“This is due to MRO activities that have been strongly developed with the expansion of the ATR fleet in the country and ASEAN region,” Celmi said.

The ATR aircraft, developed by French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR, is gaining traction in the Asia Pacific with Malaysia operating the second largest such fleet in the REGION.

There are 370 ATR aircraft in the Asia Pacific with Malaysia operating about 45.

MAB is collaborating with a US company, Aircraft Propeller Service (APS), for the setting up a MRO centre for ATR propellers within its Centre of Excellence at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

The centre, which will be the first in the Asia Pacific region for overhaul and repair of ATR propellers, is expected to start in August.

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LEAD STORY: Mali Emperor Mansa Mousa – Richest Man of All Time

By Expendito Chipasha Chipalo

allafrica.com – How many of us would think of a black man being the richest man who ever lived in the world? Such a thought never even crossed my mind until I embarked on the research to prepare materials for this column. Before then, the only black heroes I had in my mind were black sportsmen, and in the process, I discovered Mansa Mousa.

Mansa (Emperor) Mousa also called Kankan Musa was ruler of the great West African Empire of Mali in the early 14th Century. He ascended to the throne in 1307 and at the end of his reign he left a realm of riches and achievements which included the building of the Great Mosque at Timbuktu.

Today, Mansa Mousa is rated as the richest person in history in a new inflation-adjusted list of the world’s 25 wealthiest people of all time.

The Celebrity Net Worth list published on 16 October 2012 spans 1,000 years with a combined fortune of $4.317 trillion. Using an inflation rate of 2199.6 per cent where $100million in 1913 is equal to $2,299.63 billion, Mansa Mousa had a personal net worth of $4000billion at the time of his death in 1331.

The list includes familiar names like Bill Gates and Warren Buffet but a blac Emperor Mansa Mousa I of Mali, sits at the top. In second place are the Rothschild family who are the richest people on earth today with a net worth of $350 billion and John D Rockefeller, the richest American to have ever lived is in third place at $340 billion.

Born in 1280, Mansa Mousa succeeded his grandfather who had travelled to explore the limits of the Atlantic Ocean and never came back. Mousa was only 27 years when he started his reign over the Malian Empire which covered modern day Ghana, Timbuktu and Mali.

Mali was one of the largest empires in the world at the time of Mousa’s reign. It then produced half of the world’s supply of salt and gold and that helped Mousa to accumulate his vast wealth which he used to build large mosques that still stand today.

The grandson of Sundiata, the founder of his dynasty, Mousa was a devout Muslim and he is mostly remembered for his flamboyant pilgrimage to Mecca. Many West African Rulers had made pilgrimages to Mecca, but the effect of Mousa’s pilgrimage was to advertise the Malian Empire and his personal wealth beyond the African continent and was felt for a long time.

Mousa’s pilgrimage stimulated a desire among Muslim Kingdoms and European nations to explore the source of his incredible wealth.

He traveled to Mecca in the 17TH year of his reign. Arab historians described his pilgrimage in the following text:

“It was this pilgrimage that awakened the world to the stupendous wealth of Mali. Cairo and Mecca received this royal personage, whose glittering procession, almost put Africa’s sun to shame. Traveling from his capital of Niani on the Upper Niger River to Walata (Oualâta, Mauritania) and on to Tuat (now in Algeria) before making his way to Cairo, Mansa Mūsā was accompanied by an impressive caravan consisting of 60,000 men including a personal retinue of 12,000 slaves, all clad in brocade and Persian silk. The emperor himself rode on horseback and was directly preceded by 500 slaves, each carrying a gold-adorned staff. In addition, Mansa Mūsā had a baggage train of 80 camels, each carrying 300 pounds of gold.”

Mansa Mousa’s visit to Cairo almost ended in a serious diplomatic incident. He was so absorbed in his religious observances that he was not keen to meet the ruler of Cairo, Sultan Al-Malik an-Naouir. It took a lot of persuasion before Mousa agreed to pay a formal visit to Sultan Al-Malik.

Mousa was a very generous and humble man and his spending and gifts of gold led to the collapse of the world’s most precious metal’s price on the Cairo market. The historian, al-O-Umari who visited Cairo 12 years after the emperor’s visit found the people of the city of one million at the time, still singing the praises of Mansa Mousa and he wrote thus:

“So lavish was the emperor in his spending that he flooded the Cairo market with gold, thereby causing such a decline in its value that, some 12 years later, the market had still not fully recovered.”

Mansa Mousa has been assessed by historians as a gifted administrator. During his reign, learning and the arts received royal patronage and Timbuktu grew into an important commercial and center of excellence. Scholars who were interested in history, theology and law made the mosque of Sankore in Timbuktu a teaching center. A summary of Mansa Mousa’s achievements reads:

“The organization and smooth administration of a purely African empire, the founding of the University of Sankore, the expansion of trade in Timbuktu, the architectural innovations in Gao, Timbuktu, Niani, and indeed, throughout the whole of Mali and in the subsequent Songhai Empire are all testimony to Mansa Mūsā’s superior administrative gifts. In addition, the moral and religious principles he had taught his subjects endured after his death.”

Unfortunately, just two generations after his death, Mansa Mousa’s wealth was diminished. His heirs were not able to survive civil wars and to fend off invaders.

However Mansa Mousa’s personal net worth still makes him the richest person who ever lived on earth. His piety, generosity, administrative gifts and achievements must inspire black people to aspire for higher heights devoid of greed.

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Indonesian Tourism Minister lauds Tour de Cenderawasih Bay

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 6 May 2016 – Tourism Minister Arief Yahya has lauded the fact that Tour de Cenderawasih Bay is being organized in West Papua from May 5 to 8, 2016.

“This event is very good to promote the scenic charms of Cenderawasih Bay National Park. It is like Wonderful Indonesia greeting the world,” Minister Yahya said here on Friday.

The sports tourism event is being organized by the West Papua Police and the provinces tourism office.

The cycling tour covers a 272-km-long exotic route stretching from Manokwari to Bintuni.

Some 167 participants in the tour will be enjoying the natural scenery of Nusrowi, Yoop, and Mioswaar islets, whose waters are among excellent diving spots, Yosef Matutina, head of the West Papua tourism office, said.

Sightings of whales and dolphins are common in the waters.

A pre-historic cave containing the skeletons of Wandau ethnic people is found on Mioswaar Island.

“Tour de Cenderawasih Bay is not a race, but just a tour. The participants could cycle while enjoying the natural panorama,” he said.

Chairman of the organizing committee Senior Commissioner I Nyoman Suastra said the 167 participants are from Jakarta, Bandung, Bekasi, Depok, Tangerang, Yogyakarta, Denpasar, Manado, Makassar, Surabaya, Bukittinggi, Jayapura, Sorong, and Manokwari.

They will be trudging through the routes of Manokwari-Ransiki, Ransiki-Memei and Memi-Bintuni.

Along the way, they are also expected to present books to local students.

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Indonesia emerging as attractive destination for foreign investors

6 May 2016 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian governments efforts to introduce a series of economic policy packages since September last year and intensive investment promotions abroad have increased foreign investors interest and made Indonesia the second-best investment destination.

“This January, Indonesia emerged as the second most preferred investment destination after China,” Oikos Mando Panjaitan, manager of the Department of Communications of Bank of Indonesia, stated on Monday.

Indonesia has, since last September, launched 12 tranches of its economic policy package aimed at streamlining investment licensing procedures, creating ease of doing business, and attracting more foreign investment into Indonesia.

Besides this, the Capital Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) has also been conducting intensive investment promotions in various countries in Asia, Europe, America, and Australia.

Last month, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) undertook a tour of several European countries, which comprised the Netherlands, Britain, Germany, and Belgium, to increase investment and strengthen trade ties.

President Jokowi, following his European tour, noted that his official visits had resulted in the inking of several business-to-business agreements, worth US$20.5 billion.

“I have achieved two milestones during these visits. The first is the trust that all businessmen in the European countries have laid on Indonesia and the faith and confidence reposed by the European Union in the nations economy,” Jokowi affirmed during a press conference after a tour of Europe at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport on Saturday (April 23).

The president pointed out that the second milestone achieved was the trust that European countries had expressed in the role Indonesia had played in establishing peace through the advocacy of moderate Islam.

According to BKPM Head Franky Sibarani, Europes investment potential was quite huge, but Indonesia had yet to optimally benefit from it. However, there has been an increasing trend in investment from Europe in Indonesia.

Based on the BKPM data, the investment commitments from European countries in January 2016 reached Rp6.53 trillion, almost 10 times higher than Rp670 billion recorded in the same period in the previous year.

The realization of investment from Europe reached Rp149.8 trillion during the period between 2010 and 2015, he remarked, hoping that the presidents visit will boost European investment in Indonesia.

The increase in investment commitments from Europe continued to show a positive trend in 2015, with an increase of 16 percent to reach Rp37.3 trillion, compared to Rp32.2 trillion in 2014.

The Netherlands, with a total investment worth of Rp70 trillion, is ranked seventh among the list of countries investing in Indonesia; Britain, with Rp31 trillion, came tenth; Germany, with Rp5.2 trillion, stood 17th; and Belgium, with Rp1.6 trillion, ranked 27th, he revealed.

The BKPM is also planning to hold investment marketing promotional campaigns in New Zealand and Australia as part of its efforts to boost investment inflows from the two countries.

During the event, BKPM Chief Sibarani will act as the keynote speaker at the business forums to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, and Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, the BKPM noted in a press statement on Wednesday (May 4).

“With these activities, investors, who have expressed an investment interest through BKPMs representative offices and the Indonesian embassies (in the countries), will hopefully realize it soon,” he affirmed.

New Zealand and Australia are among Indonesias neighboring nations that have the capacity to invest in the country, he pointed out.

While intensive efforts are being made overseas, Vice President Jusuf Kalla also hoped that the countrys investment potential will also be readied. Therefore, he has called on all regional governments to manage and issue sound policies, so their respective regions would become attractive destinations for foreign investors.

The entry of foreign investment into the regions will boost employment opportunities and increase production.

“Welfare can only be improved if employment and production can be enhanced and increased. This all can only be achieved through capital investment and good technology. Therefore, regions must be attractive to investors,” the vice president stated in Jakarta on Thursday (May 5).

The realization of investment in Indonesia in 2015 reached some Rp540 trillion, up 16.6 percent from that in 2014, surpassing the BKPMs target set at Rp519.5 trillion.

“This means that the investment level in 2015 is 16.6 percent higher than that in 2014,” Sibarani noted earlier.

“For 2016, based on the five-yearly plan, the investment target is set at Rp595 trillion,” Sibarani remarked.

The investment for 2016 is expected to boost the production sector and increase exports. Indonesias export performance, which until August 2015, had slumped 10.23 percent compared to that in 2014, should be boosted by attracting more foreign investment.

Therefore, the government has set a foreign investment target of Rp386.4 trillion in 2016, or some 53.9 percent of the total investment plan of Rp594.8 trillion in a bid to boost exports

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Indonesia to take part in Beijing Tourism Expo

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 6 May 2016 – The Indonesian government will participate in the Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) to be held on May 20-22 to realize its target of attracting two million Chinese tourists this year.

The Indonesian Tourism Ministry would be one of the main sponsors of the expo, Deputy Tourism Minister in charge of International Tourism Marketing Development I Gede Pitana stated here, Friday.

The ministry was optimistic that Indonesia would be able to attract Chinese tourists during the long holiday from October 1 to 7 this year, he noted.

China has become Indonesias main tourist contributor, according to Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

Last year, some 987 participants from 81 countries took part in BITE, which was visited by some 120 thousand people.

BITE has been organized annually for the past 13 years, and Indonesia has taken part in the expo twice.

Other countries expected to participate in BITE this year are the United States, the Maldives, Seychelles, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, India, and some European countries, among others.

Indonesia has set a target of attracting 20 million foreign tourists by 2019, from 9.7 million last year.

This year, Indonesia hopes to lure some 12 million foreign tourists.

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Indonesian govt on track to revitalize old markets

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 5 May 2016 – The government has kept its promise of renovating 5,000 traditional markets in the country in the next five years.

After revitalizing 1,002 traditional markets in first year of the program in 2015, the government this year has set itself the target of developing 1,000 traditional markets with a total fund of Rp1.7 trillion.

“We keep our Nawacita promise well. The inauguration of the Pasar Manis Market in Purwokerto is a special event. President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) laid its construction corner stone last year while announcing his Nawacita program to renovate 5,000 markets,” Trade Minister Thomas Lembong said in Purwokerto, Central Java, on Wednesday.

He was accompanying President Jokowi, who inaugurated the first phase of revitalization at the Pasar Manis project in Purworkerto.

Nawacita, which is used by President Widodo as a term for his administration’s development initiatives, is a Sanskrit term used for nine national priority development programs.

He said the inauguration of the Pasar Manis Market is part of the renovation plan of 5,000 traditional markets up to 2019 in the country.

During the inauguration, the President was accompanied by Trade Minister Thomas Trikasih Lembong and Minister/State Secretary Pratikno.

In his address, the President asked traders to ensure that the market remains spruced up at all times. “I entrust you to keep maintaining the cleanliness of this market. There should be no waste scattered around. The management should be assisted to keep the market clean,” President Jokowi told traders.

The President also promised to return to check the market in the coming three years, asking traders to display their goods neatly and be buyer-friendly.

“You should serve the buyers well with a smile. There must be smiles all around, so that malls and supermarkets cannot outclass our market,” the President stated.

He further said the prices of goods in the (traditional) market should surely be lower than those in the supermarkets because taxes are lower and the cost of electricity is not as high.

The government plans to renovate 1,000 traditional markets in various areas in Indonesia in 2016.

“The target is 1,000 markets and 863 of them have been identified with programs. Therefore, there are 127 more left to be identified,” Trade Minister Thomas said while inspecting renovation of the thee Pasar Manis market in Purwokerto on the previous day.

He added that in 2015, 1,002 traditional markets had been renovated at a cost of Rp1.4 trillion and in 2016, the budget for renovation was set at Rp1.7 trillion. In carrying out the renovation program, the government wanted to not only just revitalize the market, but to also change the mentality of small traders, he said.

“We expect change in the mentality and characteristics of the traders to be healthy, harmonious and supportive of each other,” Thomas said.

In 2015, the government had set itself the target of revitalizing 1,017 traditional markets in its working plan (RKP), particularly the Ministry of Trades RKP.

Of the 1,017 target markets, 182 were built with TP (task assistance) funds and 770 others with Special Allocation Funds (DAK).

Apart from that, the Ministry of Cooperatives and UKM (Small and Medium Enterprises) also set a target to build 65 markets.

“Of the target, some 1,002 markets were revitalized, of which 175 were developed with TP funds of the trade ministry, 762 with DAK funds and 65 others by the Cooperatives and UKM Ministry,” Thomas said.

In the meantime, in 2016, the trade ministry set a target for building 1,000 markets, of which 220 will be built with TP funds and 695 with DAK funds. The Cooperatives and UKM Ministry is set to develop 85 markets.

During the implementation of the project, some 168 markets will begin construction with TP funds and 695 units with DAK funds. Thus, of the planned 1,000 markets, funds have been allocated for the development of 863 units.

Fund allocation for the remaining ones will be proposed to the Finance Ministry.

“Of the 168 markets which received TP funds, some 70 units have been auctioned so that their development process can be started soon. After all, the development budget allocation list (DIPA) for market development has been issued,” the minister said.

During the inauguration of the Pasar Manis market, Minister Thomas stressed on the importance of the market for traders and the people. Moreover, if the traditional market is clean and made modern there will many people coming to shop, which will increase traders turnover, he said.

“Income will then increase, the economy of the region will develop in line with the increasing production,” he pointed out.

Thomas added that the market can also then function optimally and benefit traders if the funds that are allocated to the regional government are used in accordance with their initial purpose.

The revitalization of 5,000 markets during the 2015 to 2019 period is mainly aimed at markets that are 25 years and older, markets which were damaged due to disasters, social conflict, markets located in less advantaged villages, markets in border areas, areas which lack trade facilities and areas which have big trade potential.

Through the Trade Ministers Regulation in 2015 on the “Development and the Management of Trade Facility,” the government has set guidelines on the revitalization of traditional markets with four principles.

The main principles in the rejuvenation of the markets are physical revitalization, management revitalization, socio-cultural revitalization and economic revitalization.

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Indonesia to be host for World Press Freedom Day 2017

London (ANTARA News) 5 May 2016 – Indonesia has been chosen as the host for the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) in 2017, according to Indonesian Ambassador to UNESCO Hotmangaradja Pandjaitan.

On Thursday, Pandjaitan received a whistle from Finlands Minister of Education and Culture, Sanni Grahn-Laasonen, to mark the handing over of the task of hosting the WPFD 2017 at a ceremony marking the conclusion of the WPFD 2016, Vicka A. Rompis from the Indonesia representative office at UNESCO in Paris noted in a statement received by ANTARA News here.

Pandjaitan stated that the Indonesian government was honored to be handed over the task and will make necessary preparations to be a good host.

He remarked it would be the first time in 15 years that the event would be held in Southeast Asia in 2017.

Helsinki hosted the WPFD 2016 on May 2-4, which was attended by more than one thousand participants from various circles, including journalists, government officials, businessmen, academicians, and non-governmental organizations.

The event was also attended by Finlands President Sauli Niinisto, Prime Minister Juha Sipila, and UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

Indonesian participants in the event included Ambassador and permanent delegate to UNESCO Hotmangaradja Pandjaitan, Indonesian Ambassador to Helsinki Wiwiek Setyawati Firman, and Chairman of the Indonesian Press Council Josep Adi Prasetyo.

The WPFD 2016 was themed “Access To Information and Fundamental Freedom.”

The WPFD is an annual event initiated by the UNESCO, and May 3 has been chosen as the Press Freedom Day based on the United Nations resolution made at the general assembly in 1993.

On the day, the international community commemorates the fundamental principles of press freedom, including honoring journalists who faced pressures, threats, and imprisonment and even lost their lives while carrying out their job.

The event was also marked by the presentation of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, and this year, the recipient was press activist from Azerbaijan Khadija Ismayilova.

The award is bestowed on individuals, organizations, or institutions that have taken high risks and fought for upholding the freedom of press.

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Al Madinah’s red white domed mosque is center of excellence

Parni Hadi (ANTARA/Reno Esnir) 5 May 2016 – A green-domed mosque is common. So is a yellow-domed mosque. Theres a blue-domed mosque (Blue Mosque) in Istanbul, Turkey as well as in Pondok Indah, Jakarta. A golden-domed mosque stands in Depok, West Java.

But a red-white-domed mosque? I saw it for the first time on Friday, 29 April, 2016, when Al Madinah mosque, built by “Dompet Dhuafa” (an alms organization), in Zona Madina, Parung, Bogor, was launched by the Vice Governor of West Java, Deddy Mizwar.

A historian, Prof. Ahmad Mansur Suryanegara, in his book titled, “History of Fire,” mentioned that Prophet Muhammad’s flag was red and white, referring to the Hadith Qudsi, cited in Republika daily, on August 10, 2014.

The flags color of Demak, the first Islamic kingdom in Java, in the 15th century AD, according to the Kethoprak play, was red and white, which was called the banner of coconut sugar. The Demak fleet under the command of the Adipati Unus, flew a red and white flag when it attacked the Portuguese in Malacca in 1511.

As per the saga, commander of Gajah Mada succeeded in uniting the whole of archipelago under the Kingdom of Majapahit by hoisting the banner of coconut sugar.

Before the proclamation of Indonesian independence on August 17, 1945, Soekarno asked his wife, Fatmawati, to sew by hand two pieces of white and red cloth to be the first official flag of the Republic of Indonesia. The first flag, which was hoisted on the proclamation day, is now considered a heritage flag. The red and white colors have now faded away, becoming dull with age.

The story is mentioned in Soekarno’s autobiography, as told to Cindy Adams, the US journalist and also the writer of the autobiography. In the Indonesian version, the book is titled, “Soekarno: a mouthpiece of the Indonesian people.”

Soekarno, in his autobiography, said the red and white colors referred to the beginning of the creation of a human, with the red signifying womans blood which mixed with the white sperm of man. He also said the red denoted the sun, and the white symbolized the moon. Another meaning was a red as the soil of Indonesia, and white as the color of sap from plants. Red is known as a symbol of courage and white as a symbol of purity.

The old tradition of Javanese has always been to present red-white porridge to prevent evil. In the legacy of Malay culture, there was Sekapur Sirih (foreword, or literal meaning as chalk and betel), which is a combination of white chalk, and red betel. According to Soekarno, red and white flag has existed for 6,000 years.

As the founder and chairman of Dompet Dhuafa, after discussions with the board, I decided that the color of the dome of Al-Madinah mosque, that will be built by the institution, would be red and white.

There are different shades of red: dark, blood red and pink. From a seller of young coconut, I learnt that a coconut is not necessarily green; it could even be yellow. Using a knife, the seller cut a yellow coconuts tip, and it appeared as red with a white tinge. Perhaps it was the color of coconut sugar.

This color was immediately photographed, and then it became the color of the dome of the Al Madinah mosque. Perhaps, this is the first red-white dome in Indonesia, or maybe even in the world.

Center of Excellence

The objective behind Al Madinah’s development is to make the mosque a center of excellence. The mosque as a place of worship is something regular. The Dompet Dhuafa wants to build a mosque that serves as a center for community development in economic, health, education and culture, in addition to its primary priestly function and spread the value of piety.

Therefore, Al Madinah, built on nearly 7 hectares of land, has a hospital, educational institutions, junior-high boarding school, teacher schools, a cultural arts center, a theater training centre, a scout camp, market/kiosks, a playground with a flying fox, as well as community radio and television studios. All the buildings and facilities are integrated within one zone with the mosque at the center. This concept of the mosque refers to the way the mosque played its role in the times of Prophet Muhammad.

The two-story mosque can accommodate 2,000 people, with a meeting room on the first floor that has a capacity of 2,000 guests.

Jampang village in the hinterlands of Zona Madina has been designed for agro-cultural (agriculture and fisheries) tourism destination.

Here, a cycling track has been provided around the village. Food prepared as per the famous local culinary skills is served, including halibut and cork heron. There is also a Jampang English Village, a language course for the local population.

The Vice Governor of West Java, Deddy Mizwar, in his speech at the soft launch of Al Madinah, welcomed the mosque-based community development, such as the one in Zona Madina. The West Java provincial administration will build a similar mosque on an area of about 30 hectares, with a lake, in Gedebage, Bandung.

Funds for the construction of Al Madinah come from Dompet Dhuafa donations. Till April 2016, approximately Rp 7 billion worth of funds have been collected. Al Madinah is still receiving finishing touches. The grand opening is expected to be held in the upcoming month of Ramadan, though the mosque has become functional since April 29.

People hope the red-white-domed mosque of Al Madinah can become a center of excellence and the model proves good. They hope that it helps the process of awakening, and enhances the welfare of the Indonesian people under the grace of Allah Almighty.

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History Maker Riyad Mahrez Wins Top English Football Award

Algeria and Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez crowned a wonderful weekend when he was voted Player of the Year by fellow English Premier League professionals.

The 25-year-old, a key figure in the transformation of Leicester from perennial strugglers to league leaders, is the first African winner of the title.

Hours before the lavish awards ceremony in London, Mahrez opened the scoring for Leicester in a 4-0 drubbing of Swansea City.

Mahrez’s 17th goal of the season teed leaders Leicester up for a 4-0 win over Swansea City that left them needing five points to claim the title. The Algerian star opened the scoring in the 10th minute, coolly beating Swansea goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski with his trusty left foot after visiting captain Ashley Williams had played the ball straight at him.

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Egyptian Players on the Rise in World Squash

KUALA LUMPUR, 3 May 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – The 2016 NAZA PSA Women’s World Squash Championships, which concluded here over the weekend saw world number two Nour El Sherbini as the first Egyptian to bag the world title since 1976.

The 20-year-old Alexandria native defied the odds after stunning world number one and top seed, England’s Laura Massaro; winning 6-11, 4-11, 11-3, 11-5 and 11-8 in the dramatic final battle which lasted 63 minutes at the Nicol David Arena, National Squash Centre in Bukit Jalil here.

For the record, Sherbini failed in her first attempt to land the world title after losing to the 32-year-old Englishwoman in the 2013 edition in Penang.

Her victory certainly adds another feather in the cap after having won two titles — the Tournament of Champions in the United States in January and also the British Open title, last month.

Looking back at the achievement of Egyptian representatives in the tournament, the African country had indeed featured a pool of talented youngsters who were ready to step into the shoes of their current generation after showcasing a splendid performance against their illustrious opponent.

Cairo-born Nadine Shahin, 18, for instance, proved her prowess after reaching the second round of the tournament after knocking out world number 16, Jenny Duncalf of England, in the opening round, despite making her debut in the tournament.

She had earlier escaped two hurdles in the qualifying round; defeating Malaysia’s youngster, S. Sivasangari 3-1 in the first match before stunning world number 25 Line Hansen of Denmark by the same result.

For Malaysian players, there is definitely a lot of work to do especially by the Squash Racquets Association of Malaysia (SRAM) to groom more talented young players if they aim to catch up with Egypt.

SRAM president Huang Ying How when met by reporters after the final match, acknowledged there was a need for the association to double up their efforts to groom more youngsters to be at par with Egypt in the future.

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Sudan: Musa Mohamed Ahmed Affirms Importance of Culture for Supporting Unity

Khartoum, 4 May 2016 Sudan News Agency — Assistant of the President of the Republic, Musa Mohamed Ahmed, has affirmed the important role of culture for realizing unity and establishing a strong and advanced state.

This came in his address to the second session of the National Council for Culture and Arts. Musa has called on the council to issue inclusive decisions for enhancing the cultural projects.

He also called for issuing recommendations for enhancing the culture of children and people of special needs, exhibiting the historic cultural heritage and motivating the innovators.

He called for paving the way for culture to play its role for supporting tolerance and reconciliation and contributing to the increase of production.

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Mali: Workshop Teaches Tuareg Artisans New Skills in Exile

Ouagadougou, May 2016 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees press release — Taking a sheaf of palm fronds in her hand, Tuareg artisan Bintou starts to weave a decorative mat to be fixed on a newly designed desk lamp that may one day light up homes in Europe and elsewhere.

An accomplished leather worker back home in Mali, she is among some 20 refugees learning new skills at a residential workshop in neighbouring Burkina Faso that aims to help them develop their traditional products and market them abroad.

“Now I have learned how I can transpose my know-how from leather to palm,” she says with a smile. “I don’t know yet what will be the final product, but at this stage I am happy to know how to work with a new material,” she adds.

Originally from a village close to Kidal in northeast Mali, the 40-year-old mother-of-four fled after her community was caught up in the conflict in 2012. She is now among 144,765 Malian refugees living in exile, 38,844 of them in Burkina Faso.

She took part in the seven-week residential workshop in Ougadougou, organized by French social enterprise Afrika Tiss and supported by UNHCR. Ten French designers worked with the refugee artisans to develop new products, using traditional materials including palm, wood, leather, metal and fabric.

In coming months, the program aims to train 200 artisans to make high-quality handmade products, incorporating the bright, bold, and colourful new designs. The artisans will also be taught “productive, business and entrepreneurial techniques that will take into account their traditional way of life,” said Afrika Tiss president Mariette Chapel.

The UN Refugee Agency is currently identifying global retailers who are interested in sourcing handmade products. It is hoped that the knowhow the artisans acquire will be valuable to them both in Burkina Faso and in Mali, whenever they are able to return home.

The project’s benefits are already being recognized by some, including Tuareg artisan and refugee Moctar Ag Abdoulaye. “It’s good to work with UNHCR because they give us good ideas on what to do,” said Ag Abdoulaye, who makes camel skin boxes with geometrical-patterned fabric linings that he hopes to sell abroad. “They try to find partners interested in our products.”

While exploiting her talent in an innovative way, Bintou, meanwhile, dreams about a better future for her family. “I am eager to further improve my technical and entrepreneurial skills so that my products be exported to international markets,” she says adamantly.

“When I left Mali, the only personal belongings I brought with me were my practical knowledge and my hands. I want to make the most of this luggage: I want to ensure I can pay for my children to continue to go to school until they can get decent jobs. I want them to enjoy a safer life than mine.”

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In Benin, a New Stove Turns Rice Waste Into Clean Fuel

By Busani Bafana

Cotonou, Benin, 5 May 2016 Thomson Reuters Foundation (London) — Naman Abibate’s business is hard to miss. A towering pile of neatly arranged logs, collected by her husband from a forest near their village home, sits at the side of the busy Cotonou-to-Niger highway, north of Benin.

Abibate makes 10,000 CFA ($16) a month selling wood, much of it to women who use it for parboiling rice, a process of partially cooking rice in the husk before it is milled.

Rice is a staple food in Benin, and parboiling the grain requires a lot of heat, which means a lot of wood. The process is a major culprit behind Benin’s worrisome deforestation rate and a big contributor to health problems due to the inhalation of wood smoke.

But researchers at the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), a pan-African rice research group, aim to tackle those problems with a stove that runs on a free, sustainable and abundant fuel: rice husks.

AfricaRice’s stove is fed by a solar-powered fan and is designed to burn off most of the gas released by the burning husks. Compared with a wood-burning stove, the clean stove produces fewer emissions and heats water faster.

“The stove  burns husks directly to produce thermal energy for cooking and heating water and the solar panel provides light while firing the blower,” said Sali Atanga Ndindeng, a technology expert at AfricaRice’s Cotonou station who worked with women and engineers to develop the stove.

“We have tested the stove for emissions and have seen that it has very low emissions, making it ideal to use in the home,” he said.

FIRE AND RICE

The search for alternatives to wood fuel is crucial to Benin, which has an annual deforestation rate of 2.5 percent – one of the highest in the world – according to figures from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Using rice husks to run a stove not only takes advantage of a readily available fuel source, but also helps rice farmers deal with the waste and pollution that comes with disposing of the husks.

Every harvest season, Benin’s rice farmers struggle to get rid of the mountains of husks that accumulate after they have threshed their crops. The husks are no good as animal feed and take a long time to rot, so can’t be used as compost. With no other option, millers often just set the husks on fire, spewing smoke into the air.

And it’s a lot of smoke. One hectare of irrigated land yields about five tonnes of rice and a tonne of husks. On average, farmers in Benin produce over 40,000 tonnes of husks per season.

After three years of designing and testing, AfricaRice figured out how to turn the mountains of rice waste into fuel. The husk-burning stove was recently approved for commercial production, and the organisation is now teaching metal smiths in Benin and Nigeria how to make it.

It comes in various sizes – the smallest, for household and restaurant cooking, is fed with 900 grams of husks and the largest, designed for industrial use, can take over 5 kilograms of husks. The small unit went on the market in April for 35,000 CFA ($50).

AfricaRice has also made the fuel for their stove more efficient by developing a hydraulic press to squeeze rice husks into briquettes and pellets. These are easier to handle than loose husks and burn longer.

LESS WOOD, LESS SMOKE

According to AfricaRice’s Ndindeng, many of the women who tested the prototype of the stove were most excited by the prospect of cooking without filling their homes and lungs with smoke. The soot produced by open-fire and indoor cooking using wood and crop residue kills more than 4 million people annually, according to the World Health Organization.

Salabanya Tabaitou, a rice farmer from Malanville District, 750 kilometres north of Cotonou, does a lot of rice parboiling using wood fuel, a process she says is cumbersome and unhealthy.

“A stove that does not use wood, produces no smoke, will make cooking better and cleaner,” said Tabaitou, who has tried out the clean stove. “Especially that the stove would use husks, which we have tonnes of in our fields.”

Ndindeng told Thomson Reuters Foundation that researchers are now looking at adapting AfricaRice’s stove for large-scale parboiling, rice drying and water heating, which require a stove that can hold over double the capacity and handle much more heat than the current models.

The hope, Ndindeng added, is to make the process of preparing Benin’s staple food safer, cleaner and more efficient for everyone.

“Husks are a proven energy source that can save our trees and reduce reliance on wood fuel in Benin,” he said.

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World-famous Russian orchestra performs in Palmyra’s amphitheater

Bishkek (AKIpress) – concert The Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra gave a concert on Thursday on the stage of Palmyra’s world-famous amphitheater, reports Sputnik.

Russian orchestra, conducted by the theater’s Artistic and General Director Valery Gergiev, held “Pray for Palmyra. Music Revives Ancient Ruins” concert.

According to Syrian Culture Minister Issam Khalil, the concert of the Russian world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra in the Syrian city of Palmyra is dedicated to the upcoming Victory Day.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday during an address with Syria’s city of Palmyra, liberated from Daesh terrorists, that the concert of Russia’s Mariinsky Theatre Symphony Orchestra in the historic city is a gratitude to everyone fighting against terrorism.

“Thank you for this wonderful humanitarian action — the concert in Palmyra, liberated from terrorists. I consider it as an expression of gratitude, memory and hope. The gratitude to everyone, who fights against terrorism without sparing their own lives. The memory of all the victims of terror regardless of the place and time when crimes against humanity have been committed,” Putin told the artists, scientists and the citizens of Palmyra during his address.

He added that any success in anti-terror fight should be considered as a mutual victory, adding that it would contribute to the victory over terrorism.

The Syrian armed forces, backed by militias and the Russian Aerospace Forces, recaptured Palmyra from Daesh on March 27, nearly a year after terrorists had taken hold of the city and destroyed much of the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s artifacts.

According to preliminary estimates, some 20 percent of ancient Palmyra was destroyed, while many exhibits were looted from museums. It could take around five years to restore the city.

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Oman Tourism Minister Views Tourism Sites in Ibra

Ibra, May 4 (ONA) — Ahmed bin Nasser al-Meherzi, Minister of Tourism today visited several tourism sites in the Wilayat of Ibra in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah as part of the visits to various tourism sites in wilayats and governorates of the Sultanate.

The visit included tourism and archeological sites in Al Sifala, Al Elaya, Al Sifala Old Market, Al Qanatir, Al Elaya Market, Dhu Al Qiblatayen, Archeological Al Manzafa and Wadi Qafifa.

The Minister of Tourism said that this visit comes within the framework of the role being undertaken by the Ministry of Tourism to view some tourism sites that can be utilized for tourism.

On the sidelines of the visit, al-Meherzi and officials at the ministry visited the Tourism Department in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah to familiarize with its work in following up tourist projects and fields, implementing the ministry’s policy in developing the tourism product and enriching tourism in wilayats of the governorate.

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Cruise Ships to Visit Salalah Port

Salalah, May 4 (ONA) — The cruise ship “Azamara Quest ” will visit Salalah Port tomorrow “Thursday” with “1032” passengers on board including “621” tourists from different nationalities as part of its tour program to a number of ports around the world.

Seven Seas Voyager cruise ship will also visit Salalah Port this Friday with 650 tourists on board. The ships’ passengers will tour the most important archeological and historic landmarks in the Governorate of Dhofar, besides visiting the beaches and the traditional markets.

It should be noted that 16 cruise ships anchored at Salalah Port since the beginning of this year with 15,000 tourists on board.

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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to invest $100 million in Morocco

Rabat, (IINA) 04 May 2016 – Officials from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced on Tuesday implementing a new project worth $100 million in Morocco. The announcement was made during their meeting with the regional head of Morocco’s Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region and representatives from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

The meeting was also convened to discuss the Microsoft founder’s first visit to the country in coming months. During the meeting, officials from the foundation confirmed a new project worth $100 million in the Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region related to health services, as well as to make available of water and electricity, improve agriculture techniques, and support rural communities as well as women’s rights, Morocco World News reported.

Gates’ forthcoming trip comes after a two-month long campaign by Ilyaas Omari to encourage the billionaire’s foundation to implement social development projects in northern Morocco, Hespress online news reported.

The project will begin around the end of September or the start of October this year and will continue for five years, according to officials from the foundation and the development bank

The officials also said they were “betting on” the northern region and its promising potential to become a pioneering model for Africa.

Three years ago, Microsoft Imagine Academy in Casablanca released a video on YouTube highlighting the success of the institution in training 40,000 Moroccans to become Microsoft Office Specialists and Microsoft Certified Professionals. The program’s administrators planned to train 60,000 more students by 2016.

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Moroccan King: We will turn Sahara into a trade hub between Africa, Europe

Rabat, (IINA) 05 May 2016 – “We are keen to turn the Moroccan Sahara into a hub for trade and human interaction between Africa and Europe,” Moroccan King Mohammed said in a message to the participants in the 1st African Congress on maintenance, preservation of road assets and technical innovation, which kicked off on Wednesday in Rabat, Morocco World News reported.

“We will also build the Great Atlantic Port in Dakhla and consider a railway line from Tangiers to Lagouira in order to connect Morocco to African sister nations,” he added in the message, which was read out by the King’s Advisor Abdellatif Menouni.

The monarch recalled the launching of a series of integrated projects to further link the Kingdom’s North with the South as part of the celebrations to mark the fortieth anniversary of the Green March for the recovery of Morocco’s Southern Provinces, noting that these projects include the planned freeway, which complies with international standards and specifications, and which will link Agadir and Dakhla, via Tiznit and Laayun, all the way to the Mauritanian border in the South.

In addition to the quantum leap made in the development and modernization of Morocco’s road network, a strategic plan for the next 20 years has been developed in which great importance is attached to road asset preservation, the King pointed out.

“Consistent with our integrated vision, this plan gives special importance to strategic connections with West Africa. The Moroccan southern provinces will thus constitute a bridge between Morocco and its African roots. Moreover, the construction of the Maghreb freeway, to the East, will continue in order to facilitate trade with neighboring countries,” the monarch underlined.

He went to add that these ambitious plans, together with major infrastructure and solar and wind energy projects are not designed only for the development of the region. “Through them, we hope to create closer bonds with African sister nations and contribute to their development as well,” he explained.

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Tourist potential of Kyrgyzstan and Second World Nomad Games presented in Beijing

Bishkek, May 6 / Kabar /. A presentation of tourist potential of Kyrgyzstan and Second World Nomad Games, organized by the Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in China is held in Beijing, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

The presentation was attended by representatives of ministries and departments of China, China’s tourism companies and journalists of Xinhua News Agency, CCTV-Russian, magazines “China” and “Silk Road-review.”

During the presentation, the embassy showed videos about Kyrgyzstan and the presentation of the Second World Nomad Games, participants provided relevant information materials.

In his speech, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to China K. Baktygulova informed about the First World Nomad Games in 2014 and the upcoming 2016 Second World Nomad Games, in particular, spoke about the history, purpose and the main mission of this event. K.Baktygulova, noting the uniqueness of the entertainment and upcoming games, invited participants to visit Kyrgyzstan and take an active part in the Second World Nomad Games.

Former Ambassador of China to Kyrgyzstan Yao Peyshen in his speech spoke about his warm impressions while working as the Ambassador of China to Kyrgyzstan and urged the Chinese side to visit Kyrgyzstan.

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United Nations park is opened in Southern Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek, May 6 / Kabar /. The opening ceremony of the United Nations Park is held in Osh, the press service of the Osh Mayor’s Office reports.

In his opening speech, Osh Mayor Aitmamat Kadyrbaev thanked the United Nations agencies for the contribution to the development of Osh.

“Today is a special day. The opening of the park is another contribution to the development of the city, to the strengthening of friendship. Osh Mayor’s Office is ready to provide full support and assistance in the creation of favorable conditions for further cooperation in the implementation of UN programs and projects in Osh,” said Kadyrbaev.

The total amount of construction of the park made 2.229 million 420 soms, including the Municipality of Osh 194,850 soms. Also, the contribution was made by UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and the World Food Programme.

More than 15 thousand people living in the district “Cheryomushki”, including 78 thousand children have access to the new social infrastructure. The city’s population, which is more than 243 thousand 300 people, and guests have access to general information about the United Nations.

The opening ceremony was attended by the Mayor of Osh, Aitmamat Kadyrbayev, and heads and members of the UN system agencies’ Executive Boards who were on a visit to Osh.

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New Gas Pipeline Will Adda US$1b Annually To National Afghan Budget

Kabul (BNA) May 02, 2016 – The first awareness giving conference on “Importance of TAPI project Implementation” was recently held with the presence of Herat and Farah local authorities, deputy ministers of Afghanistan, Turkmenistan foreign minister, deputy minister of mines and petroleum security authorities and local people. In believe of economic experts, implementation of TAPI project is an important step in the direction of economic self-sufficiency and reduction of financial dependence to other countries.

Saifuddin Saihoon an economic expert said, “Although the main goal of this project is transferring of gas to Pakistan and India but Afghanistan can also supply gas through this pipeline. Therefore increase of national budget, improvement of employment and economic self-sufficiency and reduction of government budget deficit are among those parameters that would be possible by implementation of TAPI project and ultimately improves economic development of the country. Afghanistan would earn US $ one billion via transit fee of this project and twelve thousands employment opportunities will be created.

Basier Ahmadi economic expert said, “Implementation of TAPI project means that coordination of regional countries can cause economic development, public welfare, security, expansion of cooperation and trust among regional nations as wells central and southern Asian people. Beside regional importance, implementation of this project remains direct and indirect impacts on our neighboring especially Islamic Republic of Iran.

He emphasized that TAPI is not an alternative project but it is energy demand in South Asia in the next 20 years that even several TAPI projects would not be capable to meet their energy needs.

Our citizens called TAPI as one of the biggest economic projects in the region said, “Today TAPI has proved that plays rules must be equal in the regional and every country want to have share in this projects and use its advantages.

Shahed a student of a private university said, “This project should not be faced problems in the future. The involved countries should study all its aspects. It could bring many advantages to involved countries.

Mokhtar Ahmad a resident of Kabul said, “Security is one of the main discussions for implementation of this projecT.”

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Afghanistan National Wushu Team Competes in Pakistan

Kabul (BNA) May 3, 2016 – Afghanistan national Wushu team left Kabul for Pakistan to participate in Wushu competitions to be launched between Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan athletes in Lahor city. Mujeeb Qarizada member of publication of sport department told BNA, from Afghanistan 10 Wushu athletes, two referees, a coach and a panel traveled to Pakistan. The competitions will start at Thursday 5 May 2016 and will continue for 5 days, Qari Zada added.

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Turkish airports to serve 200 million passengers this year

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency, May/06/2016 – Turkey’s airports are on target to see 200 million passengers pass through their doors by the end of the year, said Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Minister Binali Yıldırım on May 6.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Yıldırım said 180 million passengers used Turkey’s 55 airports last year and figures from the first quarter of 2016 showed this would be surpassed.

“We are starting to reap the fruits of our investments,” he said.

“Our airports serve 416,000 passengers per day. Turkey progresses towards an annual 200 million passengers in civil aviation numbers,” he said.

“Millions of our people who never took a plane before are now able to make all their trips by plane,” he added.

Istanbul’s new airport is due to come into service in February 2018.

“I believe the third airport in Istanbul will provide the service needs of Asia and Africa, as well as Istanbul, and carry Istanbul to the position in the aviation market which it deserves,” Yıldırım said.

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Turkish students receive top youth enterprise award for child autism model

Hülya Güler – ISTANBUL, May/06/2016 – A group of students from Ankara’s Middle East Technical University (ODTÜ) have received the top award in a youth enterprise competition held by a leading business organization for their educational model for children with autism.

The free educational model for children with autism was developed by Hasan Zafer Elçik, Sercan Değirmenci and Can Dörtkardeşler. Their project, which was developed for mobile devices, took the top award at the “These Young People Have the Potential!” competition, which is held by the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD). The Ankara-based ODTÜ students were offered a 75,000-Turkish-Lira monetary prize as well as corporate job opportunities.

Mert Zerin, Furkan Demirkıran, Cem Özer, Eda Özlem and Çağrı Eyüboğlu from Istanbul-based Marmara University ranked second in the competition with their project aiming at the purification of platinum group metals.

Yağmur Boğa, a student from Dokuz Eylül University in the Aegean province of İzmir, and her sister, Nurdan Boğa, from the İzmir Ekonomi University, ranked third with their online platform through which textile designers and brands can meet.

A total of 3,195 students from 144 universities in 70 provinces applied for the competition with 1,292 business ideas. Entrepreneurship training was offered to all students who passed the preselection process.

Finalists took the opportunity to develop their business ideas and create detailed business plans in a two-month training process with their mentors from TÜSİAD.

TÜSİAD President Cansen Başaran-Symes said at the award ceremony on May 5 that their aim was to open doors for young people to realize their business and enterprise ideas.

“We want to affect young people positively with the successful, inspiring, questioning and mentoring identity of TÜSİAD. We want to enable them get an entrepreneurial spirit and make this a career target,” she noted.

Koç Holding vice chair and TÜSİAD Vice President Ali Koç, who mentored the finalists from the Fırat University, said the new generation has a different and dynamic way of doing things.

“The business world needs to prepare itself for this. Young people should also adapt themselves to the corporate world. In the mentoring process, I realized that all ideas were good. We all need to be open to all ideas. Patents matter here. Young entrepreneurs need to develop themselves in the patent acquisition process, which is long and costly. I saw that they were a bit weak at this point,” he added.

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Shurooq eyes talented Emiratis with disabilities at Ajman Career Fair 2016

SHARJAH, 4th May, 2016 (WAM)–Talented Emiratis with disabilities were the target for Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) at the third Ajman Career Fair, which concluded on Tuesday, May 3, at the Emirates Hospitality Centre, Ajman.

The authority used its presence at the fair to attract Emiratis living with physical challenges to join its growing workforce, in line with its strategy to equip its human resources with competencies from all segments of society.

‘A start for the future of a successful career’ was Shurooq’s tagline for its participation at the event, which was organised by the Ajman Central Department for Human Resources Development and held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman and Chairman of the Executive Council.

Sheikh Ammar also visited Shurooq’s stand, and where representatives from the authority presented their career prospects and strategies to sustain the most talented and diversified workforce which will contribute significantly to Shurooq’s corporate mission in transforming Sharjah as a central investments destination.

Marwan Jassim Al Sarkal, CEO of Shurooq, said, “Ajman Career Fair is an important platform for government and private organisations to communicate and interact with Emirati job seekers. Shurooq participated in the event to offer career prospects for Emirati competencies from across all categories, with special attention given to attracting talented Emiratis with disabilities.”

“This focus was in alignment with the directives of the UAE’s wise leadership to support Emiratisation and provide all forms of support for people with disabilities. There are many gifted people living with physical challenges who have the ambition and passion to dedicate their efforts to serving their nation. In doing so, they add substantially to their community,” he said.

Al Sarkal underlined that Shurooq is working to ensure that its vision, which is committed to diversity in all its projects, is also reflected in its work environment. He said that in pursuing this goal the authority has succeeded in building a team of highly qualified staff from diverse cultural backgrounds and with an array of expertise and experience. He stated that this mix fostered a healthy exchange of knowledge and ideas and led to an increased ability of its staff members to innovate – a quality that supports its drive towards excellence.

The CEO of Shurooq continued, “As representatives of the emirate of Sharjah in local and international forums, the make-up of our work team mirrors the rich blend of Sharjah’s community. It showcases the central role played by the emirate in socio-economic diversity through its demographic structure that comprises all segments of society.”

The two-day Ajman Career Fair saw the participation of 45 bodies representing local and federal organisations, military institutions, private companies and banks, all offering an array of job opportunities in their efforts to enhance Emirtisation.

The Ajman Career Fair was established to offer career prospects to Emirati job seekers and to introduce school and university students to the requirements of the job market. It aims to familiarise the public with the various government agencies and private companies in the UAE, as well as interview fresh graduates, Emirati jobseekers and professionals who are looking for a new career path.

Shurooq is a government entity dedicated to developing the emirate of Sharjah and stimulating its investment climate in collaboration with local and federal bodies. It seeks to evaluate and follow-up on investment, tourism and business-related infrastructure projects. It also participates in the comprehensive development of Sharjah and oversees the operations of a number of the emirate’s most popular tourist destinations.

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UAE-Catalonia Business Forum held in Barcelona

BARCELONA, 5th May, 2016 (WAM) — The UAE-Catalonia Forum took place in Barcelona, Spain, this week. The event, organised by the UAE Ministry of Economy, in cooperation with the UAE’s Consulate-General in Barcelona, welcomed the participation of high-profile figures and more than 400 Emirati and Spanish companies.

Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade Affairs, headed the UAE trade and investment delegation in the presence of Salem Rashid Al Owais, UAE Consul-General in Barcelona.

The Catalan side was represented by the Catalan Business Federation, Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and other Catalan institutions. The forum reviewed ways to promote trade and economic relations between the two sides and the available investment opportunities as well as to focus on sectors of mutual interests.

In his keynote speech, Al Kait said that the trade exchange volume between the UAE and Spain exceeded US$2 billion in 2014, compared to US$2.6 billion in 2015. He also reviewed the distinguished ties between the two countries at all levels by focussing on the strength of economic and trade ties as well as the significant presence of the private sector of the UAE and Spanish investors in the two countries’ markets.

Al Kait pointed out that there are more than 100 Spanish trade agencies and over 2,737 trademarks registered with the UAE Ministry of Economy.

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Lebanon: 3 Seawater Windmills set up to preserve Salt Extraction Heritage

Beirut, 28 Apr 2016, NNA – Under the patronage and co-organization of Anfeh municipality, “Anfeh Festivals Associations” set up three wind turbines at the entrance of Anfeh village, so as to safeguard the Salt Extraction Heritage of this region. The turbines had the colours of the sea; white and blue.

Anfeh Festivals Associations’ Head, Dr. Emile Najem, put emphasis on making the heritage of this region shine. “Extracting salt was the source of living to Anfeh locals,” he said.

However, Dr. Najem explained that these seawater mills were no longer productive as before because the local markets have become overfilled with Egyptian salt at cheaper prices.

Anfeh Festivals Associations’ Head applauded the son of the town “Rameh Nakhoul” for making these windmills in such a short time.

In the midst of reviving Anfeh’s heritage, the Festivals Associations of Anfeh and its surrounding is still working on putting back the windmills on the beach, within a project that includes 20 seawater windmills.

The project is being carried out in cooperation with Anfeh locals (expatriates and residents) and Deputy Speaker Farid Makari.

Secretary General of the Heritage organization in Koura District, engineer George Sassine, said that setting up these mills was an integral part of Anfeh’s heritage.

He shed light on the environmental aspects of the windmills; “they operate on renewable energy without causing polluting or emissions.”

Let’s hope all Lebanese regions would work on preserving their heritage and bring back the wonderful Lebanese traditional image.

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Jordan is a safe haven in volatile region, says PM

Amman, May 6 (Petra) — Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour said that Jordan is a safe and stable country, despite its location in a volatile region that suffers wars and conflicts.

He added that the evils and wars in the Middle East have negatively affected the image of the Arab and Muslim world.

The premier made his remarks during a ceremony held to honour participants in the Women in Parliaments Global Forum, which was hosted by Jordan. Ensour told the attendees that Arab and Muslim nations are not different from others, adding “our civilization is peaceful, but it was defamed by terrorist organizations that do not represent Islam”.

Jordan, which is a small country, has received waves of refugees from Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Syria over the past decades the premier said. These waves, he affirmed, had had their repercussions on the Kingdom’s infrastructure, services and main sectors.

Ensour reiterated the importance of finding a solution to the Palestinian issue, based on the two-state solution and the UN resolutions. He added that solving the Palestinian issue would solve many problems in the Middle East.

Further, the prime minister underlined the key role played by parliaments to convince the Palestinians and Israelis to sit on the negotiations table again and work together to achieve peace and stability in the region.

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Philippines’ airline Cebu Pacific boosts direct service to Doha

MENAFN – The Peninsula – 05/05/2016 – DOHA: The Philippines’ leading airline Cebu Pacific (CEB) will add a frequency between Manila and Doha beginning July 9. The only Philippine carrier flying non-stop between these two cities will operate its additional frequency every Saturday increasing its services to three times a week.

CEB also operates Manila-Doha flights every Monday and Thursday and Doha-Manila flights every Tuesday and Friday.

The new flight will depart Manila at 2:45pm and arrive in Doha at 7:15pm. The return flight will depart Doha at 8:55PM and arrive in Manila at 11:25AM the next day.

The airline also launched an exclusive seat sale for travelers heading to Manila from Doha. Those who wish to visit the Philippines between June 1 and September 30 2016 can avail of Cebu Pacific’s competitive ticket prices from today until May 8 2016.

For as low as QR599 (one-way all-in fare) travelers from Doha can fly non-stop to Manila just in time for the summer break as well as Eid Al Fitr. They can also book connecting flights to other destinations on Cebu Pacific’s extensive domestic and international network.

“CEB remains committed to bringing the Philippines closer to the growing Filipino community based in Qatar. We hope that with our additional frequency and lowest year-round fares they will be encouraged to fly back home and reunite with their families ad friends more often. Travelers from Qatar who wish to visit the Philippines’ many exquisite island destinations may also take advantage of CEB’s convenient same terminal connection via Manila” said Alex Reyes CEB General Manager for Long Haul Division.

“In the same way we also look forward to enabling more Filipinos to visit Doha gateway to the Gulf countries in the Middle East. Travelers from the Philippines may book more affordable direct flights to Doha via CEB to explore the country’s metropolitan museums visit its sprawling architectural wonders and take part in its rich Islamic culture” added Reyes.

The additional flight will be utilizing CEB’s wide-bodied Airbus A330 aircraft with a configuration of 436 all-economy class seats. Hot meals seats with extra legroom and onboard Wi-Fi among others are options that can be added to the fare.

Qatar has the third-largest Filipino community in the Middle East. CEB already serves the other markets for Global Filipinos: United Arab Emirates via direct flights to Dubai and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia via Riyadh. CEB is also the only Philippine carrier flying direct between Manila and Kuwait.

CEB’s 57-strong fleet is comprised of 7 Airbus A319 36 Airbus A320 6 Airbus A330 and 8 ATR 72-500 aircraft. It is one of the most modern aircraft fleets in the world.

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China-Arab research institute established in NW China

YINCHUAN, May 5 (Xinhua) — A national-level China-Arab research institute was launched on Thursday in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, where many of the country’s Muslim Hui ethnic minority live.

The institute, affiliated with Ningxia University in the regional capital of Yinchuan, will bring together Chinese and Arabic scholars and focus on such areas as Sino-Arabic diplomatic affairs, Sino-Arabic cooperation in finance, technology transfer and industry, and cultural and educational exchanges between China and Arab countries.

The institute is expected to be a top think tank offering decision-making consultation in Sino-Arabic exchange and cooperation, as well as to cultivate a group of specialists in Arabic studies, university authorities said.

Yahya Eslayyem Salman Qaralleh, Jordanian ambassador to China, said the research institute will help China deepen its understanding of Arab people and culture and help the Chinese government make more objective and convincing decisions with regard to Arab countries.

About one-third of Ningxia’s population of 6.68 million is Muslim. The region expects to use its religious links to the countries involved in the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative to revive trade and relations with countries along the route spanning Central Asia, Russia and Europe.

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Kuwait, Vietnam Sign Agreements, MoUs to Boost cooperation

Hanoi, 6 May 2016, (SPA) – Kuwait and Vietnam on Friday signed a number of agreements and MoUs to bolster bilateral cooperation, during the ongoing visit by the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah to the Southeast Asian country.

Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid Suleiman Al-Jarallah and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Le Khanh Hai inked an agreement to enhance cultural and artistic ties. The two officials also signed a MoU for cooperation in sports. Vice Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) signed a cooperation agreement with Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry Dr. Vu Tien Loc.

Then a framework agreement to expand Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemicals Project, jointly operated by Kuwait, Vietnam, and Japan, was also signed by Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI) CEO Bakheet Al-Rashidi and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam and Chairman of Petrovietnam Nguyen Phu Trong.

The signing ceremony followed official talks between the Premier and Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Xuan Phuc earlier today. Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak and an accompanying delegation arrived in Hanoi on Thursday form Dhaka after a visit to Bangladesh. The Prime Minister is on a four-leg Asian tour that also includes South Korea and Japan, KUNA reported.

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Azerbaijan joins international tourism exhibition in UAE

Baku, 30 April 2016, (AZERTAC) – An Azerbaijani participated in the International Travel Fair in Dubai, UAE. Arabian Travel Market is the travel and tourism event unlocking business potential within the Middle East for inbound and outbound tourism professionals. Tourism destinations from the Middle East and around the world showcase a diverse range of accommodation options, breathtaking tourism attractions and new airline routes. The exhibition speaks to decision makers of the highest level from industry and government. With latest industry news, market leading products and appealing educational content Arabian Travel Market is a dynamic business environment for buyers and sellers from all over the world and from every sector of the industry.

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Baku International Multiculturalism Centre enters EU`s Transparency Register

Baku, 6 May 2016, (AZERTAC) – Baku International Multiculturalism Centre has been registered with the Transparency Register, which was set up and is operated by the European Parliament and the European Commission.

The aims of the Centre are to study and promote interaction among the cultures of different regions in multicultural life; realize projects for the systematic elimination of shortcomings in education, culture, science and other social spheres that hinder the harmonious development of the moral integrity of the individual; to analyze and disseminate the personal experience of world experts on multiculturalism, as well as of past and contemporary scholars, political, social, cultural and arts figures; to prepare and implement a mechanism for the appreciation and development of prominent local and foreign citizens who have a special role in personal wellbeing and in the establishment of relations of mutual respect and trust among nations and religions.

Baku International Multiculturalism Centre is organizing Summer Schools each year in order to promote living together in multicultural societies.

The Centre has organized dozens of events on protection of minorities, and one of the recent events was in Stockholm to discuss the experiences of multiculturalism tolerance with The Institute for Security and Development Policy and also in Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

The Centre has offices in Germany, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Israel and Moldova.

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“Azerbaijan’s Path of Development” book launched in Beijing

Beijing, 6 May 2016, (AZERTAC)- A Chinese version of “Azerbaijan’s Path of Development” book has been presented in Beijing, China.

The event was co-organized by the Embassy of Azerbaijan in China and Center for Strategic Studies under the Azerbaijani President (SAM).

Participants in the event included representatives of the Chinese government bodies, research centers, higher education institutions, organizations and the diplomatic corps in Beijing, including ambassadors of Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, as well as media representatives.

Addressing the ceremony, Azerbaijani Ambassador to China Latif Qandilov, deputy head of the foreign relations department of the Presidential Administration Arastu Habibbayli, director of SAM Farhad Mammadov, vice president of Chinese Institutes of Contemporary International Relations Feng Zhongping, Chairman of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce Lu Jianzhong, Professor of Wuhan University Liu Zaiqi, Georgian Ambassador to China David Aptsiauri stressed the importance of the book for the Chinese society as a source of substantial information about Azerbaijan. They described Azerbaijan as a country with ancient history and rich culture. The speakers highlighted Armenia`s military aggression against Azerbaijan, saying it was thanks to outstanding statesman Heydar Aliyev’s return to political power and his far-sighted policy and leadership that Azerbaijan coped with the threat of collapse and embarked on the path of development.

“Oil contracts signed with major world companies opened new opportunities for the overall development of Azerbaijan. Large-scale energy and transport projects initiated by the national leader and realized under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev have turned Azerbaijan into the regional leader.”

The speakers noted that Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s state visit to China last December paved the way for closer cooperation between the two countries.

The speakers said both countries supported each other’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of internationally recognized borders.

Azerbaijan, which supports the Silk Road Economic Belt project initiated by China, could significantly contribute to the realization of this initiative as an important part of the East-West and North-South transport corridors, the speakers said.

Written by Rashad Karimov, leading research fellow at Foreign Policy Analysis department, SAM, the book highlights Azerbaijan’s history, geography and culture, path of development, national state building, economic progress, oil industry, future development plans, Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, national leader Heydar Aliyev’s invaluable role in the modern history of Azerbaijan, the country’s rapid development and achievements under the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev in recent years, and contribution of first lady, President of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation Mehriban Aliyeva to the promotion of Azerbaijani culture in the world. The book also provides an insight into recent international events held in Azerbaijan, as well as Azerbaijani-Chinese relations.

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Palmyra rises from the ashes, world’s journalists witness its triumph over terrorism

Provinces, 6 May 2016, (SANA) – It isn’t the first time that Palmyra with its civilization and history triumphs over darkness; throughout history, the ancient city of Palmyra withstood tyrants and invaders and rose time and again as a beacon of culture and a living testament to human history. Now, Palmyra triumphs over Takfiri forces that swooped in to blot out civilization.

Palmyra city, which was liberated by the Syrian Arab Army from the taint of terrorism, rises again from the ashes in spite of all the destruction, vandalism, and looting committed by ISIS in it. This time, its triumphant return is made possible by Syrian skills and by support from St. Petersburg in Russia which took it upon itself along with the UNESCO to work towards restoring Palmyra to its former glory.

On Thursday, Russian and Syrian Culture Ministers Vladimir Medinsky and Issam Khalil, accompanied by Homs Governor Talal al-Barazi and UNESCO representatives, toured the city of Palmyra to inspect the damage caused by ISIS to the city’s ancient monuments in order to plan for the restoration of the sites.

On a relevant note, around 150 journalists from the United States, Britain, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, China, Russia, and other countries are documenting the liberation of Palmyra and witnessing the scale of the crimes of ISIS and its blind hatred.

A Russian officer who was also touring the city told SANA that all the goals set by the Syrian and Russian leaderships regarding Palmyra gave been achieved, and that the demining process is underway to clear the city and its surroundings of landmines.

The Syrian Arab Army and supporting forces restored security and stability to the entirety of the city of Palmyra on March 27th 2016. Since its hordes spilled into Palmyra in May 2015, ISIS committed heinous massacres, claiming more than 500 lives, including the murder of dozens at the Roman amphitheatre in July 2015.

The terrorist organization also carried out a systematic campaign of vandalism against Palmyra’s monuments, destroying tens of landmarks like the Arch of Triumph, the tower tombs, the Temple of Bel, and the Temple of Baalshamin, in addition to vandalizing the National Museum in the city and murdering renowned Syrian archeologist Khaled al-Asaad.

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Bangladesh university holds two-day robot competition

RAJSHAHI, 7 May 2016, (BSS)- A two-day Inter-university Robot Competition ended at Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology (RUET) on Friday with the call of more expansion of robotic study and research.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (IEEE) of RUET organised the “Robo-DROID Championship- 2016″ in association with EMK Centre for the first time.

This programme was designed to prepare students for international level robotic competition and enhance their skill in advanced robotics.

Besides, the event made a platform for the enthusiasts of Robotics, Electronics, Programming and Mechanics. Also officials from renowned companies enlightened the event.

In addition to a robotic affairs seminar, there were three competitions– Line follower robot, Maze Solver Robot and Mobile App– in the championship with participation of 52 teams from various universities throughout the country.

Acting Vice-Chancellor (VC) Professor Abdus Sobhan addressed the closing session and distributed prizes and crests among the winners as the chief guest with Prof Dr Abdul Goffar Khan, Coordinator of IEEE, RUET Unit, in the chair.

Dean of Electrical and Computer Science Faculty Prof Rafiqul Islam Sheikh, Prof Anwarul Abedeen from Dhaka University of Engineering and Technology, Gazipur and Representative of Sebran Engineer Abdus Saqui also spoke.

“Importance and area of robotic study and research has gradually been increasing across the world,” Prof Abdus Sobhan said, adding that tendency of using robot is mounting in various fields from family to state level.

He said, “Technology is changing very fast and the people with the help of this technology are being upgraded dynamically… RUET has become the platforms through organising innovative events to update not only the students but their surroundings.”

The VC hoped that the event will play a pivotal role in preparing and expanding fields of robotic study and research in Bangladesh.

Wide-ranging expansion of modern information and communication technology is very important to make the nation happy, prosperous, educated and free from illiteracy, he added.

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Growing cottage industry enhances rural economy: Speakers

RANGPUR, 6 May 2016, (BSS) – The growing cottage industry has been creating jobs for rural poor alleviating their poverty through increasing production of quality handicraft products enhancing rural economy, speakers said here yesterday.

They also put emphasis on providing more assistance to rural poor, including distressed and unemployed women, both from the public and private sectors for flourishing brighter prospects of cottage industries to improve their livelihoods and life standard.

They were addressing inaugural ceremony of the 10 day-long ‘Clothes and Handicrafts Fair- 2016′ being organised by Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) at Public Library ground in the city.

Director (Marketing & Design) of BSCIC and Joint Secretary of the government Mostafa Kamal attended the launching ceremony and formally inaugurated the fair by cutting ribbon as the chief guest.

With Deputy General Manager of BSCIC for Rangpur Khairul Alam Almazee in the chair, Deputy Commissioner Rahat Anwar, Rajshahi Regional Director of BSCIC Altaf Hossain and Office Secretary of district Awami League Tauhidur Rahman Tutul were present as special guests.

Private sector owners, entrepreneurs and organisations have set up 36 stalls displaying readymade garments and other clothes, handicraft and handloom products produced in the local cottage industries and small-scale enterprises in the fair.

Tens of hundreds of people including officials, teachers, students, young generations, housewives, men, women, adolescents, professionals, civil society members and commoners thronged the fair on the inaugural day.

Talking to BSS last night, organisers of the fair said huge sale of the locally produced handicrafts, handloom garments, boutiques, household and other goods was noticed in the fair on the inaugural day creating enthusiasm among local entrepreneurs.

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FAO launches Int’l Conference on Global Soil Threats in Iran

Tehran, 4 May 2016, (IRNA) – FAO in the Islamic Republic of Iran on Wednesday launched “Int’l Confab on Health and Lifestyle: Global Soil Threats” with global experts from the Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) hosted by the Faculty of Geography of University of Tehran.

FAO said that the two-day summit (4-5 May 2016) that has been organized in collaboration between the Representation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the Islamic Republic of Iran, University of Tehran and Secretariat for the Advancement of Science and Technology in the Islamic World has focused on issues such as soil threats, assessment and evaluation methods, strategies for rehabilitation and sustainable soil management and soils, ecosystems and human well-being.

The ITPS international experts who were from Australia, Iraq, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey have consulted with the Iranian counterparts on creating a framework for scientific cooperation between researchers in Iran and the other countries in different regions. They were also working on exchange of experiences and knowledge of soil management, conservation and exploitation.

Highlighting the year 2015 as the International Year of Soils, the FAO Representative to the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr. Serge Nakouzi underscored that the Status of the World’s Soil Resources report which was launched in December 2015 has identified that global soils are in only fair, poor or very poor condition.

“The current outlook is for the situation to worsen unless concerted actions are taken by individuals, the private sector, governments and international organizations” he added in his message to the inauguration ceremony of the summit.

He stressed that one of the success of the International Year of Soils was the advocacy for including soils into the Sustainable Development Goals which recognized the need to preserve and restore degraded land and soil.

The Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils (ITPS) was established at the first Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership held at FAO Headquarters on 11 and 12 of June, 2013.

The ITPS is composed of 27 top soil experts representing all the regions of the world. The main function of the ITPS is to provide scientific and technical advice and guidance on global soil issues to the Global Soil Partnership primarily and to specific requests submitted by global or regional institutions. The ITPS will advocate for addressing sustainable soil management in the different sustainable development agendas.

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U.A.E. will host the 15th Arab Regulators Network Meeting

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 6 May 2016, (NNN-WAM) – UAE will host the 15th Arab Regulators Network (AREGNET) meeting in 2017, it was announced at the end of the 14th AREGNET meeting, held in Amman, Jordan.

Established in 2003, AREGNET members include all telecommunication regulators in the Arab World. They aim to establish cooperation, promote exchange of opinions, and prepare policies and procedures to harmonise the region’s organisational practices and achieve integrated services and sustainable development goals within the sector.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), has concluded its participation at the event, which yearly gathers leading telecommunication and information technology experts and regulators from the Arab World, to exchange knowledge and experiences, discuss ways to promote cooperation, and ensure an investment-friendly environment in the Arab market.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, TRA’s Director General, headed the delegates, who also comprised Eng. Nasser Bin Hammad, Director International Affairs, and Hasan Al Ahbabi, Regulatory Economist. During the meeting, which tackled various subjects, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), a closed panel discussion, attended by heads of Telecommunication Regulators, addressed various key issues such as AREGNET’s vision and programmes in the next five years; strategic techniques to promote frameworks and organisational policies formed according to the highest global standards; future plans and programmes to enhance the telecommunication and information technology sector; and knowledge-based societies, in support of sustainable development goals.

The attendees also discussed various projects involving AREGNET team, such as, over the top applications (OTT). Additionally, a consultant committee, comprising the UAE, Mauritania, and Jordan was formed, to review and improve AREGNET’s structure and functions. During the meeting, the UAE presented two papers regarding IoT and its role in the Arab region’s sustainable development objectives.

Prior to the formal meeting, a specialised workshop was held to provide international experts with a platform to discuss the future of Arab smart cities and the role of IoT in accelerating the region’s smart transformation through promotion of efficient services and related procedures. According to the recent report, issued by McKinsey Global, IoT’s contributions to the global economy will reach USD 11 trillion annually by 2025. MENA region will achieve high growth in the cloud data amid the region’s current large-scale infrastructure and information technology development projects.

“Our participation falls in line with our joint objective to actively take part in global and regional events, organised to promote cooperation and coordination, share visions and frameworks, and exchange knowledge and experiences. This is a fundamental step towards promoting digital knowledge and enhancing the Arab World’s information technology sector. This will bolster the region’s efforts to become globally competitive, promote its telecommunication sector, help accelerate changes in the international market, and support its aggressive national and regional smart transformation initiatives, to attain further growth and development,” Al Mansouri said.

“The UAE Government puts a high premium on IoT as an essential part of its smart transformation programme in its bid to improve its performance, ensure happiness in local society, and promote the interests of its citizens,” he added.

Eng. Bin Hammad underscored the UAE’s leading global status in promoting cooperation with regard to IoT. Eng. Nasser Al Marzouqi, UAE representative in the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), is a member ITU-T Study Group 20 responsible for IoT.

According to him, the country’s status reflects its wise leaders’ keenness to actively contribute to and support efforts towards establishing smart governments and cities and placing the UAE on the global map in terms of technological developments. The country also aims to harness the abilities of its citizens to head international committees and occupy high positions in global organisations.

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PM Urges Expansion of Kuwaiti Oil Industry Worldwide

HANOI, Vietnam, 6 May 2016, (NNN-KUNA) – Kuwait’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, stressed the imperative to expand Kuwait’s oil industry operations worldwide.

The Premier, in the course of his visit to Vietnam, attended a presentation by Kuwait Petroleum International (KPI), on the work being done on the Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical Project, which is jointly operated by Kuwait, Vietnam, and Japan.

Sheikh Jaber praised KPI’s work on the vital project, and its penchant to absorb international technical expertise, in the field of petroleum production.

During the presentation, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors, and Chief Executive Officer of Kuwait Petroleum Corporation (KPC), Nizar Al-Adsani, extolled the importance of the Nghi Son Refinery and Petrochemical Project, and the role KPI plays in it, noting that the project would generate long-term dividends for KPI and the Kuwaiti oil industry in general.

In his turn, KPI’s Chief Executive Officer, Bakheet Al-Rashidi, gave a similar presentation, in which he described the project’s associative operations, in the continents of Asia and Europe, noting that KPI’s objective is to augment Kuwait’s dividends from its international oil and refinery productions.

Nghi Son Refinery is considered among the most important oil facilities in Asia. It is located about 200 kilometres south of Hanoi. Construction began on Oct 23, 2013, and refinery operations are targeted for 2017. Planned capacity is 200,000 barrels per day.

Nghi Son refinery, when completed, would have a designed capacity of 10 million tonnes of crude oil per year, with possibility to increase the capacity to 20 million tonnes. It is expected to cost USD 9 billion. The refinery project will also include a petrochemical complex, energy facilities, pipelines and storage systems. In addition to LPG, unleaded gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel and diesel, the refinery is projected to produce bitumen, propylene and BTX, as a raw material for the petrochemical industry.

The refinery will be supplied with crude oil imports from Kuwait.

The project is developed by a consortium of international companies: Petrovietnam holds 25.1%, Idemitsu Kosan and Kuwait Petroleum International each holds 35.1% each, and Mitsui Chemicals has the remaining 4.7% of shares. A contract to set up a joint venture was signed on Apr 7, 2008.

The refinery and petrochemical project integrates for Kuwait refinery operations with the aim of generating solid dividends, by working with international partners to minimise risks, while selling Kuwaiti oil products in Vietnam and elsewhere, in Asia and Europe.

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New Collaboration Between Cuba and Algeria

HAVANA, 6 May 2016, (NNN-PRENSA LATINA) – Between 8 and 10 of May, there will be in Algiers the 20th meeting of the intergovernmental commission for the collaboration between Cuba and Algeria, announced the authorities of the Caribbean island.

Across a press release, the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment (Mincex) informed that in the above-mentioned meeting the Cuban delegation will be headed by the Minister and cochairman of the intergovernmental commission, Rodrigo Malmierca.

Meanwhile, the Algerian representation will be directed by the Minister of Health, Population and Hospitable Reform, Abdelmalek Boudiaf.

During the meeting, adds the note, Malmierca will support meetings with authorities of the Algerian government and will visit places of social interest.

For his part, the experts of both delegations will discuss new cooperation interests for the 2016-2017 period in the sectors of public health, biotechnology, sports, hydraulic resources, agriculture, among others.

The Cuban-Algerian collaboration began in May 1963 when Havana sent a brigade integrated by 58 medical collaborators to Algiers.

Since then, the island has offered health services in the Algerian hospitable system of basic attention and in other sectors.

The note details, this will be done in virtue of the “affectionate links of friendship and brotherhood” that exist between both peoples and governments.”

Until now, the Cuban-Algerian intergovernmental commission was established for the economic, commercial, scientific, technical and cultural collaboration, and has had 19 working meetings.

The last one of them took place in Havana, from December 15 to 18, 2014.

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Confucius in Institutes Enhance China-Egypt Ties

CAIRO, 30 April 2016, (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.

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Algeria Invests 50 BLNS USD to Develop Water Resources

ALGIERS, 4 May 2016, (NNN-APS) – Algeria has invested about 50 billion US dollars during the past few years to carry out a number of big infrastructure projects for water storage in order to avoid a crisis in drinking water supply and to ensure citizens have are connected to the sewage system, says Minister of Water Resources and Environment Abdelwahab Nouri.

Algeria had spent an average of seven to eight billion USD a year on developing water resources projects, the minister said here Monday in reply to questions posed by members of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Budget during discussions about the Budget Bill.

The session, chaired by the committee’s chairman, Mahjoub Bedda, was also attended by Minister for Relations with Parliament Tahar Khaoua.

The minister said one of the historic decisions taken by Algeria at the beginning of the third millennium was to build a total of 84 dams for impounding water and 13 sea water desalination plants, with a production capacity of more than 2.3 million cubic metres a day, apart from other projects throughout the country.

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Bangladesh Approves Multi-Billion USD China-Financed Rail Project

DHAKA, Bangladesh, 04 May 2016, (NNN-Xinhua) – Bangladesh’s highest economic policy-making body Tuesday approved a multi billion U.S. dollars China-financed project to develop a direct railway connectivity between the capital Dhaka and the southwestern parts of the country.

The “Padma Bridge rail link” project with a cost of 349.88 billion taka (4.47 billion U.S. dollars) was approved at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday.

Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal told reporters after the meeting that Rail Division is entrusted to implement the project by 2022.

He said a total of 172 kilometers new rail track would be installed under the project.

Chinese government will provide 247.49 billion taka as a loan for the project and the remaining expenditure would be borne by the government, he added.

Bangladesh’s cabinet committee on economic affairs in March approved a proposal from the country’s railway ministry to give the project to China Railway Group Ltd.

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Nigeria to Become World’s Largest Free Digital TV Platform

JOS, NIGERIA, 2 May 2016, (NNN-NAN) – Nigeria is projected to become the largest free digital television platform globally with an estimated 30 million TV households by the June 2017 when it switches over from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The Deputy Chairman of Cable Channels Nigeria Ltd. (CCNL), Mohammadu Bawa, disclosed this at a gala night attended by Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Jos, capital of Plateau State in north-central Nigeria, on Friday.

CCNL is the official Nigeria contents aggregator for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) which the country is expected to completely switch on to by June 2017.

Bawa said that compared with Britain, which had 10 million consumers, Australia with 13 million and New Zealand with three million, Nigeria would be in the lead with its 30 million free TV households by 2017.

He said the free digital TV broadcast platform would offer home entertainment and educative channels to viewers through DTT and Digital Satellite (DSAT) which would come on board at a later date.

“The responsibilities of the free TV included platform and contents management, consumer, audience measurement, signal contribution, branding and promotion and other services.

In addition to the free-to-air channels,” he said.

Bawa said there would be electronic programming guide to viewers on what were available for viewing and other public information.

“The free TV will comprise existing national content and local free-to-air channels, selected thematic channels and selected international free-to-air channels,” he said.

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Iran Enjoys Proper Capacities for Luring Foreign Tourists: Qashqavi

TEHRAN, 5 May 2016, (NNN-IRNA) – Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Parliamentary and Expatriates Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on Wednesday that Iran enjoys “proper capacities” for luring foreign tourists to visit the country.

Qashqavi, who is in Copenhagen, made the remarks in a meeting attended by several Iranian citizens residing in Denmark.

He reiterated that Iranians residing abroad could play a pivotal role in attracting more foreign tourists to Iran.

Pointing to provision of facilities for issuance of 11 models of visas in Iran, family visa for instance, he added the five-million population of Iranians living abroad, enjoy proper capacities for luring at least 25 million tourists to visit the Islamic Republic.

Referring to successful Iranian achievements in the national and religious fields abroad, he urged Iranians living in the Netherlands to safeguard their religious identity and convergence.

Qashqavi traveled to Denmark on May 1, 2016, at the invitation of his Danish counterpart for a three-day visit.

Since arrival in the Denmark, Qashqavi has held separate talks with several high-ranking Danish officials.

Last week, Qashqavi said negotiations with 30 countries to ease visa formalities are underway and some 4.5 million of foreigners obtained Iran’s visa last year.

During the period, the number of Iranians, who obtained European visas, increased by 30 percent and some 50 percent for non-European countries indicating credibility of Iranian passports and easing visa issuance, he said.

Countries such as Turkey, Syria and Bolivia are among countries which do not require visa for both sides’ nationals, he said.

Iran has unilaterally canceled visa for Azeris and Egyptians, and Lebanese nationals can obtain a 30-day airport visa at no cost, he said.

Malaysian nationals can collect a 15-day airport visa at no cost as well, Qashqavi said.

Countries except the US, Britain, Canada, Jordan, Somalia, Colombia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India (Excluding Iraq who can obtain air port visa at Mashad airport) other countries can obtain a 30-day airport visa upon arrival, he said.

Medical treatment visa will be issued half the price of tourist visa for the patients and their companions, he said.

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Algeria to Add 180,000 Beds to Boost Tourism Capacity

ALGIERS, 4 May 2016, (NNN-APS) – Algerian Minister of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry Amar Ghoul says the country will add an additional 180,000 beds to boost the tourism industry’s capacity nationwide over the next three years.

The minister, who is currently on an inspecting tour of hotels, thalasso-therapy centres and travel agencies in Zeralda, Staoueli, Sidi Fredj, El Biar and Hussein Dey, some of which are still under development, said Monday that the expected 180,000 additional beds to be added to the currently available 100,000, would contribute to the creation of 100,000 new direct jobs.

The tourism sector’s goal for the medium-term is to carry out projects providing 500,000 beds countrywide, the minister disclosed.

Ghoul, who announced that the country would see the launch of 3,000 tourist projects this year, said the increase in the number of tourist facilities would have an impact on the improvement of services and lead to better control over pricing and thus put an end to imbalance between supply and demand.

In order to supervise the development of these facilities, the ministry has developed a programme to train both working staff as well as students at institutions of higher education and vocational training.

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Jordan: 7,554 Tourists Visit Southern Mazar Shrines in April

SOUTHERN MAZAR, 4 May 2016, (NNN-Petra) – The number of visitors to the shrines and tombs of Prophet Mohammad’s companions in the Southern Mazar District,140 kilometers south of Amman, reached 7,554 in April.

The Supervisor of the Shrines, Osama Al Tarawneh, Tuesday told Petra that a total of 2,023 visitors were from Islamic countries, 487 from Arab states and 5,044 were from Jordan, he added.

The religious significance of the Southern Mazar sites dates back to 629 AD when the leaders of the Muslim army, Jaffar Bin Abi Taleb, Zeid Bin Haretha and Abdullah Bin Rawaha, were killed in the Mutah battle against the Byzantines.

The tombs and shrines are located some 150km south of Amman.

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EU To Give Turkey Visa-Free Travel to Save Migrant Deal

BRUSSELS, 4 May 2016, (NNN-DAILYSTAR.LB) – The European Commission will Wednesday give conditional backing to visa-free travel for more than 80 million Turks as the EU tries to save a controversial deal with Ankara to solve the migrant crisis.

Brussels is also set to announce further measures to tackle the biggest influx of migrants since World War II, with an extension of border controls in the passport-free Schengen zone and an overhaul of its asylum rules.

Turkey has threatened to tear up the March agreement to take back migrants who cross the Aegean Sea to Greece if the EU fails to keep its promise to allow Turkish citizens to travel without visas to the Schengen area by next month.

Many EU states still have concerns about the legality of the deal and the human rights situation in Turkey, and the plan for 90-day visas must be cleared by all 28 nations in the bloc and the European Parliament.

The Commission is expected to find that Turkey has achieved only 64 of the 72 benchmarks needed for visa-free travel, which range from biometric passports to respect for human rights, European sources said.

This means that it will back the visa arrangement if Ankara completes the so-called visa liberalization roadmap by the end of June, the sources said.

The Turkish deal is the cornerstone of the EU’s plan to curb a crisis that has seen 1.25 million Syrian, Iraqi, Afghan and other migrants enter since 2015, though the numbers of arrivals have dropped since March.

Turkey meanwhile has been rushing through laws in recent days to meet the EU’s requirements, although that effort has occasionally stalled because of a series of mass brawls in parliament.

The new laws include making a reciprocal visa agreement for EU nationals, including those of Cyprus, with which Turkey has long-standing tensions over its occupation of the north of the Mediterranean island.

“Yesterday, a government decree has been adopted by the Turkish government allowing the access to Turkish territory without visa for citizens of all 28 member states, I repeat all 28,” Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said.

On Wednesday the EU will also allow countries to extend border controls in the Schengen area as a result of the migrant crisis and recent terror attacks.

Germany, France, Austria, Denmark and Sweden requested the extension, saying the border situation remains “extremely volatile”.

Since 2015 several countries in the 26-nation Schengen zone have reintroduced border controls due to the migrant crisis — effectively suspending its principle of border-free travel.

European sources said the Commission was to approve the measure in line with its so-called “roadmap” for the restoration of the normal functioning of Schengen “by the end of the year”.

EU rules say countries can reintroduce border controls for up to two years, in periods of up to six months at a time, in exceptional circumstances.

Also Wednesday, the EU is expected to unveil an overhaul of its asylum rules to more fairly share responsibility for migrants and refugees arriving in Europe.

The so-called Dublin rules currently in force have been criticized as obsolete and unfair to countries like Greece, where most of the migrants entered the bloc last year.

Under those rules, migrants seeking asylum must lodge their application in the country where they first arrived, and should be returned there if they try to move elsewhere in the bloc.

The Commission is expected to propose a special mechanism whereby refugees and migrants can be relocated to other countries if a crisis is declared — for example in Greece.

The Financial Times reported that countries that do not take their share could be fined 250,000 euros per person that they refuse to accept.

But the EU is expected to shun a complete overhaul of the Dublin rules.

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Kuwait to Host O.I.C. 4th International Humanitarian Forum

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 6 May 2016, (NNN-SPA) – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), will hold the 4th International Humanitarian Forum in Kuwait, next Sunday, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the OIC said in a statement.

It said that, the two-day forum, themed “Partnership: Strength and Sustainability,” is expected to witness the signing of agreements and memoranda of understanding (MoUs), for the establishment of partnerships in the humanitarian field.

The forum will also have a final discussion on the code of conduct, of the International Humanitarian Forum and the international organisation’s guide in the area of security risks, which constituted an important basis for the work of humanitarian and relief organisations, the Jeddah-based OIC said.

Five sessions will be held during the forum, which will include topics on ‘available opportunities among Islamic humanitarian institutions, regional and international organisations’ and ‘partnership in humanitarian action.’

The forum will be hosted by Kuwait’s Rahma International, Turkish İHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, International Islamic Relief Organisation, Qatar Charity, Munazzamat al-Da’wa al-Islamiia and MEDAD Studies & Research Centre, the OIC said.

Al-Da’wa al-Islamiia is an international non-governmental religious organisation, based in Khartoum, Sudan.

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Mideast Airlines Outpace Global Growth in March: IATA

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 6 May 2016, (NNN-WAM) – Middle East carriers saw in March, a 12 percent rise in demand, the largest monthly increase among regions, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said.

Capacity increased 13.6 percent in the region, the load factor dropped 1.1 percentage points to 76.5 percent, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

Globally, passenger demand rose by 6.2 percent. Capacity grew slightly faster worldwide, at 5.9 percent, which pushed the average load factor down by half a percentage point to 79.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Mid-east carriers continue to expand their global network.

Earlier in the week, Dubai’s state-owned Emirates Airline, the world’s fastest growing carrier, started flying to Yinchuan and Zhengzhou, the carrier’s fourth and fifth destination in China.

Emirates also upgraded its flight from Dubai to Taipei, by using an Airbus A380 Superjumbo.

Qatar Airways said, it would add 14 new destinations in 2016, including a new direct flight between Doha and Auckland, which is poised to become the world’s longest in civil aviation.

“We do expect further stimulus in the form of network expansion and declines in travel costs. However, the wider economic backdrop remains subdued,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

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Nigeria Seeks to Revise Business Laws to Boost Investment

ABUJA, 6 May 2016, (NNN-NAN) – Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Dr Okey Enelamah has urged the National Assembly to review some of the existing business laws to provide the enabling environment to attract more investment into the country.

Addressing the House of Representatives for the ongoing sectoral debate’ on strategies for the diversification of the nation’s economy here Thursday, he said that legislative intervention was crucial to guarantee ease of doing business in the country.

He said the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), Railway Corporation Act and Nigeria Postal Act required overhaul to align them with realities of the 21st Century as well as global best practices.

He also urged the lawmakers to fast-track the Independent Warehouse Regulatory Agency Bill and Secure Transactions in Movable Assets Bill, to guarantee financial savings for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“When passed, these pieces of legislation will improve access to funding for small businesses and allow investment in infrastructure. It is only by reviewing these laws that we will be able to guarantee the much needed private investments in this sector and this will go a long way to removing many obstacles that stand in the way of business innovation in Nigeria,” he said.

The minister added that Nigeria would expand its scope of infrastructure which is crucial in guaranteeing an enabling environment for business.

“By infrastructure, we mean not only the hardware infrastructure like transport networks and reliable power supply but it also includes transparent regulation, policy consistency, the rule of law and a culture of efficient collaboration and synergy among various government agencies,’’ Enelemah said.

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