Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

29 Aug, 2016

IsDB seeks nominations for US$450,000 awards in Science, Tech & Women in Development

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 29 August 2016 (26 Dhul Qadah 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Penang, ranked 4th in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities list for Best in Travel 2016, will host the World Tourism Conference 2016 (WTC 2016) from 17 to 19 October 2016. Listed as the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site since 2008, George Town in Penang has a unique architectural and cultural townscape ummatched anywhere in East and Southeast Asia. Among the latest attractions in Penang include: 1) The Skyway on Penang Hill, a newly-built observation deck that enhances the hilltop forest experience; 2) Entopia (formerly known as the Penang Butterfly Farm), a butterfly and dragonfly sanctuary with an indoor invertebrates discovery centre. It will become the world’s first butterfly, dragonfly and firefly sanctuary park when it is fully completed in 2018; 3) The Habitat in Penang Hill, which boasts a Nature Trail, Canopy Walk, Tree Top Walk, Red Garden, Butterfly Bank, Yellow Garden, Purple Garden, Ginger Grove and Fragrant Garden; 4) Rapid Penang CAT, a free shuttle bus service around George Town. WTC 2016 is expected to bring together world leaders in tourism, high-level policy makers, specialists and experts, academicians and media representatives. The conference is organised by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture of Malaysia, in collaboration with the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). Registration fee is not required for those who are interested to participate. For further information http://www.wtc2016malaysia.com. Enquiries can be addressed to wtc2016@motac.gov.my.

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



Halal Institute, Prince of Songkhla University will organise World Halal Products Exhibition 2016 (World HAPEX 2016) during 1-4 September 2016 at Convention Hall, Songkhla University International Convention Center, Hat Yai, Songkhla province. The event aims to develop the southern provinces of Thailand as a manufacturing hub for consumer Halal products and services for domestic and international level as well as providing opportunities for cooperation on driving Halal business between the relevant authorities both within and outside the country. The World HAPEX 2016 activities will consist of Halal Academic Seminar and Halal Products Exhibition featuring fresh and dried food, herbal products, cosmetics, Muslim Clothing, Halal Service Business, as well as products of various countries in ASEAN region. There were also be various stage performances of music and dance, as well as specialist lectures. Halal Institute is an organization dedicated to promote and enhance research and development of Halal products and services. Its commitment to research means that a new body of knowledge is constructed to address problems concerning development of Halal products and services.

For further information https://www.facebook.com/HAPEX2016/ (in Thai only)

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.




2016 Malaysia Developers’ Day: Driving The ‘Internet Of Things’ In Asia

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 (Bernama) — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and AT&T will host the fourth Malaysia Developers’ Day in Kuala Lumpur, scheduled for September 22-23, 2016. The event will encourage innovators and entrepreneurs to create Internet of Things (IoT) apps.

Winners will share cash prizes worth US$13,000 (~MYR49,400). They’ll also get Nanodegree scholarships worth US$10,000 (~MYR40,000) from AT&T and Udacity. Southeast Asian based early stage VC firm Golden Gate Ventures will also give each winning team 6 months of mentoring.

Last year, 128 participants created 18 new app ideas.

Now, more teams from across Asia will compete. Their mission? In 24 hours, harness the IoT—with a special emphasis on machine learning and data analytics—to build an app. This year’s categories:

-Smart city



MCMC and AT&T will give the developer teams tools they need to quickly create new apps, which will include the powerful AT&T M2X IoT development platform. It offers a toolset to quickly create and refine prototypes, and cloud-based data storage to help collect, analyze and share IoT data. Tech experts will also be at the event to lend support.

Students and other future developers who want to build new skills can attend a coding 101 workshop the same day.

The Strategic Communication Division of MCMC said that over the last three years, this event has really showcased Asian developers’ talents.

“This year, we hope to see even more innovation that will drive our region forward. We believe the developers and those with great ideas waiting to be transformed into tangible, usable and marketable result are keen on participating, even if they do not possess much knowledge in creating an app. And that is why MYDD has always been about people coming together to merge their ideas into wonderful results,” it added.

“It’s exciting to sponsor this great event again with MCMC,” said Bernard Yee, regional president, Asia Pacific, AT&T. “This is an excellent platform for inspiring and empowering Asian developers. Contestants will gain skills and find new ways to unlock the power of the Internet of Things in Asia.”

“We are always excited to meet innovators and entrepreneurs at the Malaysia Developers’ Day. They all share the same passion for their product or idea and it’s a pleasure for us to be a small part of their journey,” said Michael Lints, venture partner, Golden Gate Ventures.

In addition, 5 participants will win Nanodegree scholarships, funded by AT&T and Udacity. This will help them earn an online degree to prepare for careers in the tech industry.

“Through AT&T Aspire, we want to foster innovation and provide people with the tools needed for careers in technology. These Nanodegree scholarships will give hackathon contestants the opportunity to continue innovating and creating technology that can build a better tomorrow,” said Anne Wintroub, director of Social Innovation, AT&T.

The 2016 event will take place at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

-When: 1.00 p.m. MYT, September 22, 2016, to 5.00 p.m. MYT, September 23, 2016.

-Prizes: The winning team in each category will receive a US$1,000 cash prize. The three category winners will also compete for the grand prize of US$10,000.

-Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/att-mcmc-2016-malaysia-developers-day-tickets-26560872284

For more information on AT&T M2X, please go to: https://m2x.att.com/

Follow the conversation on Twitter with #ATThack and #M2X.

Back to top

Malaysian Oil Company Campaign To Promote National Unity

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 (Bernama) — PETRONAS today launched its latest National and Malaysia Day campaign titled ‘To Malaysia with Love’.

The 35-day multi-platform nationwide campaign comprises, among others, a television commercial and six short videos that provide continuity in PETRONAS’ efforts to promote unity and social cohesion among Malaysians.

PETRONAS’ Senior General Manager of Group Strategic Communications Zahariah Abd Rahman said: “We hope the ‘To Malaysia with Love’ campaign serves as a continuous reminder of what makes all of us Malaysians special.

“Through this campaign, we continue to present inspiring stories that impart the values we commonly share and cherish, values that hold us together as a nation of uniquely diverse but united people, and values that make us truly Malaysians.”

At the launch, PETRONAS previewed this year’s National and Malaysia Day television commercial titled ‘Take Care’. The two-minute commercial promotes the spirit of family unity, kindness and togetherness — essentially the values that contribute towards a harmonious and cohesive society.

The six short videos of inspiring Malaysians were also presented, showcasing PETRONAS’ commitment in the areas of education, talent and capability development, energy security as well as environment conservation.

The videos have been shown on major channels since 15 August, while the television commercial will air from today until 18 September, 2016.

More details on PETRONAS’ “To Malaysia with Love” campaign are available on https://www.petronasofficial.com/festive.

Back to top

Malaysia: Olympic Medallists Overwhelmed By Grand Reception

SEPANG, Malaysia Aug 24 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysian medal winners at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games were moved by the grand welcome given by some 3,000 sports fans on their arrival home today.

Thousands of fans flooded the entire Bunga Raya Complex at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to welcome the local Olympic heroes and heroines who were personally garlanded by none other than Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak himself. 

Also on hand to receive the Olympic medallists were the Prime Minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor; Youth and Sports Minister, Khairy 
Jamaluddin and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who initiated the Road To Rio programme when he was Youth and Sports Minister.

For national badminton champion and winner of three consecutive Olympic silver medals, Lee Chong Wei, it was disappointing not to win the gold despite Malaysians cheering for him. 

”I want to thank everyone for supporting me…I have been receiving non-stop messages from Malaysians and the media before and after the matches. 

”Despite losing (in the final), they continued to support me and gave me words of encouragement to continue fighting,” he told reporters.

Also feeling equally excited by the rousing welcoming from fans was local diving queen Pandelela Rinong Pamg who clinched a silver medal in the synchronished 10m platform event with Cheong Jun Hoong. 

”Such a big crowd which is really unexpected and we would like to thank everyone. I am very happy to get such a welcoming,” she said.

Meanwhile, Goh Liu Ying could not believe her eyes when she saw the massive reception for her success in bringing home a silver medal in the mixed doubles with Chan Peng Soon. 

”I am overwhelmed for words…I shall always remember this show of support for me even though I took a long break for operations on my knees. 

The parents of the Olympians were also waiting at Bunga Raya Complex from as early as noon with other family members.

For Liu Ying’s father, Goh Chalk Whee, he said his wife took a day’s leave and the couple left Melaka early in the morning to receive the return of their daughter. 

”We are proud with her success as well as the national contingent’s,” he told Bernama after the ceremony.

Also present to lend support to the national contingent were hardcore national sports supporter, Mansor Abdul Khoni, 59, fondly known as Tok Mo who also took a day’s leave to welcome the country’s Olympic medallists home. 

Mansor, who is also a member of the Malaysian Sports Supporters Club (Famemas), came attired in a Malaysian flag outfit. 

He arrived at 10am to greet the Malaysian Olympic athletes.

The country’s Olympic silver medallists comprising Chong Wei, men’s doubles pair Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, mixed doubles Peng Soon-Liu Ying and Pandelela with Jun Heong returned home today while keirin cyclist Azizulhasni Awang who won a bronze medal returned home last Friday. 

The group returned with the other badminton and diving contingent members. 


Back to top

Standards Malaysia Achieves Milestones In Two Decades

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Aug 28 (NNN-Bernama) — The Department of Standards Malaysia has achieved several milestones in standardisation and accreditation activities in order to sensitise Malaysians on various aspects of quality for the better life.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Panglima Madius Tangau said for the past two decades, Standards Malaysia has kept contributing to the quality infrastructure by developing standards in various sectors. 

”The department also actively propagates the use of standards through its Standard Compliance Programme.

Concurrently, Standards Malaysia has also provided accreditation services to the industry,” he said in a statement today. 

Standards Malaysia, which celebrates its 20th anniversary today, has managed to excel in the development of over 6,000 Malaysian standards across 25 different sectors, including halal, agriculture and building. 

It has also accredited over 650 laboratoriess, 29 certification bodies and 11 inspection bodies nationwide. 

Madius said the role of Standards Malaysia has also been given a special attention by the government in the 11th Malaysian Plan.

“Standards Malaysia spearheads the Standards Component of the Strategic Reform Initiatives-Competition Standards and Liberalisation (SRI-CSL) under Economic Transformation Programme,” he said. 

He said with the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the role of Standards Malaysia has also become increasingly important.

“As everyone knows, in order for industry, especially small and medium enterprises, to have a wider market access, compliance with standards is a must,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Standards Malaysia’s Director-General, Fadilah Baharin, said the department has evolved as a purpose-driven institution. 

She said the deaprtment will continue to transform the business landscape of the country by creating and humanising quality culture among manufacturers and consumers alike.

“We have developed standards to help Malaysian companies adopt these for better marketability of their products and services, internationally. 

”We have been engaging with the public, especially the youth of the country through various programs and platforms, to raise awareness as well as quality conscious buying behaviour,” she said.

Several activities will be held throughout this year in conjunction with Standard Malaysia’s 20th anniversary including Standards Awareness Programme today and the launch of its 20th anniversary book in November. 


Back to top

Standards Malaysia Sensitises Malaysians On Various Aspects Of Quality For The Better Life

CYBERJAYA, Aug 29 (Bernama) — Today marks the 20th anniversary for Department of Standards Malaysia (Standards Malaysia) which has successfully achieved several milestones in standardisation and accreditation activities in order to sensitise Malaysians on various aspects of quality for the better life.

“I am delighted to note that for the past two decades, Standards Malaysia has kept contributing in this quality infrastructure by developing standards in various sectors and also actively propagating the utilisation of standards through its Standard Compliance Program. Concurrently, Standards Malaysia has also provided credible accreditation services to the industry,” said Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), YB Datuk Seri Panglima Madius Tangau.

To date, through the concerted effort by all parties, Standards Malaysia has managed to excel in the development of more than 6,000 Malaysian Standards (MS) across 25 different sectors i.e. Halal, agriculture, road vehicles, building, rubber etc. Besides, Standards Malaysia has accredited more than 650 labs, 29 certification bodies and 11 inspection bodies in whole Malaysia.

“Not only that, the role of Standards Malaysia has been given a special attention by the Government in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan (11MP), the last miles towards realising Malaysia as a developed nation by the year 2020. Standards Malaysia spearheads the Standards Component of the Strategic Reform Initiatives-Competition Standards & Liberalisation (SRI-CSL) under Economic Transformation Programme.

In addition, with the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), the role of Standards Malaysia has become increasingly important. As everyone knows, in order for industry especially SMEs, to have a wider market access, compliance with standards is a must,” he added.

“As the sole National Standards and Accreditation Body, we also evolved as a purpose-driven institution and continues to transform the business landscape of the country by creating and humanising quality culture amongst manufacturers and consumers alike. We have developed standards to help Malaysian Companies adopt these for better marketability of their products and services, internationally. We have been engaging with the public especially the youth of the country through various programs and platforms, to raise awareness as well as quality conscious buying behaviour.

In short, Standards Malaysia will continue to sensitise Malaysians on various aspects of quality for better businesses, better economy and the better life,” said Director General of Standards Malaysia, YBhg. Dato’ Fadilah Baharin.

Several activities will be held throughout this years in conjunction with this 20th anniversary ie. Standards Awareness Programme (28 August), FunRun 2016 (16 October), the launch of 20th anniversary book in November.

Back to top

Malaysian State Of Sabah Eyes Eastern Russian Tourists To Boost Tourism

KOTA KINABALU, Sabah state, Malaysia Aug 23 (NNN-Bernama) — Sabah state is eyeing Eastern Russian tourists in an effort to boost the state’s tourism industry, Chief Minister Musa Aman said. 

He said the state government would be intensifying its efforts to attract tourists from Russian cities such as Vladivostok, Sakhalin and Khabarovsk, as well as other new markets. 

”The year 2016 has been a challenging year for the tourism industry in Sabah state following a number of unfortunate incidents befalling the state.

“In view of the current state of affairs, the state government will continue its efforts to restore the confidence of international tourists in travelling to Sabah,” he said at the Sabah state Branch of the Malaysia International Chambers of Commerce and Industry luncheon here. 

His speech was delivered by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun.

Musa said the state government would continue its efforts to expand air 
connectivity through scheduled direct flights and special chartered flights. 

He said the soon to be launched online visa application is expected to attract more foreign tourists to the state besides the lower ringgit.

Back to top

Malaysia-China Banks Promote Cross-Border Investments

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 (Bernama) — CIMB Bank Berhad (“CIMB Bank” or “CIMB”) recently signed an agreement to appoint China Construction Bank Corporation (“CCB”) as CIMB Bank’s sub-custodian bank in mainland China to clear, settle and safekeep China shares, bonds and other investment products on behalf of CIMB Bank and its clients.

Both parties also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) where CCB will appoint CIMB Bank as its sub-custodian bank to clear, settle and safekeep CCB customers’ investment portfolio in Malaysia. In addition, both organisations agreed to explore further collaboration to appoint each other as onshore settlement agents in respect of each party’s inter-bank bond market activities.

On hand to witness the signing of the documents between the two institutions were Hendra Lembong, Group Head, Transaction Banking, CIMB Group and Pang Xiusheng, Executive Director, Executive Vice President, China Construction Bank Corporation.

Hendra Lembong said, “CIMB Bank is pleased to collaborate with China Construction Bank to provide investors with the platform to make cross-border investments into the Malaysian and Chinese markets. This collaboration is the start of meaningful partnership between our organisations as we leverage on each other’s networks and platforms to improve our market share and leadership and more importantly, to serve our customers better.”

With this arrangement, CIMB will be able to support portfolio investments into China for Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (“QFII”), RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (“RQFII”) and China Inter-Bond Market (“CIBM”) investors.

CIMB Group is Malaysia’s second largest financial services provider and one of ASEAN’s leading universal banking groups. It offers consumer banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, asset management and insurance products and services. Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, the Group is now present in nine out of 10 ASEAN nations (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos). Beyond ASEAN, the Group has market presence in China, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Korea, the US and UK.

CIMB Group has the most extensive retail branch network in ASEAN of close to 1,000 branches as at 30 June 2016. CIMB Group’s investment banking arm is also one of the largest Asia Pacific-based investment banks, offering amongst the most comprehensive research coverage of more than 1,000 stocks in the region.

CIMB Group is listed on Bursa Malaysia via CIMB Group Holdings Berhad. It had a market capitalisation of approximately RM 38.1 billion as at 30 June 2016. The Group has about 40,000 employees located in 16 countries.

Back to top

‘China Pavilion’ unveiled at China-Kazakhstan cultural event

(People’s Daily Online) August 26, 2016 – A special “China Pavilion” will be presented to the Kazakh people during the “2016 Experience China” event, a large-scale cultural festival launched in Kazakhstan on Aug. 26. The event aims to strengthen ties between China and Kazakhstan.

The 270-square-meter China Pavilion is located within the National Library of Kazakhstan. It takes the form a comprehensive study room featuring more than 7,000 books and 995 photo albums donated by China’s State Council Information Office and local governments, all intended to introduce the Kazakh people to Chinese culture.

The “2016 Experience China” event will offer ancient Chinese instrument performance, tea ceremonies and an exhibition of traditional Chinese paintings. In addition to cultural exchange, three other exhibition areas will showcase the way intelligent manufacturing has changed urban planning, industry and daily life in China, demonstrating China’s notions of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.

Back to top

Xinjiang-themed cultural festival held in Tehran

Xinhua | 2016-08-22, Tehran – With the aim to promote China-Iran exchange and cooperation, a Chinese cultural festival opened at Niavaran Cultural Center in the Iranian capital Tehran on Monday. The one-week event, titled “2016 Experience China in Iran,” features northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region through a photo exhibition and other cultural activities.

Back to top

Newly restored Malawi Museum in Egypt’s Minya to reopen in weeks

Cairo, AlAhram Online, 19 Aug 2016 – Curators of Malawi Museum in the Upper Egyptian City of Minya are busy putting the final touches to the museum’s exhibitions for a reopening expected to happen in the coming weeks.

In August 2013, the museum was looted and damaged following unrest sparked by the ousting of president Mohamed Morsi.

The damaged showcases have since been repaired and replaced, 900 artifacts of the 1,050 total collection have been recovered, and the exhibition design has been updated.

“The new exhibition design focuses on highlighting Egypt’s identity and the means of loyalty towards our country Egypt,” Elham Salah, head of the Museum Department at the antiquities ministry told Ahram Online.

She added that during the restoration walls and floors had been cleaned and damaged materials replaced.

The restoration work was carried out by the National Sevice Agency of the army under the supervision of the antiquities ministry, she said.

Back to top

Tunisian diva Ghalia Benali enthralls fans in Cairo

Cairo, AlAhram Online, 20 Aug 2016 – “In the Arabic language, ‘love’ has tens of synonyms, including hobb, wid, ishq, kalaf, shaghaf, jawa, tadaloh, hayam, sababa, wajd, shajw, danaf, shawq, bilbal, tabarieeh, haneen, gharam, walah, etc. But the most intense state of love is that of tatayom…,” reads a post on Nahw Wa Sarf, a newly-launched Facebook page that celebrates the Arabic language and seeks to disseminate knowledge about it.

This list of synonyms for love came to mind at Tunisian diva Ghalia Benali’s concert at Cairo’s historical Citadel on 18 August.

The concert, part of the 25th Citadel Festival for Music and Singing which opened on 17 August and runs until 2 September, was a two-hour long journey through the diva’s most cherished renditions and her inimitable music fusion of elements from Arabic classical styles, Sufi chants, Tunisian folk and jazz.

Dressed in beautiful traditional attire, now a marker of the Tunisian diva, Benali walked onto the stage, performing graceful dance moves to the accompaniment of sounds of the bass, violin, percussion, piano and qanoun.

For the next two hours, Benali delivered a selection of covers for songs from the rich Arabic music library, as well as songs from her own music repertoire.

She sang of love, her enthralling voice giving each of the aforementioned synonyms its deserved awe, and leaving connoisseurs of music with much to relish.

Opening the night with Fi Deen Al-Hob (“In the Religion of Love”), Benali went on to perform a selection of songs that tugged at the different states of love, starting with Odeeno Bi Deen Al-Hob (“I Follow the Religion of Love”), originally written as a poem by 12th century Sufi mystic and poet Muhyiddin Ibn Arabi.

Benali also revisited Qalbi Yuhaddithuni (“My Heart Tells Me”) by 13th century Egyptian Sufi poet Sheikh Umar Ibn Al-Farid, whose opening lines assert: “My heart tells me that you are my destroyer
/ My soul is your hostage, whether you know it or not/ 
I have not fulfilled the obligation of your love if I am someone/
 who does not die in it out of grief, but I am someone who does.”

The night’s programme also comprised Hayamatni (“She Enchanted Me”); Um Kulthoum’s masterpiece Shams Al-Assil (“Sunset”), written by Egyptian poet Bayram El-Tunsi and set to music by iconic composer Riad El-Sonbati; and Ana Hurra (“I’m Free”), written by Egypt’s Father of Poets Fouad Haddad.

The highlight of the night was Benali’s hypnotic cover of legendary singer Abdel-Halim Hafez’s Qareat Al-Fingan (“The Fortune Teller”) originally written as a poem by famed Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, and whose opening lines proclaim: “She sat with fear in her eyes/ Contemplating the upturned cup/ She said “Do not be sad, my son/ You are destined to fall in love/ My son, Who sacrifices himself for his beloved/ Is a martyr.”

Benali also performed a new song titled Ibn Zeid Al-Maghraby, to lyrics by Ossama Saadaoui, “a Palestinian-Syrian refugee who is sending his greetings to you tonight,” Benali told the audience.

“He told me that if I perform his song tonight, he’ll feel that his soul is in Cairo,” she added.

Benali closed the night with her much cherished cover for Lamouni (“They Blamed Me”) originally sung by the famed Tunisian singer, oud player and composer Lotfi Bushnaq. Lamouni’s opening lines declare, “People who are jealous of me , blamed me/and told me why do you like her?/I answered who are ignoring my taste/Take my eye, and try to see through it.”

Besides her Cairo concert, Benali performed in both Alexandria and Damanhour earlier in August as part of this year’s Cairo Opera House summer festival.

Launched in 1989 under the leadership of conductor and composer Sherif Mohie Eldin, the Citadel Festival for Music and Singing is an annual cultural event bringing a selection of local and regional musicians to entertain audiences during Cairo’s hot summer nights at the historic venue.

This year’s edition opened with Les Petits Chats band and will close with a concert by Eman El-Bahr Darwish.

The festival has taken place every year except for 2013.

Throughout its history, the festival has hosted several regional and international musicians.

The festival is under the directorship of the Cairo Opera’s artistic house, and brings local and regional music to the historic location, inviting diverse audiences to attend the open air events.

Back to top

Indonesia to establish International University of Islam

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 7 Agustus 2016 – Indonesia, based on the Presidential Regulation No. 57 of the year 2016, will establish an international university of Islam, according to Vice President M Jusuf Kalla.

“The government will soon set up a big international university of Islam. In this, participation of ulemas (Muslim scholars) and habaib (those who have a genealogical connection to the Prophet Muhammad) will be needed,” the Vice President said in his opening remarks at the 24th National Congress of Rabithah Alawiyah, a social organization, here on Saturday.

The university is expected to become a center of Islamic studies, similar to those in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

As the world’s largest Muslim majority country, Indonesia needs an international-class Islamic higher education institution.

The planned state-owned university will be managed by relevant ministries, such as the education ministry, the religious affairs ministry, and the foreign affairs ministry.

The university will have Magistrate and Doctorate programs in Islamic study, social and humanitarian studies, sciences and technology.

The university will be built using funds from the State Budget (APBN) and non-APBN funds, and the project will move ahead in line with the existing laws on state higher education.

In his address, Kalla also mentioned that Indonesian Muslims still face problems, such as when it comes to capability to do business or master sciences and technology.

Therefore, he called on the ulemas and habaib to help improve the Muslims knowledge of and capacity to do business.

Back to top

Indonesian Herbal medicine community to establish research center

Jakarta (ANTARA News) 21 Agustus 2016 – The Indonesian Herbal Medicine Community will establish a research center to develop and preserve one Indonesian cultural heritage, according to herbal medicine foundation chairman Sofyan Hidayat.

“The research center for Indonesian herbal medicine will conduct research on genuine herbal medicine to preserve and publicize it,” Hidayat remarked here Friday.

Indonesia has great potential in herbal medicine, which can be studied and developed through the research center, he explained.

In addition, the research center will serve as a vehicle for the herbal medicine community to develop it further, Hidayat said.

The Indonesian Herbal Medicine Center can promote herbal medicine in the country through seminars, discussions, and exhibitions.

Back to top

Invest in Oman Forum to Kick-off September 27th

Muscat, Aug 28 (ONA) — Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) in collaboration with the General Union Of Chambers Of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture For Arab Countries will organize ‘Invest in Oman Forum’ at the Grand Millennium Hotel, Al- Khuwair during September 27th and 28th, under the auspices of Sayyid Shihab bin Tariq al-Said, Advisor of His Majesty the Sultan.

The Forum aims at highlighting investment opportunities in the Sultanate for the Arab private sector community. The speakers will highlight the investment friendly environment in the Sultanate, which includes political stability, strategic location, developed infrastructure, economic and free zones, high quality infrastructure, easy procedures for doing business, access to capital, qualified human resources and liberal economic system.

The two-day Forum will cover a number of important themes, the most important of which is the investment climate in the Sultanate, the promising investment opportunities and the prioritized sectors for investment.

The first day will include two sessions, the first will be presented by the Supreme Council for Planning on the ‘Major Economic Features of the Sultanate during the Coming Period’. The second will be presented by the International Monetary Fund on ‘Possible Alternatives for Diversification in the Sultanate and the Role of Foreign Investors|. The Saudi Chambers Union will also present a working paper on ‘The Economic Conditions at the GCC States’ followed by a working paper by Muscat Securities Market on the ‘Role of MSM in Economic Diversification in the Sultanate’.

The second session will be under the title ‘Economic and Free Zones and the Available Investment Opportunities’. It will include four working papers, as the first one will be presented by the Special Economic Zone in Duqm (SEZD) on “The Available Investment Opportunities for Local and Foreign Investors in SEZD”. The second one will be presented by Sohar Free Zone on “The Available Investment Opportunities for Local and Foreign Investors in Sohar”. The third working paper will be presented by Salalah Port on “The Available Investment Opportunities for Local and Foreign Investors in Salalah Port”.

The fourth working paper will be presented by Michel Alaby, Secretary General of the Arab Brazilian Chamber on “The Brazilian Experience in Promoting Free Economic Zones”.

The second day for invest in Oman will include three sessions, the first on “Investment Opportunities in Food Security Field”. The session includes four working papers, as the first one will be by Dr. Fua’ad bin Ja’afar al-Sagwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries under the theme “Investment Environment in Food Security in the Sultanate”.

The second working paper will be presented by Mohammed al-Mazroie, Chairman of the Arab Authority for Agricultural Investment and Development will be on “The Experience of a Foreign Investor in Food Security Field.

The third working paper will review the experience of an Omani investor in the field of food security. The fourth working paper will review the experience of an Omani investor in the field of food security. The fourth experience will review the experience of a private sector investor in the field of aquaculture.

The second session will be on investment opportunities in the field of service sectors, namely tourism, education, health and logistics. The working papers will review the investment strategy and the available business opportunities for private sector. The second working paper by the Ministry of Health will be on the medical city “Aspiration and Horizons”. The third working paper will highlight the role of Omani investment fund in enhancing investment activities in the Sultanate.

The fourth working paper will be on the importance of logistic sector as a promoting sector. The experiences of an investor in higher education and the experience of Thailand in promoting tourism sector will be presented.

The last session “Investment Opportunities in Industry and Mining”, which includes four working paper. The first working paper will be on “Oman a promising country” investment environment and opportunities. The second working paper by the Public Authority for Mining will be on ‘ plans, programs and opportunities in the field of mining’. The third working paper will be on ‘ the competitiveness of industrial investment environment in GCC States and the Sultanate of Oman. The last session will be on ‘ the experience of foreign private investor in industry field in the Sultanate.

It should be noted that OCCI keens on presenting the successful stories by investors in various fields and providing an ideal platform for communication and sharing of experiences with businessmen and investors.

Back to top

LEAD STORY: IsDB seeks nominations for US$450,000 awards in Science, Tech & Women in Development

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 10 August 2016: The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) has announced the call for nominations to win various prizes in Science and Technology and Women Contribution to Development.

Winners of the prizes for 1438H (2017) will receive cash awards in different amounts totaling US$450,000, during the Annual Meeting of the IsDB Board of Governors to be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in May 2017.

The prizes in Science & Technology and Women Contribution to Development are in different categories. The categories under the Science & Technology Prize, are: (a) Outstanding scientific or technological contribution to the socio-economic development of a member country, (b) Outstanding contribution to any of the following scientific disciplines: Engineering; Agriculture; Medicine; Biotechnology; Information Technology; Optronics; Material Sciences; Pharmaceutical; Industrial Microelectronics; Nanotechnology and alternative Energy Sources, and (c) Scientific research institutions in IDB least developed member countries (LDMCs).

Winners of the three categories under the Science & Technology Prize will each receive US$100,000.

For its part, the prize for Women Contribution to Development consists of two cash awards of (a) US$50,000 for a woman or a group of women, and (b) US $ 100,000 for an organization.

The President of IsDB, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, said, “Supporting high quality research in Science & Technology will go a long way in positioning our member countries to compete in the global economy. IsDB will continue to support universities, research institutes and individual researchers in their effort to make the world a better place.” “IsDB recognizes the contribution of women in development. Our role is to support and inspire them in their effort to reduce poverty, inequality, promote education and give hope to the hopeless,” Dr. Ali added.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 1 Rabi Awwal 1438H (30 November 2016G). Application forms and details about each prize are available on the IsDB website: www.isdb.org



Back to top

IsDB Gateway Office opens in Nigeria

Abuja, Nigeria, 25 August 2016 – A new IsDB Gateway Office in Nigeria will “help boost the existing cooperation between Nigeria and IsDB and strengthen cooperation and economic integration among countries of region,” said IsDB Group President Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali at the inauguration of the new office in Abuja.

During his visit with an IsDB delegation to open the new Gateway Office, Dr. Ali was granted an audience at State House with the Hon. President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammad Buhari. 

H.E. President Buhari applauded IsDB’s significant contribution to development in Nigeria. He expressed his country’s eagerness to strengthen its cooperation with the Bank and affirmed its commitment to supporting IsDB’s developmental mission. H.E. President Buhari stated that his country is working closely with IsDB and with other development partners to ensure better living standards for the people in the country.

Dr. Ali praised President Buhari for the Nigerian Government’s major economic programs focused on peace building, stability, social harmony, infrastructure support and agricultural development. He said that IsDB will continue to work with Nigeria to implement development programs across the country that will enhance the health and agriculture sectors and expand and improve road, water and power networks in remote areas.

Dr. Ali also said that the Bank will further support the education sector, particularly bilingual education and vocational training, in a bid to create community-based job opportunities for young people that will help curb extremism. He expressed the Bank’s willingness to help raise funds to support development programs and projects in Nigeria Sukuk issues or through its cooperation with the Coordination Group. The Coordination Group is composed of Arab regional and national institutions,
development funds and the OPEC Fund for International Development.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria became an IsDB member country in 2005 and is among its major shareholders. Since then, total IsDB funding for Nigeria has been more than US $1 billion. IsDB has approved contributions to several major development projects for Nigeria, including the National Food Security Program for the states of Anambra, Gombe and Yobe and water and sewerage projects in Osun State. IsDB has also approved contributions to the Bilingual Education Program for nine Nigerian states:
Adamahawa, Borno, Kaduna, Kano, Gombe, Niger, Nassarawa, Osun and Kwara.

Back to top

Arab tourist spending boosts Bosnian economy

Sarajevo, (IINA) 22 Aug 2016 – Thousands of Gulf investors pump huge amount of money in Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially on mountainous regions, where half of the population is Muslim, after the Arab Spring destabilized many traditional holiday destinations such as Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

The trend has given a big boost to domestic tourism with more direct flights, new resorts and the end of visa restrictions.

From their side, estate agents and local businesses have welcomed the economic boost, according to media reports. “People from the Middle East come here because of the nature and good weather, and very cheap prices for property and other goods,” said 28-year old Abdullah Al Sanousi, who works in the media industry in Kuwait.

“Many Muslims feel it’s a good place for them, they feel they are with their people, they feel comfortable here,” he said in the gated resort that is occupied mostly by Gulf visitors. It was built by a Kuwaiti investor and opened last year.

The number of visitors from the United Arab Emirates surged to 13,000 in the first seven months of this year from 7,265 last year, according to hotel data from the Sarajevo tourist board. In 2010, there were only 65 visitors from the UAE.

Bosnia does not have a national tourism authority and data on land purchases is patchy in the Balkan country, which has a fragmented government system.

Unofficial estimates put the total number of Arab tourists at between 50,000 to 60,000 a year, with about a quarter buying property.

The visitors bring much needed cast to the economy, which has not recovered from the 1990s war.

Back to top

Morocco’s ministry of tourism to reform hotels’ ranking system

Rabat, (IINA) 23 Aug 2016 – Morocco’s Ministry of Tourism’s ranking system for tourist accommodations is being revised as part of its new regulatory reforms to increase tourism in Morocco.

Tourist accommodations are one of the necessary pillars of the tourism industry. Affordable high quality hotel accommodations are key in determining tourists’ travel destinations. The ministry of tourism has been focusing on increasing the number of tourist accommodation establishments. Bed capacity throughout Morocco increased from 97,000 beds in 2001 to more than 230,000 beds at the end of 2015.

To ensure quality tourist services that meet the expectations of customers and to distinguish between different levels of tourist accommodation establishments, the government implemented a ranking system in 2002, Morocco World News reported.

Participation in the ranking system is mandatory for tourist establishments. Although national in scope, it has been administered regionally since 2002.

The ranking system is divided into three sections: The ranking scope, the ranking device, and the ranking repository.

The tourist establishment ranking system is a distinctive tool to prioritize the standing of these institutions by assigning a classification according to a star system and categories.

The system allows tourist establishments to comply with the ranking standards and benefit from a range of competitive advantages, allowing them to enhance the quality of their services and their competitiveness at national and international levels.

Tourist establishments benefit from marketing, publicity and public relations activities conducted by the Moroccan National Tourist Office and the Regional and Provincial Center of Tourism, with the opportunity to participate in a wide range of fairs and exhibitions in Morocco and abroad. They also become better known by being listed in the official guides and standards for tourist facilities.

Tourist facilities have at their disposal financial and technical support mechanisms specifically designed for them. They also receive a well thought out standard reference to improve the quality of service. They have the opportunity to gain certifications to enhance the facilities’ attractiveness and strengthen their market position. They may also benefit from coaching regarding any renovation, expansion, or upgrade of the tourist establishment.

Back to top

Tunis to host ‘Islam and Human Rights’ expo in March

Tunis, (IINA) – Tunisia’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) will organize an ‘Islam and Human Rights’ exhibition’ and other events at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers in Tunis in March 2017.

NHRC said that the security challenges and human rights in the Arab region’ conference in Doha in 2014 had received considerable attention from the general secretariat, Qatar’s The Peninsula newspaper reported.

Director of the Legal Affairs at the NHRC Jaber Al Huwail praised the committee’s participation as an observer in a recent second conference of human rights officials at Arab interior ministries in Tunis.

He said this forum is held annually by the council to follow up recommendations of the international conference on security and human rights challenges, held in Doha.

Back to top

Islamic Center of Peoria, Illinois opens its door to neighbors

Peoria City, Illinois (IINA) 28 Aug 2016 – The Islamic Center of Peoria in Illinois, opened its door to the public on Saturday to give them a behind-the-scenes look at all the center offers.

The center’s first ever “Lunch with Your Neighbors” event offered people of all faiths tours of the Islamic Center, information booths, and discussions on Islam and an outdoor barbecue, CI News Now (NBC-affiliated television) reported.

The center plans to make the event an annual tradition. Members of the center say they hope this event will show the public how diverse Peoria’s Muslim community is.

“The American Muslim community here in Peoria wanted to reach out to the general population in Peoria and kind of introduce them to ourselves as a community and our center and just get to know each other and socialize with the general folks around town,” explained Syed Ahmad, a spokesperson for the Center.

Organizers estimate more than 500 people came out and participated in Saturday’s event.

Back to top

Muslim girl student at US University defends Islamic dress

Cincinnati City, Ohio (IINA) 25 Aug 2016 – A Muslim graduate student at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio defended Islam, and spoke out against the ban on burqas and ‘burkinis’ spreading throughout Europe.

To Amina Darwish, UC alumna and member of UC’s Muslim Student Association, the ban is just as much about religion as it is a means of control.

“I think anytime we tell women what to wear it intrudes on women’s freedom,” said Darwish. “It’s oppressive to tell women what to wear and equally as oppressive to tell them what not to wear.”

Over the past month, several French beaches have banned the combination burqa-burkini, including Nice, the site of the Bastille Day terrorist attack in July, The News Record reported.

“A beach outfit showing in an ostentatious manner a religious affiliation, given that France and religious places are currently the target of terrorist acts, has the nature of creating risks of troubles of public order (mobs, conflicts, etc.) that are necessary to be prevented,” said the new law.

Only a week after several French cities announced a ban on the burkini, German officials proposed their own ban targeting face veils.

The burqa, a full-body veil, and the niqab, which covers the full body except for the eyes, are among the proposed banned garments.

The proposal aims to ban face veils in all public places and institutions of Germany, thereby barring entry to those not in compliance until they remove their face veil.

“It does not fit into our society for us, for our communication, for our cohesion in the society,” said Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maizerie, according to CNN. “This is why we demand you show your face.”

Maizerie also suggested the ban was a means of national security.

“I can’t see the correlation between what a woman is wearing and national security,” said Darwish. “It’s insulting to say that having a Muslim identity is a threat to national security.”

Part of the solution towards stronger national security is presenting moderate Islam to the community, according to Darwish.

Republican Party nominee Donald Trump has proposed banning all foreign Muslims from the US as part of his immigration plan, calling to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world.”

Back to top

Japanese agency offers Halal, Muslim-friendly tours

Tokyo, (IINA) 12 Aug 2016 – An Osaka-based travel agency in Japan has offered tours catering specifically to Muslim visitors – a growing segment of travelers to Japan – featuring a visit to a mosque, halal food, and an attendant adhering to Islam rules, South China Morning Post reported Thursday.

Miyako International Tourist Co., said that its most popular route starts from Tokyo and takes participants to Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara, all the key tourist destinations. In recent years, Hokkaido, the northernmost island prefecture that has no rainy season and is known for winter sports, is also gaining traction, the company said.

“Our customers are particularly anxious about what they eat,” said Mohammed Naji Matar, a 39-year-old veteran Syrian attendant who has lived in Japan for eight years. “We want to offer a sense of safety and peace of mind.”

Japan had a record 19.74 million foreign visitors in 2015, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), up by 13 million from a decade ago. More than two million were from Southeast Asia, including around 310,000 from Malaysia, where 60 percent of the population is Muslim, and roughly 210,000 from Indonesia, where nine out of 10 people follow Islam.

Tourists from these Southeast Asian countries grew more than 20 percent from a year earlier, JNTO data shows.

The Osaka travel agency is run by Hideshi Matsui, a 57-year-old who converted to Islam four years ago after getting to know a Japanese Muslim woman in Dubai, which he was visiting on business, he said.

Miyako International started Muslim-friendly tours in 2010, and they now account for 30 percent of the company’s revenue. More than 70 percent of participants are Malaysian tourists, according to the travel agency.

“My mission is to serve Muslim brothers and sisters with a deep sense of hospitality and to show them the good Japan can offer,” Matsui said.

Back to top

Early Islamic period mosque discovered in Saudi Arabia

Al-Kharj, Saudi Arabia (IINA) 18 Aug 2016 – An 18-member archeological excavation team has discovered at the Yamamah site in Al-Kharj near Riyadh many architectural antiquities of a huge mosque that existed in the early Islamic era in between first and fifth century Hijri.

The team is comprised of Saudi and French scientists and experts. The mosque consisted of three roofed halls, two mihrabs, and open body hall. There are indicators that it could be the third biggest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula after the Two Holy Mosques.

The archeological survey also covered Bana settlement in addition to five other Islamic sites distributed on many areas located between Riyadh and Wadi al-Dawasir, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported. Results of exploration process have shown many sites that refer to the Old Stone Age for the first time in this region. Fractions of old pottery and glassy utensils were also discovered.

These utensils are likely to be from the Abbasside era and may have been used in the last phase before Islam and till the fifth century Hijri. Researchers found antiquities that refer to early Islam like pottery utensils and a bunch of bracelets made of glass paste.

At Ain al-Delai site in the western side of Kharj, archeologists have found 5,000-year-old traces of human settlement that may refer to the first millennium B.C., in addition to a 56-centimeter-long silver sword.

The team also discovered a number of old farms and architectural establishments that go back to the fifth century Hijri. The archeologists moved to the mountains surrounding Al-Kharj to implement a filed survey for sites from the Stone Age. The area included Mawan Valley and Ain Farzan, where they discovered sites that refer to the Old Stone Age.

The mission will continue its work this year looking for sites from the Bronze Age in Ain Al-Delai region to complete the work that begun in 2013, along with the excavation process in the newly discovered mosque. The Saudi-French mission is working according to the agreement inked between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and the French authorities in September 2011.

From his side, Riyadh Governor Prince Faisal bin Bandar recently met with the Saudi-French team which is carrying out the archeological excavation at the Yamamah historical site in Al-Kharj. He praised the efforts of the mission aimed at offering the Saudi people the opportunity to learn more about their country’s heritage and the old civilizations that settled in it before them.

Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Ghazi, professor of archeology at King Saud University and head of the Saudi team in the mission, considered that this mission is the first-of-its-kind in the country and that its work will continue over the next five years, which will pave way to the discovery of more sites.

Back to top

Improving Hajj, Umrah services Saudi Arabia’s top priorities

Makkah, (IINA), 28 Aug 2016 – Improving Hajj and Umrah operations and services in Saudi Arabia is among the top priorities of the government and an extension of the country’s historic role in serving Islam and Muslims, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Vision 2030 includes a strategic and comprehensive plan to develop the sector so as to allow the largest number of Muslims possible to perform Hajj and Umrah. The media center of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah confirmed in a report on Friday that the plan stems from the Kingdom’s recurring success and management of the largest Umrah season, allowing nearly 6.5 million pilgrims from around the world to perform their religious duties, Arab Newspaper reported.

The Kingdom also carried out the largest expansion of the Grand Mosque in history so as to gradually increase the capacity annually. The plan, as per the Vision, includes building the capacity to 30 million pilgrims and Umrah visitors over the coming years.

Vision 2030 also calls for strategic development of the holy sites’ facilities and services, as well as development of a train network for the holy sites, housing projects and tents for pilgrims, completion of the expansion project, establishment of large airports to receive more guests, and providing active security management to protect pilgrims in view of terrorism challenges and threats.

The report also points to expanding health and medical services for pilgrims by preparing hospitals and health centers to provide top-of-the-line services around the clock, in addition to sewage, cleanliness, and lighting services at the holy sites and the Jamarat Bridge.

According to Minister of Hajj and Umrah Mohammed Bentin, the administration is witnessing a dramatic transformation in the areas of better planning and enhanced coordination among the concerned agencies.

There is also a shift away from seasonal work to a yearlong work system and culture, in order to enhance services and meet Vision 2030 objectives.

During the Council of Ministers’ session on Monday, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salam welcomed guests of the two holy cities and directed all concerned agencies to exert all efforts to facilitate the Hajj for pilgrims.

To that effect, the ministry launched a series of initiatives and services to welcome pilgrims to the Kingdom, alongside services for pilgrims in Makkah and Madinah, so as to ensure they perform the Hajj smoothly and remain safe.

Eighteen Saudi transport companies have secured 18,000 fully equipped buses to transport 1.4 million pilgrims from outside the Kingdom successfully during the Hajj season this year, the report revealed. Fleets of buses are updated annually to ensure the safety of pilgrims as they move between cities, and this year, 1,696 buses are new or were provided only last year. To operate and transport pilgrims, 24,000 young Saudi bus drivers and technicians have been hired to operate these buses.

The ministry also updated its electronic Hajj portal to speed up electronic issuance of visas, reduce procedural waiting, and entrance times to a mere few minutes. The report also revealed that the ministry, for the first time this year, applied the electronic bracelet system for pilgrims, in order to speed up identification processes and electronically read all related information, especially for those who do not speak Arabic.

The system allows the ministry to read personal identification information stored on the bracelet to guide those who are lost, shorten procedure times, and allow for transparency of information.

All Hajj affairs offices around the world have been instructed to provide information on pilgrims before their arrival at ports, and information about visas, passports, service providers, and other personal information together with the pilgrim’s photo are stored on the bracelets.

Back to top

Health awareness campaign for Hajj pilgrims

Riyadh, (IINA), 28 Aug 2016 – As part of the annual awareness campaign during Hajj, the Saudi Ministry of Health (MoH) has mobilized a mobile health awareness team that will provide health tips and guidelines to pilgrims in their own camps.

The holy sites covered under the program are Makkah, Madinah, Mina, Muzdalaifah, Arafat, and the Jamaarat area, Arab Newspaper reported.

An official at the MoH said that his ministry has harnessed all its human capabilities and health facilities to provide maximum health care to pilgrims, and maintain their health and safety. The MoH continues activities of its health awareness campaign in collaboration with Sanofi Pharmaceutical Company.

The MoH has completed its arrangements to hold educational lectures for the medical missions accompanying the Hajj campaigns, with a view to promoting health awareness among pilgrims, and commitment to apply health requirements set by the MoH.

The health awareness campaign, launched under the theme “Together for a Healthy Pilgrimage,” aims at promoting health awareness among pilgrims on the main health requirements during the Hajj season.

In addition, the campaign focuses on a number of topics, including yellow fever, meningococcal meningitis, poliomyelitis and vaccination against seasonal flu, as well as modifying some health misconceptions among pilgrims during the performance of Hajj rites.

During the campaign, the MoH will send two million SMSs to pilgrims’ mobile phones to tell them of the preventive measures to be adopted during their stay in the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The official said that the ministry has also launched a multimedia awareness campaign harnessing all media channels to reach the millions of pilgrims coming from across the world.

The ministry has also printed more than 500,000 brochures in 10 languages for distribution among Hajjis. He said the brochures spell out the guidelines to prevent the spread of infection among the pilgrims and advise them of the precautionary measures against health problems. The booklets will be distributed among the pilgrims speaking different languages.

The ministry will also distribute leaflets containing picture messages of what the pilgrims should and should not do during their stay in the holy cities. “These pictures can be understood by all pilgrims,” he added.

Back to top

Pilgrim cycles from China to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj

Makkah, (IINA), 23 Aug 2016 – A Chinese pilgrim has cycled 8,150 kilometers for two months from his home in the city of Xinjiang to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj, Gulf News reported.

The cyclist named only as Mohammad cycled by himself to the Saudi city of Taif, where he was welcomed by the local cyclist club, who joined him on his way from Taif to Makkah.

“We were the first cycling club in Saudi Arabia to welcome the Chinese rider, and we look forward to other clubs reaching out to him and introducing him to their cities,” Nayef Al Rawas, the head of the Taif club said.

China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said that 14,500 Chinese Muslims would perform Haj this year.

China has by Friday sent 37 charter flights to carry Chinese Muslims for Hajj. A total of 11,000 Chinese pilgrims have already arrived in Makkah, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Back to top

Palestinian-Saudi team invents ‘smart’ solar umbrella for Hajj

Jeddah, (IINA), 26 Aug 2016 – Palestinian consultant Manal Dandis and Saudi Arabian researcher and environmental engineer Kamel Badawi have teamed up to create a new “smart” umbrella, aimed to make Hajj a little more comfortable, Ynet News reported Thursday.

The solar-powered umbrella, called a Kafya, is equipped with solar energy strips to power the attached USB ports, fan, flashlight, and GPS system, which could help them combat the extreme heat in Makkah, with the GPS system aiding them in locating friends and family. When folded, the umbrella could even be used as a cane.

Dandis said that the umbrella was invented to help pilgrims, as her partner has been volunteering in Hajj for 40 years and knows the needs of pilgrims.

She Said: “In Makkah, there are no adapters for electricity, and there are three or four million people who need to charge their mobile phones.”

Temperatures in Makkah reach up to 45 degrees, and pilgrims often use umbrellas as protection from sun while performing Hajj.

“Many people suffer from medical issues while on the Hajj, and the most common medical conditions due to communicative diseases and overcrowding are influenza, overheat, and burning tents,” Abdulaziz Al-Mudaiheem of the King Saud University for Health Sciences said.

It is estimated that Hajj will take place between June and September in the next ten years, which are notably the hottest months in Saudi Arabia.

Moreover, Dandis and Badawi are currently crowd funding to supply what they hope will be a significant demand for their product. They plan to manufacture at least a million umbrellas in the Middle East, with Dandis promising to offer the product at a modest price.

Back to top

Saudi Arabia launches Hajj for Peace campaign

Jeddah (IINA) – Over the years, the Saudi authorities have consistently embraced a slogan for each Hajj season, to be a platform for discharging their duties and responsibilities, as well as being in line with the lofty goals of Islam and compatible with the rituals performed by the pilgrims amidst an atmosphere of tranquility and spirituality in the holiest spot on Earth.

However, Saudi Arabia’s broader message in every Hajj season is the call for not politicizing pilgrimage under any circumstances and in any way.

This year, Saudi Arabia released the hashtag #hajjmessagepeace, to promote the values of peace through the fifth pillar of Islam, as well as raising awareness among pilgrims and ensuring that they perform their devotions in ease and comfort, away from the politicized slogans, and acts that run counter to the Islamic values.

In this regard, Adviser to the Governor of Makkah Region and Chairman of the Executive Committee in charge of Hajj operations Dr. Hisham Al-Faleh said: “The selection of peace slogan for the pilgrimage, stemmed from what we are experiencing these days, in some Muslim countries and some of the countries surrounding the Kingdom – things that are well known, and of unspeakable cruelty.”

Speaking to the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), Al-Faleh said: “Therefore, in this campaign, we took on the task of delivering the idea that the great ritual of Hajj does not accept any politicization or any acts that are contrary to what the pilgrim is obliged to do, including the performance of rituals in ease and comfort. Hajj is worship and civilized behavior”.

“The campaign aims to assert that Hajj is a message of peace. We want the pilgrim who came to perform the pilgrimage to be a messenger of peace, through the performance of the rituals in tranquility and peace, without stampede and wrangling,” he said.

“Also, after performing pilgrimage, we want the pilgrim to be a messenger of peace in his country, by means of the services and facilitation for Muslims which he found in Hajj, and to convey this concept with him,” he added.

Phases of the campaign #hajjmessagepeace

Al-Faleh stated that the campaign passes through four different phases. It is currently in its first phase of receiving pilgrims, while the second phase will focus on the concept of “No Hajj without a permit”, and the assertion on the importance of obtaining permits for those who want to enter Makkah. He pointed out that more than 70,000 people without Hajj permits have been sent back.

The Saudi official revealed that the third phase of the campaign will focus on the pilgrims’ behavior, starting from the moment of their arrival in the Grand Mosque until their grouping to Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah. Whilst, the fourth and final phase is conveying thanks and appreciation to the pilgrims who performed the pilgrimage in ease and comfort, as well as to the actors involved in the success of Hajj.

Al Faleh called on the pilgrims to abide by the grouping schedules given to them by the Tawafa establishments or Hajj missions, for the use of train and buses, or for the Jamarat stoning ritual. He argued that these schedules were prepared and coordinated in advance with all the relevant authorities, stressing that all the previous years’ mistakes due to the lack of compliance by the grouping schedules shall be averted.

Figures associated with the campaign #hajjmessagepeace

While confirming their preparedness to counter more than 13 probable hazards, through a number of civil defense centers and units in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites, the Saudi authorities stepped up their efforts to turn the slogan #hajjmessagepeace from theory to practice, 17 days prior to the start of Hajj operations.

The Saudi authorities said that 17,000 officers and personnel of the Civil Defense Forces will participate in carrying out the general plan for emergencies in Hajj, with the help of 3,000 machines and equipment.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has developed new approaches for the grouping of pilgrims this year, in order to avert stampede.

The ministry also established a unified platform to electronically monitor the movement of crowds in Makkah and the holy sites. The platform includes gathering the data on the movement of the buses transporting the pilgrims, then projecting such data on a unified map to allow officials at the Ministry of Hajj to track the movement on the road networks and to immediately take the necessary measures in the event of an emergency or accident.

The authorities have beefed up the health control mechanism and hired 216 health experts to inspect food, drugs and medical devices received through the Saudi ports, as well as inspecting the food outlets located in Makkah and Madinah.

In anticipation of scorching temperatures, the health authorities have increased the number of beds for people who may suffer sunstroke by 79 beds, bringing the total number of the beds allocated for the treatment of heatstroke to 216 in the hospitals at the holy sites.

The health authorities have also stepped up their preventive and therapeutic health measures for pilgrims upon their arrival, via the land, sea and air ports, to prevent the importation of any infectious diseases into the kingdom, by means of enforcing the preventive and precautionary aspects prescribed by the Ministry of Health. These measures include examining all pilgrims upon their arrival to ensure that they are in good health, checking their vaccination cards, and giving them all the required preventive therapy and necessary vaccines.

Back to top

Astana to host OIC Summit on Science and Technology

Astana, 28/08/2016 (IINA) – A three member delegation of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation OIC, headed by Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Muhammad Naeem Khan, visited Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan from 24-27 August 2016 to hold further discussions preparatory to the OIC Summit on Science & Technology to be held in Kazakhstan in 2017. The visit is a follow-up to the discussions held between the OIC Secretary General, Iyad Ameen Madani and the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, Erlan A. Idrissov.

During the visit, the OIC delegation met with the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, who underlined the importance that the President of Kazakhstan attached to the successful convening of the OIC Summit on Science and Technology.

For his part, OIC Assistant Secretary General (S&T) thanked the Government of Kazakhstan for the offer to host the OIC Summit on S&T. He said that the forthcoming OIC Summit on Science and Technology will be the first ever heads of state and government meeting.

“It will shape the future of Science & Technology agenda, reaffirm the commitment of the leadership to science and technology at the highest level and identify priorities, targets and recommended actions for the Muslim countries in the field of Science and Technology for the next decade,” he added.

Ambassador Khan therefore gave the assurance that the OIC General Secretariat and the OIC Ministerial Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation COMSTECH will work in close coordination with the Government of Kazakhstan for the successful convening of the Summit.

During the visit, the delegation also had meetings with AkylbekKamaldinov, Deputy Foreign Minister, Amrin Aslanbek, Advisor to the President, Ministry of Education, and ToktabayevTimur Serikovich, Vice Minister of Investments and Development. The delegation also visited the venue of Expo-2017 and the OIC Summit on S&T.

It may be recalled that the 4th Extraordinary session of the Islamic Summit Conference, held in Makkah in August 2012, called for the adoption of clearly defined measures to promote scientific and technological development and innovation and higher education.

Back to top

Business options in public transport in MENA

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 28/08/2016 – Mwasalat will host the seventh United International Public Transport Middle East and North Africa (UITP-MENA) Assembly, in Muscat from February 12-16.

The event will focus on the new vision of public transport plan and objectives in the sultanate and will provide attendees with the chance to discuss different business opportunities through meetings with decision-makers.

Mwasalat will also present its transport masterplan which includes introducing new routes in other strategic cities, construction of public transport facilities and implementation of Intelligent Transport Systems.

The UITP-MENA covers an extensive area extending from Morocco in northwest Africa to Iran in southwest Asia aiming to bring together all public transport stakeholders and all sustainable transport modes.

The assembly is a bi-annual event staged to showcase two year achievements in the region and will see discourses and sharing of in-depthinsights into a variety of information related to public transport and bus topics.

‘We are determined that this conference will not be a traditional one, but a conference that focuses on the implementation of the vision of public transport in Oman and the region, combining private sectors, governments, technologists and global investors to set up a team to develop the public transportation sector for a new beginning,’ said Ahmad bin al Bulushi, CEO of Mwasalat.

Following the UITP-MENA board meeting on February 12, a seminar will be held on February 13. Besides, a three-day training workshop will be conducted between February 14 and 16 with participation of experts who will discuss various topics, such as different modes and innovation in bus sector, bus networks, service quality and management.

Mwasalat (formerly ONTC) is a permanent member of UITP since 1983, and is the leading public transport company in Oman.

Back to top

Oman Ministry of Tourism inaugurates vending kiosks in Jebel Akhdar

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 28/08/2016 – The Ministry of Tourism (MoT) in partnership with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) inaugurated six sales service points (vending kiosks) in Jebel Akhdar on Wednesday. The event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Khalifa bin Saleh al Busaidi, deputy wali of Nizwa.

The project is part of MoT’s continued efforts to enhance tourism destinations while providing a viable source of income to SMEs and residents of Jebel Akhdar.

The project launched kiosks in selected areas of Jebel Akhdar to sell locally produced goods. Two portals will sell locally-grown fruits, two kiosks will provide tourists with authentic Omani food while one kiosk will sell locally made handicrafts and one will provide tourism services, such as guided tours.

It is sponsored by PDO and is part of it National Objectives programme that aims to inject funding to local communities and the private sector.

The project will give local residents an opportunity to promote and market their products in a way that adds value to tourists. This also provides residents a good opportunity to start their career in the tourism sector.

MoT’s initiatives expert Salim al Abri said that the ministry and the project management team have facilitated the process and made it a simple procedure for the residents to be involved in.

He added that the main goal of the initiative is to provide tourists with an enhanced experience. The project also comes at right time as the pomegranate season will start in September, allowing both tourists and farmers to get the maximum value out of the season.

Back to top

Oman: Al Hoota Cave to reopen on Sept 5

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 28/08/2016 – Al Hoota Cave, one of Oman’s most popular natural tourist destinations, will reopen after undergoing extensive renovation on September 5. Al Hoota saw around 75,000 visitors a year before it was closed for renovation.

The enhanced experience will enable people to get the most from their visits. Visitors can experience Oman’s only electric train which begins from the visitor centre. The visitor centre will also allow people to discover more about the history of the caves at an interactive geological museum. It will also have a children’s play area, a gift shop and a new restaurant.

Eng Khalid Mirza, director of Projects Development at Omran, said, ‘Al Hoota is the first tourist cave to open in the GCC, first opening to the public in November 2006. It was important that the renoation was done comprehensively, especially to address areas of the cave that had been affected by floods. Omran has worked closely with the Ministry of Tourism to enhance the assets of the cave for a top class tourist experience.’

He added, ‘International, regional and Omani visitors will all enjoy an authentic and memorable experience. We are proud to reopen one of Oman’s incredible natural assets to the public. We’re expecting a lot of visitors during the Eid al Adha weekend, whether for the first time or for a return visit!’

The cave system is spread over 4.5km with only 500m accessible to the public. A website will also be launched on September 5 to facilitate online bookings. The cave will be open from Saturday-Thursday, 9am-6pm and on Fridays from 9am-12pm and 2pm-5pm.

Back to top

Banque du Caire prepares to fund Suez Canal Development Projects

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 28/08/2016 – Banque du Caire is studying the projects that are planned to be established at the Suez Canal Area Development Project in preparation for funding, according Ayman Mokhtar, head of corporate banking, senior general manager and executive director at Banque du Caire.

He said that a bank delegation recently visited the area to identify the investment map there, noting that the bank is fully prepared to finance projects in the area and provide them with its technical expertise.

Regarding the complaint of some factories suspending their operations due to the US dollar shortage, Mokhtar said that Egyptian industry is facing challenges and those dollars are prioritised for raw materials and production requirements of real-production factories.

He explained that some factories serve as assemblers without any value to the final prodution. “The bank focuses on real industry that give the economy added value, and on replacing imports with domestic products,” he stressed, adding that Banque du Caire finances imports of strategic goods specified by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), including baby formula, oils, and food.

He noted that restarting the stalled factories is governed by controls and limitations placed by the CBE.

According to Mokhtar, Banque du Caire will float the stalling factories and support them if their owners are among the bank’s clients. “If it’s not a client, the owner’s bank should be the first to offer help.”

Mokhtar noted that it is very important to consider the reasons behind factories closing and whether or not they are funding related, as factories usually shut down due to reasons related to their production competitiveness and poor management.

Back to top

Turkey unveils 3rd Bosphorus bridge

ISTANBUL, 26.08.2016 (Anadolu Agency) – A third bridge spanning Istanbul’s Bosphorus waterway opened Friday with a ceremony attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim.

“We are connecting continents,” Erdogan said. “We are celebrating together and we are very proud of it. The nation deserves this. With God’s permission, this nation will get what it deserves.This is great day and joyful day.”

The Yavuz Sultan Selim Bridge was described as a new necklace for the city by Yildirim.

“It will not only serve to Istanbul but also serve to every journey in the historic Silk Road, starting from the Far East, ending in Europe and bringing civilizations together by connecting people,” he told a crowd of dignitaries.

The bridge, which cost nearly $3 billion to construct, is the latest in a raft of infrastructure “mega-projects” unveiled by the government.

The 1.4 kilometer (0.9 mile) bridge will carry eight lanes of traffic and two rail lines between Europe and Asia at the entrance of the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.

Named after Selim I, the 16th century sultan known for his expansion of the Ottoman empire, the bridge accompanies the July 15 Matryrs’ Bridge — previously the Bosphorus Bridge — and the Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge in crossing the Bosphorus.

It is the world’s longest suspension rail bridge and will lead to $1.75 billion-a-year in savings through reduced travel times and energy costs.

All trucks and heavy-duty vehicles will be directed to the bridge to ease traffic on the other bridges, as well as cut congestion and pollution in Istanbul.


It forms part of the Northern Marmara Motorway Project, the next two phases of which will see 257 km (160 miles) of roads completed by the end of 2018.

Transport Minister Ahmet Arslan said the government would continue to strengthen Turkey’s infrastructure. “Without using any public sources, we will maintain such mega-projects through the build-operate-transfer finance model,” he said.

An estimated 135,000 vehicles are expected to use the bridge daily, with those travelling from Europe to Asia paying a toll, set at 9.90 Turkish liras (around $3) for cars, from Sept. 1.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, Mustafa Akinci, the president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, Bosnian Joint President Bakir Izetbegovic and Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov were among the guests attending the opening ceremony.

Erdogan, who along with Yildirim was among the first to cross the bridge, said it would “pioneer” further projects, such as a canal linking the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and another Europe-Asia bridge at the Dardanelles.

The president used the occasion to attack Daesh, which killed 54 people in a suicide bombing at a wedding in the southern city of Gaziantep on Aug. 20.

“Do not regard what is written on their so-called flag,” he said, referring to the terror group’s white-on-black standard that carries the names of Allah and the Prophet Muhammed.

“Those terrorists cannot be Muslim. They are manipulating children by using them as suicide bombers. When asked, they claim that they are acting in the name of Islam. However, they have nothing to do with Islam. There is absolutely no room for such cruelty in our religion, because our religion is a religion of peace.” The president said he would visit Gaziantep on Sunday.

Referring to the Battle of Malazgirt on Aug. 26, 1071, which saw the Seljuk Turks defeat a Byzantine army and open the way for Turkish domination in Anatolia, Erdogan added: “We have been here for a thousand years. The most significant qualification of our ancient history is that we would overcome every challenge by acting in unity as a nation.”

Back to top

Buhari Pledges to Make Nigeria One of Best Countries for Business

Nigeria will be one of the most attractive and easiest places of doing business in the world by 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari said on Sunday in Nairobi, Kenya.

Speaking at a plenary session on “Dialogue with the Private Sector” at the sixth Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD VI), President Buhari said his administration is implementing policies and measures to create right and enabling environment for business and investors in Nigeria.

Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank, according to the Bank’s 2016 Ease of Doing Business report.

President Buhari told the session attended by several African leaders, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and international business executives that his administration’s vision and objective is to make Nigeria one of the top investment destinations in the world, within the shortest possible time.

“We believe government has a particular responsibility to create right and attractive environment for businesses and economic activities to thrive.

“In furtherance of this vision, we have launched the Presidential Enabling Environment Council, PEEC and Inter-Ministerial Council to oversee the efforts of government to remove various bottlenecks that stifle businesses and economic activities and thereby create economic activities and the right enabling environment and investment climate in Nigeria.

“The secretariat will include strong private sector representation that would be led by experienced business professionals from the private sector.

“We are committed to moving up the ranking of the World Bank’s ease of doing business index 20 places in first year and be in the top 100 within the next 3 years,” the president said.

Back to top

Pakistan: Rs 800 bln ongoing gas projects to end energy woes

ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (APP): The government has initiated different gas related projects worth Rs 800 billion, including setting up of LNG terminals and gas pipelines to meet energy needs of the country, a senior official in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources said.

“By the grace of Allah Almighty, Pakistan will have surplus power due to effective policies of the present government by 2018,” he told APP.

He said it was the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government that took a bold initiative to import LNG as the past governments could not take any practical step in this regard.

Terming gas ‘backbone’ for the energy sector, he regretted that some elements were criticizing the LNG import and misleading the public about its benefits.

He highlighted importance of LNG, saying that it would have great significance in strengthening the national economy even after arrival of gas through Iran-Pakistan and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline projects.

With the import of LNG, he said Pakistan was importing one million tonne fertilizer, now it had 1.5 million tonne surplus fertilizer. All gas-based power plants are in running condition, CNG sector was back to its business and industrial sector was getting full supply, he added.

The official said the CNG sector was moving on the path of revival gradually and hinted that in the coming years it would be preferred over petrol.

Commenting on performance of the PML-N government, he said during last three years the government had launched unprecedented development projects for the benefit of common man.

“The three-year development, is much higher than the period from 1999 to 2013, if compared,” he added.

The government, he said, was making progress in all key sectors including energy, infrastructure development, social welfare projects like Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) to mitigate sufferings of the common man.

Answering a question, the official said Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGL) would spend Rs 71.043 billion on upgradation of transmission and distribution network across the country during the current fiscal year.

Whereas, he said, the government has allocated Rs 587.476 million in the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP 2016-17) for the four major ongoing schemes aimed at stepping up exploration activities of natural resources to achieve self-reliance in the energy sector.

During last three years, oil and gas exploration companies operating in different parts of the country made 84 discoveries, following which around 631 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) gas and 27,359 barrels per day (bpd) Crude Oil production has been added to the system.

Currently, he said the country was producing 4 bcfd (billion cubic feet per day) gas against the demand of 8 bcfd.

Back to top

Pakistan: Western route of CPEC projects to be ready by December 2016

ISLAMABAD, Aug 28 (APP): Work on the projects of western route of Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) is continuing rapidly and will be completed by December 2016, official sources said.
 CPEC will benefit all the provinces especially Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

According to data released by Planning Commission of Pakistan, 335 km long Khunjerab to Raikot road is complete while the feasibility study of 270 km Raikot to Thakot road is complete.

Work is continuing on Burhan-Havelian expressway, 280 km long Burhan-Dera Ismail Khan road, 124 km DI Khan-Mughalkot road, 81 km Zhob-Mughalkot road, 454 km Khushab-Saryab road and 193 km Khushab-Gwadar road.
 The federal government has given considerable importance to the project and made substantial allocations for it in this year’s financial budget.

CPEC project includes new power stations and special industrial zones to spur regional trade.
 CPEC is part of vision of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to integrate the region and provide a corridor to China for its trade with the outside world through Gwadar port.
 The project will also revive some of the historical routes between Pakistan and China.

Back to top

Renowned urdu poet Ahmad Faraz remembered on his eighth death anniversary

ISLAMABAD, Aug 25 (APP): Renowned urdu poet Ahmad Faraz, ranked among the greatest Urdu poets of the current era was remembered on his 8th death anniversary on Thursday.
According to a private news channel, he was deeply influenced by the works of Faiz Ahmad Faiz, his friend and role model, and has been able to earn acclamation because of his elegant yet simple poetry.

Born in Kohat on January 12, 1931, Syed Ahmad Shah (Faraz’s real name) received his education from Peshawar and received Masters degree in Persian and Urdu from Edwards College. He later taught at Peshawar University as well.
He was a member of the Progressive Writers Movement (PWM) as well. Tanha tanha, Be-awaz gali kuchon main, Sab awazain meri hain and Shab-e-khun are among his literary works.

Faraz was detained during the Zia era for writing poems that targeted the military. He went on to live in exile for a number of years and produced some of his most acclaimed literary writings during this tenure.
Upon his return to the country, he was appointed as Pakistan Academy of Letters Chairman and also served as chairperson of the National Book Foundation.
Ahmad Faraz was the recipient of a number of national and international accolades, including the Nagar Award, Sitara-e-Imtiaz and Hilal-e-Imtiaz.

Faraz breathed his last on August 25, 2008.

Back to top

Nomad Art gallery exhibition

ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 (APP): Nomad Art Gallery’s exhibition titled ‘My Passport is green’ will conclude on August 28 (Sunday) which was started on August 14.

Talking to APP Director Nomad Art Gallery, Nageen Hayat said, “Almost twenty six artists from all over the country were participated in the exibition in which fifty paintings were displayed”.

She said the main aim of the exhibition was to convey the message of hope,human rights,equality,progress and determination to the young generation through paintings.

The exhibition had attracted a large number of visitors including art lovers, people belonging to various shades of life including women and students.

Back to top

UAE Ministry of Economy to launch Tourism Leadership Programme

ABU DHABI, 28th August, 2016 (WAM)–The Ministry of Economy will hold its ‘Tourism Leadership Programme’ from October 30 to November 3, 2016, in collaboration with the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Themis Foundation.

The programme falls under the framework of the Emirates Host initiative launched recently by the ministry, and aims to enhance capabilities of the tourism sector and support the preparation for a strategic integrated five-year development plan. The plan seeks to raise the efficiency of the UAE’s tourism workforce, improve service levels, and build local capacities.

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said, “The development of the tourism sector and the enhancement of its contributions to the national economy are among the main pillars supporting economic diversification and promoting policies for a post-oil economy.”

The minister also emphasised that the ministry would continue to work on developing a national tourism strategy that covers plans, initiatives and programmes at the federal and local levels over the next five years. The strategy will promote and market the UAE as a tourism destination by creating a unified destination identity and supporting and strengthening each emirate’s unique tourism potentials.

Mohammed Khamis Al Muhairi, Under-Secretary at the Ministry of Economy, added that the ministry is coordinating with the UN World Tourism Organisation and Themis Foundation, which is responsible for implementing training and educational programmes, to prepare an extensive tourism training plan, which will include many of the training programmes and interactive workshops tailored for citizens working in the tourism sector.

The Tourism Leadership Programme is an intensive training course focussed on strengthening the foundations of leadership and communication in tourism through theoretical and practical approaches.

Back to top

4th “Museums in the Streets” kicks off in Algiers

26 August 2016, ALGIERS – The 4th event “Museums in the Streets” kicked off Thursday at the Promenade of Sablettes in Algiers in the presence of Minister of Culture Azzedine Mihoubi.

This event, to be held until August 29, will be marked by the participation of 16 national museums, including the Public Museum of Illumination of Miniature and Calligraphy, Museum Nacer Eddine Dinet of Boussaada (M’sila), Museum Zabana (Oran), Museum Cirta (Constantine) and the National Public Museum of Khenchla.

Organized under the theme “Together for museum tourism,” the event organized by the National Museum of Bardo, in collaboration with the commune of Algiers, aims at enabling the visitors to discover the missions and activities of these establishments to raise their awareness on the need to preserve the cultural heritage.

Educational and recreational workshops as well as meetings are scheduled during this event.

Publications on the activities and collections of the museums will be made available to the visitors.

In this regard, Mihoubi insisted on the need to raise awareness on the importance of the museums, saying that they represent the collective memory.

The minister, who visited the different stands, invited the museums to get closer to the visitors, notably children.

Back to top

Hamid Benamra’s “Reveries of a solitary actor” at Toulouse’s Africalp Festival

TOULOUSE (France), 28 August 2016 – Algerian director Hamid Benamra’s feature-length film “Rêveries de l’acteur solitaire” (Reveries of a solitary actor) will take part in the official competition of the 3rd International Festival of the African Film of Toulouse, “Africlap” which will take place from 31 August to 4 September, said organizers.

“Reveries of the Solitary Actor” will compete with other films such as “Fevers” (Fièvres) by Moroccan Hicham Ayouch, “Lombras Kann” by Mauritian David Constantin and “Parties” by French Cheyenne Carron.

Director and producer of this feature-film Hamid Benamra will be one of the “special guests” of this event alongside French journalist and documentary-maker Camille Sarret and Malagasy director Anndo Ramison.

The film produced by “Nunfilm” focuses on the concerns of an actor, his dreams, and his ambitions through actor Mohamed Adar, main character of the film.

Back to top

Bangladeshi Tourists Over 65 Will Get Five-Year Indian Visa

NEW DELHI, India Aug 20 (NNN-Bernama) — India has decided to increase the duration of tourist visa for Bangladeshi tourists over 65-years of age to five years from the present one year. 

The Press Trust of India (PTI) reports that this move is to enhance bilateral relations with the neighbouring country.

A Home Ministry statement issued in this regard said while the duration of the visa has been enhanced from one year to five years it will have multiple entry facility for Bangladeshi tourists falling in this age bracket. 

”The decision has been taken in pursuance of governments stated policy for easing of visa norms for promotion of tourism. Indian Missions in Bangladesh will henceforth extend this facility to the Bangladeshi applicants,” the statement read.

It added that this initiative of the government, will further strengthen the bilateral relationship between India and Bangladesh and intensify people to people contact. 

The long pending issue has thus been resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.–NNN-BERNAMA

Back to top

582,736 Visitors To Oman’s Salalah From June 21 To Aug 21

MUSCAT, Oman, Aug 23 (NNN-ONA) – The number of visitors to Salalah, during the Khareef “monsoon season,” from June 21 to Aug 21, has surged by a whopping 22.9%, compared with figures for the same period last year, according to statistics released by the Sultanate of Oman’s National Centre for Statistics & Information (NCSI).

The total visitors rose to 582,736 as of Aug 21. 

Visitors from the Sultanate came first, in terms of the number of visitors by nationality to 433,959, comprising 74.5% of the total visitors. 

Emiratis came second by 16.3%, Saudis came third and Qataris came fourth. 

The NCSI statistics showed that 81% of the Khareef visitors came by land, compared to 19% who came through flights.– NNN-ONA

Back to top

ASEAN Colours Shine At Moscow Exhibition

MOSCOW, Aug 28 (NNN-Bernama) — An international exhibition themed “All colour of Asia” opened at the State Darwin Museum in Russia’s capital of Moscow on Friday, as part of activities to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ASEAN-Russia Agreement on Friendship and Cooperation, reports Vietnam News Agency (VNA).

The event displays paintings highlighting unique cultural features of ASEAN countries that Russian artists made during three years travelling through all ten member countries of the bloc, together with works of art from the State Museum of Oriental Art.

Visitors to the 10-day event also have opportunities to enjoy folk music and traditional food of the 10 ASEAN nations. 

Minister-Counselor Lai Ngoc Doan from the Vietnamese Embassy said that this is a good chance for Vietnam to introduce its nation and people as well as the country’s renewal achievements to the world.

The exhibition has contributed to fostering the connections among ASEAN countries as well as their friendship with Russia, he added. 

The organisation board also presented each honorary guest with an “All colour of Asia” album, which comprises the speech by Russian President V.Putin during the Russia-ASEAN Summit in 2016. 

ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Back to top

Women’s Journey In The UAE – A Long Track Record Of Achievements

ABU DHABI, Aug.26 (NNN-WAM) — On Sunday, the UAE will celebrate an anniversary that is dear to the hearts of Emirati citizens: the second Emirati Women’s Day.

This special day was launched on the August 28 by Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of the General Women’s Union, President of the Family Development Foundation, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, in recognition of the importance of women and their pivotal role in the community, as part of the long journey made by the state for their empowerment.

This year’s observance comes as Emirati women continue to celebrate their achievements as their ambitions reach the highest peaks, exemplified by the appointment of eight women to hold important ministerial positions in the current cabinet of the Federal Government, as well as the unprecedented historical achievement at both local and regional levels when Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi was elected Speaker of the Federal National Council by the 16th Legislative Chapter, at which point women constituted 27.5% of the total members.

According to a report issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation on the occasion of International Women’s Day, a woman is serving as the UAE Permanent Representative to the United Nations, seven women are currently employed as Ambassadors and Consuls-General to Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Italy, Kosovo, Hong Kong and the Republic of Montenegro, as well as there being 157 female diplomats working in the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Additionally, some 42 women are now working in the State’s diplomatic missions abroad, as well as those working in Air Defence, Civil and Military Aviation, tribunals and public prosecution departments, along with those in various departments of UAE Ministries.

According to a report issued by the World Economic Forum in 2014, the UAE ranked first in the world index for treating women with respect.

 Today, Emirati women occupy 66% of general government jobs, of which 30% are in senior leadership positions with decision-making powers, and 15% in specialised academic jobs.

Women’s contributions to economic activity and the labour market has risen steadily since the founding of the Women’s Business Council, bringing the number of enrollees in the Chambers of Commerce and Industry to some 22,000 businesswomen working in local and global markets who are in charge of investments exceeding AED 45 billion, in addition to the number of women working in the banking sector, one of the most important economic sectors in the country, where the percentage of female employees has reached 37.5%.

With the UAE’s celebration of the second Emirati Women’s Day, Emirati citizens recall the women and daughters of the great movement started by the late founder, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, which continues to lay the foundations for good governance, growth and development.

Back to top

More Than 50% Of UAE Manpower At Etihad Airways Are Women, Including Nearly 50 Pilots

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Aug 28 (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Airways has marked Emirati Women’s Day, by announcing that more than half of the UAE nationals employed by the airline are women, including nearly 50 pilots. 

Aisha Al Mansouri recalls being mesmerised by the aerial performances, at the Al Ain Air Show in 2007. Today, she is one of those pilots, flying the largest passenger jet in the world.

“I fell in love with aviation during the 2007 Al Ain Air Show and joined Etihad the following year as a cadet. After qualifying, I started as a Second Officer on the Airbus A320, and now I’m a First Officer on the A380. I hope to become a Captain, so I can train other aviators,” said Al Mansouri.

Eleven Emirati women are fully operational as pilots with the airline, while 38 others are navigating their way through cadet pilot training. 

Etihad has been holding a series of events to mark the second year of Emirati Women’s Day, a government-led initiative, now held annually on Aug 28, to recognise the role of Emirati women, in the development of the UAE. This year’s theme is ‘Emirati Women and Innovation.’

Mona Walid, Vice President, Human Resources for Etihad Airways and Etihad Airways Engineering, noted, “Since Etihad’s launch in 2003, the company has focused on attracting and developing both male and female Emirati talent. As we nurture the leaders of the future, we are committed to elevating Emirati women to the forefront of aviation, to play their part in the growth of the economy.”

Of the more than 3,200 Emiratis employed by the airline, 1,661 are women – or 51 percent. This includes the 137 members of the award winning, all-female Al Ain Contact Centre, reflecting the appeal of Etihad as an employer of Emirati women. 

On Sunday and Monday – Aug 28 and 29 – Etihad is holding networking events, where Emirati female employees can discuss their careers with the airline’s most successful female staff.– NNN-WAM

Back to top

Egypt Stages Marathon Rally To Highlight Humanitarian Crisis

A feature by NNN-XINHUA

CAIRO, Aug. 20 (NNN-Xinhua) — Up to 3,000 runners, amateur and professional, put on their sneakers Friday and jogged through the streets of Egypt’s capital Cairo, marking the World Humanitarian Day (WHD). 

In preparation for its 5th season, the Cairo Runners, a leading Egyptian running group, organized a four km mini-marathon in Cairo center under the theme “One Humanity,” mobilizing thousands of running enthusiasts to promote World Humanitarian Day.

Held right after sunrise, the event is also meant to raise awareness of humanitarian needs in the Middle East which has been witnessing deteriorating humanitarian conditions. 

”Sport is a tool that we can use to send messages to the world about everything surrounding us. Today we use it to convey a message about humanity. We are now running for humanity,” college student Mahitab Ahmed Zain said as she caught her breath after finishing the marathon.

Joined by her female colleagues, Mahitab expressed happiness and hoped that the efforts that the thousands have done would serve humanity. 

”I hope we could do more to put an end to the suffering of the others,” she wished. “We are all humans and we all deserve to live in peace and dignity.”

The WHD is held every year on August 19 to pay tribute to aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian services, and to mobilize people to advocate for a more humane world. 

It is also an annual reminder of the need to alleviate the affliction of those who suffer. 

The day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly seven years ago to coincide with the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq.

Started with a simple desire of running in the streets of Cairo with only tens of runners four years ago, the Cairo Runners is the first and pioneering street running initiative in the country and it holds weekly morning runs that team up some 2,500 runners every Friday. 

The group uses its runs to promote sports as well as raising awareness about humanitarian disasters across the world.

“This is the second time in a row we celebrate the World Humanitarian Day. Through these marathons, we give people a clue about this international occasion,” Amr al-Sobki, one of the event organizers said. 

The young man expressed happiness for the large participation by people, stressing the need to use sports in serving world humanitarian issues.

The event was also joined by a number of foreigners in Egypt, including some refugees who have left their countries years ago due to worsening conditions. 

”My family and I did not think twice to join this run,” said Abdul Sattar Mohammed, a Somali refugee who has been living in Cairo since 2005. “People have different religions, colors and cultures, but in the end we are all humans, we are all the same.” — NNN-XINHUA

Back to top

14,500 Chinese To Perform Hajj This Year

BEIJING, China Aug 20 (NNN-Bernama) — A total of 14,500 Chinese Muslims will perform the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, this year, China’s State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) said Saturday. 

China’s Xinhua news agency reports that as of Friday, China has sent 37 chartered flights for the Hajj with a total of 11,000 Chinese pilgrims. 

A further group set off from Beijing on Saturday morning.

As they left, Zhang Yantong, vice head of SARA, said the Communist Party of China had always paid high attention to the Hajj. 

SARA has worked with relevant authorities to make arrangements for medical services, security precautions, accommodation and transport for those making the journey. 

Zhang told those making the pilgrimage to take good care of themselves and display a positive image of Chinese Muslims. 


Back to top

Arab Media Festival Kicks Off In Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan, Aug 23 (NNN-PETRA) – The third Jordan festival for Arab media, opened on Monday, to discuss the challenges facing media and technical developments of tools.

Up to 700 experts and artists from the public and private sectors in the Arab world, take part in the event, which runs until Thursday.

In an inaugural speech, Haifa Abu Ghazaleh, Arab League’s Assistant Secretary General and head of Media and Communication Sector, said, Jordan’s hosting of the event reflects the country’s keenness on the Arab media role, expressing her appreciation to Amman for organising it for the third year in a row.

She added, the code of ethics in media was a most prominent achievement by the Arab League.

For his part, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, Jawad Anani, stressed the importance of hosting the festival, especially at a time when there is a move on both global and Arab levels, to “combat risks of terrorism and the deviant thought.” He said that, media has a key role to fight extremism through educating people on risks of the “terrorist groups” and highlighting the moderate image of Islam.

He urged Arab media outlets to adopt a certain discourse to support efforts aiming to combat the deviant ideologies and raise awareness of youth on their risks.

Meanwhile, Amjad Qadi, head of Jordan Media Commission (JMC), said, the event is an opportunity to discuss challenges facing media and means of addressing them. Experts in media and drama from across the Arab world convene in Amman, to examine the impact of new communication tools and technologies on media content, he added.– NNN-PETRA

Back to top

Gaza College Students Make First Solar Car

A feature by NNN-XINHUA 

GAZA, Aug. 20 (NNN-Xinhua) — Two Palestinian mechanical engineering students from Gaza have shown their passion for green energy through manufacturing the first prototype solar car.

Kept in an empty room at the ground floor of one of the students’ home in Gaza city, the two-door vehicle is covered by solar panels that can convert sunrays into energy to an electric motor which pushes the vehicle to move. 

The students said it took them one year to design the three-wheel vehicle, adding the costs were roughly 1,500 U.S. dollars which they paid from their own pockets.

Jamal Mikaty, one of students, said they wanted to achieve two goals through this project. 

”The first is to make a scientific leap to prove that we can achieve just like the other countries,” he said, adding that the second is to bring the knowledge they gained into reality and serve the community.

The young man said they are very pleased that they have managed to realize their dreams through this model. 

Although the solar car can only reach the speed of 30 kilometers per hour, the two students said this is the first step toward a real high tech solar car that will be manufactured soon. 

”I believe that their project will be very successful in Gaza if we find a sponsor because this will help Gaza residents escape the skyrocketing prices of fuel that is imported from Israel,” said Mikaty.

Gaza is rich for solar energy and it is almost the only natural source available in the region with more than 300 sunny days in the year, yet 1.9 million Gaza people have no choice but to rely on expensive Israeli-imported fuel to run their vehicles and factories. 

According to the Oslo Peace Accords between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel has control over the fuel supply to the Palestinians, while the Palestinian government must not sell its fuel for less than 15 percent of Israel’s market price.

“If this project is implemented; we will reduce our dependency on Israeli energy,” Miktay added as he prepared the vehicle for a short ride in his upscale neighborhood. 

As the car moved slowly, Mikaty waved to his neighbors who lined to watch his small metal car. 

The students were encouraged by al-Azhar University of Gaza which is considered a main supporter of innovation in the Palestinian Gaza Strip.

Mazen Abu Amer, professor at al-Azhar University’s engineering faculty, told Xinhua that the idea to create a solar car is brand new in Gaza, adding that the university will support the project to the end. 

”We hope that this project will be commercialized and can benefit the Gaza Strip in the near future,” he said. — NNN-XINHUA

Back to top

Qatar To Launch ‘Generation Amazing’ Project For Workers In Oct

DOHA, Qatar, Aug 25 (NNN-QNA) – The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy’s (SC) flagship CSR programme, Generation Amazing, is set to be launched in Oct. 

It is set up with the aim of upgrading the social and communication skills, including leadership and confidence among construction workers in Qatar.

It evoked a great response in the opening week in May, with many onlookers wanting to enrol as participants and it is expected to be hugely popular among construction workers, as the findings of a recent pilot have revealed.

“During our opening week at Labour City, we had a substantial audience, with many wanting their names to be added to the pilot programme,” SC’s Football for Development coach, Michael Richardson, told SC’s website.

”The pilot project was successful for a variety of reasons, yet most importantly; it confirmed that the modules are well sought by our target groups. This paves the way for the official roll-out of the local project, which will touch the lives of many more students and workers in Qatar.

The pilot project also highlighted the areas where more work is required, to achieve the expected outcome, which is now in progress,” the local project manager of Generation Amazing, Noor Al Athirah, said.

In parallel, Generation Amazing held a pilot project for the local schools project for more than 400 schoolchildren. It drew similar responses with nearly 70 percent of participants wanting to continue their involvement in the roll-out of the local project. The project was intended to instil the spirit of inclusivity and multiculturalism in the target group, as well as, foster a healthy lifestyle.

Generation Amazing is the SC’s flagship CSR programme that uses the opportunity of Qatar hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the power of football as a catalyst for social change, to educate and empower the next generation in Qatar and across the world.

The programme has been operational in Nepal, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, and is scheduled for launch this Oct, following the conclusion of the pilot in June.– NNN-QNA

Back to top

Royal Jordanian Grants Children’s Museum An RJ-Branded Float

AMMAN, Aug 29, (NNN-Petra) – Royal Jordanian granted the Children’s Museum/Jordan a float in the shape of an aircraft, the one RJ used when it participated in the parade held in June on the occasion of the centennial of the Great Arab Revolt.

 The float will be displayed in a special area in the museum, called “Around the World”, which shows smaller models of several Jordanian and international tourism attractions, such as Petra, the Eiffel Tower and others.

This RJ initiative aims at familiarizing children with the national carrier of Jordan, and the distinctive colors of its aircraft decorated with the Royal Crown. It also introduces the children to RJ’s history and its vital role in connecting Jordan with the world.

RJ cooperates with the Children’s Museum/Jordan in different ways. The two organizations are now studying developing the area designated for the field of aviation in the museum, to make it more interactive and project Royal Jordanian’s identity, for children to be able to understand the concept of flying and get familiarized with the professions in this field.

On this occasion, RJ President/CEO Captain Suleiman Obeidat said: “There is no doubt that Royal Jordanian plays an important role in supporting the process of interactive learning; the dream to fly attracts most of our children.”

This is an opportunity for us as the national carrier to support such a Jordanian educational institution. It gives us the chance to take part in the children’s educational process and be part of their ambitions.”

Director of the Children Museum/Jordan Sawsan Dalaq expressed her satisfaction at this initiative while looking forward to more cooperation with the national carrier. 

The museum receives thousands of children yearly, and the new piece will definitely have a positive impact on them and their future plans, especially that aviation always has a special effect on children of different ages.

Back to top

Iranian Foreign Minister Visits Venezuela To Boost Bilateral Cooperation

CARACAS, Aug. 28 (NNN-Xinhua) — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in Venezuela Saturday to boost the two countries’ bilateral cooperation.

 In a brief interview with the state-owned Venezolana de Televisión, Zarif said that the two countries’ central banks would sign an agreement to boost their joint cooperation.

“This agreement to be signed by the central banks of both countries will help to broaden bilateral relations and open the path of participation in our joint development,” he explained. 

Iran and Venezuela collaborated in the creation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960. They became closer after President Hugo Chavez came to power in Venezuela in 1999 and during the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (2005-2013).

This is the last leg of Zarif’s Latin American tour, which also took him to Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Chile and Bolivia. — NNN-XINHUA

Back to top

Russia Lifts Charter Flights Ban On Turkey

MOSCOW, Aug 29 (NNN-Xinhua) — The Russian government signed on Sunday a decree lifting the restrictions on charter flights to Turkey after an eight-month ban introduced due to tensions between the two countries arising from the downing of a Russian warplane by Ankara in Nov. 2015.

Following the move, a number of Russian airlines have begun to submit applications to the country’s air transport authorities for charter flights to Turkey.

 Meanwhile, the Russian government has proposed that airlines take additional steps to ensure the safety of charter flights between Russia and Turkey.

Russia has taken a series of restrictive measures against Turkey from 2016, including bans on the import of Turkish foodstuffs, charter flights in both directions, and the visa-free travel regime between them.

On June 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a lift of the ban on package tours to Turkey and instructed the government to take steps to resume charter flights between the two countries after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan apologized for the downing of the Russian warplane. — NNN-XINHUA

Back to top

Indonesia, Malaysia bilateral tourism promoted

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 25 Agustus 2016 – The Tourism Ministry (Kemenpar) is facilitating a meeting between tourism industry players of Indonesia and Malaysia at the Indonesia Tourism Table Top event being held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Indonesian Tourism Minister (Menpar) Arief Yahya here on Thursday said the event is being held at the Pullman Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on August 24-25, 2016, and is one of the initiatives to attract more foreign tourists from the neighboring country.

“The current Indonesia Tourism Table Top event was one of the largest business meetings to be organized by the Indonesian government through its Tourism Ministry in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which is the countrys main tourist market and priority,” Yahya noted.

Indonesia Tourism Table Top in Kuala Lumpur is part of a series of similar events earlier held in February 2016.

Some 50 sellers from the Indonesian tourism industry and 60 buyers from the Malaysian tourism industry got an opportunity to explore cooperation to realize business deals.

On the occasion, Indonesias Tourism Ministry invited its tourism industry players, which are also members of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA), from various provinces to participate in the event.

Industry players attending the event are coming from Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau, South Sumatra, Bangka Belitung, Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, South Sulawesi, and West Kalimantan.

“To disseminate information on various destinations in the country to the Malaysian buyers, it will organize an exhibition of products of Indonesian tourism industry players that are part of ASITA,” he remarked.

The first day of the event featured presentations on tourism products and tour packages from Yogyakarta, Sumatra, and Java as the preferred destinations for Malaysian tourists.

A similar agenda was followed on the second day to disburse information on the tour package titled “Bali and Beyond,” particularly to highlight South Sulawesi as a new destination for Malaysian tourists.

Minister Yahya stated that the two-day event would help players from Malaysias tourism industry to explore potential areas of cooperation with their prospective business partners from Indonesia.

“Thus, they can create and sell Indonesian tour packages in the Malaysian market,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Deputy for International Marketing Development of the Tourism Ministry I Gde Pitana affirmed that this cooperation will serve as a testament to the fact that both nations support the ASEAN’s Single-Destination Tourism strategy to encourage the joint promotion of the ASEAN region.

“One of the strategic action plans to implement the policies outlined in the ASEANs Single-Destination Tourism Strategy is to expand connectivity,” he remarked.

He added that Indonesia and Malaysia are now connected by 12 airlines that offer direct flights between 10 cities in Malaysia and 18 cities in Indonesia.

“In the near future, we hope more cities in these two countries would have direct flight connectivity,” Pitana stated.

Hence, both governments, along with the players from the industry, should seek to promote the idea.

Back to top

Indonesian traditional dances performed in Teoloyucan, Mexico

London (ANTARA News), 10 Agustus 2016 – Several Indonesian traditional dances were performed at the Festival Internacional Tratados de Teoloyucan in Teoloyucan City, Mexico, according to a press release from the Indonesian Embassy in Mexico City received by ANTARA News here, Wednesday.

The cultural festival being held on August 6 to 14 is featuring traditional cultures from several participating countries.

At the festival, Indonesia showcased dances from various tribes, such as Lenong Betawi and Nandak Ganjen from Betawi; Merak Sunda from Sundanese, West Java Province; Tor Tor Tandok from Batak, North Sumatra; and Cipat Cipit from Banyumas, Central Java.

Indonesia is participating in the festival for the first time and aims to introduce its traditional cultures to the Mexicans, especially to the people in Teoloyucan.

Teoloyucan Mayor Victor Hugo Rojas Guzman lauded the Indonesian performances. He was also thankful to the cultural team for enriching the knowledge of the locals about Indonesian traditional arts.

Maria Guadalupe Martinez Franco, the organizer, praised the Indonesian performances and the elegance of batik, a traditional textile with wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, showcased at the booth.

This year, 35 countries, including Indonesia, Panama, Argentina, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Syria, Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Iraq, Panama, Turkey, Japan, the United States, Thailand, Russia, Peru, Guatemala, and Colombia, are participating in the festival.

Indonesia’s participation at the festival is expected to help introduce its culture and traditions to the people of Mexico and other countries.

Back to top

Madiun develops tourism villages to attract tourists

Madiun (ANTARA News), 28 August 2016 – Madiun district government in the Indonesian province of East Java is making efforts to develop a number of areas into tourism villages to attract local and foreign tourists, according to an official.

“Of all 206 villages in Madiun district, 11 have been surveyed to be developed into tourism villages to attract both local and foreign tourists,” said the head of Department of Cooperatives, Industry, Trade and Tourism (Diskoperindagta), Sawung Rehtomo, here.

He said the 11 villages are Brumbun, Kresek, Segulung, Dolopo, Durenan, Kare, Batok, Tawangrejo, Gunungsari, Pilangrejo, and Mruwak.

According to him, the concept of the tourism village will highlight the potential that exists in each village for sale to tourists.

In Brumbun village, for example, tourists will have the opportunity to cruise down the beautiful riven on the slopes of Mount Wilis, or to have the sensation of picking durian fruits in Kare village.

Rehtomo explained that the development of tourist villages will be carried out as part of efforts to build the tourism industry in Madiun district, both nature and cultural tourism.

Back to top

Thousands of foreign tourists come to Enliven Togean Festival

Palu, Central Sulawesi (ANTARA News), 28 August 2016 – Thousands of tourists from Italy, France, Germany, Australia, and South Korea, among other things, were present to enliven the Togean Festival, opened by Central Sulawesi Vice Governor Soedarto in Tojo Unouno district on Saturday.

Held from Augut 27 to 31, 2016, the Togean Marine Festival aims to promote the natural beauty and unique underwater paradise in Tojo Unouno district, according to Central Sulawesi Culture and Tourism Office Chief Siti Norma Mardjanu.

“Yes, more than one thousand tourists from various countries are now in Tojo Unauna to enliven the marine festival of Togean Islands charm,” Mardjanu affirmed here on Sunday.

According to her, all cottages accommodations in Tojo Unauna are fully booked by the foreign tourists, and many of them have to stay at the homes of local government officials.

To enliven the Togean Marine Festival, the foreign tourists also participates in road race hosted by Tojo Unauna District Head Mohammad Lahay, underwater photo contest, boat race, the tug of war on the boats, cultural attraction, traditional martial arts, swimming and fishing contest.

Increased tourism promotion in Togean, according to her, will continue to be made through the festival by involving the Ministry of Tourism to maximize the dissemination of information about the charm of the area nationally and internationally.

“Central Sulawesi provincial government took the central government to participate in promoting the Tojo Unouno tourism through the Togean Marine Festival,” Mardjanu explained.

Togean Marine Festival is being held to promote the regional tourism in the country and abroad in a bid to boost tourist visits to Togean Islands.

Indonesia is home to some of the worlds most beautiful aquatic areas including the Togian Islands, where diving is one of the best things the visitors can do.

“Tropical coral reefs filled with an abundance of marine life can be found in many areas around the island,” she said.

Back to top