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23 May, 2016

Muslim actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui gets roaring applause at Cannes

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 23 May 2016 (16 Sha’baan 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.



Malaysia: One Million Visitors Projected at Royal Floria Putrajaya

One million local and foreign visitors are expected to attend the Royal Floria Putrajaya 2016, which begins on May 27 to June 4 at the Pesisiran Tasik, Precint 4 in Putrajaya. Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) president Datuk Seri Hasim Ismail said the chrysanthemum had been chosen as the floral theme of the event, now in its ninth year. “The attractions of the festival are the Mystical Forest, Mermaid’s World, Chrysanthemum Garden, Cats Garden and terrarium workshop (planting in glass). “This time, we also organise dialogues on horticulture and landscaping for two-day from May 27 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre,” he said. The floral and horticulture event is designed to educate the public about the importance of appreciating and conserving the environment. “We expect more visitors to this year’s Royal Floria as it will be held during the school holidays while PPj has also already made large scale promotion nationwide as well as in neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Singapore,” he said.

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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


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



Chinese, Malaysian Museums Vow Deeper Art Collaboration

BEIJING, China May 16 (NNN-Bernama) — Angkatan Pelukis SeMalaysia (APS) and Capital Museum of China, vowed to deepen collaboration in promoting the arts of both countries, to strengthen Malaysia-China friendship.

APS’ Director of Exhibition, Raja Mohamed Nizam Raja Mohd Ali, in describing Malaysia-China ties as strongly bonded, said that China’s Capital Museum promised to further promote foreign cultures and arts to allow the people to learn and appreciate the friendship between the two countries.

“We hope next year or 2018, a Silk Road Art Exhibition will be held in both countries.

“China’s Capital Museum also urged APS, through the Embassy of Malaysia in China and Malaysia-China Friendship Association (MCFA), to collaborate with artists in China to produce each other’s cultural reflections through artworks and exhibit it in the Capital Museum,” he told Bernama after a meeting with Capital Museum.

Recently, 12 Malaysian artists were in Beijing for the “Melaka: Where Friendship Begins, The Strengthening of Maritime Silk Road Connectivity” art exhibition, held from May 7-12.

Prior to the trip, the delegation also had a meeting with China’s Capital Museum, attended by Vincent Sim, MCFA committee member, Maamor Jantan and Raja Mohamed Nizam from APS as well as the 12 Malaysian artists.

Capital Museum were represented by Executive Director, Bai Jie, Professor of Relics and Museology, Huang Xueyin and deputy division chief of Beijing People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, Yu Zhou.

Raja Mohamed Nizam said such commitment for deeper collaboration through arts would be a giant leap for Malaysian artists as they would be able to exhibit and collaborate with international standard and high-calibre artists in China.

“APS hopes this collaboration could be taken more seriously. We will need to include Lembaga Pembangunan Seni Visual Negara under the directive of Prof Datuk Dr Mohamed Najib Ahmad Dawa to plan and execute this project effectively,” he said.

He said currently there were around 200 active members under APS.

Raja Mohamed Nizam said APS will need to bring in and expose more senior and high-calibre local artists to participate in the upcoming art exhibition, a collaboration with China’s Capital Museum.

“APS also hopes artists selected for this future event will be more focus and produce high quality artworks as we are representing our beloved country and not as individuals,” he added.

Raja Mohamed Nizam said Malaysia’s Ambassador to China, Zainuddin Yahya, also pledged to assist APS to promote arts as this is the best tool to portray the cultures and people of a country.

The ambassador hoped that artists will work closely together to become stronger and relevant to the art scene, Mohamed Nizam said, adding that the ambassador also conveyed that the Malaysian embassy would assist to ensure any event involving both countries will be successful.

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World Archaeological Experts Fascinated By Malaysia’s Sungai Batu Ancient Site

SUNGAI PETANI, Kedah state, Malaysia May 21 (NNN-Bernama) — World renowned archaeological experts who gathered here to attend the Kedah Tua International Conference (KTIC) were fascinated by the Sungai Batu ancient site during a visit here, today.

Though there were many questions raised by participants during the guided tour led by Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Director of Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Professor Dr Mokhtar Saidin, they are nevertheless in awe.

The Director of the Institute of Archaeology and Social Anthropology at the University of Peshawar, Professor Nasim Khan, was amazed by the discoveries at the Sungai Batu archaeological site saying that he had learned and seen so many things about the ancient civilisation here.

“We discussed so many things about the iron smelting and about the ancient structures that still hold so many questions about what the structures are for,” he told Bernama at the site during the visit.

According to Nasim, who is on his third visit here, he had no doubt that the findings and the dates were credible, noting that there were different measures to dating a site including analysing solid materials and using scientific measures such as carbon-dating technique.

“Sometimes we have material evidence such as potteries, inscriptions or coins that can be analysed to date a site. Unfortunately we didn’t find any coins, very few shells and I think no inscriptions too for this site.

“But as far as scientific dating is concerned, they (Prof Mokhtar and his team) have done a lot and they are sure that the date they are proposing could be as what they said (535 B.C.),” he said, adding that Sungai Batu could possibly be the oldest ancient site in the Southeast Asian region.

Expert on Mesoamerican civilisation at Vanderbilt Institute of Mesoamerican, United States, Professor Arthur Demarest said it was amazing to have top experts from each part of the world to compare and get the sense of how the Sungai Batu site fitted into other regions.

According to him, history in the Maya era in Central America was interesting because unlike Sungai Batu, where the iron production had continued, the iron production there attracted other powers and led to a great deal of warfare in the region and it ended.

“One of the thing that is fascinating here is the continuity over such a long period in the iron production. Not sure if the public realised, but when iron comes in, everything changed.

“Any civilisation that has iron will win the war because they have efficient tools. So the civilisation just has this tremendous impact whenever it (iron) comes in. This is really very important,” he told a press conference here after the visit.

Meanwhile for Nahar Cahyandaru, a conservator at the Borobudur Conservation Office, Indonesia, the Sungai Batu archaeological site could be a world ancient site in the future.

“We have received very good explanation from Prof Mokhtar and I have noted some strong statements from him. One of them is that this site is the oldest site or oldest bricks structure in Southeast Asia.

“Also how the iron industry is the oldest one in the region or maybe the only one. Those were some of the statements that make this site very important,” he said.

The two-day Kedah Tua International Conference kicks off tomorrow, which among others highlights the Kedah Tua or Old Kedah civilisation and its significance in Southeast Asia, besides discussing global archaeology.

Held in conjunction with the Old Kedah Festival 2016, the conference will also touch on the importance of archaeology at the Bujang Valley, and draw comparisons between all major civilisations during the 6th century BCE to the 12th century.

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Malaysia: A.R. Rahman Gives Spectacular Performance At Live Concert

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia May 15 (NNN-Bernama) — Oscar-winner and ‘Jai Ho’ composer for Slumdog Millionaire, A.R. Rahman, mesmerised 20,000 audience members with his stellar performance at his live concert at the Merdeka Stadium here Saturday night.

The musical mogul performed his numerous hit compositions from the 1990s till his latest hit dedicated for legendary Brazilian footballer, ‘Pele: Birth of a Legend’.

Although the concert was delayed for almost two hours due to heavy downpour, Rahman managed to yet again win the hearts of his fans with their favourite numbers, including Mustafa Mustafa, Usilampatti and songs from Alaipayuthey as well as Bombay movies.

Malaysia Major Events General Manager Tony Nagamaiah said this was the second time the A.R. Rahman Live Concert was held with the government’s support.

“The last time we had him here was in 2014 and it was also a stellar performance enjoyed by 15,000 international and local audience members.

“It is our hope to continue this relationship with the great musical genius and we welcome him to Malaysia anytime. In fact, he could consider Malaysia his second home and we feel that there is even opportunity for him to groom our local talent,” said Tony in a statement.

The concert was organised by Black Horse Movie (M) Sdn Bhd and supported by Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB), which is an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia.

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Malaysian State Of Sarawak Optimistic Of Doubling Chinese Tourists

BEIJING, China May 20 (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysian state of Sarawak is optimistic of doubling Chinese tourists arrivals this year to 20 per cent this, thanks to improved tourism facilities and with the soon-to-be launched connecting flight service between Hong Kong and Kuching.

Sarawak state Tourism Board (STB) Marketing Manager (North Asia) Catherine Lau said the twice weekly connecting flight service would begin from May 28.

“Sarawak sees a 10 per cent increase in Chinese tourist arrivals, annually, but this year STB aims to double that figure,” she told reporters after the launch of the Tourism Malaysia Pavilion at the Beijing International Tourism Expo here Friday.

Lau said the soon-to-be launched connecting flight service would further increase Sarawak’s appeal to Chinese tourists as the flights from Hong Kong to Kuching would only take three-and-a-half hours.

She said Sarawak offered niche tourism products which focused on, among others, culture, nature, adventure and a mixture of modern and British era atmosphere.

“About 52 per cent of Chinese tourists arrived in Sarawak are free independent travellers who are looking for travelling experience, not just for holidays,” she said.

However, Lau said Sarawak appealed the most to Europeans.

“We are intensifying our efforts to bring in more tourists from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Singapore,” she added.

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Malaysia: One Million Visitors To Visit Royal Floria Putrajaya

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia May 20 (NNN-Bernama) — One million local and foreign visitors are expected to attend the Royal Floria Putrajaya 2016, which begins on May 27 to June 4 at the Pesisiran Tasik, Precint 4 here.

Putrajaya Corporation (PPj) president Datuk Seri Hasim Ismail said the chrysanthemum had been chosen as the floral theme of the event which would be held for the ninth year.

He said the Royal Floria Putrajaya would be launched by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah (Queen) on May 26, at 3pm.

“The attractions of the festival are the Mystical Forest, Mermaid’s World, Chrysanthemum Garden, Cats Garden and terrarium workshop (planting in glass).

“This time, we also organise dialogues on horticulture and landscaping for two-day from May 27 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre,” he told a news conference to introduce Royal Floria Putrajaya 2016’s smart partners here Friday.

Hasim said, the exhibition would see the participation of 32 agencies and through its smart partnership efforts to reduce the cost borne by the government.

He added it was also to enable the Floria to become a self-sufficient unit as well as a platform for the agencies to promote their services and products, thus educating the public about the importance of appreciating and conserving the environment.

“We expect more visitors to this year’s Royal Floria as it will be held during the school holidays while PPj has also already made large scale promotion nationwide and at foreign countries such as Thailand and Singapore,” he said.

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Sarawak Optimistic Of Doubling Chinese Tourist Arrivals

BEIJING, China May 20 (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysian state of Sarawak is optimistic of doubling Chinese tourists arrivals this year to 20 per cent this, thanks to improved tourism facilities and with the soon-to-be launched connecting flight service between Hong Kong and Kuching.

Sarawak state Tourism Board (STB) Marketing Manager (North Asia) Catherine Lau said the twice weekly connecting flight service would begin from May 28.

“Sarawak sees a 10 per cent increase in Chinese tourist arrivals, annually, but this year STB aims to double that figure,” she told reporters after the launch of the Tourism Malaysia Pavilion at the Beijing International Tourism Expo here Friday.

Lau said the soon-to-be launched connecting flight service would further increase Sarawak’s appeal to Chinese tourists as the flights from Hong Kong to Kuching would only take three-and-a-half hours.

She said Sarawak offered niche tourism products which focused on, among others, culture, nature, adventure and a mixture of modern and British era atmosphere.

“About 52 per cent of Chinese tourists arrived in Sarawak are free independent travellers who are looking for travelling experience, not just for holidays,” she said.

However, Lau said Sarawak appealed the most to Europeans.

“We are intensifying our efforts to bring in more tourists from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Singapore,” she added.

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Chinese Tourist Arrivals To Malaysia Picking Up

BEIJING, China May 20 (NNN-Bernama) — Chinese tourist arrivals to Malaysia is picking up, thanks to the implementation of the electronic visa (-e-visa) March 2015, as well as, various tourism promotions.

Malaysian Ambassador to China Zainuddin Yahya said since the e-visa was launched, 15,669 e-visa applications were received and 19,934 application for electronic travel registration and information (ENTRI).

“The processing fee for visa application is not an obstacle…Chinese tourists to Malaysia is showing an increasing trend,” he said after launching the Tourism Malaysia Pavilion at the Beijing International Tourism Expo (BITE) here Friday.

Present was Tourism Malaysia Beijing office Director Noran Ujang and Tourism Malaysia Chairman Wee Choo Keong.

E-visa is for applicants with a stay not exceeding 30 days and cost 200 yuan (RM128) in processing fee.

The ENTRI service is for those on a short trip not exceeding 15 days and cost 160 yuan (RM102) to process.

Applicants can register at www.windowmalaysia.my/evisa, the official website for Malaysian e-visa application.

Also present was Tourism Malaysia Beijing Office Director Noran Ujang and Tourism Malaysia Chairman Wee Choo Keong.

Zainuddin said Chinese travellers still preferred to walk-in for visa applications and more efforts must be made to raise awareness among the locals to apply visa online.

“About 10 per cent of them are applying for visa online while 90 per cent still prefer to walk-in to the visa centre to apply due to lack of awareness especially, among those from the interiors of China,” he added.

He said lack of tech savvy and Internet facilities, especially at the inner part of China, explained the small percentage of tourists applying for visa online.

Zainuddin said the efforts were being made to increase awareness of applying visa online not only among tourists but also the business community, who travel to Malaysia.

“We are planning to work with WeChat (China’s mobile text and voice messaging communication service) and Huawei (Chinese tech company) to raise this awareness,” he added.

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Art exhibition for school students opened at Khan Asaad Basha in Damascus

Damascus, SANA, 22 May، 2016 – An art exhibition titled “paper and color” showcasing works by school students was opened at the historic Khan Asaad Basha in the Old City in Damascus on Sunday.

The exhibition, which is organized by the Education Ministry, will remain open until May 26th, and features assorted paintings, drawings, sculptures, and handicrafts projects for students from the art centers of schools in Damascus, Damascus Countryside, and Quneitra provinces, including pieces made from recycled materials.

Attending the opening, Education Minister Hazwan al-Waz said the goal of such exhibitions is to spread the culture of art and develop students’ creativity and their artistic and aesthetic sensibilities.

He added that by pursuing their studies and partaking in artistic activities in spite of terrorism, Syria’s children are sending a message to the world saying that Syria will remain a beacon of knowledge and science.

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Turkey aims to woo 1 million Chinese this year

(Xinhua), 2016-05-18 – Turkey’s beleaguered tourism sector aims to attract over 1 million Chinese this year to compensate for the dwindling foreign arrivals from Europe and Russia, tourism professionals say.

“Turkey should urgently expand its target market to China as the country faces one of its worst years when it comes to tourism,” says Cetin Gurcun, secretary general of the Association of Turkish Travel Agencies.

Repeated terror attacks in Istanbul, Ankara and other Turkish cities amid a deteriorating security situation, coupled with poor relations with Russia, have brought down the number of foreign travelers and revenues to an extent that is being felt by all in the industry.

Serdar Ibis, member of the board of the travel company Dorak Tour, which focuses on Asian tourists, says: “Turkey should target at least 1 million Chinese tourists this year.”

Turkey’s tourism professionals say that it is possible to meet the 1 million Chinese target as the country’s unique cultural tourism, which combines the modern with the ancient, appeals to Chinese visitors.

“Turkey has everything that a Chinese tourist would like. It is home to many civilizations - Seljuk, Hittite, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman,” says Ibis.

Gurcun also says that TURSAB, or the association of Turkey’s travel agencies, is determined to provide all the support needed to tourism agencies to attract more Chinese visitors in the short term.

The number of Chinese visiting Turkey in 2015 was 314,000, according to TURSAB data.

In the first quarter of 2016, Turkey saw a drop of 17 percent in foreign arrivals.

Turkey’s Mediterranean resort of Antalya, a big draw for Russians, saw their arrivals fall by 90 percent in the first three months of this year.

Moscow imposed punitive measures, including a travel ban on Ankara, soon after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in November last year, a move that has had a major impact as Russians used to constitute Turkey’s second largest source of tourists after Germany.

The bombings that have hit Turkey this year and claimed more than 80 lives, among them 12 German tourists in Istanbul, have also hit tourism.

Meanwhile, the threat of more attacks has prompted a wave of cancellations.

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LEAD STORY: Muslim actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui gets roaring applause at Cannes

By: IANS | Cannes | May 17, 2016 – Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui was welcomed with cheers and applause post the screening of his film “Raman Raghav 2.0”, which is based on Mumbai’s notorious serial killer Raman Raghav, at the 69th Cannes Film Festival here.

Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s “Raman Raghav 2.0”, which narrates story of the serial killer, who went on murder spree in Mumbai in the 1960s, was screened at the film extravaganza on Monday.

It features Nawazuddin as the notorious serial-killer alongside Vicky Kaushal, who plays a police officer.

In a clip shared by Nawazuddin’s team with IANS, the actor is seen entering the hall amid an unending cheer.

Before the screening, Kashyap had tweeted: “First screening has begun… House is packed … Hmmmmm”.

“Raman Raghav 2.0” also earned plaudits on the foreign shores, with hollywoodreporter.com stating that “Siddiqui’s demented serial killer ups the scare ante” and variety.com commenting that “the verve and nerve of Kashyap’s filmmaking continues to excite.”

Nawazuddin is a regular at the prestigious film festival.

“Raman Raghav 2.0” marks his eighth film at the film gala in four years. Earlier films to make it to the Cannes were “The Lunchbox”, “Gangs of Wasseypur”, “Miss Lovely” and “Liar’s Dice” to name a few. His seven films as an actor and one short film as a producer have gone to the film festival.

His debut production “Miyan Kal Aana”, that is directed by his brother, Shamas Siddiqui, was also screened at the festival.

The Cannes Film Festival started on Wednesday and will go on till May 22.

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Foreign Ministry, NU to open Islamic Center in Afghanistan

Jakarta, May 12 2016 – The Foreign Ministry in cooperation with Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama ( NU ), will establish an Indonesian Islamic Center ( IIC ) in Kabul, Afghanistan, to strengthen religious cooperation with Afghan clerics.

Fazal Ghani Kakar, the founder of Afghanistan’s NU, an independent NU that closely cooperates with the Indonesian NU, said the IIC would be built on a 10,000 square meter plot of land in Kabul’s Ahmad Shah Baba Mina area donated by the Afghan government.

“With the ICC, we could further strengthen our ties … Afghanistan is now in dire need to learn (about moderate Islamic teachings) from Indonesia as well,” Kakar said.

The IIC would consist of four buildings, including a Grand Mosque, where the Afghan NU would deploy one of its clerics to disseminate Islamic teachings, and a library that would comprise books that could teach young Afghani not only about Islam, but also Indonesian culture, Kakar said.

The center would also have a social house to accommodate exchange visits between Indonesian and Afghan ulemas, where they would come together and learn from each other’s experiences, Kakar said.

In addition, Kakar said, a clinic would be built within the IIC for Afghan people, who were affected badly by the prolonged conflict and in need of treatment, since numerous healthcare facilities in the area had been damaged by the war.

The statement was made at the end of the two-day International Summit of the Moderate Islamic Leaders (ISOMIL), organized by NU in Jakarta and joined by more than 300 participants including Muslim figures from 35 countries.

Earlier, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said the government had recently begun constructing the IIC in the Fatiha building, around 500 meters from a mosque in Ahmad Shah Baba Mina.

The IIC was hoped to encourage cooperation among Muslim academics and clerics from Indonesia and Afghanistan to promote moderate Islamic views, Retno said.

NU deputy chairman Maksum Machfoedz said his organization had mainly assisted the government in advocacy in order to push for the establishment of the IIC to facilitate religious cooperation with Afghanistan.

Besides, the NU also provided scholarships for Afghan students to study about Islam Nusantara, a tolerant form of Indonesian Islam that upheld values of peace, modesty, and cultural respect, at NU universities, Machfoedz said.

“The cooperation should be followed up by setting up another event like ISOMIL to pursue world peace,” Machfoedz said.

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President of Cannes Film Festival hails Iran’s cinema

Tehran, May 22, IRNA – President of the Cannes Film Festival Pierre Lescure hailed Iran’s rich culture and civilization stressing that Iran’s cinema enjoys a unique status in the region.

Lescure made the remarks in a meeting on Saturday in Cannes, France, with the visiting Head of Iran’s Cinema Organization Hojatollah Ayoubi who is currently in that country to attend the significant cinematic event.

Lescure also expressed satisfaction over cooperation between Cannes Film Festival and Iran’s cinema.

Iran participated in Cannes 2016 with two films, ‘Inversion’ by Behnam Behzadi and ‘Salesman’ by the Oscar-winning Iranian Director Asghar Farhadi.

Meanwhile, Head of Iran’s Cinema Organization Hojatollah Ayoubi, appreciated the Festival for paying due attention to the Iranian cinema.

Referring to success of the Iranian cinema in the international arena as well as Iran-France cordial political and cultural relations, Ayoubi voiced readiness of the Iranian film industry to expand cinematic cooperation with France.

He stressed that the intelligence of the Iranian young generation as well as their humanitarian and poetic views have given a new life to the country’s movie industry.

Ayoubi also invited Lescure to pay a visit to Iran which was welcomed by the president of Cannes.

Lescure said his visit to Iran would bring him a great opportunity to become more acquainted with the Iranian cinema which is unique in the region and a cultural power which cannot be competed in the Middle East.

Closing ceremony of the 69th Cannes Film Festival will be held on Sunday (May 22).

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Afghanistan Concerned about status of its aviation sector

Kabul (BNA) Sunday May 22, 2016 – Afghanistan national aviation administration said the other day that besides regulation of the flights activities inside and outside the country, it had to seriously safety of the flights as well.

Spokesman for the independent national air-aviation, Qasem Rahimi said, that the admin had the responsibilities of overseeing and leadership of other air-aviation companies and other flights’ activities, through a recently on hand program under the Afghanistan air-aviation law, as it had to check those air the companies registered with the administration during flight.

Controlling the country’s air was also the responsibility of the ministry as it could gain eye-catching achievements since the last more, two years of its establishment, particularly in training professionally in training of tens of youths, the spokesman added.

He said billions of Afghanis had been collected as revenues in the field of air-aviation for the government of Afghanistan and could partially contribute to the government and people in this field, and moreover building different air-ports in provinces and connecting them to the capital and other world countries could be called a development in this respect, the administration for the independent national air-aviation had made so far, according to the spokesman who added four international air-ports are still operational in the country.

“The airports in the center and provinces, like Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat and Kandahar are equipped with modern facilities,” said Rahimi adding this was not sufficient and the administration was planned to launch more fresh programs in this field. Five domestic and ten foreign air-aviation companies have so far been given work permits, said the spokesman.

Meanwhile, flight safety had been said to be of the vital priorities, requiring activation of a separate department to reach the goal, as it was the only responsible dept. to comprehensively check and oversee as will to investigate all companies with work licenses and their tentative flights, otherwise they couldn’t use the Afghan air-space for flight.

The independent national air-aviation is fully monitoring the condition and would do its best to prevent all flight errors. But something takes place as defections, this could be occur in all devices and technical equipment, so conversion of the Safi related airplane was among such issues and no concerning,” said Rahimi when enquired about why the plane of Safi air-company failed to properly use the runway, causing return from other way.

This is while, the Afghan passengers are complaining about the out of date planes in all Afghan companies including Ufoq-e-Sharq, Safi, Aryana, Kam-Air and Afghan jet, with routine flights from the capital to the provinces and out of the country.

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Islamic central bankers briefed on 13th Islamic Summit Decisions

18/05/2016, The OIC Secretary General, Iyad Ameen Madani briefed the 41st Annual Meeting of Board of Governors of Islamic Development Bank (IDB), which commenced its proceedings in Jakarta, Indonesia on 17 May 2016, on the decisions of the recently held 13th Islamic Summit Conference in Istanbul, Turkey on 14-15 April 2016, on socio-economic cooperation.

In his speech, which was delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary General Amb. Hameed Opeloyeru, to the Jakarta meeting, Madani underscored the Summit’s call for additional commitment of funds and in-kind contributions to meet the approved target capital of US10 billion for the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development.

The speech also dwelt on the Summit’s approval for the elaboration of a comprehensive policy for infrastructure development, which will include regional and thematic frameworks for intra-OIC cooperation, based on the positive experiences realized during the implementation of the Special Programme for the Development of Africa (SPDA), and the OIC Plan of Action for Central Asia (OIC-PACCA).

The OIC also participated in the Seminar on Islamic Microfinance for Poverty Alleviation in OIC Member States, which took place in Bogor, Indonesia, on 14-15 May 2016 on the sidelines of the annual Board of Governors’ meeting. In it the Secretary General emphasized the fact that the Islamic microfinance has now featured prominently on the agenda of the OIC, including the current drive towards its steady expansion with the aim of further strengthening the OIC poverty alleviation strategies.

In addition to launching the Special Programme for Central Asia, a physical infrastructure development component of OIC-PACCA, the meeting took note of the elaboration of OIC-2025:Programme of Action and its new target of 25% for intra-OIC trade by the year 2025.

Another far-reaching decision of the meeting is the admission of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana as the 57th member of IDBand this means that all 57 Member States of OIC are now members of IDB.

Similarly, the meeting accepted the request of the incumbent President of IDB Group, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali to retire from the headship of the IDB Group management and elected Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed bin Hamza Asaad Hajjar from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as his successor.

It should be recalled that the OIC Secretary General has, in his earlier statement, extolled the valuable and monumental contribution of Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali in successfully steering the affairs of IDB Group, an OIC specialized institution, since its inception in 1975, a feat that has seen the bank consistently earning triple A’s from all the world renowned rating agencies.

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OIC Operationalizes its Conflicts Resolution Mechanism

Jeddah, 18/05/2016 – The first consultative session of the OIC Wise Persons Council (WPC) and the Special Envoys of the Secretary General (SESGs) was held at the General Secretariat on 17-18 May 2016. The event marks the operationalization of the OIC mechanism for conflicts resolution and peace building, strengthening the role of the Organization in the field of mediation and preventive diplomacy.

The session, beside the OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani, was attended by the WPC members Mr. Abdullah Gul, former President of Turkey, Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former President of Indonesia and General Abdulsalami A. Abubakr, former Head of State of Nigeria alongwith the Special Envoys, Foreign Ministers Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar (Malaysia), Dr. Cheikh Tidiane Gadio (Senegal), Ambassador Sayed Kassem El-Masry and Ambassador Abdullah A. Alim, among others.

The Secretary General’s initiative to operationalize the OIC conflicts resolution mechanism emanates from the provisions of the OIC Charter, which aspires for interstate relations based on justice, mutual respect and good neighborliness and commits its Member States to settle their disputes through peaceful means and refrain from use or threat of use of force in their relations. The OIC – 2025, a landmark document containing strategic goals for the next decade, adopted by the 13th Islamic Summit Conference (Istanbul 14-15 April 2016) aspires to enhance the role of the OIC in peaceful settlement of disputes and conflict prevention through preventive diplomacy, promotion of dialogue and mediation.

The joint meeting of the WPC and SESGs, inter alia, deliberated on various political and security challenges facing the Member States, humanitarian dimension of conflicts, combating Islamophobia, challenges in fostering inter-cultural and inter-religious harmony, conflict situations in Muslim minority areas and challenges in preventive diplomacy, mediation and conflict resolution. The meeting explored a series of steps to develop together a roadmap for realizing the OIC vision of peace architecture through promotion of dialogue, mediation, preventive diplomacy and peacebuilding. The overall envisioned role of the WPC is both consultative and mediatory to support the peace initiatives of the OIC.

The meeting underlined that preventive diplomacy is the center point of the OIC peace architecture. The members of the WPC will use their good offices to employ preventive diplomacy and support dialogue, mediation, and negotiation among conflicting parties.

From the point of view of a new vision and sense of responsibility which requires OIC to assume wider and proactive role in dealing with conflicts situations in the Muslim world, the WPC will significantly contribute in strengthening the role of the Organization in fostering peace, security, stability and harmony in the Muslim world and beyond.

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Tunisia: 35 companies at Fancy Food Show in New York

by AfricanManager – May 20, 2016 — 35 Tunisian companies active in the food sector will participate in the Fancy Food Show to be held from June 26 to 28, 2016 in New York, said CEO of CEPEX, Aziza Htira.

She also noted that an entertainment program will be organized on the sidelines of the Tunisian participation.

The Fancy Food Show is the largest specialty food trade event in North America and the leading showcase of industry innovation.

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Algeria 2nd National Prize on Ending Violence against Women

Sunday, 22 May 2016 ALGIERS- The Ministry of National Solidarity, Family and Women’s Affairs announced Sunday, the organization of the 2nd National Prize on Ending Violence against Women, under the theme “Violence Against Women in the Legal Perspective,” said the ministry in a communiqué.

The contest is open to intellectuals, artists and men of culture as well as humanitarian, social, cultural, scientific, economic and technical associations and public and private institutions who carried out works or researches on violence against women, said the ministry.

The ministry called on all Algerians aged 19 and over to participate in this contest, individually or collectively, adding that these candidates must submit their applications before 31 August, at the headquarters of the ministry of National Solidarity.

The file must include a handwritten application, the application form, and a cover letter explaining the nature of the candidate’s participation, in addition to the declaration of everything that concerns the rights of intellectual and adaptation property.

The participation in the contest must be done individually or collectively. The candidates must present, in 7 copies and in CD, if possible, a work that has never been published before.

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Algiers’ International Master Chess Tournament held

ALGIERS, Sunday, 22 May 2016 – Chess players Sabrina Latreche and Mohamed-Amine Haddouche won the International Master Chess Tournament (men and women) which wrapped up Saturday evening in Algiers.

Latreche got ahead of Amira Hamza and Toubal Hayet in the female overall ranking.

For his part, the international Grand Master Mohamed-Amine Haddouche outclassed his opponents in the tournament, leaving the 2nd and 3rd places to Adlène Arab and Saad Belouadah respectively.

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Algerian President urges youth to build non-oil driven economy

ALGIERS, Wednesday, 18 May 2016 – President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Wednesday urged the Algerian youth to combine efforts to create an economy free of its excessive dependency on hydrocarbons.

In a message on the occasion of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the National Student Day, on 19 May, the Head of State affirmed that “today more than ever before, it is time for our youth in general and our elite in particular to unite to be at the forefront of the creation of an economy free of the excessive dependency on hydrocarbons. We also need to ensure the continuation of the process of the socio-economic development which has reached a remarkable level so far.”

President Bouteflika urged youth to respond with the same determination than their predecessors’ during the Glorious Liberation War. Youth “have to be strong-minded to take up this challenge for a better and a prosperous future for our people and to preserve our country’s independence. This independence can only be consolidated and preserved by financial and human autonomy,” the Head of the State added.

Moreover, the President of the Republic underlined that “independent Algeria is committed to make of the acquisition of knowledge and sciences a top challenge and a high priority, and also a revenge since our people was deprived from learning during the barbaric colonial period. Algeria is also eager to arm its future generations with sciences and knowledge, enabling them to contribute to the great battle, that of building and development.”

“The greatest achievement of independent Algeria remains education provided to its children since independence,” affirmed President Bouteflika, adding that “the attendance by a quarter of the Algerian population in schools, institutes, training centres and universities, despite the difficult financial situation, due to the decline in oil prices, is the most telling proof.”

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Algeria, Iran ink several economic partnership agreements

TEHRAN-Algerian and Iran inked Tuesday in Tehran fifteen cooperation and partnership agreements particularly in the field of automotive industry at the meeting of bilateral committee in charge of monitoring automotive industry.

This meeting was co-chaired by Minister of Industry and Mines Abdessalem Bouchouareb and Iranian Trade, Industry and Mines Minister Mohamed Reza Nematzadeh.

Ten agreements in the automotive industry has been signed.

Many agreements between the Algerian group Tahkout and Iranian car manufacturer Saipa for the establishment of a great complex made up of fifteen factories in Tiaret (west of Algiers).

The complex, whose implementation cost amounts USD 300 to million, will include a car passenger car-manufacturing factory and another factory for commercial vehicles.

The other factories to be implemented part of this partnership will specialize in subcontracting and spare parts, Director of Saipa-Algeria project at within the Iranian car-manufacturer Ahmed Ismaili stated.

The Algerian partner will have 75% of the capital of future company Saipa-Algeria against 25% for the Iranian partner, the same official stated.

In this partnership, the Iranian party will contribute with its technological expertise in the manufacturing of cars running on CGN.

Another automotive industry agreement has been signed between private group Rahmouni and Khodro manufacturer for the assembling of cars in Algeria.

According to these agreements, two factories will be built in Algiers and Relizane to assemble cars running on CGN.

A draft agreement between Algeria’s Geological Survey Agency and its Iranian counterpart was inked to establish a cooperation framework in the mining research.

The Algerian standardization institute (IANOR) signed a draft agreement with its Iranian counterpart to ease trade exchange between Algeria and Iran while bringing closer both countries’ standards.

The Algerian Company of Fairs and Exhibitions (Safex) and the Iranian Agency for Foreign Trade signed an agreement to facilitate Algeria’s participation in Iranian exhibitions and shows, and vice-versa.

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Parliamentary commission in Italy to monitor hate speech against Muslims and immigrants

Rabat: 17/05/2016 – The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) welcomed the declaration of the president of the Italian parliament regarding the establishment of a parliamentary commission for monitoring hate speech against Muslims and immigrants in Italy, through studying and analyzing hatred motivated by fanaticism and racism, proposing appropriate solutions and producing an annual report on related incidents in Italy.

In this regard, ISESCO Director General, Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, stated that the initiative of the Italian parliament is an effective implementation of the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, especially regarding civil and political rights of minorities. He also stated that it is a strong commitment to the international agreements, declarations and resolutions on elimination of all forms of discrimination especially religious discrimination and Islamophobia, and the promotion of intercultural dialogue, alliance of civilizations and coexistence between the followers of religions.

In the same vein, he called on presidents of European parliaments and governments to undertake similar initiatives to prevent the increasing spread of Islamophobia, protect citizens of Muslim origins from hatred and discrimination campaigns, promote peace and security and foster tolerance and coexistence.

By the same token, ISESCO Director General called upon Islamic cultural centers and associations in Italy to coordinate their efforts and actively engage in supporting this important initiative.

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ISESCO to hold international experts’ meeting on developing Islamic art museums

Rabat :13/5/2015 – The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IESCO), in association with Wajed Kalliano Institution for Art Promotion and Cultural Exchange, will hold an international experts’ meeting on “Islamic art museum development” in Marrakech, Morocco, from 18 through 19 May 2016.

The aim is to advance the core mission of Islamic art museums, through capacity-building for museum exhibition professionals, raising community awareness as to the importance of museums and their key role in bringing cultural and civilizational advancement, and upgrading museum exhibition means and techniques.

The meeting will gather 20 experts from Germany, Italy, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania to discuss the following topics: “Islamic museum architecture”, “museum exhibition techniques”, “museums’ educational and cultural roles within Muslim societies”, and “towards a future vision to promote museums in the Islamic world”.

Dr Mohammad Younis, Programme Specialist at the Directorate of Culture, will represent ISESCO in this event.

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Annual Tour de Flores helps promote East Nusa Tenggara

Jakarta, 21 May 2016 (ANTARA News) – The ongoing Tour de Flores (TdF) is being organized for the first time this year, yet it has surprisingly attracted cyclists from several countries.

The cycling race was flagged off by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli in Larantuka, East Flores District, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Province, on May 19.

The coordinating minister was pleased to witness several foreign and domestic cyclists participating in the TdF. Ramli has supported the plan to organize TdF annually to promote NTTs scenic charms worldwide.

NTT Governor Frans Lebu Raya has planned to organize TdF annually.

“I just discussed it with Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Resources Affairs Rizal Ramli, and the minister has agreed to make TdF an annual event,” he noted after the minister flagged off the participants.

“This year, the preparations were made on a short notice, so there might be several shortcomings. We hope that next year, the implementation would be better,” he added.

He urged the local residents to support the event and help ensure that the cycling event would run smoothly and peacefully, and the participants are able to enjoy the journey.

Chairman of the Indonesian Cycling Federation Raja Sapta Oktohari lauded the implementation of Tour de Flores.

“When its proposal came, I thought Tour de Flores would be a national event. However, in reality, it is an international event and was immediately included in the calendar of UCI (The Union Cycliste Internationale). We are very proud to be able to organize this event,” he added.

Earlier, several media outlets had reported that some 230 cyclists from 26 countries were expected to participate in the TdF, which will last until May 26.

Most of the cyclists had earlier participated in the Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen, which took place in Banyuwangi, East Java Province, on May 11-14, 2016.

The participants are grouped in 20 teams, including Wisdom Hengxiang from China; KINAN CT and Ukyo from Japan; LX IIBS CT and Geumsam Insam Cello from South Korea; Terengganu from Malaysia; 7-ElevenSava RBP CT from the Philippines; Black Inc CT from Laos; Singha Infinite CT from Thailand; St. George Merida, Olivers Real Food Racing, and Swiss Wellness Team from Australia; and Kenyan Riders Downunder from Kenya.

The cyclists began the first stage, covering a distance of 148 kilometers (km), of the race from the office of the East Flores district head in Larantuka at 9 a.m. local time and headed to Maumere.

The cycling event, touring Flores Island, is divided into five stages covering a total distance of 615 km.

The participants are expected to conclude the race on May 26, 2016, in Labuan Bajo where they will be greeted by President Joko Widodo at the finish line.

The first stage is from Larantuka in East Flores District to Maumere in Sikka District, where the participants will stay overnight.

The second stage is from Maumere to Ende; the third stage is from Ende to Bajawa in Ngada District; the fourth stage from Bajawa to Ruteng in Manggarai District; and the fifth stage is from Ruteng to Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai District.

At every stopover, the international cyclists will be greeted and entertained by local artists who will perform traditional dances.

Jason Christie of the Kenya Riders Downunder team won the first stage.

Christie biked across the finish line and won the 138.8 kilometer-stage in three hours 28 minutes and 41 seconds, and was followed by Wesley Sulzberberger from the Kinan Cycling Team.

Meanwhile, MA Guangdong from the Wisdom-Hexiang Cycling Team came in third.

“Todays race was quite tough. I tried hard to remain with the group until the finish line,” Christie said after receiving the yellow jacket.

Meanwhile, Indonesian riders were also competitive in the race.

National cyclist Robin Manulang managed to finish fourth followed by Warseno, who came in sixth.

Furthermore, Governor Lebu Raya has planned to organize the Tour de Timor (TdT) next year in a bid to replicate the success of the TdF event.

“After taking the tourists to Flores Island during the TdF, next year, we will continue with the TdT, where foreign visitors will be offered a tour of Timor Island up to Rote,” he stated.

NTT, known as a province of one thousand islands, plans to organize the two international cycling events on the islands of Flores and Timor annually to promote tourism in the region at the international level.

The province offers a wide array of natural scenery, culture, ethnicity, handcrafts, ancient sites, and unique traditions that could be showcased to foreign tourists, he noted.

“I am certain it will benefit the community,” he remarked.

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Russia interested in building railway transport facility in Kalimantan

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 21 May 2016 – Russia is interested in building railway mass transport facility in Kalimantan, Coordinating Minister for Economy Darmin Nasution said here on Saturday.

Minister of State Enterprises Rini Soemarno is still in Russia to discuss more details about the project, Darmin said upon arrival from that country at Halim Perdana Kusuma airport.

Darmin and Rini were included in the delegation headed by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to attend Russian-Asean summit meeting in Russia.

Rini would see the factory and check the Russian speed train, which was said to have a speed of 250 kilometers per hour, Darmin said.

He said during his stay in Russia, President Jokowi and entourage had one on one meeting with big Russian companies.

Among the companies were Russian Railways , which already has a contract to build a coal railway in Kalimantan, he said.

He said opportunities are wide open for cooperation between state companies of the two countries such as railway companies.

In the one on one meeting Russian investors expressed interest in building oil refinery and petrochemical factories, he said.

“Investment and business plans would be in large scale in petrochemical industry to become an export base in addition to supplying domestic requirement,” the minister said.

Russian investors also were interested in cooperation with Inalum, the state-owned aluminum smelter in Asahan, to build aluminum downstream industry.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to know much about projects Indonesia needs to build,” he said, adding most of the Russian investors are state companies.

He said the Russian investors are all serious, adding they need only blessing from the government.

On Thursday, an agreement would be signed on the petrochemical and oil refinery projects between Pertamina and Russian counterpart, he cited.

Before flying to Russia, President Jokowi and his entourage visited South Korea to promote bilateral business and economic cooperation.

Darmin said the Indonesian delegation, which included a number of business leaders, talked with hundreds of Korean business leaders in a business forum and business luncheon.

“In the business luncheon we talked with Korean investors who have business in Indonesia and those seeking to invest in the country,” he said.

He said Lotte, which has supermarket in Indonesia plans to expand its business in the country, adding, “They want to invest in petrochemical industry.”

Koreas steel giant Posco also plans to expand cooperation with state-owned steel maker PT Krakatau Steel.

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RI, Korean businessmen sign business deals worth $18 billion

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 21 May 2016 – Indonesian businessmen signed business deals worth US$18 billion with their South Korean counterparts during President Joko Widodo (Jokowi)s recent visit to the East Asian country, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi announced on Saturday.

“During their visit to the Republic of Korea, Korean business people demonstrated a high degree of enthusiasm, as reflected at a business forum. Some 500 Korean businessmen attended the forum and signed business deals worth US$18 billion (with their Indonesian counterparts),” she told a press conference held shortly after President Jokowi arrived at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta after his visit to South Korea and Russia.

Also present at the press conference were Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution, Trade Minister Thomas Lembong and Chief of Presidential Staff Office Teten Masduki.

President Jokowi paid a working visit to South Korea from May 16 to 18. He proceeded on a visit to Russia to attend the ASEAN-Russia Summit from May 19 to 20.

Minister Retno pointed out that during the presidents visit to South Korea, Indonesia also saw strong commitment on the part of the South Korean government to enhance cooperation with Indonesia in various fields.

Among the new areas of cooperation, to which the two countries are according priority, are expediting the pace of industrialization and developing the creative industry, she explained.

“After holding talks with President Park, the two nations signed seven cooperation agreements, covering maritime industry, creative industry, sports, special economic zone, peat land restoration and corruption eradication,” she informed.

The minister said during his visit to South Korea, the Indonesian leader took the first ever initiative of this kind, and interacted with members of the younger generation at one of the universities in the country.

“President Jokowi also delivered his keynote address to the Asia Conference Leadership, which was also attended by President Park, former US president George Bush and other world figures,” she elaborated.

President Jokowi stated that Indonesia is striving for an open and competitive economy and inclusive development.

Retno informed that the meeting between Jokowi and Russian President Vladimir Putin went off cordially, with the two leaders seeking to enhance cooperation in various fields.

During the meeting, the Russian government expressed its commitment to build refineries worth US$13 billion in Indonesia, she continued, adding, that the two nations also signed five cooperation agreements in the fields of defense, fishing, culture and ministry archives.

While in Russia, Jokowi also attended the ASEAN-Russia Summit held to mark the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Partnership.

“It seems that Russia was eager to enhance cooperation in the economic field and to respond to the issue of economic integrity,” she underlined.

At the summit, Jokowi stressed that ASEAN-Russian Partnership must benefit peace and prosperity.

“President Jokowi also underscored the importance of developing a regional security architecture by emphasizing the centrality of the ASEAN and asked Russia to support the regional security architecture proposed by Indonesia,” she concluded.

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President Jokowi and 11 leaders attend ASEAN-Russia Summit

Sochi, Russia (ANTARA News) 20 May 2016 – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and other ASEAN leaders are expected to attend the ASEAN-Russia Summit hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“The commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the cooperation between ASEAN and Russia is marked by the ASEAN-Russia Summit 2016 that begins on Friday,” Ari Dwipayana of the Presidential Communication Team stated here, Friday.

The meeting of the summit leaders is scheduled to begin at 12:10 p.m. local time at the Radisson Blu Congress Center in Sochi to discuss the efforts to intensify cooperation between Russia and the ASEAN member nations.

The leaders will also attend a business forum and plenary session.

Prior to the summit, President Jokowi is scheduled to hold business meetings with Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and Alpha Pacific Group CEO Oleg Gobulin on Friday morning.

After the summit, Jokowi will return home via Abu Dhabi and is expected to arrive in Jakarta on Saturday.

The head of state is being accompanied by Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi, Trade Minister Thomas Lembong, and Chief of the Presidential Staff Teten Masduki, among others.

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Malindo Air holds Travel Fair 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 (Bernama) — Malindo Air is proud to announce that the airline will be offering exclusive fares to Business and Economy Class travellers during the first ever Malindo Air Travel Fair 2016, to fully enjoy a premium full service.

The full service airline is offering fares with discounts of up to 90%, of which are available from 23 May until 29 May 2016, and is valid for all purchases made online, over the counter at all Malindo ticketing offices and through travel agencies in Malaysia. Travel validity is from 23 May 2016 until 31 March 2017.

CEO of Malindo Air, Chandran Rama Muthy, said “Malindo Air Travel Fair 2016 is our maiden travel fair project with over 1,000,000 seats up for grabs. As this travel fair offers super value deals on both domestic and international routes, we are very optimistic that it will be a great success. Unlike any other travel fairs where you have to travel and queue at the travel fair booths, we are delighted to make it convenient for our customers by having our super deal available online. Purchases are also made available at all Malindo Air ticketing offices and travel agencies.”

The narrow-body Boeing 737NG aircraft features Malindo Air’s spacious and comfortable Business Class and Economy Class cabins, which ensure a relaxing and enjoyable flight. In addition, it offers the latest inflight entertainment technology, WiFi accessibility, mobile roaming, delicious inflight dining and of course our renowned Malaysian hospitality, and complimentary baggage allowances of 30 kg and 40kg for economy and business class travellers respectively.

For bookings and further enquiries, visit www.malindoair.com

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Indonesia’s Lion Air Plans Direct Flights From Manado To Chinese Cities

JAKARTA, Indonesia May 18 (NNN-Xinhua) — An Indonesian airline, Lion Air Group, is scheduled to commence direct flights linking Manado, capital of Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province, to eight major Chinese cities and regions in early July.

Director of Lion Air China William Wu said on Tuesday that the direct flights would officially start on July 3.

Among the Chinese cities and regions served by Lion Air’s upcoming direct flights were Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Macao, Wuhan, Chengdu and Chongqing.

The direct flights are expected to boost the number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province, which was known for its beautiful natural sceneries.

Wu said Manado and its surrounding areas have very attractive tour destinations that Chinese tourists long for.

Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Arif Yahya praised Lion Air’s plan, saying that it would further help the nation in accomplishing its foreign tourist attraction target this year.

Welcoming the direct flights, North Sulawesi Governor Olly Dondokambey said his administration would update infrastructure in the province to facilitate the Chinese tourists.

“Roads, piers and facilities in tour destinations would be improved and more tour guides and other supporting functions, including chefs, would be provided to serve the Chinese tourists. We will be a good host for our guests from China,” he said. — NNN-XINHUA

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Govt To Appoint Adviser To Guide Establishment Of New Nigerian National Airline

ABUJA, May 17 (NNN-NAN) — Nigerian Minister of State for Aviation Hadi Sirika says the Federal Government will soon appoint a Transition Adviser to help develop the process for the establishment of a new national airline.

Addressing stakeholders from the aviatioj industry at a forum here Monday, he said the government would establish a new national flag carrier which would be private sector-driven.

The government would also establish a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility in the country, he said, adding that the national carrier would serve as the base for such MRO operations.

The government would create an enabling environment for the setting up of a world class MRO facility which would attract clients from all over the world, especially Africa, he said. The MRO facility would also be encouraged to start the manufacturing of aircraft spare parts with the aim of going into manufacturing them in the long term.

He said Nigeria had the capacity to become a hub for aviation in the African region, pointing out that if Ethiopia and Brazil could manufacture airplane parts, Nigeria could also do it effectively.

Sirika said the government was also determined to address the challenges of the aviation sector through the establishment of an Aerospace University which would specifically produce the needed workforce for better efficiency.

He also said that the government would also establish an aviation leasing company to solve the problem of access to capital and high cost of funds. The company would also address the high debt profile of some airlines, inadequate number of aircraft and high interest rates.

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Ethiopian Airlines To Start Flights To Istanbul

ADDIS ABABA, May 20 (NNN-ENA) — Ethiopian Airlines will begin flying to Istanbul this winter, says the chief executive officer of the national flag carrier, Tewolde Gebremariam.

The flights to the Turkish city “will further catalyze the channeling of investors from both countries and make their businesses more facilitated as the country is among the fastest growing emerging economies”, he said here Thursday.

According to Tewolde, the service to Istanbul would complement the daily services being provided by Ethiopian’s Star Alliance partner Turkish Airlines.

“Our new flights will also enable our valued customers to make immediate connections to 52 African destinations with minimum hours in connecting time in Addis Ababa,” he added.

Ethiopian Airlines will also be launching thrice weekly flights to New York-Newark soon, it was learned.

Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian) is the fastest growing Airline in Africa. It is a global Pan-African carrier serving over 92 international destinations across five continents and operating the youngest fleet in Africa with less than the industry average age of five years. — NNN-ENA

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UNESCO, Int’l Partners Adopt Action Plan For Libya’s Heritage

TRIPOLI, May 16 (NNN-UNESCO) — Key UNESCO partners joined with the Organization to approve a new action plan to address emergency and short term interventions for the safeguarding of Libya’s cultural heritage following a recent three-day international expert meeting in the Tunisian capital.

Organized with the support of the U.S. Embassy in Libya and in close cooperation with the Department of Antiquities of Libya and several Libyan institutions, UNESCO and ICCROM, the May 13 meeting was meant to develop a shared understanding of the country’s cultural preservation.

Participants agreed on medium and long term shared actions, with the participation of national and international stakeholders, and civil society actors. Areas of concern included cultural heritage preservation including archaeological sites, museums and urban heritage.

More than 80 participants attended the meeting, “Safeguarding Libyan Cultural Heritage,” among them representatives from the Ministry of Culture of Libya, various local offices of the Department of Antiquities, the Historic Cities Authority, the National Archives in Tripoli, the Directorate of Customs, Tourist and Antiquities Police, criminal investigative police, universities, the Intangible Heritage Centre in Saba, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides of Libya.

Other participants included UNESCO’s institutional partners INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, UNITAR/UNOSAT, ICOMOS, ICOM, ALECSO, the World Bank, the Smithsonian Institution, the Prince Claus Foundation, among others.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to explore the wide potential of culture in supporting humanitarian response, reconciliation, social cohesion and dialogue. The crucial role of civil society, and in particular youth, was emphasized in achieving these goals.

At the closing of the meeting, Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Libya highlighted the central role of culture and identity in the context of Libya, and the necessity to protect cultural heritage from illicit trafficking and intentional destruction. “Culture is a soft power,” he said, adding, “it shall be brought high up in the agenda of the ongoing reconciliation process.” — NNN-UNESCO

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Jordan convenes Regional Conference On SMEs

AMMAN, May 22 (NNN-Petra) — A regional conference on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), titled: “Dialogue Between the Private and Pubic Sectors…Empowering Small Enterprises”, will open Monday and will shed light on contribution of such ventures in national economies in the Middle East and North Africa.

The conference, which is co-organized by the Jordan Chamber of Industry and the Confederation of Danish Industry, will explore ways to enhance the business environment to help SMEs flourish and encourage dialogue between the private and public sectors.

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Kuwait Fund Extends 372 Transport Loans Worth US$6.4 Bln To 82 Countries

KUWAIT, May 22 (NNN-KUNA) — The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) has offered 372 transport loans worth KD 1.9 billion (USD 6.4 billion) to 82 countries by the end of December 2015, KFAED has said.

They constitute up to 34 percent of the total loans presented by the fund, it added in a statement.

The integration of the transport sector which is the backbone of infrastructure in any country, positively affects other development sectors, it noted.

The fund has contributed to the financing of a multitude of road projects in the beneficiary countries, according to the acknowledged international engineering specifications.

Many world countries have lauded KFAED’s development role over the past 54 years, in particular its soft loans to the transport sector, the statement said.

The KFAED extends Loans on concessionary terms to finance development projects in the developing countries, it added.

It also offers technical assistance to finance the costs of the feasibility studies of projects, as well as the training of nationals at the target countries.

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Indonesia, IDB Join Hands For Development Projects

JAKARTA, Indonesia May 21 (NNN-Bernama) — The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) is working with the National Association of Indonesian Consultants on several projects, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

IDB President Ahmad Mohamed Ali Al-Madani said the bank would provide support for the Indonesian government in infrastructure development, hunger eradication, poverty reduction, and improving living conditions.

In 2015, the IDB carried out 36 projects to provide millions of dollars of aid for both its member and non-member nations.

The IDB, launched in October 1975, has 56 member nations.

It aims to boost economic and social development among its member nations and the Islamic community, in line with Islamic Law.

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190 British Businessmen Attend Algeria-Uk Investment Forum

LONDON, May 22 (nnn-aps) — Some 190 British businessmen will participate in the Algeria-United Kingdom Investment Forum in Algiers on Sunday with a view to exploring investment opportunities in Algeria, the event’s co-organizer, Atam Sandhu, says.

British businessmen have become more aware of the Algerian government’s commitment to diversifying the country’s economy, said Sandhu, who is chief executive officer of consultancy Developing Markets Associates.

He added that the businessmen had expressed great interest in various sectors in Algeria, especially industry, hydrocarbons, infrastructure, renewable energy, transportation, information communication technology (ICT) and financial services.

The sectors of transport, engineering and logistics will be represented by Tell Group and Sarens, oil services by Petrofac, engineering and power plants’ installation and maintenance by Clarke Energy, project management by Amec Foster Wheeler, services by Grant Thornton, pharmaceutical industry by AstraZeneca, which is already operating in Algeria, he said.

The forum will be also marked by the presence of Richard Risby, the personal representative of British Prime Minister David Cameron, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Gregory Hands and Chairman of the Algerian-British Business Council (ABBC) Lady Olga Maitland.

Algeria’s business climate is “very favourable and promising”, said Sandhu, who noted the strong presence of leading British companies in Algeria, where investment opportunities are huge.

A similar forum was held in London in December 2014, with the participation of nearly 500 companies from the two countries, he said, adding that “it was a success, hence the decision to hold a second one”.

Lord Risby told APS that the forum would be an additional opportunity to encourage British investments in Algeria, underlining Britain’s readiness to assist Algeria in the diversification of its economy.

He also expressed satisfaction at the development of partnership between the two countries outside hydrocarbons, reaffirming that Algeria “is a privileged partner” for Britain.

For his part, Algerian Ambassador to London Amar Abba said that the forum “is a strong moment in the relations between the two countries”, adding that economic co-operation had been marked, over the past ten years by the building of a multi-sectoral partnership outside hydrocarbons.

He said the forum would be an excellent opportunity for the two governments to assess bilateral economic co-operation and identify new areas in order to further strengthen it, and would allow businessmen to establish mutually beneficial partnerships. — NNN-APS

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Iranian Young People Working To Implement “Resistance Economy”

TEHRAN, May 22, (NNN-IRNA) – First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri underlined that the resistance economy is on the path of being implemented.

‘It is an honor that the young Iranian experts are producing new, expensive and rare drugs on their own and it shows that the resistance economy and knowledge-based economy are in the path of being implemented,’ Jahangiri wrote on his Instagram page on Saturday.

‘Today I visited pharmaceutical center of Tehran Medical Sciences University and witnessing the production of two new drugs each month in the Wisdom and Hope Government by young Iranian experts is source of honor and pride,’ he added.

The first vice president reiterated that most of the drugs are used for curing the cancerous patients.

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Arab Businesswomen Network Calls For Empowering Women

AMMAN, May 22 (NNN-Petra) — The Middle East and North Africa Businesswomen’s Network (MENA) meeting held Saturday in Amman discussed a number of key issues aimed at empowering Arab businesswomen and enhance their presence in decision-making positions in the public and private sectors President of the MENA Businesswomen’s Network, Reem Badran said that the network seeks to boost Arab businesswomen active role in their communities and advance in leadership and decision making.

The meeting also aims at increasing networking among Arab businesswomen and promoting their representations in the boards and in senior positions in the private sector.

Talks during the meeting focused on supporting start-ups and projects of productive families with tools of marketing and consulting in the field of packaging and quality, distribution and continuity.

Badran said that the two-day meeting was an opportunity to exchange experience and share knowledge among Arab businesswomen.

Participants at the meeting agreed to launch a number of initiatives to enhance the empowerment of Arab businesswomen’s, including a program for the integration and financial inclusion of entrepreneurs in the Arab countries.

The program will be implemented through partnerships with Arab and international finance institutions in order to increase the support for women-oriented projects.

The next meeting of the network will be held in November in Ajman in the United Arab Emirates on the sidelines of Gulf Business Women Forum, she added.

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Tunis Forum 2016 to discuss economic relations with partner countries

by AfricanManager – May 20, 2016 – The “4th edition of the Tunis Forum will be held from May 27 to 28, 2016 in Tunis on the theme “Tunisia and DCFTA: negotiations governance and results of liberalization”, Ahmed Bouzguenda, President of the Arab Institute of Business Managers (IACE) said on Wednesday, May 18, 2016

“It is a major event that aims to address the economic relations between Tunisia and partner countries,” he noted.

More than 500 participants are expected at the 4th edition of the Tunis Forum, representatives of the European Commission, distinguished guests from Morocco and Georgia, members of IACE, and representatives of the Tunisian steering committee to illustrate the progress of negotiations.

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IMF gives USD 2.9bn loan aid to Tunisia

Tunis – MENAFN – 22/05/2016 – The IMF confirmed a 48-month arrangement with Tunisia for an amount equal to almost USD 2.9bn in order to help the nation’s economic and financial reform.

Moreover, the program plans to promote stronger and more growth by consolidating macroeconomic stability, including the civil svice.

Additionally, the IMF decision frees more than USD 319.5mn for immediate payment; while the remaining will be phased among the duration of the program.

Tunisia’s economy maintained resilience but continues to face notable fiscal, external, structural and social challenges.

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China to play key role in Qatar’s diversification plan

Doha – MENAFN – 22/05/2016 – China will play a notable role in the development of Qatar’s non-hydrocarbon sector, while its private sector seeks “alternative industries” to spread economy from oil and gas.

Moreover, Qatar will search for other industries for the country and other GCC States, which will look for substitute industries rather than waitntil oil and gas resources.

Additionally, oil and gas will continue to play a major role in enhancing economic and mutual relationships of Qatar and other GCC States with China.

Most GCC nations have oil and gas, whereas China has many industries, which can be used to build stronger bilateral benefits with each other.

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Oman listed firms allocate USD 11.43mn in social projects

Muscat – MENAFN – 22/05/2016 – Listed firms in Oman have allocated USD 11.43mn for their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives this year.

Furthermore, the allocated amount helps funding many CSR projects applied by civil society, non-governmental and charity organizations.

Additionally, almst 57 companies have allocated amounts for their CSR initiatives and another 50 other firms did not mention about their CSR allocation.

The firms that did not highlight the amounts allocated for CSR included, Bank Muscat, which did not make reference to the amount allocated for CSR.

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Dubai Culture Announces Line-Up of Activities for SIKKA Art Fair 2017

DUBAI — MENAFN – Emirates News Agency (WAM) – 22/05/2016 – Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) announced a host of new and exciting initiatives for the SIKKA Art Fair’s 2017 edition. The SIKKA Art Fair, Dubai Art Season’s flagship initiative, is held under the patronage of HH Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

The last edition of SIKKA Art Fair was inaugurated by Sheikha Latifa in the presence of Ohoud Bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, and Shamma Bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth, with a core aim to further raise happiness and positive energy across all communities within Dubai. This is achieved by providing young creatives with a platform to demonstrate their talents and skills, further uplifting Dubai’s cultural life, and showcasing a plethora of cultural initiatives to residents and visitors of the Emirate.

The much-anticipated 2017 edition of the SIKKA Art Fair follows a hugely successful line-up of events for 2016, which garnered a remarkable turnout for its stimulating music, dance, plays, poetry recitals, improvisational performances and open-air cinema screenings featuring local and international talent.

Designed to encourage the creativity of artists across the region, the 2017 fair will feature arts and culture on the move with new events such as ‘SIKKA around the City,’ ‘SIKKA Art Van’, and ‘Al Fahidi Fridays’ that will focus on highlighting Al Fahidi Historical District as a year-round regular artistic and cultural centre. The SIKKA initiatives reflect the Authority’s commitment to contributing towards establishing Dubai as a city of happy, creative and empowered individuals, by providing an increasingly engaging cultural environment to inspire and raise the positive spirit in Dubai.

Sheikha Latifa commented, “One of our key mandates at Dubai Culture is to further engage Dubai’s wider community to think creatively, by supporting talented artists to showcase their skills across different creative disciplines. As we continue to enrich future editions of the SIKKA Art Fair with new projects, we are fulfilling the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the E, and Ruler of Dubai, to establish the emirate as a city of happy, creative and empowered people by 2021 by highlighting the cultural framework of the city and its commitment to nurturing established and emerging talent.”

Sheikha Latifa added: “We are glad to drive the continued progress of SIKKA Art Fair with a new line-up of activities and events for the upcoming edition. In light of this year’s successful turnout, SIKKA has cemented its position as a prominent platform for emerging artistic talent within the UAE and across the GCC. Part of our mission is to highlight Dubai’s position as a global centre for creativity and innovation by ensuring that the essence of SIKKA Art Fair reaches a larger audience through new initiatives including Al Fahidi Fridays, SIKKA around the City and the SIKKA Art Van.”

In the spirit of artistic innovation and creativity, the fair’s new schedule will focus on highlighting the art and culture activities happening within the Al Fahidi Historical District. Monthly Al Fahidi Fridays, one of the Fair’s latest theme-based events, will delight audiences with special activities, including courtyard animations and performances from local Al Fahidi Historical District community members.

SIKKA around the City will engage different neighbourhoods in Dubai with inspired pop-up art concepts, for which artists and galleries participating in the fair will be invited to contribute their talents to the Art Season.

In addition, the SIKKA Art Van, a modern mobile-art space, will be traveling to different districts and residential areas to present exhibitions and art workshops to discerning audiences across the city.

The programme will also feature 60 workshops with more than 500 participants, in addition to a variety of 55 stage acts such as singing, theatre acts and poetry.

The 2016 edition featured 25 art installations representing different artistic formats and selected from more than 90 initial submissions.

Dubai Culture aims to enrich the cultural scene and draw attention to the city’s rich Arabian heritage through various initiatives. The authority’s focus is to build bridges of constructive dialogue between different civilisations and cultures through constructive initiatives that benefit all citizens and residents.

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Turkish scientist takes Nobel medal to Ataturk Memorial

Ankara, (IINA) Friday 20 May 2016 – Turkish-American academic Professor Aziz Sancar, who won 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, delivered his medal and certificate to the mausoleum of Ataturk on Thursday, Anadolu Agency reported.

The presentation was made on May 19, a national holiday celebrated in Turkey as Ataturk, Youth and Sports Day.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was present at the ceremony, said he sees the exhibition of the medal at the mausoleum “as a signal flare devoted to the future of our youth”. Erdogan also said he believes this would determine the roadmap to earning further Nobel prizes.

On his part, Sancar said he “paid the debt of gratitude to Ataturk and Ataturk’s fellow fighters who established the Republic of Turkey”.

“I thank God for giving me this opportunity,” he said. Originally from the southeastern province of Mardin, Sancar was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work in mapping cells that repaired ultraviolet damage to DNA.

Sancar chose May 19 to deliver the medal, a day which marks the beginning of Turkey’s War of Independence, and the emergence of modern Turkey.

May 19, 1919, was the day Mustafa Kemal, later to become Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, arrived in the Black Sea city of Samsun from Istanbul to organize the war that saw the remnants of the Ottoman Empire transformed into modern Turkey four years later.

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Bahrain opens first floating hotel in Arabian Gulf

Manama, (IINA), 16 May 2016 – Bahrain’s first floating hotel, the first hotel of its kind in the Arabian Gulf Region, has officially opened its doors on Sunday in Manama, BNA reported.

Bahrain Authority for Tourism and Exhibition (BATE) Chief Executive Officer Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al-Khalifa inaugurated the ‘C Hotel’.

He stressed the importance of the new milestone and said that the coral bay has become a tourism destination for families. He thanked Akram Miknas for promoting the concept of the C Hotel, which he said represents a value-added and innovative milestone.

“This unique hotel reflects Bahrain’s standing as a tourism destination that attracts local and foreign investments”, he said, hailing Bahrain’s strenuous efforts to develop this vital sector which plays a crucial role in spurring growth.

He stressed that BATE-led strategy to promote Bahrain and project its tourism potential, in a wide-ranging and ambitious scheme engaging the public and private sectors. He also stressed resolve to continue supporting and encouraging innovative projects and initiatives to develop and upgrade the tourism infrastructure and bolster Bahrain’s standing as an attractive tourism destination.

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Saudi Health Expo draws 8,740 visitors on opening day

Riyadh, (IINA), 19 May 2016 – More than 8,000 visitors were recorded on the first day of the Saudi Health 2016 exhibition which was inaugurated here this week, Arab News reported.

On behalf of Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, Deputy Minister for Health Affairs Hamad bin Muhammad Al-Duweila opened the show in the presence of 12 foreign ambassadors at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center.

Emphasizing the importance of the exhibition at the local and international levels, a spokesman for the show told Arab News that it surpassed all expectations and estimates. “One of the major reasons behind the flow of visitors was the neat organization and thoughtful logistics of the event which enabled people to roam freely and easily around the exhibition”, he noted, adding that the Kingdom’s health care market is the largest in the Middle East.

The theme of the show was “Change starts at a point, the transformation point”, he said, noting that there were 8,740 visitors to the show at the start of the week. There were more than 550 exhibitors from 42 countries and 14 international pavilions showcasing the latest internationally accredited technology and services to a broad spectrum of decision makers, medical and health care professionals.

Alongside the exhibition, there were 15 medical and scientific conferences addressing multiple important topics including nursing, medical engineering, patient safety, primary health care, obstetrics and gynecology, pharmaceutical care, security and safety in medical facilities, emergency medicine, biomedical engineering, infection control, medical physics, diagnostic radiology, and medical rehabilitation.

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Dr. Ahmed Ali: Architect of Islamic financing

Jeddah (IINA), 14 May 2016 – Dr. Ahmed Muhammad Ali is stepping down as president of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group after serving at the helm of the Islamic world’s biggest financial institution for several decades.

He is set to hand over the presidency to Bandar Hajjar, former minister of Haj, at the 41st annual session of the Board of Governors of IDB, which is set to begin in Jakarta Saturday. The Board of Governors is the highest policy-making body of the IDB Group comprising ministerial representatives of IDB’s 56 member countries, and it meets each year to review the activities of the bank and decide on future policies. The Jakarta session will seek solutions to the problems faced by the member states, such as poverty, low investment, and infrastructure financing.

Ali has made immense contributions in making IDB play a remarkable role as a major engine of growth in most of its 56 member states, especially the least developed countries as well as in supporting the Muslim minorities all over the world. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The best amongst you are those who are beneficial for others.” This is true in all senses of the world while examining the immense contributions Ali has extended to the Islamic Ummah through playing a significant role in improving their economy. He is the real architect who has been instrumental in improving the lot of several Muslim communities in poor Muslim countries as well as Muslim minorities all over the world, through making available of IDB grant and financial assistance.

Born in Madinah in 1934, Ali is a holder of B.A. degree in commerce and a degree in law from Cairo University. He also secured M.A. and PhD degrees, both in Public Administration, from the University of Michigan and State University of New York in the United States in 1962 and 1967 respectively. Dr. Ali began his career in education and manpower development in 1958-59 as director of Scientific and Islamic Institute in Aden, Yemen. Later, he returned to Saudi Arabia to take over as Acting Rector of King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah from1967 to 1972. He was then appointed as Deputy Minister of Education. Upon the initiative of the late King Faisal, when the member countries of OIC decided to establish IDB, he was chosen as its first president. His education, background and past experience helped him to establish a strong base for the mission of the bank as well as taking up the challenges of managing IDB and widening the spectrum of development by addressing various issues.

Ali looks at development in its totality and has spread the involvement of the bank in several directions including trade, insurance, the private sector, etc. as demonstrated by the establishment of IDB Group of Institutions comprising the Islamic Research and Training Institute (IRTI), Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC). He was instrumental in developing The Vision 1440H Document of IDB, which aims at alleviating poverty, eradicating illiteracy, providing better health facilities, strengthening ties with the private sector, NGOs, and striving for the cause of development of women.

Ali looks at development as a comprehensive and integrated phenomenon that has to be continuously reviewed and closely coordinated. He seeks cooperation with all people who would like to contribute to a better life for all humans in this global village. Ali was also served as the secretary general of the Muslim World League (MWL) during 1993-95 and was given the task of restructuring the MWL, after which he returned to serve IDB once again. He has also been contributing to the welfare of the community in the Kingdom by extending his services to the Higher Education Councils of five universities and as a board member of the Saudi Fund for Development.

Saudi Arabia holds the largest stake (23.6%) in IDB, which was founded in Jeddah as a specialized institution of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The 38th annual meeting of IDB Group, held in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, in May 2013, decided to triple the bank’s capital from $45 billion to $150 billion. The bank’s purpose is to foster the economic development and social progress of member countries and Muslim communities in accordance with the principles of Shariah. It aspires to become a global development bank by 2019 (1440 H), contributing substantially to achieve the comprehensive development of the Islamic world with a focus on the human face of the Islamic economy and regain its glory.

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OIC Trade Fair held in Riyadh

Riyadh (IINA) 21 May 2016 – Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar on Sunday will inaugurate the 15th Trade Fair of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which will kick off in Riyadh under the auspices of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.

The event is being organized by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MCI) in cooperation with the OIC, the Islamic Center for Development of Trade and the Council of Saudi Chambers at the Riyadh International Convention Center and Exhibition. “The Kingdom seeks to increase the level of trade exchange and promote two-way investments among OIC member states,” Turki Al-Toaimi, adviser to the minister of commerce and investment and its official spokesman, said here on Thursday. He expressed his deepest thanks and appreciation to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for his noble role in boosting the activities of the 15th OIC Trade Fair.

Al-Toaimi added that the trade fair will witness the participation of more than 30 OIC member states and the Kingdom’s pavilion will be the largest among OIC member states. A large number of Saudi companies and establishments will be displaying and offering a variety of goods and products made in Saudi Arabia, pointing out in the same context that Saudi products are currently being exported to more than 100 countries worldwide. Al-Toaimi said that the Kingdom seeks to increase its trade and investment with Islamic countries.

The 15th OIC Trade Fair is expected to witness the signing of a number of agreements and deals among OIC member countries and companies. A number of OIC ministers and ambassadors will participate in the trade fair, as well as businessmen and industrialists in and outside of the Kingdom. Al-Toaimi confirmed that the trade fair will provide various opportunities for businessmen to cooperate in various fields in private sector activities, such as finding new markets for their products and services, establishing joint ventures, providing new methods of funding for two-way trade, identifying available opportunities for cooperation in industrial projects, and expanding trade exchange among OIC member countries.

The OIC Trade Fair, held every two years, aims to introduce the products and services of OIC member states to raise the level of trade, promote two-way investments and open new markets for the products of participating countries. On the sidelines of the 15th OIC Trade Fair, the Council of Saudi Chambers and the Islamic Chamber will organize the 9th Forum for Businesswomen in Islamic Countries on Wednesday evening at its headquarters in Riyadh.

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IMF deal to extend Iraq $5.4 billion loan

Amman, (IINA), 20 May 2016 – Iraq has reached a $5.4 billion standby agreement (SBA) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that could unlock $15 billion more in international assistance over the next three years, Finance Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said on Thursday.

The loan will have an annual interest rate of 1.5 percent, Iraq’s central bank governor Ali al-Alak said at a press conference following a week of talks with the IMF in neighboring Jordan, according to Reuters. He did not disclose the loan’s tenure.

The IMF deal will allow Iraq to secure additional financial aid of around $15 billion over the next three years, including in the form of international bonds, according to Zebari. He said the deal was conditional on reducing Iraq’s budget deficit and other unspecified measures.

Iraq, a major OPEC exporter, is planning to lower its oil price forecast, widening its current fiscal deficit of $21 billion by several billion dollars.

Head of the IMF’s Iraq mission Christian Josz told reporters the agreement was an important first step that would give confidence to other donors to extend more financing.

The agreement still needs the approval of the IMF board which is set to meet in June.

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OIC urges member states to support newly formed Water Council

Istanbul (IINA) 19 May 2016 – The Third Session of the Islamic Conference of Ministers responsible for Water (ICMW), held in the Turkish city of Istanbul on May 17-18, concluded with the adoption of the Terms of Reference of the OIC Water Council.

It invited the OIC member states and relevant OIC institutions to render necessary support to the Water Council to enhance cooperation among OIC countries on water-related issues.

The Conference also approved composition of the Council, which consists of 15 members, and adopted a resolution on fostering cooperation in water sector as well as Chair’s Summary of the third session.

Ministers responsible for water and heads of delegations of OIC member states in their speeches highlighted the challenges faced by their countries in water sector and stressed the importance of increasing cooperation to tackle these challenges.

The ministers welcomed the establishment of the OIC Water Council as a major step in implementation of the OIC Water Vision. They called upon the newly formed Water Council to make effective strategies for enhancing technical capabilities of the member states on water-related issues and to prevent the spread of waterborne diseases.

The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC) presented the OIC Water Report for 2015 which highlighted the current status of water projects and activities undertaken by OIC countries in the water sector.

Two panel discussions on “Capacity Building in Water Sector” and “Prevention of Waterborne Diseases” in the OIC member states were held on the sidelines of the ICMW conference.

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Bangladesh Dairy sector boosting rural economy in Rangpur

RANGPUR, May 22, 2016 (BSS)- The dairy sector has been boosting the rural economy along with meeting nutritional demand and improving socioeconomic and health conditions of the common people in Rangpur region in recent years.

According to officials and experts, proper exploration of the prospective dairy sector adopting latest technologies and comprehensive steps, including setting up of milk-processing industries, can bring further change in rural economy.

Livestock specialist Dr Rowshanuzzman said setting up of milk processing and chilling factories and organising milk producers under cooperative systems could further enhance the sector in the region, including char areas.

“The rural as well as char economy are flourishing fast with animal husbandry and the common people selling huge milk but not getting fair price for lack of adequate dairy factory or milk processing industries or preservation facilities,” he added.

Agriculture and Environment Coordinator of RDRS Bangladesh Mamunur Rashid said hundreds of poor people living both in the main lands and char areas have been changing fortune through animal husbandry despite facing many hurdles.

“If the cooperatives systems were launched to ensure smooth marketing of the enormous quantity of milk being produced daily both in the main and char lands, the poverty-prone areas would achieve huge economic development,” he said.

Rangpur Dairy (RD) Milk Processing Factory, a successful private sector enterprise, in Mithapukur upazila here has already set up glaring example in flourishing the prospective dairy sector and creating huge jobs for poverty-stricken people to change their fate.

Senior official of the factory Ashraful Alam said hundreds of cows have been distributed among the poor of Shalaipur, Muradpur and many other villages in Rangpur to change their fortune under a massive plan of distributing thousands of cows.

“Many of the beneficiaries, mostly women, have already become owners of the supplied cows by paying actual price through supplying milk to the factory for a certain period when RD Factory authorities transferred the ownership to them,” he said.

He said RD Factory has a comprehensive plan to turn it into one of the biggest milk processing industries of the country by involving over 30,000 people of Rangpur and its adjoining districts in the region in future. Beneficiaries of the factory Amena Begum and Alam Mia of village Shalaipur said they took two cows with calves and now have become owners of those by delivering milk to the factory and added that they have changed fates in the past eight years.

“We have been earning huge profit by selling our produced milk to RD Factory and now dreaming a better future for our children though it was very difficult for us to earn livelihoods by selling labour in the past,” they said.

Talking to BSS, President of Rangpur Chamber Abdul Kashem said huge milk is being produced in Rangpur region daily, but lack of adequate milk processing industries and marketing facilities are hindering desired growth of the sector.

“Setting up of milk processing and chilling factories and industries like RD Factory, could usher in a new era in the economic development of the whole region by attracting the local and foreign investors by flourishing the prospective dairy sector,” he said.

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Afghan Poetry collection ‘Naway-e-Dil’ Unveiled

Sunday, May 15, 2016, Kabul (BNA) ‘Naway-e-Dil’, a collection of Najia Karim’s poets, was unveiled yesterday.

The collection of the Afghan poet Najia Karim’s poetry was unveiled in a ceremony with participation of deputy minister of publication affairs for information and culture Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavi, advisor to President Dr. Humayoun Qayoum and a number of culturists, poets and writers.

In the ceremony, a number of poems readout poets of Najia Karim and the Afghan poetess’s life background was read out by head of human resources of Kabul municipality Dr. Ahmad Kamal Qasimyar. The collection has various poems as human rights, life of disabled and others.

It is worth mentioning that currently, four books as ‘Bostan-e-Kherad, Naway-e-Benawayan, Naway-e-Nai and Naway-e-Dil have been published.

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World’s first humanitarian summit to start in Istanbul

ISTANBUL – Anadolu Agency – The World Humanitarian Summit – the first of its kind – officially kicks off May 23 amid the Syrian civil war entering its sixth year, Europe’s struggle with the worst refugee crisis since World War II and growing global social inequality.

Hosted by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, world leaders from United Nations member states, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam and Kuwaiti Emir Al-Jaber al-Sabah are set to gather in Turkey’s largest city on May 23 and 24.

During the summit, attended by 125 of the U.N.’s 193 member states, at least 50 heads of government will announce several commitments to reduce humanitarian disasters.

These include preventing and ending conflict; respecting the rules of war; addressing forced displacement; achieving gender equality; responding to climate change; ending the need for aid; and investing in humanity.

“Leaders at the World Humanitarian Summit must make concrete commitments that deliver real change for civilians facing disaster and conflict,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, who will address government leaders at the summit, said in a statement last week.

“Fundamentally, we must see action from world leaders to reverse the shocking erosion of respect for international humanitarian law – this could be the summit’s single most important legacy,” Byanyima said.

In 2014, the U.N. reported that around $540 million of the roughly $135 billion global aid budget was spent on decreasing disaster risk.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to push for an increase in world spending on reducing disaster risk at the summit in Turkey, which is one of the world’s most generous aid donors.

Turkey ranked third in the list of countries with the most international humanitarian work in 2012 and 2013, the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) said in its Turkish Development Assistance 2013 report – the latest such figures from the agency.

According to another 2013 Global Humanitarian Assistance report, the top five donors were the U.S. at $3.8 billion, followed by EU institutions ($1.9 billion), the U.K. ($1.2 billion), Turkey ($1.0 billion) and Sweden at $784 million.

Hosting almost 3 million Syrian refugees, Turkey has spent nearly $10 billion on caring for them since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, according to officials.

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Museum visitors in Turkey down almost half

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – May/19/2016 – The number of visitors to Turkey’s museums fell by almost half in the first three months of this year, while the number of foreign visitors also dropped by 60 percent.

The sharp decline is thought to have been caused by a number of terrorist attacks hitting Turkish cities, which has led to a big drop in the overall number of tourists visiting Turkey.

Because of the decrease, the country’s annual “Week of Museums” event, marked between May 18 and 24, had a subdued start this year.

Turkey’s top tourist attraction, the Topkapı Palace Museum in Istanbul, was visited by 604,531 people in the first three months of 2014 and 596,323 in the same period of 2015, but this year only 338,763 people visited it.

Revenues from entrance to the museum were 3 million Turkish Liras last year but regressed to just 1 million liras this year, with the number of free-of-charge visitors at 41,930.

The Hagia Sophia Museum, also in Istanbul, welcomed 610,000 people between January and March 2015, but this number fell to 344,346 this year, marking a sharp decrease of 45 percent.

Around 4,000 people visit the Hagia Sophia and the Topkapı Palace on average per day.

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Hotel occupancy rates plunge 32 pct in Istanbul: Association

ISTANBUL – Hurriyet Daily News – May/19/2016 – Hotel occupancy rates in Istanbul dropped 32 percent in April compared to the same month of 2015, outstripping the average nationwide drop of 22 percent, a leading tourism association has said, according to Anadolu Agency.

While hotel occupancy rates decreased by 22 percent to 52.2 percent across Turkey in April compared to the same month of the previous year, the rates decreased by over 30 percent to 50.3 percent in Istanbul, said the Hotel Association of Turkey (TÜROB) in a report, which was based on data from STR Global. The figure represented the highest plunge for Istanbul in the last decade, according to the report.

TÜROB President Timur Bayındır said the association did not expect any increase in hotel occupancy rates unless security concerns about Turkey are addressed.

“As long as people continue to see Turkey as a risky country and countries continue to issue security warnings for Turkey, we cannot expect any rise in foreign arrivals in our country. The recent problems in the sector are mainly over security concerns. There will be double-digit declines in foreign arrivals over this year, although we cannot make any forecast about the exact rate,” he said.

The average hotel room prices per night in Istanbul declined from 130.1 euros to 114.8 euros in April compared to the same month in 2015. The revenue per available room (RevPAR) also decreased by 40.1 percent in April to 57.7 euros, compared to the same month of the previous year.

Hotel occupancy rates in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya increased 0.4 percent in April to 51 percent compared to the same month of 2015. This increase was mainly due to the lower number of opened hotels in the resort compared to the previous years, according to the report.

Average room prices decreased by 14.3 percent to 57.8 euros in April compared to last year’s figures. The RevPAR figures also declined by 14 percent to 29.5 euros in April from the same time period.

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“I Belong to” tourism initiative for supporting heritage launched in Italy

22 May، 2016, Rome, SANA – Tourism Ministry launched in Italy on Sunday the initiative dubbed “I Belong to” for the restoration of Syria’s international heritage, in cooperation with the Syrian community in Italy, SOLID organization and the Church of Saint Mary in Cosmedin.

Tourism Minister Bishr Yazigi addressed a symposium that carried the initiative’s name via internet hailing the initiatives launched by the Syrian expatriates abroad in support of their country in the face of the fierce onslaught targeting it.

He said “I Belong to” initiative was in response to the desire of a large number of Syrians around the world, noting that the artifacts presented within the symposium served as a symbolic reminder of a small part of what the Syrian man has offered throughout history.

The symposium, held at the hall of Santa Maria Church, was attended by Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, the Italian renowned archaeologist Paulo Mattieh, professors, journalists, head of SOLID organizations, representatives from the European Solidarity Front for Syria and a number of members of the Syrian community in Italy.

“I Belong to” initiative had a previous stop in Warsaw, the capital city of Poland.

The initiative was first launched in late August, 2015. It aims at supporting the human heritage and the components of tourism in Syria and showing the civilized face of Syria. It also aims at providing the opportunity for the Syrian expatriates to contribute to supporting their motherland economically.

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