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20 Jun, 2016

Bethlehem University Hails its First Tourism Vocational Training Program Graduates

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 20 June 2016 (15 Ramadan 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Malaysia’s mid-year nationwide shopping extravaganza kicked off with the launch of 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival 2016 at Avenue K shopping mall in conjunction with its Aidilfitri Celebration. Jointly organised by Tourism Malaysia and Avenue K, the launch was officiated by Director General of Tourism Malaysia, Y.Bhg. Datuk Seri Mirza Mohammad Taiyab. The carnival takes place concurrently with 1Malaysia Unified Sale organised by Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism, which is participated by the shopping and retail sector as well as from other sectors including banking, spa, hotel, transportation and telecommunication. There are 15,958 branches from 3,424 companies nationwide participating in this sales campaign. Taking place until 31 Aug, the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival is set to entice domestic shoppers to celebrate the upcoming Hari Raya (Eid Ul Fitr) in style with numerous exciting deals, super discounts and in-store redemptions, as well as to attract foreign tourists to indulge in a marvellous shopping experience. Most of the shopping malls in Malaysia are taking part in the carnival, offering huge bargains that are hard to resist as well as line-ups of themed events and fun-filled activities relating to dining, entertainment and leisure. For more information about the Mega Sale Carnival, click here: http://www.tourism.gov.my/media/view/launch-of-1malaysia-mega-sale-carnival-2016-aidilfitri-celebration-promotion-at-avenue-k

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


The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) and Emirates Airline, UAE’s leading airline, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Monday, 13 June, 2016, in Bangkok, Thailand, which aims to utilise the Airline’s global network to further boost inbound tourist arrivals to Thailand, by focusing on the growth of key niche markets and luxury destinations within the kingdom. Under the MoU, Emirates together with TAT will put into effect a range of joint promotions targetted at niche tourism markets such as, Green Tourism, Sports Tourism, Luxury Tourism, Weddings and Honeymoons as well as Medical Health and Wellness. The agreement was signed by Emirates Airline, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operation – Far East, Mr. Badr Abbas, and TAT’s Deputy Governor for International Marketing, Europe, Africa, Middle East and Americas, Mrs. Juthaporn Rerngronasa. In 2015, Emirates Airline carried more than 700,000 passengers from its Global Network of destinations to Thailand. Of this, more than 580,000 passengers flew to Bangkok and 120,000 passengers to Phuket. Emirates is planning to add its seventh daily flight between Bangkok and Dubai on 1 July. This service will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft and will help meet growing passenger demand, affirming Thailand’s position as a popular destination for business and leisure. A special app has been created by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to help Muslim visitors find the appropriate facilities and services. It can be downloaded by clicking here: http://www.tourismthailand.org/muslimfriendly


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.



Malaysia, S. Korea In Talks to build Kl-Singapore High-Speed Rail

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia June 15 (NNN-Bernama) — South Korea has engaged in talks with Malaysia over the possible involvement in the proposed Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail project.

The meeting between South Korean Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kang Hoin and Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai here today touched on, among others, the project.

Kang told reporters after the meeting he had a fruitful discussion with Liow on the possible involvement of South Korea’s rail companies in the project.

“Yes, we certainly discussed the project. Liow welcomed South Korean participation,” he said.

Last year, South Korea expressed keen interest to bid for the proposed 350km line which will begin in Bandar Malaysia, some 7km from Kuala Lumpur City Centre, and end in Jurong East in Singapore.

It is reported that South Korea was also interested in working together and share its expertise on the project with the Malaysian government and looking forward to cooperate in the transfer of technology in the transportation project.

Beside South Korea, Japan and China are also bidding for the high-speed rail project.

South Korea, which adopts the French system for its first-generation trains, is now ranked fourth in the world in using high-speed train technology, after France, Germany and Japan.

Besides the project, Kang said, both leaders were also keen to further strenghten cooperation in transport, aviation and maritime safety, which will mutually benefit both nations.

Kang, who arrived in Malaysia on Monday, will leave for home today.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Thai Tourist Arrivals In Malaysia up 31.7% In First Quarter

BANGKOK, Thailand June 14 (NNN-Bernama) — Thai tourist arrivals to Malaysia in the first quarter of this year have recorded an increase of 31.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Tourism Malaysia, Thailand and Myanmar director, Sulaiman Suip said throughout the period, Malaysia saw some 409,000 Thai tourists as compared to 311,000 in the first quarter of 2015.

“We hope this positive trend will continue throughout the year. We will continue to promote Malaysia as a family holiday destination to the Thais,” he told Bernama recently.

He said among the factors that contributed to the increase was the strengthen of the Thai baht against the Malaysian Ringgit that had made Malaysia a more attractive and affordable holiday destination in the region.

Thailand’s economic stability, which registered a growth of 3.3 per cent in the first quarter of this year, had also contributed to the increase in Thai tourist arrivals to Malaysia, added Sulaiman.

Besides that, he said aggressive promotions by airlines and travel agencies offering tourism packages to Malaysia also contributed to the positive increase in the number of Thai tourists to Malaysia.

“Tourism products such as the Legoland theme park, Sunway Lagoon and Lost World of Tambun continue to be aggressively promoted among Thai tourists,” he said, noting the sales of tourism packages to Malaysia in April also rose 15 per cent.

Several new tourist attractions such as the Movie Animation Park Studios and Asia’s first Nickelodeon Theme Park in Sunway Lagoon were also heavily promoted here to attract more Thai tourists to visit Malaysia, he noted.

Sulaiman said Malaysia was popular among Thai tourists as the best family destination.

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Three Malaysians In Grand Finale Of AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia June 15 (NNN-Bernama) — Three young designers will represent Malaysia at the Grand Finale of the AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2016, and compete with 12 other contestants from Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Ryan Alexander Tan Shaur-An and Loh Teik Lim from ESMOD Kuala Lumpur and Ng Yi Xuan from SML Fashion Academy were selected from 487 online submissions from the country after two rounds of judging during the Kuala Lumpur auditions held recently, AirAsia said in a statement.

The Grand Finale of the AirAsia Runway Ready Designer Search 2016, to be held in Kuala Lumpur in August, is into its second year as part of AirAsia’s continuous efforts in developing talent and empowering youth across the region, it said.

“It will also be a platform for young aspiring designers across the region to catapult their careers in the fashion industry,” it added.

The winner will be bestowed the title of ‘AirAsia’s Most Promising Young Designer 2016’ and receive prizes worth RM350,000, including a confirmed show segment to showcase his or her full collection at Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week Ready to Wear 2017.

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Malaysia: Sabah Folklore Festival From July 24 To 30

KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia, June 15 (NNN-Bernama) — Sabah Cultural Board chairman Wences Angang said 11 countries have confirmed their participation at the Sabah Folklore Festival from July 24 to 30.

The countries include Australia, Ireland, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Estonia, South Korea and Russia.

Chief Minister Musa Aman Wednesday launched the promotion for the 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) here Wednesday.

Also present were the three deputy chief ministers — Yahya Hussin, Raymond Tan Shu Kiah and Joseph Pairin Kitingan — and Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun.

The 11th SIFF, with the theme “Warrior”, will be held on July 24 to 30 at the Sabah Cultural Centre, Penampang.

It is organised by the Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry through the Sabah Cultural Board.

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Malaysia Launches Homestay Apps To Assist Tourists

SUNGAI BESAR, Malaysia, June 16 (NNN-Bernama) — The Tourism and Culture Ministry launched its ‘Homestay Apps’ to assist tourists in finding registered homestays of their choice anywhere in the country.

Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said the portal is an initiative by his ministry to protect the interest of tourists.

He said tourists through the portal could also obtain complete information on every registered homestay including rate, location and the activity packages offered.

He said the homestay programme which was introduced in 1995 had registered 186 homestay clusters nationwide, offering 5,219 rooms by 3,706 operators.

“This portal will also have articles, blogs and news on homestays contributed by tourists.

“Android and iOS applications will also be provided in future to enable tourists to search for further information on homestays using the smartphone,”he said at the launch of the portal at Sungai Leman village, Sungai Nibong here.

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LEAD STORY: Bethlehem University Hails its First Tourism Vocational Training Program Graduates

On Wednesday, 1 June 2016, Bethlehem University held the Graduation Ceremony of the First Tourism Vocational Training. A large number of representatives from the tourism sector, supporting institutions, and from the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities were present, as well as the families and friends of the 90 graduating students.

The ceremony was held at the Bethlehem University Auditorium under the sponsorship of the Palestinian Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Her Excellency, Rula Ma’ayaah. Dr. Michael Sansur, Executive Vice President, then gave the welcome speech in which he congratulated the graduates and their families.

In addition, he thanked the World Bank, PADICO HOLDING, USAID/Compete and the Palestinian Market Development Program (PMDP) for their support of the program; which came into existence as a response to the needs of the Palestinian based on research by the Bethlehem University Institute of Tourism Training (BUITT), The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, and the Palestinian Tourism Sector.

Mr. Ali Abu Srour, Director General of Vocational Training at the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, spoke on the behalf of Her Excellency, Rula Ma’ayaah, and stressed that the Ministry of Tourism constantly works to promote any programs that might bolster the tourism industry in Palestine due to it being one of the most important foundations of the local economy. He also spoke about working hand in hand with Bethlehem University in order to further strengthen the hotel management industry and maintain the training of professional tour guides.

Mr. Steen Jorgensen, Director of the World Bank Mission to Palestine, assured the audience that the World Bank was constantly working with Palestinian experts and the local government in order to ensure a thriving and lively development of the Palestinian economy. He pointed out that it was directly due to the graduating students that so many different organizations managed to work in tandem to further advance such programs that aid Palestinian growth.

Ms. Rawan Juha, Head of Sustainability and Corporate Communications at PADICO HOLDING, said that PADICO takes great pride in its partnership with Bethlehem University. She stressed that this relationship is built upon the mutual understanding that improving the tourism sector in Palestine will result in great benefits to the overall Palestinian community.

Ms. Nuha Nour, a graduate of the program, then took the stage and spoke on behalf of her fellow students. She pointed out how immensely grateful they were to Bethlehem University for its dedication in ensuring they receive solid education, which in turn will help them push the local tourism industry ahead in a competitive and healthy manner.

Prior to distributing the certificates, a short film was screened in which students from the Tourism Vocational Training Program shared their experiences and reflected on the knowledge and skills they came to learn from their time in the program.

Mr. Ahmad Awedet then presented the results of the Research Findings Dissemination: HTS mapping and Job Analysis Study, which tackled the necessary steps to take to fill in the gaps within the tourism industry and further decrease unemployment.

The courses offered within the program are only possible due to the collaboration among the various institutes at Bethlehem University, specifically, the Institute for Hotel Management and Tourism (IHMT), the Institute of Tourism Training (BUITT), and the Institute for Community Partnership (ICP).

A reception, which was organized by students from the Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism, was then held in honor of the graduates.

See pictures: http://bethlehem.edu/2016/2016-06-01-first-tourism-vocational-training

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PDO, Oman Air Sign MoU to promote job-creation

Muscat, June 19 (ONA) — Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) and Oman Air today joined forces to create 400 jobs for young Omanis at the new Muscat International Airport.

The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) committing PDO to support the training of the jobseekers in a variety of cabin and ground staff positions, along with the up-skilling of a further 100 existing Oman Air customer service staff.

The successful completion of the internationally accredited vocational courses will lead to guaranteed full-time positions with the National Carrier in customer relations and ramp services.

The agreement, which was signed by PDO Managing Director Raoul Restucci and Oman Air Chief Executive Officer Paul Gregorowitsch, was forged as part of the drive to support His Majesty’s call for sustainable jobs.

Restucci said: “As part of our National Objectives programme to create job and training opportunities for Omanis, PDO is going beyond our natural boundaries of the oil and gas sector to support economic diversification and development.

“Working with our trusted partners at Oman Air, we will ensure that hundreds of young jobseekers are ready to play key roles in the new Muscat International Airport, which will be a showpiece for the country and the region.

“Despite the oil price environment, we continue to ramp up our In-Country Value drive and ensure Omanis are equipped with the skills and talents to forge rewarding careers, either in our industry or other sectors of the economy.”

Gregorowitsch said: “Oman Air’s partnership with PDO demonstrates the airline’s continuing commitment to the Sultanate’s policy of Omanisation. The overwhelming response to the programme and the progress made in training have given us very positive feedback. We are pleased and proud to be working together to deliver training that will enable Omani citizens to pursue meaningful and rewarding careers.

“Oman Air takes seriously the responsibility to employ as many Omani citizens as possible and provide them with rewarding careers and career development opportunities. Raising the skills and experience bases of the Omani workforce, have always been the focal point of our business. Oman Air will increase the percentage of Omani citizens it employs to 63 percent in 2016, in line with its commitment to the Sultanate’s policy of Omanisation.

“Not only will this benefit Oman Air and the broader aviation sector in Oman, but it will also help the trainees make a greater long-term contribution to the Sultanate and its economic growth. We look forward to welcoming the first 120 candidates to their ramp services training very soon.”

The courses will last for up to 12 months and include a mixture of technical and on-the-job training. Those who pass customer service and ramp service training will gain an International Air Transport Association (IATA) diplomas and National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) certification.

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Al Wathbah Ramadhan Souq in Support of Women Entrepreneurs Evokes Good Response

Muscat, June 19 (ONA) — Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the Sultanate and Riyada, the Public Authority for SMEs Development, joined hands to provide a major thrust for women entrepreneurs as Al Wathbah Ramadhan Souq, an exhibition showcasing their products and services, evoked strong response.

AbdulRazak bin Ali bin Issa, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Bank Muscat inaugurated the three-day exhibition in the presence of Khalid bin Al Safi al-Hraibi, Deputy CEO of Operations of Riyada, held at the bank’s head office from 16th to 18th June as part of ‘Ramadhan Al Khair’ cultural and social events lined up during the holy month of Ramadhan.

In line with the bank’s “Let’s Do More” vision and values of partnership and accountability, Al Wathbah Souq aimed at giving wings to the business dreams of women entrepreneurs highlighted a wide range of home-made products, includingclothes, accessories, food items, home decorations and much more. The exhibition offered a unique shopping experience to visitors.

AbdulRazak bin Ali bin Issa said: “Bank Muscat, in association with Riyada, is proud to host the annual Ramadhan Souq in support of women entrepreneurs in Oman. In an environment where competition is becoming tougher, identifying and seizing opportunities is essential for Omani SMEs to survive and grow. Over the years, Al Wathbah, Bank Muscat’s SME Department, has been very dynamic in strengthening the SME foundation in Oman. The bank remains committed to facilitating avenues for women entrepreneurs to follow their business dreams”.

Khalifa bin Said al-Abri, CEO of Riyada, congratulated Bank Muscat for hosting the annual Al Wathbah Ramadhan Souq. Al Abri said: “Riyada is happy to partner with Bank Muscat in this unique initiative benefiting women entrepreneurs in Oman. The Souq fulfills a critical need in creating avenues to successfully market their products. It serves as a source of inspiration and encouragement for women to embark on SME initiatives and thereby contribute to the progress and development in Oman”.

Bank Muscat has launched various initiatives in support of women entrepreneurs, including Al Wathbah Businesswomen’s Forum aimed at facilitating development of key business relationships. The online platform provides leadership development opportunities and vital connections that help them advance and succeed in their businesses. The innovative networking service is dedicated to assisting businesswomen of all ages. The members enjoy benefits, such as live accelerated networking events and workshops.

In recognition of SME development initiatives by women entrepreneurs, the bank presents the annual Al Wathbah Businesswomen’s awards.

Bank Muscat imparts the required skills and guidance for entrepreneurs drawn from diverse fields to embark on successful SME business ventures through workshops, advisory services and training through Al Wathbah Academy programmes in Muscat, Sohar and Salalah.

These initiatives mark a clear progression of the well-defined strategy pursued by the bank in line with the directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said to support the SME sector and strengthen its role in the economic development of Oman

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Centuries Old Library In Morocco Re-Opens After 4-Year Renovation

RABAT, June 16 (NNN-XINHUA) — The University of al-Qarawiyyin library, one of the oldest in the world, has re-opened in Fez in northeastern Morocco after four years of renovation.

Founded in 859 A.D. by a devout and wealthy Muslim woman called Fatima al-Fihri and nestled in the old medina of Fez, Morocco’s University of al-Qarawiyyin library is home to unique Islamic manuscripts treasured by historians.

The library re-opened on Wednesday along with 27 other historical sites in the old Islamic centre of Fez. The renovation of these sites cost a total of 30 million US dollars.

The library features an exhibition room for manuscripts, a reading room, multiple book stacks, a conference room, a manuscript restoration laboratory, a rare books collection and a small museum to showcase the history of the al-Qarawiyyin complex, which also includes a mosque and a university.

Morocco’s Culture Ministry in 2012 commissioned Moroccan-Canadian architect Aziza Chaouni to rehabilitate the building with a grant from Kuwait’s Arab bank. — NNN-XINHUA

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President Jokowi seeks acceleration of Sorong economic zone development

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 14 Juni 2016 – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has asked for the acceleration of the development of special economic zone in Sorong, West Papua.

He made the request during a limited cabinet meeting on the economic zone at his office here on Tuesday.

“The agenda of this meeting is acceleration of the preparations for the development of the economic zone in Papua, especially In Sorong, West Papua,” he said.

In particular the president has called for serious preparations with regard to its location, zoning, land, infrastructure, transportation and also institution.

The president on the occasion also ordered thorough calculation with regard to the urgency for the setting up of a special economic zone in Papua.

“Please also calculate the urgency for the setting up of KEK (special economic zone) in Papua as it also has to do with availability of raw materials there. Secondly it certainly is connected with market. Electricity supply will also be very important to support KEKs sustainability. In view of that preparations for KEK establishment in Sorong must be calculated,” he said.

President Joko Widodo has called for special attention to the matter. “Our experience with Batam must be paid attention to. I do not want institutional problems to hinder our development efforts and also overlapping with the authorities of regionsl government to happen,” he warned.

Jokowi as the president is also called said development in both Papua and West Papua provinces must be expedited.

He said developing Papua is not only about connectivity such as building bridges, streets, airports or seaports but “we must also create industrial zones and economic growth centers in Papua so that ships that come to and go from Papua through toll sea roads will be full of goods produced in Papua.”

In view of that the President also urged for the intergration of sea toll roads with industrial zones and production centers in Papua.

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Citilink to serve international flights China-Morotai

Ternate (ANTARA News) 14 Juni 2016 – Citilink plans to open a new international flight route between China and the Morotai island in North Maluku to support development of the island into one of ten main tourist destinations in the country.

Head of the North Maluku Telecommunications and Informatics Service Burhan Mansyur said the management of the airline has signed a memorandum of understanding with the district administration of Morotai on the plan to open the international flight route.

The Morotai island was one of military bases of the Alliance Forces during the World War II facing Japan in the Pacific war.

The plan is Citilink, a subsidiary of the nations flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, would open the route between China and Morotai via Manado in North Sulawesi.

Realization of the plan, however, would depends on the completion of project to modernize the Leo Wattimena airport of Morotai, Burhan said here on Tuesday.

He said the runway of the airport already meets the conditions to serve international flights but it needs renovation in its passenger terminal.

He said as one of ten main tourist destinations, modernization of the the airport would be given a priority with fund from the state budget.

Head of the North Maluku Tourism and Cultural Service Anwar Husen said the opening the international flight route would bring more foreign tourists to the Pacific rim island.

Not many foreign tourists are interested to visit Morotia on problem in air transport, Anawar said.

Even domestic tourists from the western part of the country could visit Morotai only via Manado and Ternate.

Apart from its historical background as former main military base of the Allied Force, Ternate has wide sparkling sand beach and under sea panoramic scene attracting many surfers to that location.

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Indonesian students invent anti-bacteria doormat

Bogor, W.Java (ANTARA News) 14 Juni 2016 – Three Indonesian students of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) have invented an antibacterial doormat made of bamboo that can absorb moisture.

“This doormat can inhibit the growth of bacteria, especially Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus,” Naufal Bayu Prasetyo, a member of the team that invented the product, said here on Monday.

Nuafal and his two friends, Laila Fitriyani and Tiana Rafmiwati, are students of the Department of Industrial Technology of Agriculture, the Faculty of Agricultural Technology.

According to Naufal, the doormat has advantages that no other mat commonly sold in the market has. The antibacterial doormat contains flavonaid, tannin, alcohol and pennyquinone.

“The mat is able to absorb water moisture and odor,” he pointed out.

Naufal explained that bamboo is used to make the doormat because the material is found in abundance in Indonesia and is used in construction.

Once the construction is over, bamboo waste is not put to any use. “With some effort, we can turn this waste into a high value product,” he explained.

In the future, the team will qualitatively improve the antibacterial mat so that it has a higher resistance to various types of other microbes also, apart from the two aforesaid kinds of bacteria.

Naufal added that a paper on the antibacterial mat received an award as the Best Session Paper in the 5th International Conference on Agriculture, Environment and Biological Sciences (ICAEBS-16), organized by the International Academy of Arts, Science and Technology in Pattaya, Thailand in April 2016.

Leading scientists, academics and international researchers had participated in the event and presented their ideas about solving various problems in the fields of agriculture, environment and biological sciences.

“We had presented a paper, entitled Utilization of Bamboo (Gigantochloa apus) for Anti-Bacterial Mat as Fiber-Based Prospective Products. We achieved the best paper award,” he narrated.(*)

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Indonesia, Norway to strengthen cooperation in forest protection

London (ANTARA News) 16 Juni 2016 – Indonesia and Norway agree to strengthen cooperation to reduce gas emission as a result of forest denudation and destruction.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg appreciated steps already taken by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in seeking to reduce gas emissions, first secretary of the Indonesian embassy in Oslo Hartyo Harkomoyo told ANTARA News on Thursday quoting Norwegian Environment and Climate Minister Vidar Helgesen.

Minister Vidar Helgesen received an Indonesian delegations of officials of a number of related agencies and Indonesian Ambassador to that country Yuwono A. Putranto in Oslo on Thursday.

The Indonesian delegates that included head of the Peat Land Restoration Body Nazir Foead and Director General of Climate Change Control Nur Masripatin explained the progress made in forest protection in the country including moratorium in new license for oil palm plantations, mining and exploitation of peat land.

Minister Helgesen visited Indonesia in February in exchange of a visit in September last year to Norway by Indonesian Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya.

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11 foreign art groups to perform at Bali Art Festival

Denpasar (ANTARA News), 13 Juni 2016 – Eleven foreign art groups are scheduled to perform during the the month-long 38th Bali Art Festival to be held until July 6, 2016.

“Culture is universal. Through culture, we could strengthen relations with other countries,” Head of the Bali Cultural office Dewa Putu Beratha stated here, Monday.

The foreign art groups to feature in the festival are from France, China, Timor Leste, Japan, Britain, Canada, Thailand, India, and the United States, among other nations.

The French collective of artists “Les Grandes Personnes” performed on an open stage at the Ksiarmana Cultural Park in Denpasar on Sunday evening.

The collective Les Grandes Personnes performing with four giant puppets, reaching a height of up to four meters, combined drama and visual arts to tell stories.

Frank Ivet, the director of Les Grandes Personnes, expressed happiness on being able to perform for the first time in the Bali Art Festival.

The audience was enthralled by the entertaining and unique performance that lasted for an hour.

Some 15 thousand Indonesian and foreign artists are participating in the 38th Bali Art Festival being held in Bali from June 11 to July 9, 2016.

“The Bali Art Festival will feature 225 arts from Balis districts and cities, and 15 thousand artists are expected to participate in it,” Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika stated during the opening of the festival, here, Saturday.

Artists from other regions, such as Jakarta, East Java, East Nusa Tenggara, Blitar, Balikpapan, Bandung, Gunung Kidul, and Magelang, are also taking part in the festival.

Foreign participants hail from the United States, India, Great Britain, Japan, France, Thailand, China, and Timor Leste.

The festival was officially kicked off by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at the Bajra Sandhi Peoples Struggle Monument on Saturday evening.

“I am happy that I am here this evening. The 38th Bali Art Festival is an event much-awaited by the people and tourists from different countries,” he remarked while opening the festival.

The event not only serves as a medium of education but also boosts the economy of the Balinese people, the president affirmed.

On the occasion, President Jokowi was accompanied by First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo, Education and Culture Minister Anies Baswedan, and Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

The festival attracts not only local people but also foreign tourists.

The opening of the festival was marked by a cultural parade featuring a variety of dances and arts from districts and municipalities in Bali Province.

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Jakarta to build two venues for 2018 Asian Games

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 16 Juni 2016 – The Jakarta government has been appointed to host the upcoming 2018 Asian Games and to build two sporting venues: an equestrian arena and a velodrome.

The construction of both arenas will be completed in time, and the groundbreaking for both venues will be held on Jakartas 489th anniversary, according to Jakarta Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat.

“The groundbreaking ceremony for the velodrome, equestrian arena, and LRT will be held simultaneously to coincide with Jakartas anniversary that falls on June 22. We have two alternative locations for the velodrome: Pulomas and Rawamangun,” Djarot stated in Jakarta on Thursday.

The governor noted that both arenas will serve as the venues for Asias best athletes to compete, due to which the construction process will focus on building stadiums of international standard.

“Once again, we will maintain international standards while building these venues, so that we can fulfill all requirements to acquire an international certificate,” he remarked.

Djarot affirmed that the construction of both venues will be completed by the time the Asian Games begin. He further explained that the construction work on the equestrian arena will be completed ahead of the velodrome.

“We are intentionally targeting to complete the work on the equestrian arena first as the horses will arrive ahead of time. Since the games begin in August 2018, we will then have to complete it by February 2018,” he concluded.

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Garuda Indonesia launches re-operations of Singapore – Medan flight

SINGAPORE, June 17, 2016 – (Antara) – Indonesia’s award-winning national airline, Garuda Indonesia, today launched the re-operation of a daily flight between Singapore and Medan. The flight reopening is in line with the airline’s future expansion plan, and the continuously commitment as the flag-carrier to help boost Indonesia’s economic, business, and tourism growth, as well as part of its effort to further strengthen the backbone of its connectivity in Southeast Asia region in line with the Open Sky policy.

The relaunches ceremony was located at the Changi International Airport, and proudly unveiled by Indonesian Minister of Tourism Mr Arief Yahya, President & CEO Garuda Indonesia M. Arif Wibowo, Indonesian Ambassador for Singapore H.E. Ngurah Swanjaya, VP Airline Development Changi Airport Group Damon Wong, along with other officials of Garuda Indonesia Board of Director and Tourism Ministry of Indonesia.

President & CEO Garuda Indonesia M. Arif Wibowo stated that aside from the airline’s expansion program, the reoperation of the flight is also a commitment to support Indonesian government program in boosting the Top 10 Priority Destinations in which one of them is Lake Toba.

“We believe this new service will stimulate growth of business and trade in the region, more so as Medan is strategically located as the gateway to Sumatera and the rest of Indonesia’s western regions. The new service will offer passengers a wider choice of destinations as well as greater flexibility and convenience when travelling between Singapore and cities in Sumatera, such as Palembang, Banda Aceh, Sabang, Lheuksmawe, Gunung Sitoli, and Pinangsori,” he added.

Apart from business and leisure travel, many visitors from Singapore come to Medan as the city is quite well known for its vibrant mix of cultures and reputation as a culinary paradise as well as popular tourism attractions.

Commenting on the airline’s strategic initiative, Indonesian Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya explained that Singapore is considered as an international transportation hub, as well as the tourism hub for Indonesia. Furthermore, the Minister also promotes Lake Toba, one of the Top 10 Priority Destinations in Indonesia.

“Toba is the largest and deepest volcanic lake in the world. Lake Toba is a giant caldera, with crater formed by the eruption of a super volcano 74,000 years ago. Experts believe that huge explosion of Toba volcano was the largest in the last 2 million years, and had triggered a dramatic volcanic storm. As an attraction, Lake Toba is a very distinctive, world-class natural landscape,” he added.

The Medan-bound service will run daily and will be operated by Garuda’s Boeing 738 aircraft with a two-class cabin configuration featuring its globally praised Business Class service concept and the World’s Best Economy Class (Skytrax Global Airline Awards 2013).

The service will depart from Changi Airport at 11.15am and arrive at Kualanamu International Airport at 11.45am local time. The return flights to Singapore will depart Kualanamu International Airport at 13.30pm and arrive at Changi Airport at 16.00pm local time.

Garuda Indonesia had also launched the Wonderful Indonesia Travel Pass last January in an effort to promote Indonesia’s tourist destinations beyond its main hub, as well as to boost travel, by making travelling within Indonesia a truly affordable and seamless experience.

The launch of this service is part of Garuda Indonesia’s 50th Anniversary in Singapore. The airline’s presence in Singapore, for over 50 years, marks Singapore not only as one of the airline’s most important markets, but also as a symbol of an even better relationship between the two countries in the next fifty years. Ever since the first day of its consecutive operations in Singapore 50 years ago, the airline has grown considerably and transformed into one of Asia’s most successful airlines.

To celebrate this launch, Garuda Indonesia is running a promotion on all-in economy fares from Singapore to Medan from S$108 for one way trips and S$188 for return flights. Business class tickets will also be on sale from S$328 one-way and S$538 for return. Valid for travel from 14 June until 06 July 2016 and fares will be on sale from now up until 06 July 2016.

The fares are available for purchase online from www.garuda-indonesia.com or the Garuda Indonesia sales office from 9am – 5pm at United Square, 101 Thomson Road, #12-03. Terms and conditions apply. Please call the reservation department at +65 6250 2888 for more details.

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Turkish Official: Iran will do well in tourism

Tehran, June 14, IRNA – Head of Istanbul Chamber of Industries Ardal Bagchevan said on Tuesday that Turkish investors are keen on Iran’s tourism market with an estimation that Iran will face with waves of tourist admission.

He made the remarks in a meeting with Vice-President and head of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Masoud Soltanifar.

Bagchevan said that trade between the two countries is scheduled to increase to 30 billion dollars, but, the Turkish business sector believes the capacity is 100 billion dollars.

He talked about 15 billion dollars investment in Iran by Istanbul Chamber of Industries to construct an economic and industrial township.

The Turkish official from the private sector said that considering a huge amount of tourists to go to Iran in future, Turkey’s investors are willing to have partnership with Iran’s tourism market and construct hotels.

Bagchevan said that ‘egeyapi’ is one of most credited holdings for hotel building in Turkey and that the holding has expressed readiness to build hotels in Iran.

Vice-President Soltanifar said the two presidents in their meetings have underlined expansion of strategic relations.

He said that there are appropriate opportunities for investment in Iran and that following implementation of JCPOA Iran has entered to a new phase of its politico-economic life.

Soltanifar said that Iran prepared packages on tourism to be proposed to domestic and foreign investors and in the past five months groups from different countries have expressed their readiness to attend Iran tourism market and build hotel in Iran.

During visit of Turkey’s Minister of Tourism to Iran an agreement to build 10 hotels by Turkish investors was signed and all necessary grounds for investment in Iran’s tourism industry is ready, he said.

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Tehran-Astrakhan regular flight serves Iran’s trade ties with Russia

Tehran, June 18, IRNA – Head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPO) Valiollah Afkhami Rad said on Saturday that regular flights between Tehran and Astrakhan earlier this month served Iranian trade ties with Russia.

TPO works to create the infrastructure for boosting trade ties, and to this end, it signed an agreement with Taban Airlines to launch regular flight between Tehran’s International Imam Khimeini Airport and Astrakhan Airport, Afkhami-Rad said.

He said that the flight from Tehran to Astrakhan and vice versa will operate twice a week on Saturdays and Fridays.

Noting that a new chapter opened in Iran-Russia trade ties, the official said that after a decline in Moscow-Ankara trade following Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian Su-24 fighter jet over Syria, the significance of Tehran-Moscow trade has doubled.

Afkhami Rad also noted that the flight between Tehran and Astrakhan can help Iran to attract further Russian tourists, calling on the Association of Tour Operators to make planning to seize this opportunity.

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Oman Air Boosts Salalah Flights For Summer Season

MUSCAT, Oman, June 16 (NNN-ONA) – Oman Air, the national carrier of the Sultanate of Oman, is to operate more flights than ever before, to the southern city of Salalah, during this summer’s season.

The airline has increased frequencies to Salalah in previous years, but will this year offer an unprecedented number of seats, to the increasingly popular destination, in response to rising demand.

Eleven flights a day will be operated between Salalah and the Omani capital of Muscat, with a capacity increase of 15,000 seats, compared to the previous year.

In addition, the deployment of Boeing 737, Boeing 787 and Airbus 330 aircraft on the Salalah/Muscat/Salalah sectors will increase the availability of seats on the route.

The Dubai/Salalah route will witness the operation of one daily flight in the months of July and Aug.

Furthermore, from Sept 1, Oman Air will deploy Boeing 737’s on the Salalah to Dubai route, replacing smaller Embraer 175 regional jets, which are currently in use. This will enable increased numbers of customers from the UAE to enjoy both Oman Air’s outstanding passenger experience and the warm hospitality offered to visitors in Salalah.

From Jan to Dec, 2015, a record 52,274 seats were offered by Oman Air on flights between Salalah and Dubai. In 2016, Oman Air will increase that number to 74,176 seats (42%).

The increased frequencies will be supported by a range of attractive special offers for customers travelling to Salalah from points throughout Oman Air growing international network.

The season runs from June to Sept, and sees monsoon mists and rains sweep across the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The cool, damp weather attracts thousands of visitors every year, especially from more northern parts of the Gulf region, where summer temperatures can rise to over 50° Celsius.

Salalah, the principal city of Oman’s most southerly Governorate, Dhofar, has experienced major year-on-year growth in visitor numbers in recent times.

Increasing numbers of travellers from the Gulf, the Far East and Europe are visiting the city and its surrounding region, which offers a unique and ancient culture, dramatic mountain backdrops and unspoiled tropical beaches.

In addition to offering year on year increases in flight frequencies, Oman Air is a major sponsor of the Salalah Festival and has also worked in close partnership with Oman Airports Management Company (OAMC), to modernise and expand the city’s airport.– NNN-ONA

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Iran attends Silk Road meet to foster economic cooperation, tourism

Beijing, June 18, IRNA – The three-day Silk Road meeting with an aim to expand economic cooperation among countries lying on the road is underway in China.

A number of Chinese officials and representatives of Chinese businesses and companies were present in the meeting.

The two-day meeting focused on ways of expanding and consolidating economic and commercial cooperation among the Silk Road states.

The sides also explored grounds for cooperation in various economic, trade, investment and tourism sectors.

Rally Tours NZ Ltd will operate its Silk Road self-drive tour, crossing Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Czech, Germany and the Netherlands are the Silk Road states.

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40 ambassadors to tour historical sites in Qazvin

Qazvin, June 18, IRNA – Director General of Qazvin Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Department Mohammad Ali Hazrati said on Saturday that over 40 foreign ambassadors are to inspect historical monuments in Qazvin.

The ambassadors are to become more acquainted with tourism attractions of the historical city of Qazvin, he said.

Foreign ambassadors accompanying with their families are to inspect tourism attractions as well as investment opportunities, he said.

The ambassadors will also hold a meeting with Qazvin province governor-general.

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OIC emphasizes IINA’s role in closing ranks in Islamic nation

Jeddah, (IINA), 15 Jun 2016 – Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Madani received Director General of the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) Issa Khaireh Robleh on Tuesday and congratulated him on his recent appointment as director general.

The secretary general stressed the importance of further developing the capacities of IINA to facilitate the exchange of information, preparation of media files for OIC member states, and reporting on issues of concern to the Islamic world.

He noted that the agency’s tasks are as important as the Islamic Development Bank, as it has a significant role in closing ranks in the Islamic nation as well as in the exchange of information.

On his part, Director General Issa Robleh expressed his gratitude to the secretary general for his great hospitality and congratulated him on the advent of the holy month of Ramadan.

The director general underscored the importance of continuous coordination with the OIC as well as the support provided by the pan Islamic body to its specialized media organ of IINA. He also stressed the importance of coordination with the OIC’s Department of Media.

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Chinese investors to explore bigger scope in Bangladesh

KUNMING, June 14, 2016 (BSS)- High level officials from some major Chinese corporate houses will soon visit Bangladesh to explore investment opportunities in bigger projects.

The officials will include representatives of the companies from telecom, textile, infrastructure and agro-processing sectors.

“We are expecting visit of the high level delegates from China who would explore scope of investing in major and bigger projects in Bangladesh”, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu told BSS.

While speaking on the outcome of his bilateral meeting with Chinese high officials, the minister said he got very positive response from the Chinese authorities to the proposals for investing in priority sectors in Bangladesh.

The minister at a bilateral meeting with Chairman of the National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) Ning Jizhe on Monday sought Chinese investment in some priority sectors so the country could have a win-win situation in bilateral economic relations with China.

The priority sectors include agro-processing and agricultural tools and machineries industries, apparels, ICT, pharmaceuticals, leather and leather goods, light engineering and jute and jute products.

He also proposed China to set up joint venture in textile and leather sectors and relocate their labour-intensive industries to Bangladesh.

The NDCR chairman assured that they would consider the proposals for strengthening further the trade and investment relations with Bangladesh.

The NDRC, which is a state-run organization, formulates and implements strategies of national economic and social development and carry out research and analysis on domestic and international economic situation. Earlier this week a Chinese high official also told this news agency that the future policy of China towards assisting Bangladesh development would focus on industrial capacity building.

“We would like to take China’s multi-level relations with Bangladesh from trade and investment to the next level by extending its support to the country for industrial capacity building,” Cui Zhitao said.

The councilor of the Yunnan province said China’s future cooperation with the South Asian countries, including Bangladesh would be broad-based, depending on the growing shared interests and market demand.

At a meeting with media delegates from South Asia and Southeast Asian countries today (Tuesday) in Kunming, a top official of a key state-owned company in the construction sector in China said that his company would like to open a subsidiary in Bangladesh should there be any such opportunity made available.

“We will be really happy to open a subsidiary in Bangladesh and contribute to the country’s development initiatives, particularly in basic infrastructure sector”, said Li Jia Long, Vice Chairman of the Board of Yunnan Construction Investment Holding (YCIH) Group Company Limited.

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Bangladesh to become developed country by 2041: Bipu

DHAKA, June 18, 2016 (BSS) – Power, Energy and Mineral Resources State Minister Nasrul Hamid Bipu today said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy have taken a comprehensive plan to turn the country into outsourcing industry like garments sector by next 10 years.

‘Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina already has given a roadmap to build the Bangladesh as developed country by 2041’, Bipu told a seminar on outsourcing entitled ‘Bangladesh: The Next ICT Destination’ at Keraniganj in the city.

Learning and Earning Development Project of ICT Ministry organized the day-long seminar in association with Dhaka district administration and Keraniganj Upazila Parishad at Keraniganj.

He also thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Advisor Sajeeb Wazed Joy and Information and Communication Technology State Minister Junaid Ahmed Palak for approving a project to build high-tech Park at Keraniganj in the city.

Presided over by Upazila Nirbahi Officer of Keraniganj Abul Bashar Mohammed Fakhruzzaman, Joint Secretary of ICT Division Manjur Quader, Upazila Chairman of Keraniganj Shahin Ahmed and Assistant Commissioner (Land) Shamim Babu Shanti joined the function, among others.

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Over DZD15 billion allocated to environment in Algiers since 2013

ALGIERS, Friday, 17 June (Algerian Press Service) – Over DZD15 billion was spent since the end of 2013 in the environment field in Algiers.

Abderrahmane Boussoualim, Director of Administration, Control and Management of IT, said on the sidelines of a Conference gathering officials, elected representatives and civil society “that the budgets allocated between 2013 and 2016 to environment in Algiers amounted to DZD15.32 billion.”

As for him, Wali of Algiers Abdelkader Zoukh stressed the importance of pursuing the different local development programs and the rehabilitation of the environment in Algiers at all levels in order to “make it a tourist destination of excellence.”

Algiers, like other parts of the country, has tremendous assets that attract tourists, like security and the structures under construction.

Prefect of Algiers said that clean environment and re-housing are the priorities of the executive body.

As for the old buildings restoration programme, Zoukh announced that they will continue to beautify the capital.

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Algerian-Turkish artistic evening in Algiers

ALGIERS, 17 June 2016, (Algerian Press Service) – Algerian-Turkish friendship group performed Thursday evening at Ibn Zeidoun movie theatre, in Algiers, enthralling the audience with songs from Algerian and Turkish repertoires.

The group’s orchestra opened the show with a musical piece called “the Nouba of the Sultan,” before carrying on to scores from Turkish musical heritage and other Andalusian, hawzi and malouf songs performed by artist Madjda Bencherif, accompanied by Turkish flautist Bordjo Kardagh.

The group showed a perfect fusion between Algerian and Turkish arts through a harmonious musical performance by its eight (Algerian and Turkish) members.

The musical evening, organized by Turkey’s embassy in Algiers, was attended by the Turkish ambassador.

The Algerian-Turkish friendship group, who participated in the International Early Music Festival, last December, will perform in Constantine (431-km east of Algiers) on Friday.

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Algerian-Turkish friendship group enthrals audience in Constantine

CONSTANTINE, 18 June 2016, (Algerian Press Service) – A series of songs belonging to the repertory of authentic music has been performed Friday evening in Constantine by the Algerian-Turkish friendship group in a rejoicing atmosphere.

In a series of songs that combine both cultures, the group celebrated the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Barberousse brothers in Algeria, in the presence of Turkey’s ambassador to Algiers Memet Poroy.

Speaking after this spectacle, Turkey’s ambassador to Algiers Memet Poroy told the press that “this event is part of cultural activities scheduled for the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Barberousse brothers in Algeria,” adding that this music band, composed of Algerian and Turkish instrumentalists, symbolizes the friendship between both countries as well as historical and heritage ties.”

For his part, director of Malek-Haddad arts center Amar Aziez said that this cultural body works for diversifying cultural activities through billing several music styles.

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Anniversary of Mali Peace Agreement: New beginning to achieve peace and reconciliation requirements

ALGIERS, 18 June 2016, (Algerian Press Service) – The first anniversary of the signing of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali will mark a new beginning in the same constructive spirit for the achievement of peace and reconciliation requirements, said Saturday in Algiers Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ramtane Lamamra.

“There’s a willingness and wide strategic vision to accelerate the implementation of the Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali, stemming from Algiers Process, by opening new prospects and close cooperation with stronger participation of the signatory parties: the Government and movements of Mali,” Lamamra told the press at the end of his discussions with the representative of the Coordination of Azawad Movements (CMA), Bilal Ag Cherif.

“Considering what has been done through the visits of Malian representatives of the Coordination, the Platform and the Government, we believe that the first anniversary of the signing of the Agreement would constitute a new beginning in the same constructive spirit to achieve all peace and reconciliation requirements,” added Lamamra.

In this regard, he recalled the visit he will pay to Mali as from Monday, during which he will hold discussions and chair the meeting of the Monitoring Committee on Implementation of Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in Mali.

The meeting will be attended by Bilal Ag Cherif as well as other leaders of CMA member movements and all members of the international mediation team, led by Algeria, said Lamamra.

Bamako meeting will be an opportunity to assess the achievements made a year after the signing of the Agreement and to address the obstacles to its implementation, he added.

“We insist on peace and reconciliation and on the need to improve the living conditions of the inhabitants of these regions, in order to better meet their objective claims,” he said, underlining the need for joint efforts for “development, humanitarian aid and investment, as well as for the creation of productive economic infrastructures in these vast regions.”

Lamamra also emphasized the need to “support efforts aiming at combating terrorism and cross-border organized crime, particularly in these regions.”

Bamako meeting “will be marked by new achievements and a positive step forward towards the achievement of the targeted objectives, on which we all believe,” he stressed.

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Three Pakistanis welcome Ramadan under water

Jeddah (IINA), 11 Jun 2016 – Three Pakistanis celebrated the advent of Ramadan in a unique, different way. Yaheya Ashfaq, Umer Jan and Qazi Ajmal went to the bottom of the Red Sea off the coast of Jeddah to welcome the month of fasting. They also offered prayers on the floor of the Red Sea amid colorful fish, according to a report in Saudi Gazette.

They even took lanterns, one of them had bought from home, for a full celebration under water. People turn to the lantern (fanoos) as part of the tradition of the holy month. It is hung on balconies during Ramadan. The lanterns had inscriptions glorifying Allah Almighty: Subhan Allah wabi Hamdihi (Allah is free from imperfection and all praise is due to Him) Subhan Allah il Azeem (Allah is free from imperfection, The Greatest). They prayed for the unity of the Muslim Ummah in general and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in particular at a time when the Ummah is passing through several trials and tribulations. Yaheya, a professional photographer, even filmed the plunge. The video, which has gone viral in Pakistan, shows the three friends waving Saudi flags and offering prayers 140 feet underwater.

One of the reasons, Yaheya said, the group chose to go under water on the eve of Ramadan was to “highlight the importance the beaches, the coral reefs and the sea play in our lives. “The underwater life in the Kingdom is really unexplored and can a major role in increasing tourism as well,” he added. Yaheya is an avid deep-sea diver and loves the Red Sea shore. He has only one word for it — “special”. He has taken part in the beach cleaning drives. He was also part of the group that cleaned the Corniche some eight years ago with Prince Sultan Bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage. Yaheya experienced diving in Dubai and Yanbu. He said Jeddah’s beach stands apart from others in the region. “The ships lying on the bed of the sea around Jeddah make the dives worthwhile. Moreover, the mountainous coasts are a perfect set to the coral reefs,” he added. He said the types of fish one is most likely to encounter during a dive are: Sergeant Scissortail, various Butterflyfish, Barracuda, Redtooth Triggerfish, Coral Grouper, Wrasses, Goatfish, Parrotfish, Stingrays squids and sharks.

He says he has seen sharks as big as three meters. Asked whether it is safe to go in water with sharks, the experienced diver, who loves exploring the seashore after dark, said: “My instructor used to say: ‘Do not panic when you see a shark and it will not panic.’ So we leave it alone and it leaves us alone.” The open water portion in the Red Sea is amazing, according to Yaheya. Although we are into June, it was still beautiful underwater. “The best time to go diving around Jeddah is February and March as visibility is great around at that time of the year. The temperature of the water is also perfect,” he said. There are multiple factors as to why the Red Sea diving experience is so special. Water temperature is said to be perfect; the visibility is good; there is tons of life down there; tons of coral; some big fish, turtles and millions of small fish.

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Massive food waste seen at mass Ramadan iftars in Saudi Arabia

Jeddah (IINA) 18 Jun 2016 – A few minutes before the Maghreb (dusk) prayer every day in Ramadan, many good-doers prepare iftar (fast-breaking) meals and invite fellow Muslims to join them. Almost all mosques Kingdom-wide have such meals for fasting people who come for prayer.

Some people believe so much food is wasted at these mass iftars while others dismiss such apprehensions and call for organizing even bigger iftar projects, Al-Riyadh daily reported. The total amount of money spent on mass iftars around the Kingdom that are attended mainly by low-income expatriate workers could run into hundreds of millions or even billions of riyals. Journalist Ayman Al-Ghabawee said one iftar meal costs a minimum of SR10. If a city has 150,000 people who join these parties, the cost of providing them the meals will hit SR1.5 million a day or SR45 million the whole month, said Al-Ghabawee. “Then we can imagine about cities that have larger number of workers,” he added.

“We have poor and sick people who are in dire need of help. Why don’t we divert the hundreds of millions of riyals that go into mass iftar projects for their benefit? We need to prioritize and decide who is more important: expatriate workers or the poor and sick. These millions can also be used to pay for the treatment of chronic kidney failure patients or to widows and divorced women,” Al-Ghabawee argued. He said the money should go to charity organizations and other foundations in the Kingdom, not to expatriate workers who earn a decent living.

Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Subaihi, a Saudi, agreed with Al-Ghabawee and said some wealthy people tend to spend large amounts of money on mass iftar events to show off their generosity. They do not care how much food is wasted nor are they aware of how these events are organized. “Instead of organizing massive iftar parties, benevolent people can hold small iftar events where only dates and water are served. I am against spending huge amounts of money on free iftar meals to feed expatriate workers. The money can be used to help the poor and needy in society or train Saudi youth and increase their chances of landing a job with a decent salary,” he said.

Muhammad Al-Obaid, a Saudi, said charity organizations are supposed to lay down rules for organizing mass iftars. Instead of holding mass events where large amounts of food are wasted, they can issue food coupons that the needy expatriate worker can use at a certain restaurant. “It seems that we have forgotten about the needy families and those whose husbands have been imprisoned as well as families of martyrs. They are the ones who need our support the most,” he added. Mishari Al-Dawsari, public relations director at Dawah and Guidance Office in Riyadh, said mass iftar meals have noble goals and help Muslims get together before Maghreb prayer.

These events attract many non-Muslims and encourage them to get involved in the spiritual atmosphere of Ramadan. Many of them have embraced Islam as a result. “People spend considerable amounts of money on mass iftars and there is nothing wrong with that. They do this because they want reward from God for this particular act. Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said whoever gives food to a Muslim to break his fast will get a reward equal to the one who is fasting,” he said. Al-Dawsari said the money spent on iftar meals is injected into the market because the meals are bought from Saudi companies and expatriate workers are not the only ones who benefit from this money. “People are free to donate their money the way they want. Moreover, the government runs agencies to help the poor and needy and underprivileged members of society,” Al-Dawsari said.

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Khalifa Foundation organizes mass Iftar for 3,000 people in Jakarta

Jakarta (IINA) 12 Jun 2016 – The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, in cooperation with the UAE Embassy in Jakarta, has organized a mass Iftar for 3,000 underprivileged and elderly people, at the Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Southeast Asia, located in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

The Iftar was attended by a number of Indonesian officials and staff of the UAE embassy in Jakarta.

Walid Darwish Al Raisi, from the UAE embassy, said that the government of his country seeks, through the Khalifa Foundation, to provide Ramadan food assistance to the orphans, as well as to the poor and needy people in most Indonesian villages and towns.

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Commission on Scientific Signs in Qur’an and Sunnah launches Ramadan competition

Makkah (IINA), 15 Jun 2016 – The International Commission on Scientific Signs in the Qur’an and Sunnah (ICSSQS), an affiliate of the Muslim World League (MWL), has launched the sixth Ramadan competition on scientific signs in the Qur’an and Sunnah for the year 1437H.

ICSSQS Secretary General Dr. Abdullah Al-Musleh said that the competition, which kicked off on the first day of Ramadan, will continue asking questions on topics of scientific miracles until 20th of this month through its website www.eajaz.org.

He called on those interested in the competition to take a look at the terms and conditions of the competition, blogged electronically on the website, as well as the names of the contestants, which will also be posted through the website.

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Pakistani Muslims raising funds to build church for Christian neighbors

Islamabad (IINA), 13 Jun 2016 – In Pakistan’s northeastern Punjab province, Muslim villagers are raising funds and contributing labor to help their poor Christian neighbors build a church.

The initiative was begun shortly before Easter by a group of Muslims from a village in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s textile-manufacturing hub.

“There is a tiny Christian population in the village – only 20 families – who have no place to worship,” Fr. Aftab James, the local priest, told Anadolu Agency.

According to Fr. James, Christians of the village had to use someone’s home, or some other sites, to perform prayers on holy days. “Muslim residents of the town, however, offered to build us a chapel as a gift,” he said. “We are thankful to our Muslim brothers for this wonderful gesture. It makes us feel proud,” the priest said.

Christians, Pakistan’s largest religious minority, account for roughly 3 percent of the country’s total population of some 180 million.

The local community has already raised 150,000 Pakistani rupees (around $1,500) towards the total cost of the church’s construction, estimated at some 700,000 rupees ($7,000).

Mian Ejaz, one of the Muslim fundraisers, said that additional funds would eventually be raised to finish the chapel, which would include a medium-sized prayer hall and another room.

“We have four mosques in the village but no place of worship for Christians, as most of them are poor and lack the funds to build a church on their own,” he added.

“We want to tell the world that Pakistan isn’t a country of extremists, who are only a small minority, but a country of people who believe in religious tolerance and harmony,” Ejaz said.

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Saudi students in UK launch app to find halal food

Jeddah, (IINA), 17 Jun 2016 – Saudi scholarship students in the United Kingdom have launched an app that provides an informative way to identify sources and origin of cuisines and dishes during the month of Ramadan, Arab News reported Friday.

The application will help users to locate “the nearest mosque, halal food hotels, and restaurants”, in Europe.

The students said the app consists a unique map which highlights the necessary information on the source of meat in these countries, in particular for those who do not know which restaurants serve halal food. Abdul Kareem Fawaz, one of the pupils, said Muslim student clubs in Britain become active during Ramadan in raising awareness among youth to stay away from crowded places and to avoid suspicious persons.

“Our campaigns use social media to broadcast information on nearby mosques, halal food restaurants, and shops that sell food for Muslims in particular, in addition to other necessary information for thousands of students in Europe”, he said.

Separately, scholarship students in the US held a lecture on halal food and healthy eating recently. The lectures included topics on Saudi traditions during Ramadan, and suitable food for fasting.

Shadi Mustafa, a dietician, said Saudi students in European countries have sound knowledge on halal food.

“The most important thing for Muslims in Europe to worry about is the growing trend of going to local fast-food restaurants. It is always good to inquire about the ingredients of any food before buying it”, he said. He warned against some sweets which might contain lard or “pig fat”.

“It’s best to seek experts’ guidance on the matter and stay in touch with either social media or by joining the country’s clubs to learn more about Halal food”, he added.

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Saudi Arabia holds Iftar event on Orphans’ Day in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, (IINA) – The Saudi Arabian Embassy in Malaysia recently held an Iftar event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to celebrate the fourth Orphans’ Day.

“Orphans’ Day” was first celebrated by the Saudi Students’ Club in Kuala Lumpur on 2013, and it continues to organize the event with the help of the embassy on an annual basis. The celebrations are held to encourage taking care of orphans especially during the holy month of Ramadan.

It is noteworthy that more than 60 orphans attended the event this year.

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Djibouti launches 17th regional Qur’an memorization contest

Djibouti (IINA) 16 Jun 2016 – Djiboutian Minister of Islamic Affairs, Culture, and Charitable Assets Moumin Hassan Barreh inaugurated on Thursday the 17th season of the regional Qur’an’s memorization, Tajweed, and Tarteel contest.

The competition is organized annually during the holy month of Ramadan. Contestants participating this year come from ten countries, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Sudan, Uganda, Comoros, Kenya, as well as Djibouti.

The initiative was first launched in 1999 under directives of Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh to encourage promoting the meanings of unity and assemblage among Muslims in Africa.

The contest is scheduled to conclude next Monday.

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Indonesia offers free petrol to Qur’an readers during Ramadan

Jakarta, (IINA), 18 Jun 2016 – Indonesian state-owned fuel Pertamina Company is offering two liters of free petrol to people who read a chapter of the Holy Qur’an during the month of Ramadan.

Prayer rooms were set up in five gas stations to accommodate this endeavor. The program organizers say the goal is to promote Islam in the society.

Participants are required to fill up a registration form before they proceed to the prayer room where they can pick up a copy of the Qur’an and read any chapter they like.

It is noteworthy that the mechanism uses an ‘honor system’, as the organizers do not monitor a person while he’s reading.

Two liters of petrol is enough to fill half-a-tank of a motorcycle, which is the most common mean of transport in the country.

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First Pakistani artist wins Jameel Prize in Istanbul

ISLAMABAD, Jun 10 (APP): Pakistani artist Ghulam Mohammad has won the prestigious Jameel Prize-4 for his works in contemporary Islamic art, becoming the first Pakistani to achieve the distinction.

The Jameel Prize, an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition, was awarded to Ghulam Mohammad at a ceremony held at Pera Museum in Istanbul, said a statement received here Friday.

According to the Victoria and Albert (V&A) Museum, London, which organizes the Jameel Prize and exhibition in partnership with Art Jameel every two years, “Its aim is to explore the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today.”

The prize is open to artists and designers from any ethnic, religious or cultural background. The first Prize was awarded in 2009. The subsequent prizes and exhibition of work of finalists were held at V&A, London.

This is the first time the prize and exhibition have been held at an external venue, i.e. Pera Museum in Istanbul, Turkey.

The announcement about Jameel Prize 4 notes that over 280 nominations were received from around the world, while works of 11 artists were short-listed by a panel of judges, chaired by V&A Director, Martin Roth. According to the judges, Ghulam Mohammad’s work “stood out for its excellence of concept and execution.”

“Using second-hand books, Ghulam Mohammad’s intricate collages of paper cuttings of Urdu script pasted on Wasli paper create new meanings and celebrate the great heritage of Islamic art, craft and design,” the announcement by V&A noted.

The eleven short-listed artists and designers included David Chalmers Alesworth, Rasheed Araeen, Lara Assouad, CANAN, Cevdet Erek, Sahand Hesamiyan, Lucia Koch, Ghulam Mohammad, Shahpour Pouyan, Wael Shawky and Bahia Shehab. Asye and Ece Ege, founders of Turkish fashion label Dice Kayek and winners of Jameel Prize 3, presented the Prize to Ghulam Mohammad.

On the occasion, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Sohail Mahmood said this was “great news for Ghulam Mohammad, for Pakistan’s young artists, and for the broader art community in Pakistan.”

“The fact that this took place in brotherly Turkey makes it even more special,” he said.

He commended both V&A and Pera Museum for their collaboration in this edition of Jameel Award, adding that it would further showcase the creative genius of Pakistani artists, and especially of young artists whose works were being increasingly recognized internationally and adorned the best art galleries and museums of the world.

Five art works of Ghulam Mohammad as well as those of other 10 short-listed artists are now on display at Pera Museum (Istanbul) from 8 June to 14 August 2016.

The V&A houses one of the world’s notable collections of Islamic art in its Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art. The late Zaha Hadid, award-winning architect, was Patron of the Jameel Prize.

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Lok Virsa aims to make regional literature avail in national language

ISLAMABAD, Jun 14 (APP): Lok Virsa Publishing house aims to make regional folk literature available in the national language to promote greater understanding and closer fraternity amongst Pakistanis and to make cultural literature available to schools, colleges, universities and social scientists

This was stated by Dr. Fouzia Saeed, Executive Director Lok Virsa while talking to APP, she said that it would not be unjust to call Lok Virsa the cultural storehouse of literature pertaining to country traditions.

“Original research works in all regional languages of Pakistan along with Urdu renderings of the Regional text are published,” she said, adding that patronage has expanded from scholars to the general public.

Virsa Research and Publication Center also conducts field surveys and village to village recordings of folk traditions.

It conducts and commissions research in all sub-fields of folk and traditional heritage like oral traditions (folk songs, romantic folktales, nursery rhymes; etc), children games, celebrations at birth and weddings and others.

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Rawalpindi to get new int’l cricket ground

RAWALPINDI, June 18 (APP): Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif is taking keen interest for promotion of sports and International standard cricket playground, Jim Khana, swimming pool and hockey stadium would be constructed at Rawal Road Rawalpindi at a cost of Rs 20 crore said Chairman Metro Project Hanif Abbasi.

He was addressing the Ist Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Rawalpindi Inter UC’s Flood light tournament held at Govt Post graduate college for Boys 6th Road on Friday.

Hanif Abbasi said, sports are essential for physical and mental health of the youth and no one can deny its importance. Pakistan Muslim League-N government is spending billions of rupees in education and health sectors and a number of mega projects have been completed within a short time.

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‘King of Ghazal’ Mehdi Hassan remembered

ISLAMABAD, Jun 13 (APP): The fourth death anniversary of ‘King of Ghazal’ Mehdi Hassan was observed on Monday (June 13).

Mehdi Hassan was born on July, 18 1927 in a village called Luna, Rajasthan in Jhunjhunu district in India into a family of traditional musicians.

In 1957, Mehdi Hassan was given the opportunity to sing on Radio Pakistan, primarily as a thumri singer, which earned him recognition within the musical fraternity.

He had a passion for Urdu poetry, and therefore, he began to experiment by singing ghazals on a part-time basis.

He cites radio officers Z.A. Bukhari and Rafiq Anwar as additional influences in his progression as a ghazal singer, a private news channel reported.

He was honored with numerous awards including Nishan-e-Imtiaz, Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, Pride of Performance and Hilal-e-Imtiaz by the Government of Pakistan.

One of his Ghazals, he will be most remembered for is Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s, ‘Gullon Mein Rang Bhare.’ A host of other numbers like ‘Ik Husn Ki Devi Se Mujhe Piyar Hua Tha’, and ‘Jab Koi Piyaar Se Bulaye Ga, Tum Ko Ek Shakhs Yaad Aye Ga’ are also equally memorable.

He sang for over 300 films during his musical career.

Mehdi Hassan died on 13 June 2012 after a protracted illness in Karachi.

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Ibn e Insha remembered on 89th birth anniversary

ISLAMABAD, Jun 15 (APP): Famous urdu poet, humorist, travelogue writer and columnist Ibn e Insha was remembered on his 89th birth anniversary on Wednesday.

Special programmes were telecast and aired on electronic and broadcast media to eulogize services of Ibn e Insha in the field of art and literature.

Ibn e Insha was born on June 15, 1927 as Sher Muhammad Khan in Phillaur tehsil of Jalandhar District in India.

He did B.A. from Punjab University in 1946 and M.A. from University of Karachi in 1953.

Insha was associated with various governmental services including Radio Pakistan, Ministry of Culture and National Book Centre of Pakistan.

He also served UN for some time and this enabled him to visit a lot of places and was the reason of his subsequent travelogues.

Some of the places that he visited include Japan, Philippines, China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, France, UK and United States.

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Pakistan to hold trade exhibition, business forum in Hungary

ISLAMABAD, June 17 (APP): Minister for Commerce, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Friday that Pakistan would hold trade exhibition and a business forum in Hungary to enhance Pakistan’s exports in the Eastern part of Europe.

The minister stated this at a meeting with the Ambassador of Hungary to Pakistan Istvan Szabo here.

Khurram Dastgir informed the Ambassador that Pakistan lacked investment in the agricultural technology, food processing, dairy processing, infrastructure building, renewable energy, information technology, water management and transportation and waste management and the Hungarian companies could benefit from that.

Hungary is opening its business office in Karachi which would be helpful in establishing business to business contacts and provide first hand opportunities of trade and investment arising in both countries.

Hungary, he said was also providing 80 scholarships to Pakistani students in order to impart the technical expertise achieved by the Hungarian institutions and to link up the people of two countries.

The Ambassador informed the Minister that the Hungarian Export Import (Exim) Bank was open for credit lines which would provide the crucial financial facility for enhancing mutual trade.

He said that since the visit of the Minister of Economic Diplomacy of Hungary there is a growing impression in Hungary that Pakistan’s economy had stabilized and countries like Hungary could complement Pakistan’s trade and investment potential.

He said that these was an increased interest among Pakistani businessmen to trade with Hungary as was evident from the business visas which increased 10% last year.

The Ambassador informed the Minister that the two countries could sign Economic Cooperation Agreement on the latter’s visit to Hungary as the Hungarian Government has already forwarded the agreement to the European Union for their comments.

Szabo also handed over the invitation to Dastgir to visit Hungary by the Minister of State of Economic Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Levente Magyar.

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Implementation Of Biodiesel Will Put Malaysia On Par With Global Mandates

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 (NNN-Bernama) — The implementation of the biodiesel 10 per cent blend (B10) programme starting June will put Malaysia on par with the national biodiesel mandates implemented in other countries.

In a statement, the Malaysian Biodiesel Association (MBA) said there was no issue with respect to engine warranty for vehicles using higher than seven per cent biodiesel blends.

“MBA understands that exemptions will be given to Euro 5 diesel and also retail stations at highlands with low temperature, e.g. Cameron Highlands, Genting Highlands and Kundasang, Sabah,” it said.

The association issued the statement to clarify the concerns of carmakers following the implementation of the programme.

It said the precipitation of palm methyl esters at low temperature was more critical in temperate countries and not in the tropical climate in Malaysia.

The association said it has also organised a B10 expedition to Cameron Highlands on March 30-31, 2016, comprising diesel vehicles of various brands and models using diesel blended with B10, as well as B20, B50 and 100 per cent palm biodiesel or B100.

“These vehicles travelled exceeding 600 km cumulatively and there were no known engine issues during this trial by the association,” it said.

It said the Malaysian Palm Oil Board has carried out extended trials using higher biodiesel blends on diesel vehicles at highlands and the MBA did not foresee any issues. — NNN-BERNAMA

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PM Najib Hails Inter-Religious Tolerance Among Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia June 13 (NNN-Bernama) — Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today hailed the inter-religious tolerance and understanding among the majority of Malaysians.

Writing in his blog, www.najibrazak.com, he related the incident where a non-Muslim customer handed a bottle of water to a Muslim counter clerk who continued working without breaking fast at the appointed time.

He said the customer told the girl: “It’s alright, break your fast first. We can wait.”

Najib said this was just one of several such gestures during the month of Ramadan which could be cited to show the extent of inter-religious tolerance and understanding in the majority of Malaysians.

The Prime Minister said he was happy to see many non-Muslims among the patrons of Ramadan bazaars, which he added enlivened the atmosphere.

“This is the beauty of diversity that exists only in Malaysia. The Ramadan bazaar is not just a place for traders to do business and customers to buy food and drinks.

“It is a place to forge goodwill amongst us regardless of religious beliefs,” he said.

Najib also urged Muslims in the country to take advantage of the month of Ramadan to engage in worship and perform acts of charity.–NNN-BERNAMA

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China To Hold 1st Silk Road Cultural Expo On Sept 20

BEIJING, June 14 (NNN-Xinhua) — China will hold the first Silk Road International Cultural Expo in the city of Dunhuang in northwestern Gansu Province, on Sept. 20, with France as the guest of honor.

The expo will promote exchanges among nations along the route of the ancient Silk Road, the China-led project to improve infrastructure and increase trade in the region, state officials said.

It will feature conferences and ministerial meetings as well as cultural exhibitions. Currently, 58 countries and five international organizations have “given feedback on attending the expo.”

The event is sponsored by the Gansu government; the Ministry of Culture; the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television; the National Tourism Administration; and the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade. — NNN-XINHUA

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China: Online Food Ordering A Hit In Urumqi During Ramadan

URUMQI, China June 14 (NNN-Xinhua) — Online-food ordering (OFO) services in the northwestern city of Urumqi have reported a surge in orders as Muslims observe the holy month of Ramadan.

“Ordering food for ‘iftar’ (the breaking of the fast) is an attractive option after a day of fasting,” Aliyar told Xinhua as he ordered food from a halal OFO service on the instant messenger service WeChat.

According to its founder Shewkret, his service has received up to 70 orders every day since Ramadan began.

“I’ve built a kitchen exclusively for the OFO service so that I could have more control over food quality and work flexible business hours,” he said.

Ma Hongguang, an ethnic Hui Muslim who owns a restaurant that specializes in mutton pilaf, has over 100 online orders every day from his “invisible customers.”

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is home to more than 13 million Muslims who fast between sunrise and dusk during Ramadan, which ends on July 6 this year. –NNN-XINHUA

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Iran, Russia Discuss Easing Visa Requirements

MOSCOW, June 17, (NNN-IRNA) – In talks on the sidelines of an international economic conference in St. Petersburg, Iran and Russia discussed easing visa requirements for Iranian and Russian tourists visiting the two countries.

Saeed Shirkavand, the director of planning and investment department of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, represented Iran in the talks and Head of the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism Oleg Safonov represented the Russian side.

During the talks, the two sides discussed issuing electronic and log-time visas, as well as reducing the cost for visa issuance.

They also discussed visa issuance for tourist groups visiting Russia, instead of issuing individual visas, and launching a direct shipping line in the Caspian Sea between Iran and Russia.

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Indonesia Promotes Marine Tourism At Taipei Tourism Fair

JAKARTA, June 17 (NNN-Bernama) — Indonesia will promote its sea tourism at the Taipei Tourism Fair, taking place from June 17-19, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported Indonesian Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya as saying.

Yahya said that despite the huge sea tourism potential from some 17,000 islands of various biodiversity and coral reefs, the number of tourists visiting Indonesia was still low.

Thus the Southeast Asian country has set a goal of achieving four million tourists for the sea tourism sector by 2019.

In order to realise this goal, the Indonesian Ministry of Tourism will continue promoting sea tourism and nature tourism via overseas activities.

Indonesia is heading towards its goal of drawing 13.5 million tourists in 2017 with a revenue equal to 15 per cent of the gross domestic product and 13 million jobs created.

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Malaysian Judge Addresses International Arbitral Demands In New Book

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 (Bernama) — The Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA) hosted the launch of the latest book by Justice Datuk Dr. Haji Hamid Sultan Bin Abu Backer, a Judge in the Court of Appeal of Malaysia.

The book, titled “International Arbitration with a Commentary on the Malaysian Arbitration Act 2005” was authored to address the challenges faced when securing an international arbitration award. The book also reveals intricacies within the UNCITRAL Model Law and its importance towards ensuring awards rendered by the tribunal achieves recognition and enforcement under the New York Convention.

The book was launched by YAA Tun Arifiin bin Zakaria, the Chief Justice of Malaysia and Datuk Professor Sundra Rajoo, Director of the Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA).

“The landscape of arbitration in the world and particularly Asia, has undergone rapid and radical transformation. Malaysia in particular has seen exponential growth in Arbitration and is truly emerging to become one of the leading jurisdictions for arbitration in the world. This of course, is in large part attributed to the successful cooperation and inter-play between the Government, judiciary and arbitral institution,” said Datuk Professor Sundra Rajoo in his welcome remarks at the event.

Datuk Professor Sundra Rajoo, who is also the President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) further states that this book, specializing in international commercial arbitration with particular focus on Malaysia, is timely and crucial.

Justice Datuk Dr. Haji Hamid Sultan has authored numerous books and papers prior to this – many of which are now used by law faculties as textbooks as well as by the legal fraternity as a point of reference.

A seminar on critical issues on international and domestic arbitration from judges’ perspectives was also held in conjunction with the book launch. Speaking at the seminar were Dato’ Mah Weng Kwai (Ret. Judge, Court of Appeal), YA Dato’ David Wong Dak Wah, YA Dato’ Setia Hj Mohd Zanawi Salleh, YA Dato’ Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, YA Justice Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, YA Datuk Dr. Prasad Sandosham Abraham, YA Dato’ Mary Lim Thiam Suan, YA Justice Lee Swee Seng and YA Justice Azizul Azmi bin Adnan.

The seminar provided the audience of 200 delegates a rare opportunity to gather insights from a bench of senior judges.

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Malindo Air, Turkish Airlines Announce Interline Partnership

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 (Bernama) — Malindo Air, a premium Malaysian-based carrier, and Turkish Airlines, a fast growing global carrier operating to 289 destinations worldwide, today jointly announced the start of interline partnership that enables both carriers to tap into new markets and making travel even more convenient for their guests. Thereby travellers can now plan their business or leisure trip, with Malindo Air-Turkish Airlines cooperation.

Malindo Air currently serves more than 800 weekly flights to 40 cities in 12 countries in the Indian Sub-Continent, South India, ASEAN region, China and Australia with several new cities set to launch by the middle of the year.

Turkish Airlines connects 240 international destinations and Istanbul, as the only city in the world having settled on two continents, serves as a main hub of Turkish Airlines. It offers the transcontinental advantages of its location in Eurasia and connects flights to destinations all around the globe easier than ever.

Chandran Rama Muthy, CEO of Malindo Air said, “This new interline ticket agreement is a flying partnership and will enable passengers to find connections easier when traveling between the ASEAN region and Europe. This interline partnership will make travel seamless from this region, reward frequent travellers on Malindo Air, and offer our passengers even more options when travelling to Turkey and beyond.”

“With the announcement of our partnership with Turkish Airlines, Malindo Air continues to expand our network, including more flights, more gateways and more destinations. Malindo Air will provide another option for travel trade in the ASEAN region and to Australia. The success of this interline partnership will open doors for us to codeshare or interline with other suitable partners,” Chandran added.

Turkish Airlines’ Deputy Chairman & CEO, Mr Temel Kotil said, “In connection with rapidly growing relations between our countries, we sincerely believe that this partnership with Malindo Air will bring enormous benefit to both airlines within commercial perspective. Together we’ll be able to provide multiple travel alternatives to our passengers and eventually increasing the traffic between European and Asian destinations respectively”.

More information about Turkish Airlines can be found on www.turkishairlines.com.

More information about Malindo Air can be found on www.malindoair.com.

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Malindo Air Adds Extra Flights And New Services For Eid Ul-Fitr

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 (Bernama) — Malindo Air announces new flight frequencies across its domestic network comprising of scheduled flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The new frequencies will take effect in conjunction with the Hari Raya balik kampung holidays from 1 July 2016 onwards.

The new domestic routes are from KLIA to Kota Bharu (21X weekly) and KLIA to Miri (7X weekly). Malindo Air has also added flights between KLIA and Kota Kinabalu (35X weekly); KLIA and Kuching (28X weekly); KLIA and Penang (28X weekly).

For those seeking a Hari Raya holiday getaway, Malindo Air has also added extra frequencies to international travel routes from KLIA to Don Mueang (Bangkok), Jakarta and Dhaka.

Additionally, our mid-year promo sales which begins on 15 June, is offering fares starting from as low as RM19 one-way inclusive of 40kg for business and 30kg for economy class traveller’s baggage allowance, light refreshments/meals and in-flight entertainment. Sales period will commence from 15 – 30 June 2016 for travels from 15 June – 31 October 2016.

CEO of Malindo Air, Mr. Chandran Rama Muthy said, “We are exhilarated to add these new services right before the Raya festivities begin as it will give a splendid opportunity for families to make their way home. As we recently took delivery of two more aircraft, we are able to introduce new services and more frequencies, as part of our strategy to aggressively place Malindo Air in the growing market.”

Chandran added, “During the Hari Raya, which falls on a long weekend this year, we are expecting a wave of travellers not just from the celebrating Muslims returning to their hometowns for a reunion with families and friends, but also those taking advantage of the long week-end break. Our new frequencies are planned to make travel easy for our guests, and be rest assured that we will continue with our attractive fares even after the festivities. We look forward to flying everyone safely and promptly to their destinations.”

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

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Afghan Refugees’ Cricket Team Defeat Norwegian Team

Kabul (BNA) June 13, 2016 – Afghan refugees’ cricket team residing in Norway has defeated Darman cricket team of Norway yesterday. The match was held in the continuation of competitions launches sometimes ago between second grade cricket’s teams of Norway.

Farid Hotak spokesman of cricket board today said BNA, first Afghan refugee’s players started the match and with losing three wickets targeted 275 runs in 30 overs, but Darman cricket team with losing his all players could not reach to the chasing target and accepted his conquest against Afghan refugees’ team.

Afghan refugees’ team living in Norway in his first match has defeated Opsal cricket team of the country as well, the source added.

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8th Quran Exhibition Opened in Kabul

Kabul (BNA), June 14, 2016 – To welcome the holy month of Ramadan, 8th exhibition of ‘Spring of Quran’ was inaugurated yesterday in Kabul.

The exhibition held by high Quranic council of Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul, various religious books including copies of Quran, interpretations of Quran and DVDs were exhibited in 50 booths.

Meanwhile, private publishers and directorate of Baihaqi book publishers also put their publications in particular booths for exhibition.

In opening ceremony of the exhibition, Deputy Minister of Publications for Information and Culture Sayeda Mojgan Mostafavi spoke and said: war and insecurity have much suffered the country’s culture, adding that holding such programs was effective for the people and youth of the country and made the people further acquainted with Quranic and religious issues. Mostafavi stressed on role of mosques’ imams in instruction of youth.

In the ceremony, head of high quranic council by praising MoIC considered holding such exhibitions as valuable and effective for the people and youth of the country.

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Bakhshabad Dam’s Construction Contract Signed

Kabul (BNA), June 18, 2016 – Ministry of water and energy has signed detailed design of Farah’s Bakhshabad dam with an Italian company and Helmand construction unit here in Kabul,

In a ceremony held on this occasion at presidential palace with participation of the country’s president and other high-ranking government officials, minister of water and energy Ali Ahmad Usmani in his speech called these days as historic days in management of Afghanistan’s waters, saying that during the past ten days, Afghanistan has witnessed the historic opening of Afghan-India friendship dam and signing of agreement for expansion of Helmand’s Kajaki dam.

“Today once again the calendar of expansion and development has changed in Afghanistan and the agreement for Farah’s Bakhshabad dam is signed with an Italian company and Helmand construction unit,” the minister said.

Usmani recalled of his ministry’s serious and continued efforts towards implementation of promises, stressing that the ministry of water and energy was determined for fulfilling its all promises to the people of Afghanistan.

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Swiss UMEF Univ of Afghanistan First Batch of MBA Graduates

Kabul (BNA), June 18, 2016 – The Swiss UMEF University of Afghanistan held its first convocation of Master of Business Administration (MBA) here on Thursday.

Congratulating the 110 graduates, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani in his message read-out by cultural advisor Asadullah Ghazanfar termed education as key to developments and stability.

“I hope the private higher education institutions with full responsibility lead high quality academic programs and put ending point to illiteracy in Afghanistan,” the president said in his message.

Inaugurating the event, professor Jawid Sangdel, the rector of UMEF university in Geneva of Swiss said that a nation would not turn to a real nation, if they don’t respect the pen, and a country sees no development, if the talented young generations to be ignored.

“I want to thank the president for initiating the infrastructural projects which are key to development of the country,” Prof. Sangdel said, asking the president to pay further attention for education and higher education systems in Afghanistan. Sangdel went on saying that Afghanistan facing leadership crisis rather than the economic one, asking the new graduates to be loyal on their commitments and serve their nation. He also criticized the Minister of Higher Education for neglecting the convocation ceremony, which was the first in its kind by a European university in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile Dr. Sayed Makhdoom Raheen, former Minister of Information and Culture and rector of Swiss UMEF University of Afghanistan said that it is immense pleasure to see Afghan youths being graduated from a prestigious European university in Afghanistan, adding that the country’s education and higher education were badly affected due to several years of war, hoping that the new graduates with modern academic background could serve their people and the country as whole.

Later, Henk Jan Bakker, the Ambassador of the Netherlands also delivered speech, asking the graduates no to flee from their country, but to stay and serve their nation. He also called on the graduates not to be satisfied for what they have learnt throughout the course, but further investigate and develop their capacities.

Praising the UMEF University of Afghanistan’s modern academic system and calling it one of the top universities in Afghanistan, Wolesi Jirga’s head of Education and Higher Education commission Homaira Ayoubi said that activity of international universities would further push the other higher education institutions in the country to develop their capacities, adding that UMEF could be an example for quality educations in Afghanistan. The ambassador of Tajikistan, deputy rector of Swiss Geneva University and two fresh graduates of MBA batch delivered their speeches on quality education of Swiss UMEF University in Afghanistan, asking the government to use the capacity of the new graduates in major development projects which lead the country towards peace and stability as well as regional convergence.

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Afghanistan to boost Education, Sport for Students

Kabul (BNA),June 18, 2016 – Head of Sport Committee for the Educational and Scientific Institute for Students and Sportspersons, Dr. Ahmad Zia Sultani said his led organization was committed to provide them with education and sports in the center and provinces of the country.

The education would be provided in four categories, social, cultural, sports committee and students committee would provide the youth with all inclusive services, not only in the field of education, but also in term of sport at the center and provinces.

The broke youth willing to be recruited in the private institution would be helped enjoy up to 60 percent discount, he said adding so far, some 80 students have been provided with the plan from Kunduz, Badakhshan, Khost and Paktia provinces to enjoy education in Bakhtar, Kardan and Rana Universities, said Sultani adding the number of enthusiasts is increasing, with some interested ones would gain membership of the complex.

For encouragement of the students, the entity marks the Students’ Day at the Kabul University, said the head adding those with no still appreciation from the government organs have been appreciated to encourage them take further parts in the national and international competitions, he added. They have been gratified with medals, cups and appreciation letters, by complex, Sultani said.

No foreign donors are sponsoring the entity, according to him, who added collection of membership fees can only finance it. He went on a saying the organization was willing to build a gymnasium for the sportspersons and an institute for the students, with economic problem to help them develop their higher educations with discounted fee and practice sport free of charges.

He blamed what he said a low urbanization culture among the citizens, and pledged to provide full cooperation with the Kabul municipality to clean the city from dense garbage and rubbishes. He asked the Kabul citizens for taking active part in cleanliness of the city, as well.

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10 Development Projects Completed in Badghis

Kabul (BNA) June 18, 2016 – A number of people benefited from facilities of the construction work of 10 welfare projects which have been completed by National Solidarity Program (NSP) in Badghis province.

According to the communication and public relation of Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) to BNA, the projects casted AFNs 18,405,000 funded by the National Solidarity Programme of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD/NSP) in Qal-e-Naw district of Badghis province.

The projects include the construction of protection walls, retaining walls, community centers, culverts, irrigation canals, excavation of wells and graveling rural roads.

Since its inception in Badghis province, the NSP has executed 1719 various projects in different sectors including transport, water and sanitation, power, livelihoods, education, and irrigation sections.

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Weekly flights link Bremen to Turkish capital

15.06.2016, ISTANBUL, Anadolu News Agency – Turkey’s leading airport operator TAV announced Wednesday that Esenboga Airport in the Turkish capital Ankara received its first flight from Bremen, a city in northwestern Germany.

TAV Airports said in a statement that German airline company Germania started once-a-week round flights on Tuesday.

The first flight from Bremen landed at Esenboga Airport on Tuesday with 70 passengers, the statement added.

TAV Esenboga Airport General Manager Nuray Demirer said: “We are pleased with the start of Germania’s flight between Esenboga and Bremen.

“As Esenboga Airport we are connecting 36 destinations in Turkey and 21 other destinations in 12 countries,” she added.

Esenboga Airport hosted 88,000 flights serving 12.3 million passengers in 2015, the statement added.

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Turkish Airlines dubbed 2016’s leading brand

15.06.2016, ANKARA, Anadolu News Agency – Turkish Airlines has been described as Turkey’s most valuable brand for 2016, according to a leading London-based consultancy Wednesday.

According to Brand Finance’s list of Top 100 Turkish Brands 2016, released Wednesday, the airline led for the first time with a brand value of $2.4 billion after flying to 289 destinations worldwide, 240 international and 49 domestic, with 323 aircraft.

The flag-carrier’s value is up 11 percent since last year.

Turkish Airlines was followed by Turk Telekom, the leading communication and convergence technology company in the country worth $2.35 billion, down five percent since 2015.

White-goods manufacturer Arcelik was worth $1.98 billion, an increase of seven percent since last year.

Akbank ($1.58 billion), a Turkish lender and owned by the Sabanci Group, and Garanti Bank ($1.52 billion), one of the leading lenders in the Turkish market partly owned by Spain’s second biggest lender BBVA, took fourth and fifth places.

The top ten also included the country’s largest mobile operator Turkcell ($1.43 billion) and Isbank ($1.29 billion), one of the country’s biggest lenders.

Brewer and soft-drinks manufacturer Anadolu Efes ($1.15 billion) also featured as did Yapi Kredi Bank ($980 million), the Turkish bank partly owned by UniCredit. State-owned Halkbank ($958 million) was also on the list.

The combined value of the top 100 Turkish brands has decreased nearly 15 percent from last year to a total of $29.3 billion. This still remains lower than technology brand IBM, which ranks as the fifth most valuable brand in the world at $49.8 billion last year by Forbes.

The Turkish banking industry was a notable performer in the list with five bank brands ranked in the top 10.

Turkish banks’ combined brand value totaled $9.4 billion which is 32 percent of total value of top 100 Turkish brands.

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Turkish Airlines adds Slovakian city to destinations

16.06.2016, ANKARA, Anadolu News Agency – Turkish Airlines started a direct flight to the Slovakian city of Kosice from Istanbul on Thursday, the airline announced.

Turkey’s flagship air carrier said in a statement that it started operating scheduled flights, based on fleet availability, to Kosice, an urban center of eastern Slovakia from Istanbul, which is one of the most important global transportation hubs in the whole world.

“This way, Kosice will gain strategic importance in the process of building and strengthening cultural, business and tourist activities,” the statement added.

Kosice is the 289th destination for Turkish Airlines, which will operate flights to and from Kosice three times per week on Tuesdays.

Passengers can visit turkishairlines.com, call +90 212-444-0849, or visit sales offices to see flight schedules.

The Turkish company, awarded Skytrax’s Best Airline in Europe for 2015, flies to more countries than any other airline, according to Skytrax, the statement added.

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Turkey launches latest corvette

18.06.2016, ISTANBUL, Anadolu News Agency – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated Turkey’s goal of self-sufficiency in defense as he launched a new warship on Saturday.

Speaking at the launch of the TCG Burgazada, an indigenously produced corvette, at the Istanbul naval shipyard, Erdogan said Turkey would soon “be in a position to make our own aircraft carriers. Turkey, especially, cannot stall on defense industry and military issues because of our strategic geographical location.”

The president has previously said Turkey’s defense industry will be self-sufficient by 2023, the centenary of the declaration of the republic.

The Burgazada is the third Ada-class corvette produced under the MILGEM project. The first was the Heybeliada, launched in 2008.

The ships, which are named after the Princes’ Islands off Istanbul, are designed for search and rescue, patrol and anti-submarine warfare duties and are armed with a 76 millimeter gun, missiles and torpedoes and carry a Seahawk helicopter.

The ships have a displacement of 2,400 tons, a maximum speed of more than 29 knots (33 miles an hour) and a range of 3,500 nautical miles.

Erdogan also performed a “welding ceremony” on the TCG Kinaliada, another MILGEM corvette that is due to be completed in May next year.

Defense Minister Fikri Isik said Turkey was among the top 10 nations in military ship production.

“Turkey’s domestic production rate in the defense industry increased to 60 percent from 24 percent,” he said. Reducing dependence on foreign arms imports is a key goal of the Turkish defense industry.

Also present at the ceremony, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the government had invested $30 billion in the defense industry over the last 14 years.

“Turkey is in a fire circle and many oppressed nations wait for our support,” he said. “Thus, we have to improve our defense and deterrence capability. When we do that, we need to use local and national resources.”

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Erdogan backs Ottoman replica in Istanbul’s Gezi Park

18.06.2016, ISTANBUL, Anadolu News Agency – Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday gave his backing to the redevelopment of Istanbul’s Gezi Park – a project that sparked nationwide protests in 2013.

“One of the issues that we have to be brave (about) is Gezi Park in Taksim,” Erdogan said at a meeting on Istanbul’s heritage. “We will construct that historical building there.”

He said the square should house also an opera house.

The Gezi Park protest spread across the country in June 2013, leaving eight protesters and one police officer dead and dozens injured. Hundreds were arrested.

The barracks – Topcu Kislasi – were originally built in 1780 and destroyed in 1940.

Referring to the recent vote by the German parliament to recognize the deaths of Ottoman Armenians in 1915 as so-called genocide, Erdogan suggested creating a museum display of past German, French and American misdeeds within the replica of barracks which can be called either history museum or city museum.

On June 2, the Bundestag passed a resolution accusing the Ottoman government of carrying out so-called genocide against Armenians.

Turkey acknowledges there were casualties on both sides after some Armenians sided with the invading Russians but refutes allegations that the Armenian deaths in 1915 amounted to genocide.

Ankara has repeatedly proposed the creation of an international commission of historians to resolve the issue.

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Tunisiar’s inaugural flight from Montréal, 70 Canadian tourists on board

19/06/2016 Tunis/Tunisia, (TAP) – The inaugural direct flight of the national carrier Tunisair between Tunis and Montréal returned, Sunday in Tunis, with 211 passengers on board, including 70 Canadian tourists whose trip is organised by two Canadian tour operators.

This direct flight “will help develop partnership between both countries’ tourist professionals and make the Tunisian destination popular for Canadians,” said to TAP representative of the Canadian company Aéroport Voyage André Demarais.

According to him, who was present at the B2B meetings held in Montréal with Tunisian professionals, “connecting flights are a factor of discouragement for travellers in view of high costs and the long waiting during stopovers.”

The professional recommended developing a whole Tunisia package (stay, ticket), especially as the destination has lost its charm after the deterioration of the security situation.

The national carrier proposes two flights to Canada per week, Saturdays and Wednesdays, from the Tunis-Carthage airport to the Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport.

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Kuwaiti Cabinet approves sports development plan

KUWAIT, June 19 (KUNA) — The Cabinet on Sunday approved a plan by a youth affairs committee to further develop the sports scene in the country, a broad vision that aims to propel Kuwait into the upper echelons of the sporting world.

In its customary weekly meeting at Seif Palace on Sunday, presided over by His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, the Cabinet agreed to implement the sports development plan and has tasked the Public Authority for Sports (PAS) and the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (SCPD), to take all necessary measures to bring all development projects to fruition.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet reviewed a report by the youth affairs committee concerning violence amongst youth in the country, which also includes suggestions of a wide array of development projects that aim to showcase youth talent.

The Cabinet has assigned the office of the Minister of State for Youth Affairs along with other relevant parties, to implement these suggestions in efforts to stifle the rise of violence.

In addition, the Cabinet listened to explanations offered by Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Oil Anas Al-Saleh, Undersecretary of the Finance Ministry Khalifa Hamada and Managing Director of Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) Bader Al-Saad. The officials briefed the Cabinet on the country’s financial details for the ongoing year, while drawing comparisons to those of last year’s.

At the onset of the meeting, the Cabinet looked over a letter sent to His Highness the Amir by United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, which dealt with expediting the global Paris climate deal. In his letter, the UN Secretary General urged nations to join the agreement in order to reap economic benefits and stave off the effects of climate change.

The Cabinet also reviewed the first annual report of the Kuwait Direct Investment Promotion Authority (KDIPA) in light of an explanation by Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Yusuf Mohamed Ali, containing the role and functions of the body to attract and promote direct domestic and foreign investment, as well as promoting the State of Kuwait as an investment hub.

Al-Ali also spoke about investment opportunities with an added value, as well as achievements of the authority during the period from January 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016 and the total volume of incoming investment, approved and unapproved investments.

The Cabinet was reassured about Kuwait’s strong national economy, especially regarding the ability to attract foreign investment, and voiced satisfaction with the success of the state’s policies aimed at economic opening-up and restore the leading role of the State of Kuwait economically and politically in the region in which the private sector leads development and economic activity in order to raise living standards and create new job opportunities.

The Cabinet also expressed thanks and appreciation for the efforts exerted by the Ministry of Finance and the Kuwait Investment Authority in carrying out their own tasks and role in safeguarding and developing public money.

Then, the Cabinet discussed National Assembly Affairs and was briefed on the topics listed on the National Assembly session agenda.

The Cabinet condemned the recent terrorist act which hit the city of Orlando in the United States, which left scores of innocent people killed or injured, stressing Kuwait’s firm position rejecting such terrorist acts which are contrary to all religions and human values and norms, expressing condolences to the families of the victims and speedy recovery for the wounded.

It reiterated its call for the international community to embody global solidarity to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, stressing Kuwait’s support for every effort aimed to confront the scourge of terrorism.

On the other hand, the Cabinet expressed its full support for all measures taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain aimed at combating extremism and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. (end) tg.nam

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Chinese tour operators exploring sights of Tozeur

16/06/2016, Tozeur/Tunisia, (TAP) – The city of Tozeur hosted from June 13 to 16 representatives of ten Chinese tour operators coming to explore sights and places of interest to Chinese tourists.

They learnt about the sightseeing tours of Tamaghza, Chebika, Mides and Jmal Ong and visited the city center and the handicraft souk in Tozeur, said local tourism commissioner Anwar Chtioui.

Chinese tour operators learnt about the various hotel units in the region as well as other accommodation facilities for tourists such as guesthouses and small charming hotels.

Chtioui said tourism indicators for the Russian and Chinese markets have posted a significant improvement, noting that they are two promising markets for Saharan tourism in Tunisia.

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Syrian Culture Ministry announces winners of 2016 Appreciation State Award

15 June، 2016, Damascus, SANA – The Culture Ministry announced on Wednesday the winners of 2016 Appreciation State Award, which is awarded for distinguished figures in the world of art and literature in appreciation for their creativity and output.

The award for the arts category went to actress Salma al-Masri, and the literature category award went to writer Nadia Khost, while the criticism, studies, and translation category award went to writer Mohammad Hassan Qeja.

The award consists of a gold medal, a certificate, and a sum of SYP 1,000,000.

In a statement to SANA, Salma al-Masri said she is proud to receive this award, and that such awards motivate persons to be more creative and productive.

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Syria wins third place in International Friendly King Cup in Thailand

5 June، 2016, Bangkok, SANA – The Syrian national men’s football team won the third place in the International Friendly King Cup in Thailand.

The team beat that of the United Arab Emirates 1-0 in a game they played on Sunday competing for the third and fourth places.

On Friday, the Thai team defeated the Syrian team 6-7 on penalties after they tied 2-2 in normal time.

Later today, the final game within the championship will be held between Jordan and Thailand.

The participation of the Syrian team in the King Cup tournament came within preparations for the final stage of qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.

Syria came in Group A along with the teams of Iran, South Korea, Uzbekistan, China and Qatar.

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Maktaba and UAEBBY encourage orphans to read during Ramadan Join our daily free Newsletter

SHARJAH, 19th June, 2016 (WAM) — “Maktaba,” an imprint of Kalimat Group, and the UAE Board on Books for Young people, UAEBBY, recently organised an Iftar banquet and reading session for children from the Social Child Care Centre. Arranged to be in conjunction with the Holy Month of Ramadan, the event provided literary entertainment for the youngsters and sought to instill within them hope and optimism for the future.

Taking place in a setting decorated with lanterns and crescent moons to imbue a special ambience designed to signify the spirit of Ramadan, the event began with a reading by Abdulaziz Almusallam, in wich he recited from his book ”Kana Kana”, a story from Emirati heritage. The session was followed by another reading session with author Samya Ayesh reading from her book ”Kabeer … Sagheer” (Big … Small).

In addition to the reading activity, the event featured two workshops, the first one tackled traditional Arabic artistic themes that align with the Holy month, and the second was an interactive workshop for the children, including face-painting and the giving of Ramadan gifts. The children expressed their happiness at the efforts made by the organisers and thanked them for providing them with a highly enjoyable evening.

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Garuda re-exploring plans for flights to US in 2017

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 15 June 2016 – Garuda Indonesia plans to re-explore the feasibility of starting flights to the United States in 2017 if the national flag carrier passes Category 1 test of safety and security standards as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“Next year, we will try and clear this test as it is part of our five year plan, or this may be achieved even earlier,” the Garuda Indonesia President Director, M Arif Wibowo, said here on Wednesday.

He noted that 400 thousand passengers travel from the US to Indonesia every year.

The cities which receive maximum visitors are Los Angeles and New York, he added.

“The number of potential passengers departing from Los Angeles is 120 thousand, while many more depart from New York,” Arif said.

The flights will transit through Narita, Japan and will use two units of Boeing 777.

“Actually, we want to start direct flights but that is not possible as of now. The option is to fly via Narita, Japan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Director General of Air Transportation at the Transportation Ministry, Suprasetyo, said the audit result of the FAA will be declared by July 2016 at the latest.

“We have completed and reported all the documents and are optimistic that we can achieve our target,” he added.

The Director of Airworthiness and Aircraft Operation at the Transportation Ministry, Mohammad Alwi, said the last seven documents related to flight inspection have been reported online to the FAA auditors.

“All the documents have been accepted. God willing, this July we will receive the good news as Ramadan and Eid gift,” he said.

According to him, if Garuda is awarded Category 1 status, then its aviation safety standards and security aspects must conform to international standards, in line with the flag carriers in the same category.(*)

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Indonesian President urges strengthening on maritime policy

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 16 Juni 2016 – President Joko Widodo has urged the Maritime Coordinating Minister, Rizal Ramli, to come up with a strong marine policy that can be implemented immediately.

“The President has asked the ministry to formulate such a policy by next July,” Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said here on Wednesday.

The government held a closed-door meeting, led by President Jokowi, which discussed efforts to strengthen the marine policy and fishery industry in Indonesia.

Anung added that the President also asked the related ministries to carry out a campaign to enhance consumption of fish, pushing it as an alternative to meat.

The government supported the program because fish does not attract any restrictions that are religious in nature.

Jokowi also discussed the need for various institutions to coordinate when it comes to handling illegal trade in marine resources.

Minister Ramli stressed that the government wanted to utilize maritime resources to improve peoples economic prosperity.

In order to improve the maritime sector, Ramli continued, the government will focus on seven components.

The first component will be to build a maritime culture. “We need a cultural transformation. Many Indonesian people have never boarded a ship,” Ramli argued.

The second component will deal with utilization of marine resources for peoples prosperity.

The next component will involve formulation of a policy to have sustainable maritime spatial planning.

The fourth component will be a policy on infrastructure development and inter-island connectivity to integrate all Indonesian regions.

The fifth component will be the development of education and technology related to maritime. The sixth aspect will be enhancing maritime diplomacy and the seventh will deal with regulation of maritime security aspects.

According to Ramli, the President also asked that the fishermens economic prosperity be improved.

The Indonesian government, informed Ramli, is also preparing to shift from diesel to gas when it comes to fishing vessels.

“The government will subsidize fuel conversion. We believe if the fishermen make the shift, they can save significantly,” Ramli opined.

Meanwhile, Minister Pudjiastuti disclosed that the Fishery and Maritime Ministry has issued a regulation as per which small fishing boat would not require a sailing permit.

Pudjiastuti underlines that the government will enforce the rules regarding foreign ships using fishing bombs.(*)

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