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18 Jul, 2016

World Tourism Conference 2016 to be held in Penang

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 18 July 2016 (13 Shawwal 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines Berhad have renewed their collaboration in the interest of promoting tourism to Malaysia. Malaysia Airlines will sponsor flight tickets to bring in foreign media and tour agents, under Tourism Malaysia’s Mega Familiarisation Programme, from the UK, Asia, ASEAN and Oceania regions. The projects and programmes will run between July-December 2016. The Mega Fam Programme is one of Tourism Malaysia’s most effective efforts to generate wide publicity on Malaysia as a preferred leisure and business destination and boost the country’s tourist arrivals and receipts. It is the most cost-effective way to promote Malaysia as it garners the support of industry players to subsidise the cost of the programme through various sponsorship of air fares, accommodation, and ground support. Many successful tour packages and articles have been produced as a result of this programme. In 2015, Tourism Malaysia brought in 904 Mega Fam participants, in conjunction with 15 major festivals and tourism events. A total of 50,542 Mega Fam participants have attended the programme from 2000 to 2015.

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 is projecting 3.52 million visitors from Malaysia in 2016, up 3% over 2015. The second largest source-market for Thailand after China, Malaysia is generating strong growth in arrivals by repeat travellers and female visitors. Thailand is the Number One favourite destination of Malaysian outbound visitors. In addition to the overland border crossing, the two countries are now connected by 352 flights weekly, including secondary-city connections such as Johor-Haat Yai, Penang-Samui and Kuala Lumpur-Chiang Mai. TAT market research shows that 70% of the Malaysian visitors love Thailand for the shopping and 40% enjoy the health & wellness experience. The share of female visitors has also grown strongly from 35% of total Malaysian visitors in 2007 to 57% in 2014. Building upon the momentum created by ASEAN integration process, the TAT is investing heavily in ensuring strong arrivals growth, with projections for 3.66 million arrivals in 2017.

A special app has been created by the TAT 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 Joins Global Alliance Of Cleaning Associations

SINGAPORE, July 13 (NNN-Bernama) — The Environmental Management Association of Singapore (EMAS) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with five countries including Malaysia to form a global alliance of cleaning associations.

In a joint statement today, EMAS said the alliance wanted cleaning industry players to collaborate, explore business opportunities, export services and products plus share best practices and knowledge.

Those in the alliance include the Malaysian Association of Cleaning Contractors (MACC), Environmental Contractors Management Association (ECMA) Hong Kong, Association of Indonesian Cleaning Service Enterprises (APKLINDO), Russian Cleaning Company Association (ARUK) and National Contract Cleaners Association of South Africa (NCCA).

“The global alliance will serve as a platform for EMAS to extend its professional and social links with the respective cleaning associations and to unify and strengthen the representation of the cleaning industry through collaborations.

“EMAS mooted the idea of a global alliance of cleaning associations and subsequently secured the participation of the regional cleaning associations,” it said, adding that the National Environment Agency introduced the Russian and South African cleaning associations to EMAS.

The MoU was signed by MACC President Noruddin Idris, ECMA Chairperson Elvis Chan, APKLINDO General-Secretary Tommy Gunawan Hardjana, ARUK Director Maria Bochkovskaya, EMAS President Milton Ng and NCCA President, Clive Damonze.

EMAS was first established in 1986 by service providers in contract cleaning, waste management and pest control industries.

The aims of EMAS are to provide a cohesive platform for companies in the environmental industry to raise the professionalism of the industry and to address the common concerns of environmental and hygienic services. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia Will Be Home To Chinese Antiques Authentication Service

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia July 15 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia will be home to an authentication service for Chinese antiques following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between MIMDAS Sdn Bhd and Guangdong Han Chun Xuan Art Exhibition Co Ltd.

Advisor to the programme Ong Tee Keat said the MoU would see experts from China verifying and issuing authentication certificates for the artifacts throughout Malaysia with Chinese origins.

“Currently, the authentication of Chinese relics are gaining momentum in China. However, there is ample room for development and this MoU is a crucial step in cementing the collaboration between China and Malaysia.

“The prospects for this programme is promising. All these years, we have been discovering a number of artifacts in our waters and there are a lot of interested parties eyeing them,” he told a press conference after witnessing the MoU signing here today.

In China, auctions of Chinese porcelain, jades, furniture and other antiques fractionally increased year on year from US$2.1 billion in 2014 to US$2.2 billion in 2015.

MIMDAS Director Michelle Chuah said the establishment of the valuation service of Chinese antiques was an important milestone as it would allow people in Southeast Asia to verify and certify their heirlooms.

“This valuation service will help many, especially Malaysians, tap into the full potential of their heirlooms or get true value from their investments in antiques,” she added.

Two antique experts from China, He Qingzheng and Zheng Ning kick start the valuation session today until Sunday.

The two master appraisers will also help Malaysians verify their antiques and if required, issue authenticity certificates so that these antiques would be formally acknowledged as collectible items of considerable age.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia-India Trade Potential Remains Untapped

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia July 15 (NNN-Bernama) — The huge potential for trade growth between Malaysia and India remains untapped due to the under-utilised free-trade agreement (FTA) and ongoing negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), High Commissioner of India to Malaysia T.S. Tirumurti said.

Malaysia and India established the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement, a form of a FTA, on September 24, 2010.

Tirumurti said the utilisation of the agreement has been low due to the lack of awareness among businesses in both countries.

“The utilisation of the FTA has not been high because of lack of information. So, it is the endeavour of the government to tell them to start utilising it more,” he told reporters at a briefing on the ASEAN-India Business Leadership Conclave 2016 here today.

Tirumurti added that the RCEP, which is currently being negotiated, could play an important part in boosting trade between both countries.

“Once we get RCEP done, that will have a huge impact and this will be an important component that will boost trade,” he added.

Formally launched in November 2012, RCEP is a proposed FTA between the ten member states of ASEAN and the six countries with which ASEAN has existing FTAs namely Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Secretary-General Jayasiri Jayasena said the slow impact of the FTA was due to the gradual elimination of tariffs after the agreement kicked off.

“You don’t expect them to have overnight elimination of duties. Therefore you cannot expect, when the agreement comes into force, for exports or trade to double,” he said.

Jayasiri agreed that awareness was another factor contributing to the slow adaptation to the FTA and the government has embarked on various initiatives, including outreach programmes, to create awareness among exporters on the opportunities arising from the FTA.

Last year, Malaysia’s trade with India stood at US$12 billion with exports contributing US$8.12 billion and imports US$3.9 billion.

From January to May 2016, Malaysia-India trade stood at US$5 billion with exports accounting for US$3.6 billion and imports, the remaining US$1.4 billion.

Meanwhile, on the overnight policy rate (OPR) cut, Jayasiri said the move by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) was designed to boost domestic consumption by lowering cost of borrowing.(BNM is Malaysia’s central bank)

“This will have a multiplying effect on economic activities because greaterdomestic consumption will create spin-off effects on economic activities,” he added.

Organised by the ASEAN-India Business Council (AIBC), the business conclave,scheduled for July 21, would highlight opportunities in areas such as healthcare, digital economy, logistics and small and medium entreprises.

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LEAD STORY: World Tourism Conference 2016 to be held in Penang

PUTRAJAYA, July 14 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) is delighted to once again host the World Tourism Conference (WTC). This year’s edition will be held in George Town, Penang, from 17 to 19 October 2016, in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). MOTAC has previously hosted the WTC in 2007 (Kuala Lumpur), 2010 (Kota Kinabalu) and 2013 (Melaka).

The event is expected to bring together world leaders in tourism, high-level policy makers, specialists and experts from the public and private sectors, academicians and media representatives to exchange ideas and knowledge as well as share experiences to enhance tourism development further.

Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia, YB Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said, “WTC 2016 promises to be an exciting and engaging tourism forum to learn of success stories, current issues, solutions and best practice case studies.”

He added, “This is the fourth time that Malaysia is organising the conference and this year, we are bringing participants to beautiful Georgetown, Penang. It will provide the perfect backdrop for participants to learn from and network with each other in a vibrant and culturally as well as historically rich atmosphere.”

Aptly themed “Tourism Delights: Delivering the Unexpected,” the conference will focus on ideas and strategies which are geared towards delighting the tourists. It is the first conference of its kind, which is dedicated to the “Tourists First” mantra.

“The theme and topics are specially designed to provide insights that are practical and to share experiences on how to capture the hearts and minds of tourists in this challenging and competitive landscape,” Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri added.

He said, “We look forward to welcoming participants from all over the world to learn from the conference and also to enjoy the experience of being in diverse and multi-cultural Malaysia and UNESCO World Heritage City of Penang.”

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Labor’s Aly becomes first Muslim woman MP in Australia

12 Jul 2016, Sydney (IINA) – The Australian Labor Party on Monday claimed victory of Anne Aly in the Perth-based seat of Cowan, becoming the first Muslim woman elected to the House of Representatives, following a mistake by the Australian Electoral Commission, news agencies reported.

Egyptian-born Aly moved to Australia when she was two and is a professor at Edith Cowan University. A Muslim expert on extremism, Aly is the founder of People Against Violent Extremism. She is regular critic of Daesh (so called Islamic State) and offers the government advice on counter-terrorism measures to combat radicalization.

Dr Aly also believed the Liberal campaign to paint her as soft on terrorism backfired and did not lose her any votes. She will join fellow Labor MP Ed Husic as just the second Muslim MP in the federal parliament.

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Casablanca to host 4th “Mediterranean Tourism Conference”

08 Jul 2016, Casablanca, (IINA) – The 4th annual 5+5 Mediterranean Tourism Ministers Conference will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Casablanca, Morocco on Monday, Morocco World News reported.

The event will be attended by the Moroccan Minister of Tourism, Lahcen Haddad as well as ministers and ambassadors from countries in the Western Mediterranean region including Mauritania, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, Spain, France, Italy, Mali, and Portugal.

The conference will be under the theme of “Tourism and Climate Change,” which will be a unique opportunity to shed light on many points of major interest to Morocco.

The conference will also help countries promote sustainable tourism in the region that is respectful of environmental resources and regional values.

This conference comes before Morocco hosts the COP22 in Marrakesh in November. The forum aims at adopting the Declaration of Casablanca on Tourism and Climate change, and at proposing specific solutions lending renewed impetus to the tourism offer in the Mediterranean Basin.

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Kuwait first GCC country to set minimum wage for domestic workers

Kuwait City, (IINA), 15 Jul 2016 – Kuwait has set a minimum wage for its hundreds of thousands of mostly Asian domestic workers, in a first for the Gulf States.

A decree issued by Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Khaled Al-Sabah set the minimum wage at 60 dinars ($200) a month and granted domestic staff a raft of other rights, Al-Anbaa newspaper reported Thursday.

Kuwait is the first country in the Gulf to regulate the work conditions of domestic staff through legislation. Human Rights Watch (HRW) and other rights groups have urged others to follow suit to tackle widespread abuses.

The decree, which sets out measures to implement a landmark law adopted by parliament last year, also requires employers to pay overtime for any extra hours worked.

It grants domestic workers the right to a weekly day off, 30 days of annual paid leave, a 12-hour working day with rest, and an end-of-service benefit of one month a year at the end of the contract. The estimated 600,000 domestic workers in Kuwait are among at least 2.4 million working at homes across the Gulf. They are not covered by ordinary labor legislation.

HRW and other groups have documented widespread abuses, including non-payment of wages, long working hours with no rest days, physical and sexual assault, and no clear channels for redress.

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World Bank okays $30 million in budget support to Palestine

Washington, (IINA), 13 Jul 2016 – The World Bank has transferred an amount of about $30 million to the Palestinian Authority from the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF), a multi-donor budget support mechanism administered by the Bank, WAFA reported.

The funds, contributed by the governments of Japan and Australia, will help support the urgent budget needs of the Palestinian Authority (PA) by providing support for ongoing macroeconomic and public financial management reforms among other things.

The World Bank PRDP Trust Fund was established on 10 April, 2008, through an agreement signed between the World Bank and the Palestinian Authority.

It is a central component of a World Bank’s effort to support the ongoing Palestinian Reform and Development Plan. Currently, the PRDP-MDTF donors are the governments of Australia, France, Kuwait, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

With the new tranche release, the PRDP-MDTF raised around $1.4 billion since its inauguration.

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‘Message Of Islam’ Exhibition Lands In Australia

QUEENSLAND, Australia, July 14 (NNN-ONA) – The “Message of Islam” Exhibition, which continues its global tours to advocate the values of peaceful coexistence, mutual understanding and positive dialogue, under the title “Peace to the Whole World” was held at the Multi-Religious Studies Centre, in the Australian Griffith University, which is one of the most important centres that seek to spread the values of peace and mutual respect. The exhibition will continue until July 22.

Dr. Brian Adams, Head of the centre said, “What distinguishes this exhibition is that, it introduces Islam in Oman, in its purest image through real life of tolerance, understanding and co-existence with all human beings and acceptance of others while preserving the customs and traditions of their community, and this is an important lesson for all human beings.”

He added, “We are in the Multi-Religious Studies Centre, aim to find respect for different religions through building bridges of understanding of customs and traditions that are enjoyed by other religions,” adding, “When we respect each other, we can turn our society into a productive one, and this is what the exhibition calls for through transferring the experience of the Sultanate to us.”

Mohammed bin Said al-Ma’amari, Supervisor General of the exhibition, said in a speech, “The exhibition in its first tour in Australia, has acquired a new partnership with prestigious institutions and centres, to deliver (the message of peace) of Oman to the world,” stressing that “the young people in the world need to have real initiatives to enlighten them with spiritual values and the importance of the role of universities and scientific centres in this aspect.”

He pointed that, “The aim of the exhibition is the delivery of Oman’s experience in shared values and common human values for a better tomorrow for the present generations and the coming future.”

The exhibition comes within the context of the efforts made by the Sultanate in the dissemination of noble human values and bringing the message of peace in the world, amid an atmosphere of regional tensions, and the spill-over of extremism, terrorism and violence, and to be the voice of (the message of peace) in response to all of these inhuman practices that are inconsistent with the teachings of religions and cultures.

The exhibition managed, through its varied paintings, exhibits and events, to draw the attention of visitors to the overall renaissance being enjoyed by the Sultanate under the leadership of Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, that has made Oman the focus of the world’s estimation for its interest in all that leads to peace, and disputes resolving by peaceful means and combating extremism, violence and hatred.– NNN-ONA

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London’s first European Muslim Heritage Exhibition kicks off

London, (IINA), 13 Jul 2016 – Muslim travel writer Tharik Husain, who has been uncovering some of Europe’s forgotten Islamic history for nearly two decades, has launched London’s first European Muslim Heritage Exhibition this week.

Hosted at the London Muslim Center in the heart of Tower Hamlets, east of the capital, the exhibition has already attracted a diverse crowd of both Muslim and non-Muslim visitors, with a sold-out launch event.

The exhibition highlights a selection of photographs from Husain’s travels across Europe, Spain, Bulgaria, Estonia, France and England, as part of his quest of uncovering the continent’s forgotten Muslim heritage, AL Arabiya reported.

Highlights in this section include a photo of a medieval Muslim tomb in the Balkans, today revered by both Christians and Muslims, one of a ninth century coin found in Estonia minted by the Muslim Abbasid caliphate in Baghdad, and a man worshipping in the mosque that was home to Britain’s earliest indigenous Muslim community who were led by converted Victorian Lords and Ladies.

Speaking to Al Arabiya on the launch night, Tharik explained how the exhibition serves a role in debunking the popular myth that the heritage of Europe is exclusively Judeo-Christian:

“A common story has developed throughout history that Muslims have not played a pivotal role in shaping European culture. The exhibition strives to reorientate that misconception. It’s not about a triumph of one religion over another. Instead, it’s about seeking parity that Islam like its Jewish and Christian counterparts, has contributed to European culture.”

“Not many people would know, for instance, that Muslims have in fact been part of Europe’s evolving cultural identity for 14 centuries.”

With the launch coinciding with the 21st anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, the exhibition also had photographs commemorating one of Europe’s darkest events since World War II.

The images were captured by Bosnian photographer Jasmine Agovic during his decade-long tenure at the International Commission on missing persons.

Reflecting on the images, Tharik said: “Often Muslims are presented as the ‘Other’ in Europe and that’s no truer than today. Srebrenica reminds us what happens when that goes to the absolute extreme.”

“On a day like today, whilst we should never forget, it’s also about offering hope…. Making sure the Muslim part of Europe’s narrative also makes it into popular culture. So that future generations of Muslims do not have issues of ‘belonging’ here.”

Born in Bangladesh, Husain grew up in Tower Hamlets. His interest in exploring European Muslim Heritage was sparked when he unexpectedly stumbled across a tomb during a stopover in Cyprus, belonging to a companion of the prophet Mohammad, (peace be upon him).

Since then, he’s been on a trail to uncover more Muslim connections to the continent. His journey recently took him to the US where he unveiled in his debut radio documentary “America’s Mosques; a story of integration” that the country’s oldest surviving mosque in New York City – The Brooklyn Muslim Mosque, was built by Tatar Muslims from countries like Lithuania, Belarus and Poland when they immigrated to the Big Apple at the turn of the last century.

Last June, the documentary, which aired on BBC World Service, won an award for the World’s Best Religious Program at the New York Festivals World’s Best Radio Programs Awards.

The European Muslim Heritage Exhibition will be open to visitors until July 17 at the London Muslim Center.

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Oman’s Al Awaija Farms in Manah Enjoy Fertile Lands

Manah, July 16 (ONA) — The Sultanate accords a great attention to agriculture to achieve food security, which is an insisting matter to limit dependence on external imports and secure food needs. Further, the Sultanate seeks to develop self-resources and setting up productive projects, as well as ideally utilizing agricultural lands.

The Wilayat of Manah in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah enjoys fertile agricultural lands. Agriculture receives a great attention in Manah due to the large areas of fertile soil.

Al Awaija Farms are one of the major fertile areas in Manah. They receive a great attention by famers due to the increased water flow at “Falaj Al Khatam” in other words “ancient irrigation system or water channel”. The farmers level these lands to be utilized for growing several types of agricultural crops, such as sugarcane, wheat, oat, legumes, pumpkin, chilly, eggplant, onion, garlic and tomato, as well as Alfalfa for livestock.

Some agricultural crops produced by Al Awaija Farms represent a good financial revenue for farmers. Farmers also utilize these areas in breeding animals and spending times for recreation. The good water flow of Falaj Al Khatam due to the recent rains contributed to the expansion of greenery areas in Al Awaija.

Falaj Al Khatam is of great importance as farmers basically depend on it in irrigating crops. The falaj flows from a village in the Wilayat of Nizwa called Sa’al, which is 30 km away from Manah. Water portion of the falaj distributed on the basis of bidding twice a year starting from January.

In the past, Al Awaija Farms represent a source of income for many families. Crops of wheat and oat have a significant role in economy of the wilayat as they are sold for wilayats in the Governorate of A’Dakhiliyah.

Sheikh Khalaf bin Yazeed al-Busaidi, one of scholars who witnessed the agricultural activity in the past, said that Al Awaija considered the motherland for families in the wilayat in the past due to the dependence of citizens to secure their daily life needs. He pointed out that it was locally known as “Umm Al Faqeer” or Mother of the Poor as people head to Al Awaija for work. He adds that many agricultural crops are grown in Al Awaija, such as legumes, wheat, oat, sugarcane, onion, sesame, alfalfa and corn. He further said that these agricultural crops are sold in some wilayats, such as Nizwa and Muttrah.

The Agricultural Development Department in the wilayat plays an importance role in urging farmers to utilize the agricultural lands. Hilal bin Ali al-Azri, Director of Agricultural Development Department in Manah said to Oman News Agency (ONA) that the department provides all services and facilities for the farmers. He added that the department provides various seeds of wheat every year as the production of high-quality wheat in 2016 stood at 25 tons.

He added that the department also provides seeds of Omani garlic, as well as Omani red and white onion, in addition to seeds of sesame, sugarcane, different types of corn and legumes, besides saplings of Omani and foreign lemon, various citrus types and date palms.

Farmers at Al Awaija Farms rationalize water consumption while irrigating crops during summer by using modern irrigation methods and storing water in underground basins.

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Oman Spends Over RO 67.1 billion on 1100 projects

Muscat, July 16 (ONA) — During the 8th five-year plan (2011-2015), the Sultanate had managed to implement more than 1100 projects, that ware awarded through the Tender Board, at a cost of about RO 67 billion. It also implemented a number of other projects that were awarded through the different governmental units.

During the 8th five-year plan, the Sultanate managed to utilize oil revenues in completing the major strategic project in ports, airports, roads and other sectors to achieve the citizens’ aspirations towards education, health, housing, electricity, water, communication and other sectors. It also implemented some projects that prepare the national economy for further growth and for more reliance on non-oil revenues.

The statistics compiled by ONA point out that the total revenues during the 8th five-year plan stood at about RO 61.5 billion and that the total public expenditure stood at RO 67.1 billion.

The oil revenues contributed by RO 44.2 billion or 71.9% of the total revenues. Gas revenues amounted to RO 7.4 billion compared to RO 1.9 billion from income tax, RO 1.1 billion from custom duties, RO 90.6 million from capitals and RO 6.7 from other revenues.

During the 9th five-year plan (2016-2020), the Sultanate seeks to increase oil revenues by focusing on five main sectors, namely the manufacturing industries, logistic services, transport, tourism, fisheries and mining.

The share of current expenditure stood at RO 42.4 billion or 63.1% of the total public expenditure compared to RO 15.8 billion for investment expenses, contributions to local and foreign organizations, oil, electricity and basic commodities subsidy, as well as RO 8.8 billion for other programs.

During the 8th five-year plan, a number of major project, for which work was initiated during the 7th five-year plan, were completed including Al Batinah Southern Expressway at a cost of RO 796 million.

During the 8th five year plan, work was initiated at the first and second stage of Sur-Bidbid road at a cost of RO 432.5 million. A number of major projects were also awarded to complete Muscat International Airport and Salalah Airport projects.

The most notable projects that were awarded at Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD) includes the additional work for the marine works at Duqm Port at a cost of RO 192.7 million and the first stage of the infrastructure for Duqm Port at a cost of RO 81 million. At Salalah Port, an additional berth has been built at the general cargo terminal and liquid berth at a cost of RO 55 million.

During the plan, the Sultanate has implemented a number of programs in education and the development of Omani youths’ capabilities, including the expansion in the internal and external scholarship program. It also implemented an HRD program for specialized post graduate studies at a cost of RO 100 million (1000 grants).

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Libya Trade and Investment Forum in London in October

03/07/2016, Tripoli Post – The Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) today announced that it is to hold the Libya Trade and Investment Forum in in London, UK on Monday 24th October 2016.

The Forum will be hosted by the LIA in conjunction with the UK Middle East Association (MEA) and Developing Markets Associates (DMA).

A statement issued by LIA on 28 June 2016 said the decision to organize the forum as a result of expressed interest by many in the event, especially as the timing of forum is expected to ensure the participation of many parties.

“The Forum will cover a range of potential opportunities in Libya, with a particular focus on infrastructure, energy and the financial sector. It will also cover pressing issues around rebuilding Libya’s civil society, healthcare and welfare systems,” according to the statement.

The Forum will match international investors and businesses with opportunities in Libya, and discuss potential co-investment opportunities with the private sector on key infrastructure and business projects.

Peter Meyer, the Chief Executive of the MEA, said: “The Presidential Council in Tripoli, and the key Libyan institutions standing firmly behind it, have the support of the UK Government and the international community. We look forward to helping re-establish the country as a fertile ground for investment, and ensuring a bright and prosperous future for Libya and its people.”

“The positive involvement of the UK Government in this event has been especially welcome. It underscores the vital role that the UK Government and UK business will continue to play in securing Libya’s future.”

To learn more about the Forum, and to register your interest, please visit the official website: www.LibyaTradeAndInvestment.org

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World Bank Approves $30m in Additional Funding for Palestine

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2016 – The World Bank has transferred an amount of about $30 million to the Palestinian Authority from the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan Trust Fund (PRDP-MDTF), a multi-donor budget support mechanism administered by the Bank.

The funds contributed by the governments of Japan and Australia, will help support the urgent budget needs of the Palestinian Authority (PA), providing inter alia support for ongoing macroeconomic and public financial management reforms.

The World Bank PRDP Trust Fund was established on April 10, 2008, through an agreement signed between the World Bank and the Palestinian Authority. It is a central component of a World Bank’s effort to support the ongoing Palestinian Reform and Development Plan. Currently, the PRDP-MDTF donors are the governments of Australia, France, Kuwait, Norway, the United Kingdom, and Japan.

With the new tranche release, the PRDP-MDTF will have disbursed about US$1.4 billion.

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Monastir, Tunisia, hosts 11,000 tourists

15/07/2016, Monastir/Tunisia, (TAP) – The governorate of Monastir hosts, currently eleven thousand tourists, Regional Commissioner for Tourism Salwa Kadri, told TAP, noting that all indicators are positive and promising.

In a press statement on the sidelines of the regional council of tourism held, on Friday in the governorate premises, Kadri said that a Monastir-Germany flight was launched on July 13, with two flights per week, and will be reinforced by two additional weekly flights in August.

The Commissioner of Tourism expects increase in the next months, of the number of Algerian tourists who was rather low until now, she noted.

A joint commission was created at the initiative of the governor of the region Adel Khabthani to ensure compliance with the quality of services, the same source asserts.

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Djerba-Zarzis: Tourist indicators improve in early July

14/07/2016, Tunis/Tunisia, (TAP) – The tourist zone Djerba-Zarzis registered during the first ten days of July a clear improvement in tourism indicators.

According to the Regional Commissioner of Tourism Ahmed Kalboussi Medenine, some 28, 950 tourists visited the region during this period. They spent 207,306 nights, with an increase of 220% compared to the same period last year.

The Russian market ranks first with 15,341 tourists (68% of visitors), he said, noting that the number of Russian travelers who have visited the region since March reached 70,000 with an average of 50 flights per week. Nearly 150 thousand Russian tourists are expected until the end of the summer season, said the Regional Commissioner of Tourism in Medenine.

The same source also commends the tourist recovery of the traditional markets including Germany (20% increase), Algerian, French and Belgian despite the absence of direct line between the Djerba-Zarzis Airport and those of Algeria.

The tourism activity during this period was also characterized by the rise of domestic tourism indicators and the reopening of 24 hotel units with a capacity of 13,000 beds out of a total of 38 closed.

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Tunisian-Swiss human resources development project launched

13/07/2016, Tunis/Tunisia, (TAP)- The Tunisian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCITNCH) and Swiss contact, on Wednesday, kick-started a project to improve and enhance human resources skills.

“This project is part of the vocational training and integration programme for young people in Tunisia, launched jointly by the Embassy of Switzerland in Tunisia and the Ministry of Vocational Training and Employment. The second phase started in January 2016 to last until 2020, “Hamda Zeramdini, Executive Director of Swiss Contact, told TAP at a reception held in Tunis.

“With an amount of 1.5 million Euros, the project aims primarily to develop human resources management system in enterprises and promote employability of graduates,” he added.

For the president of the CCITNCH, Emna Allani, this project aims to develop a “dual training” (alternating training) that takes place in both the training centre and the enterprise. ”

This training, she said, which has “already made proofs in Switzerland”, will familiarize young graduates and recruits who lack basic skills with office techniques (how to write an email in commercial French, how to develop a summary report, how to deal with customers? …)

Speaking on this occasion, Minister of Vocational Training and Employment, Zied Laadhari stressed that Switzerland is a model for Tunisia in vocational training, indicating that 75% of CEOs of major Swiss companies have followed a vocational training process.

“We must learn from the Swiss experience to boost employability of our young people,” he stressed.

Tunisia and Switzerland will sign next Monday a cooperation agreement in the field of vocational training.

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First Nouvelair plane takes off to Algiers

14/07/2016, Tunis/Tunisia, (TAP) – The aircraft of the private airline Nouvelair company, took off on Thursday from the international airport of Tunis Carthage to Algiers, marking the beginning of the commercial operation of this air link used so far exclusively by the public companies Tunisair and Air Algeria. On board the Airbus A320 aircraft are nearly 40 guests and journalists, company managers and assistant General Manager Chokri Zarrad, representatives of ONTT and the Federation of Travel Agencies (FTAV).

The private company has 3 regular flights from the Algerian capital with 3 weekly flights from Tunis on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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AfDB to grant 440.8 MD for regional development in Tunisia

14/07/2016, Tunis/Tunisia, (TAP)- The African Development Bank (AfDB) will grant before the end of 2016, a loan worth 200 million dollars, equivalent to 440.8 million dinars, to support and strengthen reforms in the field of inclusive regional development announced Yassine Brahim, Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation.

Speaking on Thursday, when signing a loan credit agreement of 645 million dinars (MD) granted by the AfDB to Tunisia for the modernization of the financial sector, Brahim said that the Bank devoted to the country an amount over 500 million euros in 2016, divided between investment projects and reform programmes.

The minister underlined that Tunisia counts on the support of the AfDB, for achieving the goals set in the new five-year development plan, adding that the Tunisian government is in full consultation with the AfDB to prepare the country strategic document covering the 2017-2020 period and will align with the priorities of the country.

Until June 30, 2016, the active portfolio devoted by the AfDB to Tunisia stands at $1.8 billion (3.967 MD) to finance 43 operations spread between 17 loan operation and 26 technical assistance operations according to Regional Director of Operations within AfDB in North Africa, Jacob Kolster.

The official reiterated the commitment of the AfDB to support Tunisia in its reform process and support inclusive growth in the country.

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Qatar assigns USD40b for transport schemes

MENAFN – 15/07/2016 – Qatar’s Hamad port is set to increase its handling capacity, when expansion work completes, with the first phase due to finish at the end of 2016, based on released reports.

This mega project is just a part of a staggering USD40 billion worth of scheduled transport developments, including the Doha Metro and long-distance passenger and freight network.

Furthermore, there’s also a huge expansion plans for the Hamad International Airport estimated at USD8 billion, all in all, A total of 15 contracts are either in the market or are being prepared.

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Saudi plans Qurayyat-Riyadh train network

MENAFN – 16/07/2016 – Saudi Arabia plans to launch a new train network as the Saudi Arabia Railway firm (SAR) finishes the building for linking the capital Riyadh with Qurayyat .

Moreover, the train succeeded in the operational stages to reach the speed of 136 km/h, while the experimental operational process was done in thenorthern Hail area.

Meanwhile, the train plans to serve the people of the northern regions who are awaiting its launch, while it will shorten the time of the trip to Riyadh by more than half.

SAR has two types of passenger trains; the diurnal and the nocturnal, while three trains are being trialled.

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2016 OPIC Impact Award Goes to Water Plant in Algeria

Before 2008, water scarcity in Algiers was caused by high demand, drought and an aging distribution system which left the city water rationing – people received water once every 3 days. The 2016 Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Impact Award winner Hamma Water Desalination SpA, with 70% funding from GE and 30% from the Algerian Energy Company, built the 200,000 m3/day Hamma Seawater Desalination Plant (SWDP) to turn seawater into freshwater. The plant is Africa’s first reverse osmosis (RO) desalination plant to be funded by public and private investment. Today, the plant meets 25% of Algeria’s freshwater needs. The OPIC Impact Award in the critical infrastructure category recognizes projects that demonstrate innovation in overcoming challenges in emerging markets.

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Germany’s TUI, Ras Al Khaimah tourism authority sign marketing pact

RAS AL KHAIMAH, 13th July 2016 (WAM) — The Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) has entered into a cooperative marketing agreement with German tour operator TUI – the world’s largest leisure, travel and tourism company.

A key pillar in the emirate’s strategy to strengthen its position as a premier leisure destination within the German market, the RAKTDA-TUI partnership will initially focus on the fourth quarter of 2016, with the cooperation extending to consumer and travel trade communication via the TUI media and distribution portals.

The two entities will also activate joint marketing activities across leading German travel agencies.

“Germany remains a key source market for Ras Al Khaimah and this prestigious partnership with TUI will further strengthen our distribution base and highlight or distinctive product offering to potential German visitors,” Haitham Mattar, CEO of the RAKTDA, said.

“The cooperation will raise awareness of Ras Al Khaimah as a premier leisure destination by leveraging our core product pillars of genuine Arabian experiences, heritage, great beach resorts, adventure tourism and diverse natural landscapes.”

With the RAKTDA aiming to attract a total of one million visitors per year by the end of 2018, Mahpar Azarpira, Head of TUI’s Partner Marketing, believes the RAKTDA-TUI partnership will contribute significantly to the emirate’s tourism objectives.

“Ras Al Khaimah is a destination with great potential for Germany,” Azarpira said. “It is already a popular destination with many leisure travelers from the country and through the partnership with RAKTDA we are confident to expand on its success.”

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Morocco Reduces Medicine Costs for 139 Chronic Diseases

MENAFN – Morocco World News – 13/07/2016 – Morocco’s Ministry of Health released a statement on Monday indicating that it will reduce the prices of medicines used to treat 139 chronic diseases. The reform aims to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to lower prices, helping to facilitate access to medicines and reduce the burden of health care expenses.

The medicines that will be affected by the price reduction are used to treat inflammatory and infectious diseases, some digestive system diseases, high cholesterol, asthma, and vrious infections.

Medicines used to treat cancer and digestive issues will now cost 19 percent less. Medicines to lower cholesterol will cost 45 percent less. The reform’s success is due to the efforts of laboratories, distributors, and pharmacists.

Since the 2.13.852 decree in 2013, the Ministry has reduced the prices of 2,600 medicines. The Ministry of Health has promised another price decrease in the near future.

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Iran logs massive monthly oil exports since January

MENAFN – 14/07/2016 – Iran, the Asian oil rich country has exported 1.54 million tons of petrochemical products worth USD750 million between June and July.

Moreover, the overall output totaled to 19.6 million tons in the Jan-June period, and it is highly expected that annual production will grow 50 million ton.

The vast upsurge was possible due to 1mn tons produced in newly-launched projects while 5mn tons were added from units with improved productivity.

The nation can expect further growth as production capacity of gas refineries in phases 15 to 18 of South Pars gas fields is fully completed, based on recent data.

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Bishkek to host conference “Better understanding for a better world”

Bishkek, July 13 / Kabar /. Bishkek to host international conference “Better understanding for a better world”, the press service of the State Committee for Religion of the Kyrgyz Republic reports.

“In order to promote the ideas of cultural and religious diversity, inter-religious harmony and tolerance, the Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF) (in Baltimore, Maryland, USA) under the leadership of Mohamad Bashar Arafat with the support of the State Commission for Religion of the KR will hold the international conference entitled “Better understanding for a better world” from 13 to 17 July,” said in a statement.

The work of the conference will be held with the participation of representatives of the most active young people from 17 ethnic groups and 16 countries around the world, such as the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, United States of America, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, the Philippines, Ghana.

During the conference participants will receive information about the different cultural and religious values; problems of modern multi-faith communities.

Separate sections are devoted to discussions on the settlement of conflicts and the causes of radicalism and terrorism in the history.

The State Committee noted that the international conference had no analogues in Central Asia and is an important basis for the formation of ideas of mutual support, and the skilful combination of the traditions and cultural values of the peoples of the world with the precepts of religion.

More than 100 young leaders will come together to find ways to encourage constructive dialogue, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding in their communities and around the world.

The conference is fully funded by the United States and implemented by the U.S.-based NGO Civilizations Exchange and Cooperation Foundation (CECF) in close partnership with the Kyrgyz State Commission on Religious Affairs.

The scheduled events include visits to places of worship of various traditions in an effort to promote understanding of diversity and tolerance, and an interfaith panel with leaders of diverse religious faiths. The slate of conference speakers includes representatives from local NGOs, U.S. Ambassador Sheila Gwaltney, Director of the State Commission on Religious Affairs Orozbek Moldaliev, and Syrian-American Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat.

Imam Mohamad Bashar Arafat is the Founder and President of CECF, which functions as an umbrella to bring people together in a format where exchanges can take place more effectively to create a better world that enjoins peace and cooperation.

Currently, CECF provides religious and cultural training, consultation, and orientation services for international exchange students sponsored by the U.S. Department of State. Since 2006, CECF has aimed to transcend the boundaries of fear of the “other” through collaborative interactions and multicultural dialogue with students from various faith traditions and cultures around the world. In partnership with the U.S. Department of State, Imam Arafat leads three BUBW conferences in the United States every year. Youth from 68 countries have participated in these five-day conferences, which help to break down barriers ignorance and encourage participants to embrace their common humanity.

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Official website of World Nomad Games launched in Bishkek

Bishkek, July 14 / Kabar /. The presentation of the official website of the World Nomad Games www.worldnomadgames.com is presented today in Bishkek.

Head of Secretariat of the World Nomad Games 2016 Nurdin Sultambaev told at a press conference at Kabar Agency told about the design of the website and that the design is fully complies the corporate style of the games.

“No money was spend from the state budget for the creation of the website, it was created under the sponsorship of the investment company “The Farm”.

Expert on information technology of the Secretariat Belek Usenbekov demonstrated the site. “The website will publish all the information concerning the Games about countries and sportsmen participating in the Games, including the program and schedule of all the events within the framework of the World Nomad Games. The site has Kyrgyz, Russian and English versions,” he said.

He also noted that in the near future an online store will be available, where everyone will be able to view and purchase branded souvenirs of the World Nomad Games.

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Kazakhstan Green belt to connect Astana and Burabay resort

15.07.2016, Kazakh-tv.kz – Astana Green Zone will be linked to the national park Burabay. Nursultan Nazarbayev told about the plans to expand the forest belt of the capital. According to the President, the number of plants is increasing annually, and the second Burabay was recreated around Astana for nearly ten years.

Nursultan Nazarbayev, President Of Kazakhstan, said: This is 73,000 hectares of forest around Astana – it is the same amount as in Burabay zone, that is, we have created the same forest as here and will continue to do this. And it is planned to plant trees along the road “Astana-Burabay” so that the woods could join with, then the natural forest will grow itself. New waste treatment facilities and thermal power station to be built in burabay Nursultan Nazarbayev also expressed his opinion on the development of Burabay resort.

According to the President, the resort should be improved, while maintaining the pristine beauty of nature. To this end, Kazakh President instructed to build wastewater treatment facilities and thermoelectric plant. According to the President, presently, conditions are created for environmentally friendly transport, bike paths are laid in the resort. Kazakh president speaks on development of Burabay resort infrastructure In addition, the Burabay resort will be prepared to receive guests of the exhibition Expo-2017.

According to the President, it is important by the next year to create all necessary conditions for comfortable accommodation of tourists and to develop routes. Construction of new hotels is currently under way in the resort area.

“I personally kept track of the construction of the Rixos Hotel, around which cottage settlements will be built. There are all the opportunities for recreation in summer and winter. Therefore Burabai will become increasingly attractive for major events.”

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‘Restoration of Great Silk Road will boost regional economic cooperation

Baku, July 13, AZERTAC -“Restoration of the Great Silk Road will elevate economic cooperation between regional countries to a higher level,” said head of Economic Policy, Industry and Entrepreneurship Standing Committee at Azerbaijan`s Parliament Ziyad Samadzade as he addressed the plenary session of “Silk Road – cooperation and development” investment forum in China.

Samadzade spoke of Azerbaijan`s economic achievements, and favorable investment climate in the country.

In an interview with AZERTAC, he said the forum participants showed great interest in Azerbaijan’s economy.

As part of his visit the Azerbaijani MP also attended the 22nd China Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair, and held a number of meetings, including with Secretary General of Shanghai Cooperation Organization Rashid Alimov.

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78,000 jobs created in Azerbaijan in first half of 2016

Baku, July 12, AZERTAC – President Ilham Aliyev has said 78,000 permanent jobs were created in Azerbaijan in the first half of the year. “Overall, nearly 90,000 jobs were created,” the President told a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers. “This is a very positive factor because in the beginning of the year there were certain concerns over the closure of some jobs.” “It’s true that 26,000 jobs were closed, but 78,000 jobs were created,” he added.

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Qatar Airways Group announces QR 3bln operating profit for F/Y 2016

Doha, July 11 (QNA) – Qatar Airways Group announced a 3 Billion QAR operating profit for fiscal year 2016 – nearly three times greater than fiscal 2015 profit of 1.1 Billion QAR, resulting in an 8.6% operating profit margin, an improvement of nearly six percentage points from the prior year, from 35.6 Billion QAR in revenues. The company reported a net profit of 1.6 Billion QAR, resulting in a net profit margin of 4.5%. Net profit for fiscal 2015 was 1.1%, at 374 Million QAR.

Qatar Airways growth rate (CAGR) in ASK term since the relaunch in 1997 to 31st March 2016 is 28%.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways continues to lead the industry in all aspects of the business, from our strong financial performance to our award-winning on board product. Our fiscal 2016 year was the best yet for Qatar Airways Group, and our results reflect the discipline and dedication of the more than 39,369 men and women who proudly represent our airline and its associated brands.”

For the year ending March 31, 2016, Qatar Airways Group reduced its expenses 1.5% and increased its cash and bank balance from 5.5 Billion QAR to 12 Billion QAR, despite the significant growth in operations and an adverse movement in foreign currency exchange. Over the course of fiscal 2016, Qatar Airways added 13 new destinations and increased its overall network to more than 150 destinations on six continents.

The airline was also the global launch customer of the Airbus A350XWB, the most technologically advanced aircraft in the world, and was the first commercial airline to fly it to the United States. Three continents are now served with the A350: North America, Europe and Asia.

The airline celebrated delivery of its 25th Boeing Dreamliner, and now operates a fleet of 29 Boeing 787s. Celebrating another milestone in the fleet, the airline celebrated the delivery of its 50th Boeing 777, the backbone of its international network.

Qatar Executive, the private jet division of the Qatar Airways Group, became the launch customer of the Gulfstream G650ER, the world’s largest and fastest aircraft of its size. Qatar Executive now has two G650ER aircraft of the total order for 30 Gulfstream family aircraft.

Qatar Airways’ home and hub, Hamad International Airport (HIA), proved more than capable of handling capacity traffic, serving a record number of travellers for the calendar year 2015, its first full year of operations, with more than 30 million people served, while simultaneously being named Middle East Best Airport for the second year in a row, and for being the first Middle Eastern airport to be named to Skytrax’s World’s Top 10 Best Airports. HIA, managed by Qatar Airways Group, introduced a new mobile app to help travellers navigate through the shopping, dining and other experiential opportunities that await them at the airport, and continue to advance the use of technology to create a “smart airport” that puts more control into the hands of the traveller.

Qatar Airways Cargo had a record-setting year, growing to third-largest cargo operator in the world as of October 2015, and continuing to expand both its fleet and product line-up. Over the course of fiscal 2016, Qatar Airways Cargo increased its dedicated freighter destinations to 54, adding Dallas, Budapest, Prague, Ho Chi Minh City, and New York to the network. In addition, with the airline’s commercial growth, QR Cargo increased available tonnage world-wide by double digits this year and will continue to grow both organically, as the fleet is scheduled to grow to 22 aircraft by 2017, and through the airline’s growth in commercial service.

Qatar Airways launched flights to a number of high profile destinations during fiscal 2016, including daily flights to Los Angeles in the United States and Sydney in Australia, further strengthening our overall route network relevancy to travellers world-wide. Our connectivity to the United Kingdom also increased to 73 weekly flights with the addition of Birmingham, our fourth United Kingdom destination.

The destinations Qatar Airways added during the 2016 fiscal year are; Abha, Amsterdam, Birmingham, Boston, Durban, Faisalabad, Los Angeles, Multan, Nagpur, Ras Al Khaimah, Sialkot, Sydney, and Zanzibar. Closer to home, the Doha-Dubai Shuttle was introduced, the first-of-its-kind flying between the two cities, a customized service responsive to the specific needs of this heavily trafficked corridor.

Qatar Airways plans to launch 17 new destinations in the 2016/2017 fiscal year, with services to Adelaide, Atlanta, Marrakech and Yerevan already begun. (QNA)

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Investment Spending Continues to Support Qatar’s Growth

Doha, July 11 (QNA) – QNB Group has published its Qatar Economic Insight July 2016 report. The report examines recent developments and the outlook for the Qatari economy as it continues its strong growth based on non-hydrocarbon investment spending.

Qatar’s economy has weathered low oil prices due to strong macroeconomic fundamentals including a low fiscal breakeven price, the accumulation of significant savings from the past and low levels of public debt.

We expect real GDP growth to accelerate from 3.3% in 2016 to 3.9% in 2017 and 4.2% in 2018 with the ramp up in investment spending and initial gas production from the Barzan gas project, according to the report published today.

Oil prices are expected to recover over the medium term, averaging USD41/barrel in 2016, before rising gradually to USD51/b in 2017 and USD56/b in 2018 as declining US oil production and steady demand growth are expected to reduce excess supply.

Inflation is expected to rise to 3.2% in 2016 and 3.4% in 2017 in line with the pick-up in global inflation, before moderating slightly to 3.0% in 2018.

International inflation is expected to rise on stronger food and oil prices while population growth should support domestic inflation.

Lower hydrocarbon revenue and continued capital spending by the government are expected to result in modest deficits in 2016 and 2017, but the rebound in oil prices should gradually bring the government back to near balance by 2018.

Revenue is expected to decline in 2016 due to the weakness in oil prices and slower non-hydrocarbon growth, but should pick up over the medium-term due to the introduction of a 5% value-added tax in 2018.

The government is expected to continue its investment spending programme while rationalizing current spending, leading to a modest decline in expenditure as share of GDP from 2016 to 2018.

Credit growth is projected to reach 11.0% in 2016 and 9% in each of 2017 and 2018, supported by project lending and higher consumption from the rising population.

The loan-to-deposit ratio is expected to stabilize at around 120%; NPLs are forecast to remain low over the medium term as asset quality is expected to be backed by the strong macroeconomic environment.

The outlook for banking is positive with low provisioning requirements and efficient cost bases supporting bank profitability. (QNA)

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Qatar Airways Signs Meridiana Agreement

Doha, July 14 (QNA) – Qatar Airways announced on Thursday that it has signed a contribution and shareholders agreement with Alisarda, the parent company of Meridiana.

The agreement provides for Qatar Airways to purchase 49 per cent of Meridiana fly’s shares, subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions, before the closing which is planned for early October.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said: “Qatar Airways continues to expand its business opportunities around the world, increasing travel options for our passengers while also enhancing our investment portfolio.

“This agreement sets the path to progress our work towards a strong resolution that benefits both the staff and passengers who travel with Meridiana fly.” Meridiana is the second largest carrier in Italy, with an extensive national and European network, which connects the main Italian airports with Sardinia and provides connectivity with hubs in Europe as well as in the U.S. and Africa. Meridiana’s fleet consists of Boeing 737s, 767s and MD-82s.

The announcement follows a successful and busy week at the Farnborough International Airshow, where Qatar Airways also disclosed that it is to acquire up to 10 per cent of LATAM Airline Group’s total shares through a capital increase.

At the Airshow, Qatar Airways also announced the purchase of three additional G650ER aircraft from Gulfstream Aerospace, while winning three Skytrax World Airline Awards, including the World’s Best Business Class.

Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar, is one of the fastest growing airlines operating one of the youngest fleets in the world. Now in its 19th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of 188 aircraft flying to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations across six continents. (QNA)

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Oman’s Islamic banking assets up 64 percent in 2015

10 Jul 2016, Muscat, (IINA) – According to figures published by the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), the total assets of Islamic banks and windows combined amounted to OMR 2.3 billion as at the end of December 2015, about 7.5 percent of banking system assets and up more than 64 percent on a year earlier, CPI Financial reported on Sunday.

The CBO Annual Report 2015 reflects the overall assessment of Oman’s macroeconomic developments during 2015 and analyses major sectors of the economy.

Islamic banking entities provided financing to the extent of OMR 1.78 billion outstanding as at the end of December 2015 when compared to OMR 1.05 billion as at the end of December 2014. Total customer deposits held with Islamic banks and windows also registered a significant rise over the year to OMR 1.54 billion from OMR 0.69 billion in the previous year-end. Core capital and reserves stood at OMR 391.3 million at the end of 2015, a rise of 11.6 per cent over the previous year’s level.

The report noted that as at the end of 2015, there were two full-fledged locally incorporated Islamic banks, namely, Bank Nizwa and Al-Izz Islamic Bank and that six out of the seven locally incorporated conventional commercial banks offered Islamic banking services through dedicated windows. The Islamic banks and Windows together operated with 60 branches at the end of 2015 up from 45 a year ago. They also had 50 ATMs and 15 cash deposit machines in service.

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Saudi tourism revenues reach SR 53.7 billion

11 Jul 2016, Jeddah, (IINA) – The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) disclosed on Sunday that the domestic and inbound foreign tourism revenues reached SR53.7 billion this year, according to its latest report.

Meanwhile, last year, outgoing Saudi tourists spent SR24.1 billion abroad. The report noted that local tourism increased by about six percent compared to 22 percent of Saudis who left to spend their holidays abroad last year. Despite this, local tourism grew by one percent overall, while inbound tourism increased by 5.6 percent over the year, Arab News reported.

According to the source, SCTNH works to stimulate domestic tourism in various seasons, especially during the holidays, indicating that the number of tourists at home reached 15.4 million in 2015 with an annual growth rate of up to three percent, compared with 6.4 million departing tourists annually.

Further, local tourism expenses amounted to SR15.3 billion in 2015, while inbound tourism expenditure amounted to SR38.4 billion, even though the number of tourist arrivals did not exceed 7.5 million people.

The report found that inbound tourism expenditure is the highest spending group within the county’s tourism sector at SR5,120 per capita, compared to SR3,020 per capita for the outbound tourism sector.

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King Abdullah unveils Jordan’s economic opportunities

Idaho City, (US), 12 Jul 2016 – Jordan’s King Abdullah, accompanied by Queen Rania, recently participated in the Economic Forum held at Sun Valley, Idaho, United States during which he presented the economic opportunities, and significant reform steps Jordan has taken, Petra reported.

On the sidelines of the forum, which was attended by leading US and world economic figures, the king discussed with a number of businessmen and representatives of US and international mega-companies about the means of economic cooperation with the Kingdom. The king also focused on ways to benefit from the investment-related incentives, opportunities available as well economic and trade agreements Jordan has forged.

During the meeting, the king participated in a panel discussion moderated by former US diplomat, William Burns, which tackled the latest regional and international pressing issues.

During discussions, Abdullah presented his vision towards current regional crises and political solutions to reduce the risks of these crises. King Abdullah stressed Jordan’s positions in supporting international efforts to confront terrorism and its groups in a holistic approach, as it is the main threat for world peace.

He also discussed the burdens borne by Jordan as a result of hosting a large number of Syrian refugees, stressing the need for the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to enable the Kingdom to carry out its humanitarian role.

With regard to domestic issues, Abdullah stressed that despite all regional challenges, Jordan is proceeding forward in line with a holistic national vision aimed at strengthening the process of comprehensive reform and sustainable development.

The king also pointed to the package of legislative reforms introduced by the Kingdom during the past few years, adding that the Parliamentary elections that will be held in September, will promote the process of reform and add more to the country’s record of achievements .

Since 1983, the Sun Valley Economic Forum has been held annually in July, where leading businessmen from world countries meet and discuss political and economic challenges.

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Filipino Muslims back President Duterte’s peace policy

Manila, (IINA) 14 Jul 2016 – Muslim human rights groups and peace advocates in the Philippines have reiterated their support on Thursday for President Rodrigo Duterte’s peace policy, while warning of security forces’ past rights violations in the Muslim south, Anadolu Agency reported.

The leader of the Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Bangsamoro) group told a public discussion in the predominantly Christian city of Zamboanga that they support Duterte’s decision to formally open peace negotiations with the country’s communist insurgents and to resume the peace process with Muslim rebels.

“Peace talks with leftist groups will formally start July 22 to 24, 2016, which will also be part of the report of newly-installed President Duterte for the State of the Nation Address on July 25,” Amirah Lidasan told those gathered at a women’s center.

“This inclusive peace policy of the Duterte administration has provided hope if not encouraged people to participate in the peace process as well as in bringing reforms in the government.”

After his landslide May 9 election victory, Duterte granted two cabinet posts to candidates backed by the National Democratic Front, the political wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines.

He has also ordered his government to continue efforts to implement signed peace agreements between the past administration and rebel groups, which includes a 2014 peace deal signed with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to grant greater autonomy to majority Muslim provinces.

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$275 million ADB loan for safe water supply in Dhaka

DHAKA, July 15, 2016 (BSS) – The government will sign a $275 million agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) next week to fund a project for ensuring supply of safe drinking water in the capital city.

ERD Senior Secretary Mohammad Mejbahuddin and ADB Country Director Kazuhiko Higuchi will sign the loan agreement on behalf of their respective sides while Managing Director of Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) Engineer Tasqem A. Khan and ADB Country Director Kazuhiko Higuchi will initial the project agreement at the NEC conference room in the city on Sunday.

Under the agreement, Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) will implement the $408 million Dhaka Water Supply Network Improvement Project. Of the amount, ADB will provide $275 million from its ordinary capital resources under a soft-term loan agreement.

“Dhaka city dwellers will get supply of safe drinking water 24-hour a day once the project is implemented,” Deputy Project Director Engineer Abdus Salam told BSS.

Salam said the project, which is expected to be completed by 2021, is aiming at improving the water supply system in Dhaka by making it more reliable, sustainable, and climate-resilient. It would also enhance the efficiency of the water distribution network and improve the service delivery and the capacity of DWASA.

The project would also help DWASA to prepare and implement an operational and financial improvement plan by enhancing the existing five-year corporate business plan and build capacity for planning, design, construction supervision, and project management, he said.

Besides, the deputy project director said it would facilitate DWASA to prepare and implement a plan to create more public awareness about demand control, water conservation and health and hygiene of water usage.

Under the project, DWASA will also prepare and implement a water quality monitoring system, a gender action plan and an enhanced project readiness programme for future investment.

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) approved the project on May 24, 2016 to improve the water supply system for Dhaka city dwellers.

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Menon for collective plan for tourism development

DHAKA, July 16, 2016 (BSS) – Civil Aviation and Tourism Minister Rashed Khan Menon on Friday called for formulation of a collective plan by Himalayan basin based countries for development of tourism to expedite the trade and economic development of the region.

“A collective plan will have to be taken based on the Himalayan basin based rivers for tourism development as these rivers have interlinked life, history, heritage and culture of the people of this region,” he told a festival in Shillong, India.

The tourism minister presented a keynote paper at the opening session of two-day ‘Asian Confluence River Festival’ organised by local think tank Asian Confluence, said a release.

Memon said rail, road, river and air connectivity and people to people contact are important for expansion of regional cooperation and development among India’s North-Eastern region and neighbouring Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar. Culture, education, health and regional tourism could the basis on communication among these countries, he added.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam and Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali also spoke on the occasion.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla and Chief Minister of Mizoram Lal Thanhawla addressed the opening session.

Around 300 representatives from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar are participating in the conference.

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Tree fair begins tomorrow in Narail

NARAIL, July 16, 2016 (BSS) – A week long tree fair will begin from Sunday on govt primary school premises of the district town. District administration, forest department and department of agriculture extension (DAE) have jointly organised the tree fair.

Sheikh Hafizur Rahman, MP will inaugurate the fair as the chief guest while deputy commissioner M Helal Mahmud will preside over the function.

Principal of Narail Victoria college professor M Samad Ullah Majumdar, Zila Parishad Administrator Advocate Subash Chandra Bose, Police super Sardar Rakibul Islam among others will speak in the discussion meeting.

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Bangladesh PM’s 10 initiatives key to progress in Chittagong Hill Tracts

DHAKA, July 16, 2016 (BSS) – Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu today said 10 initiatives of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, complete implementation of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord and resolve of land dispute are the keys for the sustainable development of this region.

“Advanced management of forests, utilization of horticulture, conservation of wildlife and building eco-friendly tourism industry will be the main goals,” he said.

The minister was addressing a special discussion as chief guest at International Mother Language Institute (IMLI) at the city’s Segunbagicha marking the 18th founding anniversary of Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs.

He underscored the need for holding zila parishad elections in the Hill Tracts for the development of minority ethnic people.

In his address as special guest, state minister for CHT affairs ministry Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing thanked all for cooperating in the activities of his ministry.

Secretary of CHT Affairs Ministry Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura chaired the discussion while CHT Land Dispute Resolution Commission Chairman Anwarul Haque, Rangamati Hill District Council (RHDC) Chairman Brish Ketu Chakma and IMLI Director General Professor Jinnat Imtiaz Ali, among others, addressed.

The CHT Affairs Ministry was founded on July 15, 1998 as per the CHT Peace Accord which was signed on December 2, 1997 under the extraordinary initiative of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

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Bangladesh ‘manpower export sector needs long term plan’

DHAKA, July 16, 2016 (BSS) – Executive Director of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Prof Mustafizur Rahman suggested taking up a long term plan for the country’s manpower export sector and emphasized on expanding government-private partnership for the development of the sector.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion here today he also suggested carrying out migrant research at the government’s initiatives and said safe migration is important to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) announced by the United Nations (UN).

Debate for Democracy organized the discussion on ‘Budget and Labour-Migration’. Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) director (Training) Dr Md Nurul Islam, director of Debate for Democracy Dr S M Morshed, secretary general of National Debate Federation Mostafizur Rahman Khan and Brac migration program director Parvez Siddiqui, among others, took part in the discussion.

Chairperson of Debate for Democracy Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiron presented the keynote paper.

Prof Mustafizur Rahman said on an average six to seven lakh people are going abroad every year from Bangladesh which is helping the government solve unemployment problem.

He appreciated the National Skills Development Council (NSDC) for taking steps to produce three million skilled manpower by 2020 and five million by 2015.

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Call to prayer from Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia

02.07.2016, ANKARA – Hagia Sophia reverberated to a muezzin’s call to morning prayer from inside the 6th century Istanbul landmark for the first time in 85 years on Saturday.

The building in the city’s historic Sultanahmet district broadcast the azan from its minarets following Friday’s Laylat al-Qadr, or night of power, marking the first revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.

The broadcast of the morning call to prayer from within Hagia Sophia is likely to reignite the controversy over the use of the building, which was designated a museum in 1935 under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Republic of Turkey’s first president.

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ICCI welcomes tax incentives for industry

ISLAMABAD, Jul 14 (APP): The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Thursday welcomed the tax incentives announced for industry in the federal budget 2016-17 and hoped that these incentives would help industrial sector to achieve better growth and contribute more effectively in the economic development of the country Atif Ikram Shekh, President and Sheikh Pervez Ahmed Senior Vice President, ICCI said, industrial sector was the second largest sector of the economy as it contributed more than 13 percent to GDP and provided employment to more than 15 percent of the total labor force.

Therefore, the industry needed better focus and priority attention of the government to address its issues in order to put the country on the path of sustainable economic growth, they said in a statement issued here.

They said Budget 2016-17 has announced some good incentives for the industry which was encouraging.

They said enhancing tax credit period on purchase and installation of plant and machinery for BMR from June 2016 to June 2019, reducing the condition of 100 percent equity to 70 percent for establishing new industry or expanding existing plants along with allowing 70 percent tax credit and extending tax credit period up to June 2019 were the positive steps that would encourage modernization of existing industry and promotion of new industry in the country.

They said increasing tax credit from 1% to 2% for every 50 employees employed by an industrial undertaking and extending date for setting up of industrial undertakings from June 2018 to June 2019 would also help in reducing unemployment and promoting industrialization.

Atif Ikram Sheikh said, countries like South Korea, Singapore, China, Japan, Malaysia and many others have achieved accelerated economic growth by promoting their industrial sectors and Pakistan should also create conducive environment for industry in order to create new jobs, improve productivity, enhance exports and emerge as a strong economy of South Asia.

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Pakistan Arts Council starts summer music classes

ISLAMABAD, Jul 12 (APP): Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) has started summer music classes for children to boost their extra skill besides their regular studies.

An official of the PNCA said that these classes will be held three days a week from Monday to Wednesday in the morning at the National Arts Gallery.

He said the programme is regular feature aiming to provide opportunity to the children to explore their hidden talent through artistic activities during summer vacations.

He said that six-week music classes would conclude on August 18. Children aging 6-16 years are participating in the classes. The classes would give healthy activity to the students during summer holidays as well as provided them an opportunity to explore their hidden talents.

“Music classes were comprised of three courses including singing, guitar and key board, being held three days a week with the duration of two hours,” he said.

On completion of course, certificates will be distributed among the participants.

On outstanding performances, prizes would also be given during workshop to the participants.

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Shandoor polo festival to start on July 22

ISLAMABAD, Jul 14 (APP): Three-day famous Shandoor polo festival rescheduled due to Eidul Fitr, now it will be held on July 22 in Chitral at the world highest Polo ground.

The official of Tourism Corporation Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (TCKP) told APP that the schedule for the festival has finalised after consulting the district administration of Chitral.

The festival regularly held each year from July 7 to 9th but this year Eid-ul-Fitr is likely to fall on those dates due to which the schedule was changed.

According to an official of TCKP, now the Shandur Polo Festival will be held from July 22 to 24.

Shandoor Polo Festival is one of the big festivals in Pakistan.

The polo which is played between the polo teams of Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is experienced as a free-style polo match.

Passion for Polo will be the highest on the world’s highest Polo ground. Every year, Shandur invites visitors to experience a traditional polo tournament between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit.

The festival also includes Folk music, Folk dance, traditional sports.

Polo was introduced in South Asia, by the Muslim conquerors in the 13th century. English word ‘Polo” is in fact a Balti word meaning, “ball”.

In ancient times, there was no limit to the number of players and no time limit. Which team scored nine goals first, became the winner.

Today, there are six players to each side, but this is by no means a rule in local polo games. The game lasts for one hour with a ten-minute break.

Chitral, Gilgit and Skardu have always played the game of polo closest to its original form.

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Pakistani Film ‘Salute’ to be released on Aug 5

LAHORE, July 15 (APP): Film star Ajab Gul has said that his film ‘Salute’ will be released in cinema houses on August 5.

Talking to APP here Friday, he said that the next film ‘Jaanah’ will be exhibited on upcoming Eid ul Azha. He said that Reham Khan is the producer of film ‘Jaanah’.

He said that he was planning to produce his own film of international standard and for this purpose, he has completed paperwork.

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1st Pak-Bahrain Business Opportunities Conference on Sept 27

ISLAMABAD, Jul 15 (APP): First Pak-Bahrain Business Opportunities Conference would be held here on September 27 to focus on investment opportunities in the field of agriculture products, meat, fruits and vegetables, banking, aviation services, jewelry, chemicals, footwear, furniture and textile.

The conference will be held in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism of Kingdom of Bahrain.

A delegation of Bahrain Government lead by Dr. Shaikha Rana bint Daij Al-Khalifia, Assistant Under Secretary for Arab and Afro-Asian Affairs and Organizations Directorate and member of the Royal family of Bahrain recently called on Minister for Commerce, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan here and discussed the plan to re-engage the two countries into fruitful economic dialogue.

The Minister informed the visiting delegation that Pakistan is opening new commercial office in Bahrain and a Commercial Councilor will be appointed there in the coming weeks.

Economic Development Board of Bahrain which has seven offices in different countries will open its office in Karachi soon to keep abreast with the business and investment opportunities appearing in Pakistan.

The meeting also decided to constitute Pakistan-Bahrain Business Council and make the Business Opportunities Conference a permanent feature of economic engagement between the two countries.

Javed Malik, Pakistan Ambassador to Bahrain said, Bahraini people of Pakistani origin who are in Bahrain since three generations will prove to be a catalyst for investment in Pakistan.

The Minister for Commerce said, the challenge for two Governments is to establish elaborate procedures to facilitate the businessmen in each other countries.

Dr. Shaikha Rana informed that Bahraini Foreign Minister and Speaker of the Parliament will visit Pakistan in the coming months which suggest the seriousness and urgency of the Bahraini Government to boost economic ties between the

two countries which have huge potential to grow.

The meeting was informed that Gulf Air, national carrier of Bahrain is planning to enhance its footprints to Lahore, Sialkot and other cities of Pakistan.

Quantum of bilateral trade between the two countries in 2014-15 was US$ 119.16 million. Pakistan exported US$ 74.92 million worth of items while imports stood at US$ 44.24 million in 2014-15.

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Pakistani workers’ remittances hit US$19.9 billion in FY16

ISLAMABAD, July 15 (APP): Overseas Pakistani workers remitted US$19,914.60 million in Fiscal Year 2016, showing a growth of 6.38% compared with US$18719.80 million received during Fiscal Year 2015.

According to the State Bank of Pakistan, during June 2016, the inflow of workers’ remittances amounted to US$2072.97 million.

The country wise details for the month of June 2016 show that inflows from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman) and EU countries amounted to US$582.84 million, US$434.90 million, US$274.01 million, US$309.27million, US$232.27 million and US$50.31 million respectively compared with the inflow of US$536.68 million, US$423.24 million, US$258.95 million, US$247.96 million, US$209.66 million and US$ 34.36 million respectively in June 2015.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during June 2016 amounted to US$189.37 million together as against US$110.63 million received in June 2015.

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Qatar Airways Named World Best Business Class At Skytrax Airline Awards

DOHA, Qatar, July 13 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Airways won, on Tuesday, three separate prizes, at the 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards, at the Farnborough International Airshow in the United Kingdom, the carrier said, in a press release.

It was reported that, air travellers chose Qatar Airways, as the world’s best business class, also voting the airline top, for best business class airline lounge and the best airline staff service in the Middle East.

The consumer-voted awards recognised the airline for its commitment to offering passengers an unrivalled travelling experience.

The Skytrax World Airline Awards are widely known as the Passengers Choice Awards, with millions of travellers, from 160 different countries, participating in passenger satisfaction surveys, to decide the winners each year.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, said that, the awards were not only for himself, but for every individual at Qatar Airways, who created the passengers’ experience, from its on-board cabin crew to the chefs, overseeing the catering, to the technicians who ensured the cabin was in perfect working order.

“Our commitment to continued success is unwavering and a testament to the dedication of our global teams,” he said.

Over the last year, Qatar Airways announced an unprecedented expansion of its network, with 13 new destinations launching in 2016, including Adelaide, Atlanta, Birmingham, Boston, Chiang Mai, Seychelles and Sydney.

The airline will continue to grow in 2017, and will commence services to further new destinations, including Auckland, which will be the world’s longest flight, Lusaka, Skopje and Nice.

Qatar Airways, the national carrier of Qatar, is one of the fastest growing airlines, operating one of the youngest fleets in the world.

Now in its 19th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of 186 aircraft, flying to more than 150 key business and leisure destinations, across six continents.– NNN-QNA

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Air Arabia Expands European Network With Flights To Batumi

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates, July 12 (NNN-WAM) – Air Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa’s first and largest low-cost carrier, has touched down in Batumi, the second largest city of Georgia.

Adel A. Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said, “We are glad to expand our connectivity in Georgia. Batumi is a growing tourism destination and is popular during the summer months.”

Air Arabia’s new flights to Batumi will allow people and businesses across the Arabian region, to discover this beautiful city, while positively impacting tourism and economic growth.

The airline operates two weekly flights to the famed Black Sea port city from its primary Sharjah International Airport hub on Thursdays and Saturdays, at 13:15, arriving at Batumi at 16:40, with return flights scheduled to leave Batumi International Airport at 17:30 to arrive in Sharjah at 20:50.

The seaside resort city, steeped in history, has an abundance of natural beauty, with a reputation as a safe, affordable destination, helping it find a niche among travellers looking beyond traditional tourist spots.

The city’s varied charms include a cluster of classical 19th century edifices, dotting its historic Old Town, including museums, monuments, cultural centres, mosques and cathedrals.

Batumi is equally known for its stunning beaches, parks and squares, and the surge in tourism over the last decade has seen a number of modern buildings, including five-star hotels and resorts from international chains, take their place alongside the historical town that offers a window into Batumi’s rich past.

Air Arabia already operates daily flights to Tbilisi, the capital and largest city of Georgia, which is rapidly emerging from the margins of Europe’s tourism landscape to become its fastest rising star.– NNN-WAM

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Kuwait Airways Opens New Office In Bu Hamdoun, Lebanon

BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 14 (NNN-NNA) – Kuwait Airways Co. (KAC), has opened a new passenger service office, in the city of Bu Hamdoun, in the Mount Lebanon area, said KAC director in Lebanon, Misha’al Al-Saleh, on Wednesday.

Passengers living in Bu Hamdoun and other towns nearby, such as Sofer, Alya, Hamana, and Faloga, who normally had to go to KAC’s office in Beirut, to book flights, now can do so in the airline’s office in Bu Hamdoun, saving them a long trip to the capital city, he said.

Furthermore, he pointed out that, booking of flights on KAC can also be done through the airline’s online services, including the use of KAC’s app on smart phones.

He emphasised, KAC’s indefatigable efforts at streamlining all of its services, for the comfort of its patrons.– NNN-NNA

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Indonesian Arts Mission taking part in folklore festival in France

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 4 Juli 2016 – The Indonesian Arts Mission, represented by Dwipantara Creative, is participating in a series of “Festival International de Folklore” to be held in Paris, France, and Sainte Rose Guadeloupe, Caribbean Islands, from July 2 to 14.

Dwipantara Creative, as a representative of Conseil International des Organisations de Festivals de Folklore et dArts Traditionnels (CIOFF) Indonesia, will make an appearance at the opening event of the Cultures Croises en le-de-France 2016 at the UNESCO building, which will be attended by Indonesian delegate to UNESCO Professor Fauzi Soelaiman.

Indonesias Ambassador to UNESCO Fauzi informed Antara in London on Monday that he felt pride that Indonesia, with its strong culture, was contributing to the festivities.

Through this event, Fauzi hoped that French citizens, along with the audience from across the globe, will be encouraged to visit Indonesia, by witnessing the various cultures in person. He was also optimistic that the event would help to increase foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia in line with the governments program to boost the countrys tourism sector.

The Croises en le-de-France Association annually holds various traditional dance and music festivals at cultural and art centers in Paris and its surrounding areas.

CIOFF, an association established to serve as a platform for cultural and art exchanges, performs traditional art shows from several countries in the world as well as holds cross-cultural dialog, all in the spirit of promoting world peace.

The Indonesian Arts Mission will also participate in the festival in Guadeloupe City in the Caribbean Islands, which is a part of the French territory, despite its location outside the metropolitan area. The Cultures Croises en le-de-France Festival is currently being held as it was opened on July 2 and will end on July 15 in Paris and Anjou, France.

Several countries are participating in the Cultures Croises en le-de-France 2016 festival to showcase their folk dances and music. Various forms of arts and crafts are also on display and for sale, which go hand in hand as part of the cultural exchange between the participants.

Dwipantara Creative will perform eight traditional Indonesian dances accompanied by live Indonesian music. They will also be bringing unique Indonesian arts as souvenirs to be showcased at the festival.

Indonesia is home to hundreds of traditional dances and has a rich cultural heritage, bearing in mind its ethnic diversity. For instance, the “Gending Sriwijaya” dance form from Palembang, which was performed for the Kings of the Sriwijaya Kingdom during their rule. The dance is usually performed by women in odd numbers, and it could be five, seven, or nine dancers. Randai Badantian is a blend of Randai Dance and Piring (plate) Dance from Minangkabau, West Sumatra.

Cultures Croises en le-de-France is an association incorporated in the CIOFF, an international organization working with the UNESCO based in Confolens, France.

Since 1970, CIOFF has been making steady efforts as well as promoting traditional arts in cooperation with 110 countries and more than 300 traditional art festivals across the globe. CIOFF also supports world peace and anti-violence campaigns by promoting cultural exchange between countries through dance, music, rituals, and customs.

Since 1981, CIOFF Indonesia had sent its teams to several countries. Apart for the peace efforts, CIOFF Indonesia acts as a bridge to improve Indonesias bilateral relationship with other countries. This year, CIOFF Indonesia has sent Dwipantara Creative to represent the country at the Cultures Croises en le-de-France 2016 Festival alongside several nations from around the world.

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Samrat airport encouraging tourism in North Sulawesi

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 15 Juli 2016 – The Sam Ratulangi (Samrat) International Airports management company PT Angkasa Pura-I in Manado is taking initiative to encourage tourism in North Sulawesi.

Situated some 13 kilometers northeast of the provincial city of Manado, the Sam Ratulangi Airport serves as the main gateway to the Bunaken National Marine Park and other tourist attractions in the province.

The eastern Indonesian province of North Sulawesi has huge tourism potential and the already popular Bunaken marine tourism attraction.

According to Angkasa Pura-I General Manager Halendra Waworuntu, the Samrat airports management company has the moral responsibility to initiate tourism development programs in the province by providing training in foreign languages, including Mandarin, to the representatives of small and medium enterprises at the airport.

Waworuntu explained that the Samrat airport was ready to serve some 30 thousand Chinese tourists, who will visit North Sulawesi from July to October 2016.

“Some 30 thousand Chinese tourists are forecast to visit North Sulawesi from July to October this year, and the Sam Ratulangi airport is ready to serve them,” he remarked in Manado recently.

Waworuntu reiterated that the airport was ready to serve and accommodate 30 thousand tourists from China, as starting July until October, some 315 round-trip flights will be operated from Manado to China.

“Thus, some 30 thousand tourists from China will visit North Sulawesi during the next four months,” he noted, adding that the Manado-China route will be served by Citilink, Lion Air, and Sriwijaya Air.

Waworuntu said the North Sulawesi provincial city of Manado is popular among Chinese people, so they have high interest to visit the area, dubbed as “the Land of Swaying Coconuts.”

Since Manado is popular among Chinese tourists, he highlighted the importance for the local community to master Mandarin language, so they can communicate with the tourists to make them feel at home.

By offering training to the representatives of small and medium enterprises at the Sam Ratulangi airport, Waworuntu expressed hope that they can communicate with Chinese tourists, although in simple sentences.

He explained that two months ago, some 47 people had received Mandarin language training, so they can welcome tourists from the “Bamboo Curtain country.”

“I must admit that learning Mandarin is a bit difficult, so it needs to be done continuously,” he explained.

However, he said, if they practice Mandarin language every day, they will certainly speak fluently in the long run.

As the interest of Chinese tourists visiting North Sulawesi is quite high, the local people are encouraged to understand and speak Mandarin language.

It is estimated that by year-end, around 30 thousand tourists from China will visit North Sulawesi, known as “The Land of Smiling People.”

North Sulawesi is rich in culture, culinary delights, and beautiful landscapes.

The provincial city of Manado is probably best known as a stopover point for spectacular diving and snorkeling at the well-known Bunaken Marine Park.

Foreign tourists arriving in Manado will certainly enjoy every moment of their stay, as North Sulawesi is one of the newest developing destinations in Asia and offers a wide range of opportunities or recreational spots.

The activities range from world-class diving and snorkeling, to volcano trekking, whitewater rafting, and a variety of historic and cultural attractions to engage people of all ages.

In addition, the North Sulawesi provincial government will increase the number of tourism destinations to boost foreign tourist arrivals in the city of Manado.

North Sulawesi Culture and Tourism Office Head Happy Korah had stated in Manado that infrastructure and facilities at the tourism attractions in North Sulawesi should be improved to attract more visitors to the province.

Korah noted that beginning July until the end of the year, North Sulawesi would attract tens of thousands of Chinese tourists, who will arrive aboard chartered flights to the city of Manado and the surrounding areas.

Korah remarked that currently, Chinese tourists only visited five destinations: the city of Manado, Tomohon, Bitung, Minahasa district, and North Minahasa district.

“We added the fifth district, as the city is located in proximity and has huge tourism potential,” Korah explained.

However, Korah affirmed that in future, the government will continue to increase the number of tourist destinations on the islands in North Sulawesi.

“The three districts of the North Sulawesi islands — Sitaro, Sangihe, and Talaud — are as attractive as the city of Manado and the surrounding areas,” he pointed out.

Moreover, he emphasized that the districts of North Sulawesi and the surrounding small islands have huge potential in terms of marine tourism, which is nature-based, but are yet to be optimally explored.

The government hopes the community will support the arrival of foreign tourists, especially from China, and has welcomed tour operators to stay in Bumi Nyiur Melambai.

Some 30 thousand tourists from major cities in China, including Hong Kong, Chend Du, Changsha Beijing, Wuhan, Chongging Pudong, Guang Zhou, and Macau, are expected to visit North Sulawesi Province.

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Sriwijaya Air to open Manado-China flight

15 Juli 2016, Manado (ANTARA News) – Sriwijaya Air is planning to open the Manado-China direct flight route at the end of this year to cater to the increasing number of Chinese tourists traveling to North Sulawesi.

Sriwijaya Air’s move is aimed at benefiting from the opportunity as it will have a positive impact on the regional economy, its district manager for Manado, Achmad Trenggono, said here on Friday.

The plan to open more flight routes from and to the North Sulawesi provincial capital of Manado will have a multiplier effect, he added.

“We are ready to support the North Sulawesi provincial governments efforts by encouraging the tourism sector,” he stressed.

He believed that if the tourism sector is developed properly, it will have a massive impact on other sectors in the province.

The general manager of the state airport operator of Sam Ratulangi (Samrat) international airport, Halendra Waworuntu, pointed out that his side is prepared to help the airline company open new flight routes from Manado to destinations across the world.

“Only chartered planes have served international flights from Manado so far,” he informed.

He underlined that the plan to open the Manado-China flight route will have a bright prospect because the province has a large potential to develop its economy.

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Over six million tourists visit Indonesia

15 Juli 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Some six million foreign tourists visited Indonesia since the issuance of presidential regulation number 21 of 2016 concerning visa-free facilities for foreign citizens from 169 countries, an official said.

While 4,095,264 tourists came from 15 countries which have reciprocal agreements with Indonesia, 2,881,945 tourists came from 144 countries without any such pact with Indonesia, chief of the public relations services of the directorate general of immigration, Heru Santoso, elaborated at a meeting with journalists here on Friday.

“Admittedly, the figure is still far from the government-set target of 20 million tourists per year, but I believe it will further increase in the future,” he stated.

He noted that no tourists visited from 10 countries in this list of 169 countries. These ten countries are Antigua and Barbuda, Burundi, Czech Republic, Gabon, Haiti, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Lesotho, Puerto Rico and Saint Lucia.

“I think the promotion campaign still needs to be intensified,” he added.

The directorate general of immigration also handled 135 criminal cases (pro justitia) in the first half of 2016, he said, adding at least three foreign nationals were involved in the cases.

“They committed immigration related crimes. In 2015, five foreign nationals were involved in such cases,” he informed.

The office also recorded 4,715 cases of immigration administration violation in the January-June 2016 period. The cases involved 117 citizens from countries eligible for visa-free facilities, he disclosed.

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Algeria able to cut imports by $30 billion in 4 years

ALGIERS, 14 July 2016. Algeria Press Service – Algeria can reduce its imports by nearly $ 30 billion in four years, notably thanks to new projects related in cement, mining and vehicles, said Wednesday in Algiers Minister of Industry and Mines Abdeslam Bouchouareb.

Algeria can locally generate nearly $30 billion of imports in cement, petrochemicals and emerging industries, like cars that have recently experienced boost, said Bouchouareb while answering the Senators concerns on the bill on Investment.

Algeria’s imports declined from $58.58 billion in 2014 to $51.501 billion in 2015, according to customs statistics.

The current sector strategy aims optimal exploitation of natural resources of the country to achieve a surplus of production and turn to exporting.

The cement industry is among the sectors on which is based the new approach, said Bouchouareb, adding that Algeria will ensure self-sufficiency in this area later this year.

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Algeria to be certified polio-free by end of 2016

ALGIERS, 14 July 2016, Algeria Press Service – Algeria will be certified polio-free by the World Health Organization (WHO) in November 2016, said Wednesday in Algiers the director of prevention at the Ministry of Health, Population and Hospital Reform, Pr. Ismail Mesbah.

In a statement to the press on the sidelines of the meeting of Africa Regional Certification Commission (ARCC) for Poliomyelitis Eradication, Pr. Mesbah announced that Algeria would submit the first documents on the eradication of the disease to the ARCC in order to obtain the WHO certification in November.

He added that no case of poliomyelitis has been reported since 1996, owing to the nationwide vaccination coverage, which exceeds 90 percent.

During the ARCC’s meeting, being held in Algiers from 27 June to 1 July, experts said that out of 47 African countries, 33 have managed to eradicate poliomyelitis, adding that the nine remaining countries have engaged in the certification process.

The certification process of three of them, namely Mozambique, Niger and Chad, have been examined during the meeting.

The Commission will also examine the annual reports and the progress achieved by four countries, namely Algeria, Cape Verde, Gabon and Ethiopia.

In their report on the endemic situation in Africa, the experts said that the most recent case of polio was reported in Nigeria on 24 July 2014.

Poliomyelitis will be completely eradicated in Africa by the end of 2017, according to the experts.

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Artist Si Moh at Les Suds Festival in Arles

ARLES, 10 July 2016, Algeria Press Service – The songwriter and singer Mohamed Ahmane, better known by his stage name Si Moh, participates in the 21st Festival “Les Suds” (South) to be held from July 11 to 17 in Arles (South of France), the organizers said.

Si Moh will give a concert next Thursday alongside with Dorsaf Hamdani (Tunisia) and Aynur Dogan (Turkey).

Si Moh, a subtle artist, distinguished himself by his lyrics and the sweetness of his music, mixing traditional Mediterranean and Kabyle music genres.

The universality of his works has earned him fame outside Algeria, where he is particularly appreciated for the content of his texts deemed “philosophical”.

Poet, Si Moh has absorbed the texts of French famous songwriters such as Jacques Brel and Jilbert Bécaud.

The artist who began his career in the 1980s, published a dozen albums, including “Ur neslib ara” (We are not crazy), “Yir argaz” (The man without scruples) and “Tatti batata (The chatter).

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Algerian citizens to be consulted on investment projects

BATNA, 15 July 2016, Algeria Press Service – Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal announced Thursday in Batna the decision of consulting citizens for the achievement of major projects which represent a danger, even small, on the citizens’ health.

“It is necessary and certain that we will take the opinion of citizens for the construction and the achievement of projects,” he said during the commissioning of the water transfer project from Beni Haroun dam to the province of Batna.

He added that instructions “were given to the walis to preserve the environment,” saying that “we need investment, but it is also vital to retain the lands that are not adapted to the establishment of plants or factories.”

He noted that citizens “were dissatisfied and worried,” saying that “we have decided to relocate at the right moment the place of that investment” (cement).

“All investments are welcome, but not at the expense of the citizens’ health,” he said, adding that “it is not possible to create 100 jobs and kill 10,000 people.”

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Algeria dominates first round of Arab wheelchair basketball championship

AGADIR (Morocco), 14 July 2016 – Algeria’s national wheelchair basketball team, qualified for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro, has dominated the first round of the Arab Championship “Open,” being held in Agadir since Monday with the participation of six countries, including South Africa as a guest of honour.

The Algerian squad won their five games in the first round, against Iraq (48-24), Morocco (77-72), South-Africa (79-53), Kuwait (87-25) and Saudi Arabia (63-33).

The teammates of Nabil Gueddoun ranks first, with 10 points, ahead of Morocco and South Africa.

They will know their opponent in the semi-final match on Thursday, and which will be fourth in the first round ranking.

The sporting event has brought together Algeria (Africa championship title’s holder), Morocco, South Africa, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

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African Investment Forum to be held in Algiers

KIGALI, 15 July 2016 – The African Investment and business Forum, scheduled from 3 to 5 December 2016 in Algiers, is a contribution that is part of the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, said Friday in Kigali (Rwanda), Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ramtane Lamamra.

“We informed the participants at the 29th meeting of the AU Executive Council (whose proceedings wrapped up Thursday night) about the details of the contribution, which is in line with the African Union Agenda 2063,” Lamamra told APS.

Algeria represents Algeria in the preparatory meetings of the AU Conference of Heads of State and Government (17 and 18 July).

The African Agenda 2063 particularly provides a program to double the intra-African trade by 2022.

Lamamra said that 2,000 people will take part in this meeting which will be attended by public and private African operators.

“This is not a diplomatic conference, but an operational conference. It is a ‘business to business’ encounter for intra-African investment and trade,” he said.

The Algerian top diplomat had recently indicated that the holding of this Forum is part of Algeria’s policy in Africa, led by President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, aimed at strengthening its place in the continent.

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AirAsia Buys 100 Airbus A320Neo Aircraft

PARIS, July 13 (NNN-Agencies) — Malaysia-based budget carrier Airasia – recently awarded Skytrack’s world and asia best low cost carrier award – will buy 100 A321neo aircraft from Airbus to boost its burgeoning fleet, the European aircraft manufacturer said.

“The contract marks the first order placed by AirAsia for the largest model in the best-selling A320 Family,” Airbus said in a statement late Tuesday.

“Seating up to 240 passengers in a single class layout, the A321neo will enable the airline to increase capacity while benefitting from the lowest operating costs in the single aisle category,” it added.

The contract brought to 575 the total number of A320 Family aircraft ordered by the Malaysian budget carrier, 188 of which are already in the fleet.

AirAsia Group chairman Tony Fernandes said the purchase of A321neo aircraft will help Asia’s biggest budget carrier cope up with strong demand and “reduce our cost per Available Seat Kilometre.”

AirAsia Group currently operates close to 1,000 flights per day to more than 120 destinations in 24 countries.

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Jordan Launches $9.2m Project For Adaptation To Climate Change

AMMAN, July 15 (NNN-Petra)–Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury on Wednesday inaugurated a project to increase the resilience of poor and vulnerable communities to climate change impacts in Jordan through implementing innovative projects in water and agriculture in support of adaptation to climate change.

The project is funded through a $9.226 million grant extended by the Adaptation Fund of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Fund was established in 2001 under the Kyoto Protocol of UNFCCC to finance concrete adaptation projects and programmes in developing countries and help residents of Kyoto Protocol member states build resilience and adapt to the effects of climate change.

Fakhoury said at the inception workshop of the project that the foremost outcomes of the project include securing additional quantities of water for farmers though efficient use of treated waste water (TWW) for irrigation purposes in the targeted locations, which are predominantly farming areas.

The project also seeks to preserve harvested rain water for the same underprivileged regions, increase the awareness of farmers and their ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change at the regional level, create micro agribusinesses and revisit and readjust policies and standards to support adaptation to climate change.

The minister indicated that the project would also contribute to improving the efficiency of TWW plants in Irbid, Shallala, Dogara, Tal Al Mantah, North Shuna and Wadi Musa and increase the income of more than 600 households in the areas targeted, including northern, central and southern Jordan Valley and Wadi Musa through the application of the technologies provided to residents to their agricultural activities.

According to Fakhoury, around 300,000 cubic metres (CM) of rainwater will be collected. In total, 48 farms will benefit from the integrated agricultural technologies, while more than 50 cooperative societies and water user associations will undergo capacity building to ensure safe use of TWW in agriculture.

He further clarified that the project seeks to adapt Jordan’s agricultural sector to climate change, which has led to a water shortage and pressures on food safety, through innovative technologies, supporting policies related to the livelihood and resilience of communities. This entails providing people in arid areas with effective, unique and simple climate change adaptation systems to address the problem of water scarcity and unsafe food. The innovative techniques include drip, sprinkle and micro irrigation.

He added that the project would contribute to mitigating the impact of climate change on water resources in Jordan through the re-use of TWW and water harvest, thus preserve the scarce underground water.

It will also apply a holistic approach to integrated water management in remote and arid areas, while pure water resources will be dedicated to drinking and similarly important purposes, as these resources will be replaced by TWW for irrigation. Meanwhile, the needs of impoverished communities, which are most in need for environmental systems and food security policies, will be identified.

The planning minister added that the project comes in line with the Jordan 2025 economic blueprint, the Water Sector Strategy (2016-2025), the National Strategy for Agricultural Development (2016-2025), the international development agenda 2030 and the outcomes of the Paris climate conference (COP21).

The plan is also driven by the mounting pressure on clean water resources, which prompts search for alternatives, such as desalinated seawater, low saline water and TWW to meet the rising demand on water, especially in countries and regions that suffer water scarcity in the Middle East.

The climate change, Fakhoury added, is expected to aggravate the present problems of drought and meager water resources, a matter which will directly affect food security, bearing in mind that two thirds of the available water goes to agriculture.

The project will be implemented by a unit set up under the umbrella of the Socio-Economic Productivity Enhancement Programme at the MOPIC, in partnership with the ministries of environment and agriculture, Jordan Valley Authority, the National Centre for Agricultural Research and Extension, the Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia and local communities in the targeted regions, namely, northern, central and southern Jordan Valley and Wadi Musa.

Fakhoury added that TWW is listed as an alternative to support development in Jordan in the National Strategy (2008-2022) and is consistent with climate change adaptation measures, which are meant to help government and non-government players to use TWW as an effective adaptation technique.

Rainwater harvest is another component of this project, to be achieved through collecting the water and reserve it in sand dams to increase water supplies and help address the problem of the chronic shortage of water in rural communities and counter the effects of climate change, he explained. He noted that integrated agricultural technologies will be harnessed in the Jordan Valley and arid lands, which will benefit from the many advantages of these techniques, foremost of which is the lower cost of production inputs and, subsequently, increased profits for farmers, let alone the improved soil fertility.

ICT will also be utilised as an effective tool of empowerment in the development and adaptation programmes, as a drought early warning system will be installed and a database of farmers and civil society institutions will be compiled. In addition, impoverished farming communities will be targeted by an awareness campaign, capacity-building and knowledge dissemination activities to enable farmers to take the right decisions and measures.

The minister emphasised that the success of this project would open new horizons to expand the use of innovative projects in the water and agricultural sectors for climate change adaptation purposes to other regions of the Kingdom. It will also help attract more funding from donors, as the issue of adaptation to climate change has topped the agenda of global stakeholders. “We hope that all partners and executive parties attach a great importance to this project, proportional to its major developmental goals,” Fakhoury said.

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Qatar Invests US$27 Bln Annually In Infrastructure

SINGAPORE, July 13 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Minister of Municipality and Environment, Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Rumaihi, highlighted Tuesday, the main strategies of the State of Qatar, regarding the environment and water, as part of Qatar National Vision 2030.

The Minister of Municipality was speaking at the Singapore International Water Week.

He said, there were three main challenges facing Qatar, they were water, environment and development.

He highlighted that, Qatar was located in a desert area that represents a challenge, when it comes to the production of water and increasing the agricultural land. Qatar’s production of water will reach 500 million gallons a day by 2019.

As for development, the Minister said that, the State of Qatar invested $30 billion annually, since 2010, on infrastructure, industry and housing.

He highlighted the new highways and economic areas, as well as, the new cities and stadiums that will host World Cup 2022.

President of Singapore, Tony Tan, gave a speech at the opening of the conference and laid out the challenges facing cities of the world, in terms of infra-structure and stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation, to optimally use natural resources, especially water.– NNN-QNA

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Oman Launches Strategy To Phase Out Ozone-Depleting Substances

MUSCAT, Oman, July 14 (NNN-ONA) – The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, Oman, in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), launched the second phase of the national strategy, to phase out hydrochlorofluorocarbon substances, and to release results of the field survey of alternatives, that deplete the ozone layer, in order to complete national efforts, in protecting the ozone layer and to help the Sultanate in achieving compliance requirements project with the Montreal Protocol, during the next phase.

The project is implemented, in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).

The UNEP will implement the part related to policies and legislation, whereas the UNIDO will work on the implementation of the investment and the technical part of the project.

The project aims to cut the amount of consumption of Ozone depleting substances in the Sultanate, according to the strategy requirements, as well as, to complete the efforts of the National Ozone Committee, in the field of awareness and media and to continue reviewing and developing procedures and national regulations, in line with the Vienna Convention requirements to protect the ozone layer.– NNN-ONA

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Etihad Airways Becomes Sponsor Of Worldskills Abu Dhabi 2017

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, July 12 (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Airways has been confirmed as the official airline sponsor of WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 – the biggest vocational education and skills excellence event in the world.

The event will bring more than 3,000 competitors and industry experts, from up to 75 countries to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, ADNEC, from Oct 14 to 17, 2017.

The 44th edition of the competition will be the first time that the event has been held in the Middle East and will be the largest and most complex event, to be hosted at ADNEC in the lead up to Expo 2020 Dubai.

WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017, which will be hosted by the Abu Dhabi Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training, ACTVET, aims to increase the prestige of vocational careers by challenging young people to become the best in the skill of their choice. The competition is a major coup for Abu Dhabi, as the emirate continues to transition into a diversified knowledge-based economy, in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

Mubarak Saeed Al Shamsi, Director General of ACTVET and official delegate of the UAE to WorldSkills, said, “We are extremely proud to welcome the world’s greatest skills excellence competition to the Middle East, for the first time. WorldSkills Abu Dhabi 2017 represents our strong commitment to vocational and technological education and training, for the young people of the UAE today, helping them build a thriving and diverse economy for the generations of tomorrow. We look forward to working with Etihad Airways to ensure the competition is a resounding success.”

The WorldSkills participants represent the best of their peers and are selected from skill competitions in member countries and regions across the globe. Almost 2,300 participants and experts took part in the 2015 edition of the competition, which was held in Sao Paolo, Brazil, whilst thousands more visited the six-day event. Other host cities in recent years have included Leipzig, London and Calgary.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, said, “It is a great honour to be named as an official partner of such a prestigious competition. Abu Dhabi is a thoroughly modern city, which is fast becoming one of the world’s most exciting commercial and tourism hubs. The event will provide the perfect opportunity for those attending, to experience the very best of Arabian hospitality, whilst enjoying state of the art facilities and modern infrastructure in a thriving and cosmopolitan city.”

Hala Abu Dhabi, the destination management division of Etihad Airways, has been named as the competition’s Customer Service Management. Hala will develop and deliver packages for all those attending the event, as well as, offer on-ground customer services, including staffing, transport and excursions.

Mohammed Al Bulooki, Etihad Airways’ Vice President – UAE Commercial, said, “The competition will provide a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase everything that Abu Dhabi has to offer, to leisure and business travellers alike. Abu Dhabi, as a city dedicated to continued investment in the workforce of tomorrow, is the perfect location for the renowned competition. Hala Abu Dhabi looks forward to welcoming participants from across the world to our home city and working with ACTVET and WorldSkills, to ensure that the event is a resounding success.”– NNN-WAM

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Abu Dhabi Monitoring And Control Centre Launches ‘Falcon Eye’ System

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, July 14 (NNN-WAM) – The Abu Dhabi Monitoring and Control Centre, ADMCC, has announced the launch of the ‘Falcon Eye’ system, throughout the city of Abu Dhabi, including Abu Dhabi International Airport, the main islands, and Bani Yas and Mussaffah areas.

The system is a complete central system that receives a live feed from visual surveillance equipment, installed across the city. It displays data in an integral system that provides smart warnings and allows quick access to any

untoward events and incidents.

Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Romaithi, Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police and ADMCC Board Chairman, said that the system was, “Part of the vision of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, to pursue its efforts to build a confident and safe society, and a sustainable and globally open and competitive economy.”

The system offers other functions and features that correspond with the needs of key ADMCC partners on the service and security levels.

The Falcon Eye system links thousands of cameras spread across the city of Abu Dhabi, as well as, thousands of other cameras installed at vital facilities and buildings in the emirate, via an electronic interface, based on smart

analysis, and case by case warnings that call for action from relevant entities.

The system will help facilitate notifications and contribute to providing an electronic method to observe events, and monitor and limit violations.

It would also help control roads by monitoring traffic violations, such as illegal parking, and the misuse of roads, and by helping to deal with traffic accidents.

The system will also monitor significant behaviours in the city, such as, public hygiene, and human assemblies in non-dedicated areas.– NNN-WAM

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