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15 Aug, 2016

Islamic medical tradition “hijama” used by Olympic swimming champ

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 15 August 2016 (12 Dhul Qa’dah 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Proclamations of “Merdeka” or “Freedom/Independence” are often heard nationwide this August as it is Malaysia’s Independence Day on 31st August. The country marks its independence in 1957 with the Merdeka Day Parade at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. K-Poppers mustn’t miss the first ever iKoncert Showtime Tour in Kuala Lumpur. But if you are looking for local culture engagement and music, then head to Penang for the Boria Festival. Meanwhile, mark the date for these home-grown music festivals, i.e. Sarawak’s Rainforest World Music Festival or Good Vibes Festival in Pahang. Love sports? Challenge Iskandar Puteri 2016, Merdeka Day Open Regatta 2016 and Padawan Raft Safari 2016 are events you shouldn’t miss. Have fun, stay healthy, enjoy quality time with the family and explore the surrounding of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week returns to Pavilion, KL with up-to-date and exclusive fashion trends. Meet your favourite designers and celebrities while you feast your eyes on amazing fashion collections. To give you some ideas of what to do in August, here’s a line-up of well-balanced events to enjoy in Malaysia. http://www.tourism.gov.my/media/view/experience-malaysia-august-1

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



Visitor arrivals from Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, to Thailand are rising steadily in the first half of 2016, thanks to low-cost airlines and growing promotions of the availability of Muslim-friendly services and facilities. The launch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s app promoting Muslim-friendly products and services, growing availability of halal food and new flights by AirAsia and Thai Lion Air are among the major factors contributing to a 16% increase in Indonesian visitors in May 2016 and 10% increase in June 2016. As citizens of a fellow ASEAN country, Indonesians don’t need visas to Thailand. They love to shop for clothes and enjoy Thai food. The TAT is seeing a growing number of first-time visitors, especially to Bangkok and the beach resort of Pattaya. The TAT marketing office in Jakarta is stepping up promotions of Muslim packages, and Family & Children packages covering attractions such as the Dinosaur Planet, Dream World, Cartoon Network, Pipo Pony, Madame Tussauds, and Sea Life. Destinations surrounding Bangkok are getting popular, namely Hua Hin and Nakhon Pathom. Honeymooners like Krabi and Ko Samui. The TAT is also targetting the ladies and friends market, including housewives and office workers, and young travellers.

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.



Sarawak To Set UP National Parks And Wildlife Department

KUCHING, Sarawak state, Malaysia, 10 Aug 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Sarawak state will have its Department of National Parks and Wildlife by January next year.

State Forestry Department director, Sapuan Ahamad said its proposed structure and organisation were now ready and would be presented to the government for approval.

He was speaking to reporters after officiating at the three-day national-level protected areas conference on ‘Managing Beyond Boundaries’, attended by about 150 civil servants, private organisation personnel and representatives of local communities and NGOs.

Sapuan said the new department would be tasked with, among others, managing and conserving wildlife, creating new totally protected areas (TPAs) and putting the brakes on illegal hunting and the sale of bush meat.

“It will in particular look after the orang utan and the growing threat to humans from crocodiles threatened by food shortage and increasingly polluted rivers.

“We are in the process of creating another 31 new TPAs with a combined area of 451,819 hectares and the new department can play its part here.”

He said if this was accomplished by 2020, the state would have TPA areas totalling 1.3 million hectares.

He added that currently, the Forestry Department was hard pressed to do the work as it was occupied with timber licensing, the fight against illegal logging and other related activities.

“We have since July 2016, gazetted a total area of 903,769 hectares comprising 43 national parks (694,770 hectares), 14 natural reserves (2,539 hectares) and six wildlife sanctuaries (206,460 hectares),” he said.

On orang utan, Sapuan said he was happy to note that its population in the state had increased, according to reports from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“We have some 1,600 of the primates living in the Orang Utan Sanctuary in Lanjak Entimau (some 200,000 hectares of natural habitat), besides those in Ulu Sebuyau and Sedilu.

“Certain critical western NGOs tend to believe the primates are found all over the state, which is not true,” he said.

He added that Chief Minister Adenan Satem too had wanted any new area with orang utan sightings to come under the TPA as well.

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Whale, Dolphin Watching To Be Tourist Attraction In Langkawi

LANGKAWI, Malaysia, 10 Aug 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The Langkawi Development Authority (LADA) plans to promote whale and dolphin watching as another tourism attraction and its chief executive officer, Khalid Ramli today called on industry players to prepare to tap the potential of this activity.

He said Langkawi had been known to be one of the marine mammals’ habitats where over 100 sightings of whales and dolphins had been recorded near the island over the last five years.

“Tourism players in Langkawi should start working on a creative package for whale or dolphin watching which I am sure will attract more tourists to come,” he told a press conference after opening a workshop on Marine Mammal Stranding Response here.

According to him, the workshop could serve as a starting point to raise awareness on marine mammals protection and management as the basis to devise guidelines that could facilitate tour operators in creating their packages.

“Most of us are not aware that our marine area is rich with species of whales and dolphins, so we need to look after them (the marine mammals) so that they would continue to be around,” he added.

Meanwhile, Dr Louisa Ponnampalam, a co-founder of MareCet, a non-governmental organisation dedicated to marine mammal and environment research, said no whale watching had been done as a tourism activity in Malaysia to date, while the only dolphin watching package known was conducted in Santubong, Sarawak.

She said Bryde’s whale, Indo-Pacific finless porpoise and three species of dolphins – Indo-Pacific humpback, Indo-Pacific bottlenose and Irrawaddy – had been spotted in a research that they had conducted around Langkawi waters for the last five years.

“In Langkawi, the (marine mammal) population is at a relatively healthy level and we need to maintain this level by looking after the environment,” she said.

According to her, the workshop, jointly-organised by MareCet and LADA, was an initiative to raise public awareness on marine mammals management and steps to be taken in dealing with stranded species.

Some 100 participants comprising nature enthusiasts, fishermen, tour operators, hoteliers and government officers took part in the two-day workshop which would end tomorrow.

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Kuis Student Among Youngest Haj Pilgrims From Kelantan State

KOTA BAHARU, Kelantan state, Malaysia, 12 Aug 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — A final-year Arabic language student of Selangor International Islamic University College (KUIS) is among the youngest pilgrims from Kelantan state to go for Haj this season.

Wan Ahmad Syahmie Wan Mustapa, 20, of Lundang, here, said he did not expect to be selected as a mahram (unmarriageable kin for company) to his mother, Faridah Salleh, 43, for the religious sojourn.

“I was shocked when I learned I could go on the pilgrimage. I only started making preparations four months ago. It never struck me that I would be able to set foot on Makkah at this young age.

“I have applied for leave and will be taking my final-year examination after returning from the Holy Land,” said the third of four siblings.

He was met by reporters after a sending-off ceremony for pilgrims at the Silver Jubilee Islamic Complex in Panji, here, last night.

The ceremony, officiated by Kelantan state Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Ahmad Yakob, was also attended by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, Tabung Haji (TH) chairman Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim and its board member Shukry Mohd Salleh. (Tabing Haji is Malaysia’s pilgrimage management board)

Another pilgrim, Siti Rohana Mustafa, 50, of Machang, said she was sad as she could not perform her pilgrimage with her husband, Muhammad Khaidir Yusof who died two years ago.

“I had registered for the Haj with my husband in 2007 with the hope of going on the journey together but it is not to be with his early demise,” she said.

After the ceremony, 150 pilgrims boarded a flight at Sultan Ismail Petra Airport in Pengkalan Chepa before arriving at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.05 am for their onward flight to Madinah at 4.05 this morning.

A total of 1,600 pilgrims from Kelantan state will be fulfilling the fifth pillar of Islam during this pilgrimage season.

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Malaysia: Documentation Of Ethnic Languages Needs To Be Continuous

TAWAU, Malaysia, 11 August 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Documentation of ethnic languages and local dialects needs to be a continuous effort to avoid their extinction, said Deputy Higher Education Minister Mary Yap Kain Ching.

She said this was crucial as the current young generation lacked exposure totheir respective ethnic language inherited from their family, as they preferredto speak in the national language or other languages such as English.

“The effect is that ethnic language usage could not flourish and eventually could face extinction, and this is worrying.

“Thus, the documentation of various local languages which is now in implementation is among the best measures to maintain the precious heritage, culture and language of any ethnic group,” she told reporters at the UNESCO 2016: Preserving Ethnic Languages and Local Dialects programme, here, today.

She said the extinction of such languages would be a terrible loss to the country, adding that the holding of the four-day programme was timely for the benefit of the young generation.

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Malaysia: Computational Thinking, Computer Science To Be Taught In School

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 11 August 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Najib Tun Razak said today that starting January next year, Computational Thinking and Computer Science will be integrated into the country’s formal school curriculum.

The Prime Minister, when announcing this, said they would be integrated into the new Standard Based Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR) and Standard Based Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KSSM) in phases.

“This effort will benefit approximately 1.2 million students from 10,173 schools nationwide,” he said at the launch of #mydigitalmaker movement at Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah, Precinct 1 here today.

Najib said Computational Thinking and Computer Science would be integrated into all subjects for primary schools in phases starting with Standard One next year, Standard Two in 2018 and so on.

He said Basic Computer science would be offered to secondary schools, starting with Form 1 and Form 4 next year.

“What we are introducing is in fact something that is also being done in many other countries. This is a global phenomenon. US, UK and Australia have already integrated Computer Science education into their schools. I Understand that Malaysia is the first country in ASEAN to have piloted this curriculum in our education system,” he said.

Najib said the Education Ministry and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) were working closely to prepare the educators for the new curriculum.

He said about 9,200 teachers were currently undergoing training on how to integrate computational thinking and computer science into their classrooms for the new curriculum next year.

“Computational Thinking and Computer Science is also being integrated into teacher training colleges and Institut Aminuddin Baki which trains principals and headmasters. In future, all teachers graduating from teacher training colleges will be equipped with these skills,” he said.

Najib said the Computational Thinking and Computer Science curriculum was piloted in 24 schools last year, where 660 students and 50 teachers were involved.

He said in a short span of eight to 10 weeks of classes, these students were able to create their own games, presentations and other creations.

“I must take a moment to say Syabas and congratulations to the teachers of the pilot programme. You have done an amazing job in embracing this new skill and nurturing your students’ interest and skills in such a short time,” he said.

Meanwhile, Najib said it was vital to train the younger generation with Computational Thinking and coding languages that would give them a good foundation in preparing for future digital economy jobs.

He said jobs such as Data Scientists, Imagineers (engineers and multimedia experts), 3D Game Designer or User Interface (UI) Programmer and Solutions architect were just a few of the new and emerging job titles which are currently in demand.

“In fact, there are many jobs that probably today we have not heard of thembut will become a reality by five to 10 years down the road. Therefore, we have to train our kids today for jobs that are not even existing,” he said, adding that Malaysia recorded more than 88,107 jobs in Computer Science related fields last year.

Najib urged parents to encourage their children to embrace digital economy as career path because the earning potential in this field is huge.

Citing an example, Najib said an animation graduate from Multimedia University was earning more than RM25,000 per month while a female data scientist from Penang earned more than RM25,000 every month.

“Parents today must not want their kids to become doctors, lawyers or politicians. They should become scientists or jobs of the future economy. That is definitely much more exciting,” he said.

On the launch of #mydigitalmaker, Najib said the movement, in partnership with Ministry of Education and the support of private sectors and academia, is an initiative to create a nation of digital makers.

He called upon all Malaysians to support the future generations in embracingdigital innovation through the # mydigitalmaker movement that everyone must partake to see a more solid digital economy for the country.

“I urge you to seize this opportunity, to be bold and confident – dream the important dreams and make them happen with digital technology. This digital economy that we speak of, will drive more innovation and growth of our nation – and you, as the future workforce, will be the drivers.

“The future begins now, and it begins with you. Challenge yourself, take chances, and turn your best ideas into action – because you can. Believe that and you will see that the future of digital innovators in Malaysia is a bright and rewarding one,” he said.

Also present were Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid, Deputy Education Minister Kamalanathan, Education director-general Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof, Ministry of Communications and Multimedia secretary-general Dr Sharifah Zarah Syed Ahmad and MDEC chief executive officer Yasmin Mahmood.

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Iskandar Malaysia Records Rm208 Bln In Total Committed Investments

JOHOR BAHARU, Johor state, Malaysia, 15 August 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Iskandar Malaysia has recorded RM208 billion in committed investments from 2006 until June 30 this year, said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Najib, who is also the Co-Chairman of Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), said of the total, 51 per cent or RM106.43 billion represented investments that have been realised.

“(Of the total committed investments) Local investors contributed RM124 billion while 40 per cent (RM84.05 billion) came from foreign countries, which showed confidence of our neighbour and other countries in the world,” he said in a speech at the launch of Iskandar Malaysia Greenland Smart City Experiential Centre (SMARTXP), Helios Cove in Permas Jaya yesterday.

Also present were Johor state Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Mohamed Khaled Nordin, IRDA Chief Executive Ismail Ibrahim and Greenland Group Chairman/President, Zhang Yuliang.

Najib said the huge investments reflected the country’s strong economic fundamentals especially with the government strengthening the economy byremoving subsidies on petroleum and gas, implementing the Good and Services Tax (GST) and diversifying the economy.

Despite receiving a lot of criticism and being exploited by some quarters including former leaders, the GST has become Malaysia’s saviour following a sharp drop in oil and gas prices, said Najib, who is also Finance Minister.

“They knew it was the right thing to do but they claimed that it was not,” he said, adding that the goverment has been able to withstand the global headwinds and remains on track in achieving its vision to become a high-income nation.

On Iskandar Malaysia, Najib said between 2007 and 2015, it created a total of 682,169 jobs in various sectors mostly in manufacturing, hospitality, food and beverage, as well as education.

Meanwhile on the smart city, the prime minister said there was a need to develop the smart city concept in the future as 90 per cent of the country’s population would be living in the cities by 2020.

Citing research studies, Najib said of the nearly 32 million people in Malaysia, 74.5 per cent were currently staying in the cities and urban areas.

“This number is expected to increase to 90 per cent by 2020. In other words, there are 21 people, either migrating to the cities or being born, every hour and this translates into 504 people a day and 183,960 people in a year.

“So, the demand for smart city infrastructure will be tremendous and vital,” he said adding that he was pleased to see Iskandar Malaysia has come out with the SMARTXP concept.

The SMARTXP, which is open to the public from today, allows visitors to experience smart city living with the latest technology including virtualreality experiences as well as interactive games.

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Malaysia to intensify development at border with Thailand

JELI, Malaysia, 14 Aug 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – The government will intensify development at the Malaysia-Thailand border areas to encourage trade activities in those areas.

Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed said to-date, development at the border areas was quite slow even though they had the potential for cross-border trade with ASEAN countries.

“We want to enhance further trade at the Malaysia-Thailand border areas so that there’s active movement in cross-border export activities,” he said to reporters after launching the Incubator programme for ASEAN Export Champions (IJEA programme) here, yesterday.

Mustapa said the development at the border areas would also encourage micro entrepreneurs especially in Kelantan, Kedah and Perlis states to market their products to neighbouring countries.

Meanwhile, he said the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) was collaborating with the Malaysian Association of ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs (MAAYE) to implement the IJEA programme to prepare micro entrepreneurs in the rural areas to expand their business to ASEAN countries.

He said besides product development, the entrepreneurs would be given exposure to the intricacies of export by bringing them to participate in various activities such as expositions and carnivals at the ASEAN level.

The Jeli Parliament entrepreneurial community was picked as the pioneer

group for the IJEA programme due to the district’s strategic location and the presence of active movement in cross-border export between Kelantan and Southern Thailand region.

A total of 700 micro entrepreneurs with the status of small and medium enterprises from the agriculture, livestock farming, manufacturing, retail, lifestyle and food sectors will be involved in the programme.

MATRADE Chief Executive Officer Dzulkifli Mahmud said the entrepreneurial guidance programme covered pragmatic and practical training sessions through a knowledge delivery method that is easy-to-understand.

Among the topics are market intelligence, tariff information, non-trade barriers, branding, marketing, packaging and media relations.

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Malaysia hosts National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) International Week

PUTRAJAYA, 13 Aug 2016, (Bernama) — Malaysia will organise the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) International Week 2016 from 14 to 20 August 2016 at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC), Putrajaya, Malaysia.

In conjunction with the NBOS International Week, various programmes have been arranged including five (5) major international events as follows:-

i) NBOS Open Day, 14-20 August 2016;

ii) NBOS Run & Ride, 14 August 2016;

iii) International Conference on Blue Ocean Strategy, 16-18 August 2016;

iv) 6th Commonwealth Public Service Ministers Meeting on Governance for Sustainable Development, 17 August 2016; and

v) Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) Biennial Conference 2016, 18-20 August 2016.

NBOS Open Day

The NBOS Open Day will be held throughout the International NBOS Week from 14 to 20 August 2016. It is an exhibition that showcases initiatives implemented with the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) approach that have impacted people positively. Visitors will have an opportunity to explore the various creative and innovative initiatives carried out by Malaysia and observe how collaboration and sharing of resources by adopting the NBOS approach have delivered high impact to the people while keeping costs low. The exhibition will display initiatives implemented based on impact themes, keeping to the NBOS idea of cutting across mental and structural silos. Apart from the exhibition, the NBOS Open Day has also lined up stage performances and pocket talks.

NBOS Run & Ride

The NBOS Run & Ride will be held on 14 August 2016, at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC). This international event is open to all nationalities.

There are eight categories to choose ranging from the 5km Fun Run, 11km Competitive Run (six categories) and a 16km Fun Ride (cycling). The NBOS Run & Ride is organised by Malaysia Civil Service Sports Council (MAKSAK Malaysia), in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Putrajaya Corporation and the Federal Territory Kuala Lumpur Athletic Association. For registration and further details, please visit www.howei.com.

International Conference on Blue Ocean Strategy (ICBOS)

The International Conference on Blue Ocean Strategy (ICBOS) will be held from 16 to 18 August 2016. It is aimed at giving an opportunity for participants to share knowledge and ideas on injecting creativity and innovation in the formulation and implementation of national policies and initiatives that impact the people. This is in light of Malaysia’s very own success in applying the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) that puts creativity and innovation at the heart of its national development strategy and efforts towards achieving a high income developed nation status by the year 2020. The Conference with the theme, Transforming Nations through Creativity and Innovation, consists of keynote speeches and panel discussions by national leaders, eminent speakers, and global experts. Approximately 3,000 participants from around the world are expected to attend the Conference, including national leaders from Commonwealth member countries, ASEAN member states, and members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The ICBOS is co-organised by the Razak School of Government, Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s Department. For registration and further details, please visit www.icbos.com.my.

6th Commonwealth Public Service Ministers Meeting on Governance for Sustainable Development

The Commonwealth Public Service Ministers Meeting on Governance for Sustainable Development co-organised by Malaysia and the Commonwealth Secretariat will be held on 17 August 2016. The Ministers Meeting provides a platform for the Ministers to deliberate and discuss on how best to promote good governance towards achieving global efforts on the implementation of the UN Agenda 2013 for Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030.

CAPAM Biennial Conference 2016

The Malaysian Civil Service, in collaboration with the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration & Management (CAPAM) will be organising the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration And Management (CAPAM) Biennial Conference 2016 from 18 to 20 August 2016. The Biennial Conference with the theme ‘Innovation: A Public Service Imperative’ is expected to be attended by over 1,000 delegates from Commonwealth member countries. For registration and further details, please visit www.capam.org.

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Ignite The Innovative Thinkers at Malaysia Design Competition

PENANG, 12 August 2016, (Bernama) – Anxiety ran high during the Innovate Malaysia Design Competition (IMDC) 2016 grand finale, recently held at the Equatorial Hotel Penang on 8 and 9th August.

The year-long journey first saw 264 teams from 25 Institution of Higher Learnings (IHLs) submitting their project proposals. After much training and scrutiny from the industry partners, only 45 teams managed to advance to the final stage. The event was joined by approximately 400 guests comprising of industry leaders from both local and international technology companies, educators, government agencies and other relevant stakeholders.

The IMDC is multi-discipline engineering design competition open to all final-year undergraduate engineering and computer science students in Malaysia. It was first introduced in 2010 and it had grown significantly over the past years. It is organized by a panel of industry organizations from Altera, Intel, Keysight Technologies, MathWorks, Microsoft, National Instruments, SilTerra/CEDEC, Motorola Solutions and Vitrox. IMDC had received tremendous support from the government and IHLs, specifically from Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Talent Corporation Malaysia (TalentCorp), Malaysian Technical Universities (MTUN) and managed by Dream Catcher Consulting Sdn Bhd.

In conjunction with the event, Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) hosted the Innovate Malaysia Design Conference (IMDCon) 2016 a day before the event. It was officiated by Deputy Minister of Science, Technology & Innovation, Datuk Dr. Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah. It was followed by a welcoming speech by Deputy Vice Chancellor Alumni and Student Affairs of UMP, Professor Dato Dr. Yusserrie Zainuddin.

He mentioned, “IMDCon serves as the intellectual avenue for the undergraduates from various Malaysian universities to enhance their engineering education experience, particularly in the electrical and electronics engineering discipline through constructive engagement with the representatives from the participating industries and academia.

It also has expanded significantly with increased number of participation – the academia, the industry, researchers and students. Thus, with 45 technical papers scheduled to be presented in nine tracks throughout IMDCon 2016, the participants and delegates will have ample opportunity to engage in constructive discussion that contributes to knowledge dissemination and experience enrichment,” he said.

This year, TechSource Systems (MathWorks sole distributors in Southeast Asia) was elected as the industry host for the grand finale. The company had been a strong advocate for Internet of Things (IoT), Data Analytic trend, Model Based Design (MBD) and usage of Low-cost hardware such as Arduino, Raspi 3 and others, which is related to education among students are increased.

Chief Executive of TechSource Systems, Kenneth Koh said, Innovate Malaysia Design Competition encourages and ignites the innovative thinkers among the students by using the right tools across the industries, the latest products and technology that engineers and scientist globally are using today. They are very pleased to be part of the Innovate Malaysia competition, as we are able to demonstrate, educate and empower these young talents who are in the engineering and computer science fields to become more skillful and competence for the country.

The IMDC’s grand finale closing speech was delivered by Dato’ Ng Wan Peng, Chief Operating Officer of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). In her speech, she commended on how IMDC is very much aligned to MDEC’s National ICT Initiative and National Digital Economy initiative.

These initiatives, among others, are aimed at advancing the country towards a developed digital economy and realize its aspiration of becoming a high income nation. This year’s IMDC had expand its focus to include Entrepreneurship, charting the path to create more Internet of Things (IoT) startups.

Through the Innovate Malaysia Startup Pre-accelerator, powered by MDEC, participants were taught on Lean Startup methodology and new elements in Entrepreneurship to give them the right kind of mindset to pursue their startup journey, which was also supported by Second Startup. MDEC sees this as a good platform to nurture and accelerate high potential IoT startups, a sector that we strongly support and is deemed as one of the key drivers of Digital Economy.

The competition participants had competed across the nine organizers’ technology track. The contestants were required to identify a real life problem or take up the challenge provided by the Design Challengers, namely Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Telekom Malaysia (TM), Cancer Research Malaysia (CRM) and Sime Darby. They demonstrated their inventions and pitched their ideas before the project was judged by the industry experts. It was undoubtedly a challenging yet exciting task for the judges as this year’s finalists showed excellent project accomplishment.

After much deliberation, the winners of each technology platform were announced as Altera track, the winner was from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) with their project entitled FPGA Implementation on Hearing Protection Device (HPD).

Intel track, the winner was from Swinburne University of Technology with their project entitled NFC-based Intelligent Parking System Utilizing Smartphones with Parking Lot Monitoring (InstantPark). Keysight Technologies track, the winner was from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) with their project entitled Electrochemical Biosensing Measurement System for Cancer Gene Detection. Followedby Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) with the project title: IoT: Smart Car Monitoring System (Vehicle After Crash Alert).

MathWorks track, the winner was from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) with their project entitled Development of Network Based Surveillance Module (NBSM) for the Wild. Microsoft track, the winner was from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) with their project entitled Innova Board (Compact Body Balance Training Device).

Motorola Solutions track, the winner was from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UNIMAP) with their project entitled Development of a Health Monitoring Vest for the Elderly. National Instrument track, the winner was from Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UteM) with their project entitled Development and Analysis of Head Tracking System for Robotic Wheelchair Control.

SilTerra/CEDEC track, the winner was from Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UteM) with their project entitled Design and Development of a Low Power Compact Integrated Processor of an Embedded System. Vitrox track, the winner was from Curtin University with their project entitled Camera Based Solar Tracking System.

The Design Challengers also took the opportunity to award the best project with the Design Challenge Award. The winners were Sime Darby challenge, the winner was from Swinburne University of Technology with their project entitled Autonomous Oil Palm Loose Fruits Collector. TM Challenge, the winner was from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) with their project entitled Development of Flexible Platform Based on IoT for Telemedicine. WCS Challenge, the winner was from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) with their project entitled Development of Network Based Surveillance Module (NBSM) for the Wild.

Swinburne University of Technology with their project NFC-based Intelligent Parking Systems Utilizing Smartphones with Parking Lot Monitoring (InstantPark) won the MDEC IOT Awards. MDEC Startup Pre-Accelerator awards were also given to five selected projects. In addition to the winners above, The Best Demo Video Award was handed to Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) with their project entitled Electrochemical Biosensing Measurement System for Cancer Gene Detection. The Institute of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) awarded the Best Paper Award to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) with their project entitled Dendritic Cell Detection Kit.

The ultimate recognition went to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) with their project entitled InnovaBoard (Compact Body Balance Training Device) as they were crowned champion and received the Innovate Malaysia Excellence Award.

“As Malaysia shifts away from manufacturing to R&D in line with our high-income aspirations, demand will continue to grow for talent with the ability to think critically and creatively, and who is able to innovate and adapt to rapid industry changes,” said TalentCorp CEO Shareen Shariza Dato’ Abdul Ghani.

She added, greater industry academia collaboration (IAC) as well as industry participation in the academic space is needed to ensure our graduates enter the workforce with real work experience, and in this respect, it is encouraging to see industry and academia collaborating once again on nurturing the next generation of engineering talent through the IMDC.

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‘1Malaysia’ Pupil, 11, Is Master Of Six Languages

Malaysia, KUANTAN, Pahang state, 15 Aug 2016 (NNN-Bernama) — A Year Five pupil, P. Thanhya Phrassanna Naidu, has become an embodiment of ‘1Malaysia’, with her wide mastery of languages.

The 11-year-old is capable of conversing in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Tamil, Mandarin, Arabic, as well as a smattering of the Thai language.

Sharing the experience which enabled her to acquire diverse languages, Thanhya Phrassanna said she learnt Mandarin when attending a Chinese kindergarten; Thai, when staying in Jitra, Kedah where there was a Thai community; and acquired the Arabic language when her father was on duty in Saudi Arabia.

The youngest of three was speaking to Bernama at the closing ceremony of the Eighth National-level Al-Quran recitation and Arabic choral speaking competition (Kalam Jamaie competition) for schools under the education ministry here yesterday.

Due to her fluency in Arabic, she was made a member of the Arabic choral speaking team, ‘Sauntinnajah’, at her school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin which represented Kedah state in the competition.

Thanhya Phrassanna’s participation in the competition for the second time saw her team winning second place and defeating 16 teams which represented the state.

Her attire which comprised green ‘baju kurung’ with yellow ‘selendang’ caught the attention of the audience, especially Pahang state Menteri Besar (Chief Minister), Adnan Yaakob when he gave away the prizes.

Thanhya Phrassanna speaks English and Tamil at home, At school, she converses in Bahasa Malaysia.

“I converse in Mandarin when talking to my Chinese friends so that I don’t lose my mastery over it, Arabic when talking with my choral speaking group and Thai when mingling with the Thai-speaking community,” she said.

Although physically small, Thanhya Phrassanna has a big ambition. She aspires to be a doctor one day.

She said speaking Arabic was a breeze as her father, lecturer K. Puspiakaran and mother, S. Parvathy, both 46, also converse in the language.

She attributed her mastery in the Arabic language to the family’s three-year stay in Saudi Arabia.

Beaming with pride over his daughter’s skills, Puspiakaran said the girl’s “young age” enabled her to easily master diverse languages as such skills could come in handy as one grew older.

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LEAD STORY: Islamic medical tradition “hijama” used by Olympic swimming champ

Rio de Janeiro, 10 August 2016, (IINA) – A new medical treatment that has its origins in Islamic and Middle Eastern traditions is trending at the Rio Olympics games 2016 used by Star-Athletes like Michael Phelps.

Cupping, or known as ‘Hijama’ in Arabic, involves applying glass or plastic cups to an area of discomfort on the body and either applying heat or suction to create a vacuum. The suction pulls the skin away from the muscle and draws oxygenated blood to the area. The suction also is what causes the bruising, like giant hickey without the fun that comes with it, Al Arabiya reported.

Phelps, who won his 21st career gold medal so far, was seen with a huge bruising on his right shoulder on the morning of his meet, prompting many to ask whether he was applying the ancient Middle Eastern medical treatment.

It roots in Islam is reported several times in quotes by Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) who said: “Indeed the best of remedies you have is hijama (cupping)…”

And it’s not just for star athletes. Health spas often offer the service for a few hundred dollars and the cups can be purchased online for as little as $15 and applied at home.

Some in the medical community believe it’s nothing, the latest form of snake oil that tricks patients into paying for it again and again. Others insist that it aids recovery, relaxes muscles and helps an athlete maximize performance.

Phelps certainly believes in it. In the end, that may be all that matters. “I’ve done it before meets at pretty much every meet I go to,” he said.

See a demonstration here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OancdpPvJ1U

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Abdelkader Alloula’s play “Ettoufah” presented in Washington, New York

Washington, 11 August 2016, Algeria Press Service – The play “Ettoufah” (Apples) by Algerian dramatist Abdelkader Alloula, produced by the theatre company of Oran “Istijmam,” will be presented in Washington and New York from 5 September to 2 October 2016, according to the event’s organizers.

The play will be presented in The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington on September 5 then at the Hennessy theatre in New Hampshire on September 17.

The company will also give a performance at “La Mama” theatre in New York on September 29 as part of the 55th cultural season 2016-2017 of this ancient theatre.

The tour of “Istijmam” in the USA is part of the American cultural programme “Center stage” to which contributes several American cultural institutions.

This 75-minute play which deals with several social issues is made up of three comedians including Rihab Alloula, daughter of late Alloula assassinated on 10 March 1994.

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600,000 Hajj pilgrims to land in Madinah

Makkah, 08 Aug 2016, Madinah, (IINA) – Around 600,000 pilgrims are expected to arrive at the Madinah airport and visit the Prophet’s Mosque ahead of the Hajj season this year, Arab News reported Monday.

All arrangements to receive the huge number of pilgrims are in place at the Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah, said Hatem Al-Qadi, a spokesman for the Hajj and Umrah Ministry.

“The first group of pilgrims of different nationalities arrived in the Kingdom on the 1st of Dul-Qaada (August 4) in 60 flights. They were met by officials representing all the sectors working to serve the pilgrims, including nine Tawafa establishments and the Unified Agents Office.

“The number of pilgrims this year will be equivalent to last year and not more, because of the ongoing expansion works at the holy sites. The quota for pilgrims from outside the Kingdom will continue less by 20 percent and by 50 percent for domestic pilgrims”, the spokesman said.

In a related context, director of Hajj and Umrah affairs at the Jeddah’s international airport Khaled Al-Harbi stated that 14 lounges had been allocated for receiving Hajj pilgrims from outside the Kingdom.

“In addition to 10 jet bridges, 42 counters were opened to handle passport procedures, and 120 checkpoints were set up to ensure smooth procedures for the guests of God”, he added.

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600 Arab tourists visit Azerbaijan daily

Baku, 6 August 2016, AZERTAC- “Nearly 600 tourists from Arab countries are visiting Azerbaijan each day,” director of Falcon travel agency Parviz Musayev has told AZERTAC. He noted that thanks to daily flights of Azerbaijan Airlines, FlyDubai and Qatar Airways nearly 600-1000 tourists fly to the country on a daily basis. “They spend nearly 150-200 USD a day. “

According to him, they contact the tourists to learn their impressions. “99 percent of them say they are happy to visit Azerbaijan and will come again,” Musayev added.

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Pakistani film to be shot in Bangkok

LAHORE, Aug 11 (APP): The unit of film “100 Crore” will leave for Bangkok on Friday.

Film producer Khurram Shiraz Ch told APP here on Thursday that artistes who are leaving for Bangkok included Javed Sheikh, Sanam Ch., Saira Khan, Noor Hassan, Tipu and Inayat Ullah.

He said that the shooting of the film would continue for 22 days, adding that Shoaib Khan is the director of the film.

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Bahraini Photographer wins first prize in Souk Okaz Festival

MANAMA, Bahrain, 13 Aug 2016, (NNN-BNA) – Bahraini photographer, Abdullah Ibrahim Al Majid, won the first prize in photography, in the 10th edition of Souk Okaz Festival, which was held recently in Saudi Arabia, under the patronage of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, in the presence of Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Makkah Governor, Prince Khalid Al Faisal bin Abdulaziz, the Head of the Supervisory Committee of Souk Okaz.

In a statement to Bahrain News Agency (BNA), Al Majid expressed happiness, about clinching the first prize, with his photo which, he said, shows the beauty of the sand dunes in the Empty Quarter and their size, compared to human being.

He also added that, his participation in the Souk Okaz Festival was not the first in photography, as he had participated previously in Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Creativity Award and bagged the first prize.

He stressed keenness on Bahrain’s presence in international creativity gatherings, pointing out the growing importance given to photography as one of the most beautiful arts.

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Azerbaijan tourism revenues to hit $1,834 bn in 2016

Baku, 14 August 2016,(IINA) – The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) experts predict that Azerbaijan will generate US$1.834 billion (AED 6.6 billion) this year, a 6.4 percent increase compared to 2015, according to local media.

Tourism is set to become one of the main economic sectors of Azerbaijan, as new data indicates about one million tourists visited between January and June of 2016, Hotelier Middle East Business Magazine reported.

The research also showed that approximately 600 to 1,000 visitors from Arab countries travel to Azerbaijan every day, mainly from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Iraq, spending a minimum of US$ 150-200 (AED 550-734) daily.

The total number of tourists coming to the country has increased by 30 times this May compared to last year, according to the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

Hospitality options became even more attractive for visitors as a result of the devaluation in the national currency in 2015.

It is noteworthy that WTTC is an international organization of travel industry executives promoting travel and tourism worldwide.

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Azadi mela concludes in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD, 14 August 2016, (APP): Three-day Azadi shopping festival concluded here on August 14 which wwas started at Fatima Jinnah Park on August 12 to mark the celebrations of 70th Independence Day.

The visitors availed upto 40 percent discounts at the stalls featuring various Jashan-i-Azadi accessories including dresses, bangles, flags, bunting, balloons, handicrafts, toys and other unique stuff.

The visitors had enjoyed discount on various edible items offered by eateries in the festival through their stalls.

The organizer of the event said that three-day event had attracted a large number of visitors from twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

The stalls were beautifully decorated in connection with the Independence Day celebrations.

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Algerian heritage on the spotlight in Milan exhibition

MILAN, Italy, 2 August 2016, Algeria Press Service – The national cultural heritage was on the spotlight at 21st edition of the Milan Triennial Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Architecture in Milan.

A rich programme centered on the national cultural heritage was planned for the event, marked by several cultural festivities followed by a concert of Andalusian music, said a communiqué of Algeria General Consulate in Milan.

The event has also been marked by the participation of local authorities representing the prefecture and the commune of Milan, ministries of Culture and Housing, and the Algerian Diaspora in Italy, noted the communiqué.

On that occasion, Algeria general consul in Milan Abdelkrim Touahria noted the “importance given by Algeria to this exhibition which offers a genuine opportunity for the promotion of the national heritage and potential in the tourist, cultural and economic fields.”

The same official presented the “Algerian experience in the elimination of precarious housing,” mentioning that Algiers city has become “Africa’s first capital without shanty towns.”

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BPO summit begins in Dhaka

DHAKA, 27 July 2016, (BSS)-The two-day Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Summit-2016 begins tomorrow at Sonargaon Hotel in the city.

BPO aims to create a fluent, self-reliant industry with sustainable jobs in this sector for at least 2,50,000 by the year 2021.

“Bangladesh is organising the summit for the second time and it will give us an opportunity to show our ability on ICT sector before the world,” Convener of sub-committee on seminar, workshop, publicity and publication Mustafa Jabbar told BSS.

“The summit will play important role to develop further the information and technology sector of the country,” he added.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division is organising the summit with the assistance of the Department of Information and Communication Technology and Bangladesh Association of Callcenter and Outsourcing (BACCO).

Adviser to Prime Minister on ICT Affairs Sajeeb Wazed will inaugurate the summit, M Rezaul Maksud Jahedi, Director (Finance and Administration), Department of Information and Communication Technology, told BSS.

Different local and foreign speakers will share their experiences in the summit.

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BPCCI to work for promoting Pak-Brazil bilateral trade

ISLAMABAD, 11 Aug 2016,(APP)-Pakistan and Brazil have great potential to enhance cooperation in mining, energy, agriculture besides other sectors, President, Brazil-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BPCCI), Munawar Iqbal said on Thursday.

He vowed that BPCCI would work for promoting bilateral trade between the two countries by bringing private sectors of both countries even closer.

While expressing these views during his visit to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), he said, Brazil met more than 42 per cent of its energy needs through renewable sources and it could share its knowledge and expertise with Pakistan for overcoming its energy shortage.

He said Brazil had improved its agriculture productivity through modern technology and Pakistan could modernize its agriculture sector by enhancing cooperation with Brazil.

Munawar Iqbal said, the main focus of BPCCI was to promote linkages between business associations of both countries to explore new avenues of mutual cooperation in various areas.

He said, BPCCI will organize trade missions in Pakistan and Brazil and hold conferences, seminars and meetings to exchange business and economic related information between the entrepreneurs of both countries.

He said BPCCI in collaboration with ICCI would step up efforts for strengthening business linkages between the two countries to realize available potential of two-way trade and economic relations between Brazil and Pakistan.

Speaking at the occasion, Sheikh Pervez Ahmed Senior Vice President and Sheikh Abdul Waheed Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, Pak-Brazil bilateral trade was still hovering around US$ 300 million, which was far less than the actual potential of both countries.

They said both countries should encourage frequent exchange of trade delegations and organizing single country exhibitions on reciprocal basis to promote bilateral trade up to real potential.

They said many Pakistan products including marble, textile products, leather and leather products, pharmaceutical, surgical instruments and agro products including rice, pulses, fruits and vegetables could find good market in Brazil and stressed that BPCCI should cooperate in enhancing Pakistan’s exports to Brazil.

They said that Brazilian expertise in mining, information technology, dairy farming, livestock, renewable energy and infrastructure sectors was much needed in Pakistan.

They said both countries should focus on resolving tariff issues to give boost to the mutual trade.

They said, Pakistan’s geographical location was very important and Brazilian investors should focus on Pakistan for investment and joint ventures.

It was agreed that ICCI would work for establishing Pak-Brazil Chamber of Commerce and Industry chapter in Pakistan to establish strong connectivity between the private sectors of both countries in order to further improve bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Brazil.

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Bangladesh’s Third Seaport Starts Functioning

DHAKA, Bangladesh, 14 Aug 2016, (NNN-Xinhua) — Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formally inaugurated the operational activities of the country’s third seaport “Payra” in Patuakhali district, some 204 km south of capital Dhaka.

Hasina inaugurated the port activities through a video conference from her official residence Gono Bhaban in capital Dhaka on Saturday.

The operational activities of the seaport began through unloading goods from a first commercial ship “MV-Fortune Bird” which arrived at the port from China with 53,000 metric tons of stones for the country’s largest Padma bridge project.

The port, which is being developed on an area of nearly 6,000 acres of land, will offer specific services until the full-fledged functions commence in 2018.

During the initial period, ships can unload goods at the outer anchorage while lighterages will carry those to the different parts of the country.

Hasina laid the foundation stone of the country’s third seaport on Nov. 19, 2013.

The seaport is expected to boost the economy in southern Bangladesh districts, along with the Padma bridge.

In December last year, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the main works of the country’s largest Padma Bridge project by unveiling its foundation plaque.

She had also unveiled the plaque of the river training works, the second most costly component of the 3-billion-U.S. dollar project conducted by one of the largest international companies, Sinohydro Corporation Limited.

Experts say the bridge, when it comes into operation in 2018, will ease pressure on the country’s premier seaport in Chittagong, 242 km southeast of capital Dhaka, as it will bolster the second largest Mongla seaport in Bagerhat district, 178 km southwest of the capital city.

In June 2014, the Bangladeshi government awarded China Major Bridge Engineering Company Limited a 1.55-billion-U.S. dollar contract to build core structure of the Padma Bridge project which is to be completed in four years.

The 25-meter-wide and 10-km-long bridge will be built over Padma River, one of the three major rivers in Bangladesh.

About 6.15 km of the bridge is being built over the river while the remaining part on both banks.

Apart from connecting nearly 30 million people in Bangladesh’s southwest region to the rest of the country, the bridge will enhance regional trade and collaboration along the Asian highway No. 1 and the Trans-Asian railway network.

Obaidul Quader, Bangladesh’s road transport and bridges minister, last week said 37 percent of the Padma bridge works have been done.

The first span will be put on the bridge pillars by the end of the year, he said.

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Baku to host International Tourism Film Festival

Baku, 9 August 2016, AZERTAC – The International Tourism Film Festival will be held in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku in June, 2017.

Applications to attend the festival will remain open until March 31, 2017, according to the International Committee of Tourism Film Festivals.

According to organizers, the festival aims to promote domestic and international tourism films and encourage authors of the best films, as well as to draw attention to the tourism potential of Azerbaijan.

The first edition of Baku International Tourism Film Festival was held in 2013. The festival is organized in partnership with Azerbaijan`s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

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Cameroon Fights Flooding, Turning Plastic Waste Into Jobs

YAOUNDE, 13 August 2016, (NNN-AfricaNews) – Retired Cameroonian footballer Roger Milla is already famous for being the oldest World Cup goal scorer, at the age of 42. But now he is proving an unlikely hero in Cameroon’s struggle against climate change and pollution-related menace, flooding.

He is behind Heart of Africa foundation, and organisation that’s dedicated to unclog the gutters and drains of Cameroon’s two major cities of Yaounde and Douala, and collecting and recycling plastic bottles.

The project that’s in its first phase has collected nearly 2 million plastic bottles and recycling them into construction blocks.

“Once the bottles are collected, the Heart of Africa foundation then recycles them, and mixes them with sand to make contraction slabs. This helps address the issue of sustainable development and maintenance of roads,” adds Pacrace Fegue, Executive Secretary African Heart Foundation.”

The waste is picked up by Hysacam and sorted, then another group of young people – different from those collecting the plastic – melt it down in a large tank over a wood fire. They later add sand to the molten plastic and pour the hot mixture into moulds.

The process doesn’t need water and the slabs set and dry at room temperature within 15 minutes, as opposed to the 24 hours it takes conventional sand-and-cement-based products, according to the head of the project’s technical team, Pierre Kamssouloum.

The plastic slabs are cheaper than conventional concrete slabs, costing 3,500 cfa ($5.40) per square meter compared to 5,000 cfa ($8.50).

And, approved as sustainable by the country’s National Civil Engineering Laboratory, they are “environmentally friendly and waterproof,” said Samuel Nguiffo, executive director of the NGO the Centre for Environment and Development, meaning they can also be used in marshy areas and in the building of septic tanks.

The recycled slabs have already been used by the Yaounde city council for various projects and by the National Olympic sports committee in the construction of the national handball field, officials say.

Officials say the cheaper, sustainable plastic building slabs also could prove transformative for the various infrastructural development projects the country is pushing.

And so far over 750 youths have been trained in the process of making the plastic slabs. The project aims to train a total of 2,500 people by 2017.

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Jordan govt orders restaurants to cut prices by 7-15%

Amman, 14 Aug 2016, (Petra) — Stemming from its commitment to addressing citizen’s bread and butter matters, the government on Sunday ordered popular restaurants to cut food prices by 7 to 15 per cent.

In a meeting held today, the Cabinet decided that eateries should reduce the prices of meals which include meat and Shawarma by 15 per cent and hummus and Ful by 7 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister Jawad Anani said the decision follows a decline in the cost of these meals, adding that it will help people with medium and low income. He explained that the decision followed a study carried out in collaboration with the private sector.

He vowed that the government will not hesitate in taking any decision that would positively reflect on citizens’ lives, saying the decision is binding to all concerned restaurants and a strict follow-up will be put in place.

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Finance Ministry working to promote Islamic Banking in Bangladesh

ISLAMABAD, 11 Aug 2016,(APP)- National Assembly Standing Committee on Thursday, while considering “Eradication of Riba Bill-2015”, was informed by the Secretary, Ministry of Finance that subject matter is under consideration with apex court and Ministry of Finance is working for improving the Islamic Banking in the country.

He said that Steering Committee report in this regard is also awaited, a statement issued by the National Assembly Secretariat here said.

The 37th meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization of the National Assembly was held here Thursday, the 11th in the Parliament House, under the Chairmanship of Qaiser Ahmad Sheikh, MNA.

The Committee discussed the following agenda :-1-Confirmation of minutes of last meeting held on 03-08-2016.

2-Briefing by the Chairman, FBR regarding tax imposition and its implementations on real estate transactions in light of the amendments made in the Finance Bill, 2016-17.

3-The Cost and Management Accountants (Amendment) Bill, 2015. (Government Bill) 4-The Benami Transaction (Prohibition) Act, 2016. (Government Bill) 5-An Eradication of Riba Bill, 2015.

The Committee approved / confirmed the minutes of last meeting held on August 3, 2016.

The Committee Members were requested by the Secretary, Ministry of Finance & Revenue that agenda item No. ii & iv may be deferred owing to the unavailability of the Chairman and concerned officers from Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

He added that the Cost and Management Accountants (Amendment) Bill, 2015 was under consideration by the Ministry of Finance & Revenue as directed by the Committee.

He also stated that it may be taken on agenda after one month.

While considering “An Eradication of Riba Bill, 2015” the Secretary, Ministry of Finance informed the Committee that subject matter is under consideration with apex court and Ministry of Finance is working for improving the Islamic Banking in the country.

He further added that steering Committee report in this regard is also awaited.

Mr. Sher Akber Khan, MNA/Mover of the Bill said that subject Bill may be deferred for the conclusion of its report by the Ministry.

The Committee decided that same may be taken on the agenda later on with consultation of the mover.

The Committee decided that next meeting of the Committee would be convened on August 23.

The meeting was attended by Saeed Ahmed Khan Manais, Rana Shamim Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Sheikh Fayyaz-ud-Din, Mian Abdul Mannan, Ms. Shaza Fatima Khawaja, Ms. Leila Khan, Syed Naveed Qamar, MNAs and Sher Akber Khan, Mover/MNA.

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Bangladesh minister urges more fruit-growing for self-reliance

RANGPUR, 14 Aug 2016, (BSS) – Minister for Primary and Mass Education Advocate Mostafizur Rahman MP, has called for enhancing fruit production in rural areas to attain economic self-reliance after meeting nutritional demand.

He put special importance on massive tree plantation for building a safer planet through improving environment, ecology and biodiversity amid frightening climate change threat.

The Minister was addressing the inaugural ceremony of a three-day Fruit and Tree Fair-2016 on office premises of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) in Parbotipur upazila town of Dinajpur this afternoon as the chief guest.

Parbotipur upazila administration and the upazila DAE have been jointly organising the fair for creating mass public awareness on tree plantation as well as enhancing fruit production.

With Parbotipur Upazila Nirbahi Officer Mahmudur Rahman in the chair, President of upazila Awami League Hafizul Islam Pramanik, its General Secretary Rezaul Karim, Upazila Agriculture Officer Mahmudul Hassan attended the ceremony as special guests.

The upazila level officials of different government departments, organisations and NGOs, nursery owners, farmers, students and teachers of different educational institutions, civil society members, youths and common people were present.

Different government and non-government organisations and private sector nursery owners set up 13 stalls displaying varieties of indigenous and high yield variety fruit and saplings of wood, medicinal and fruit trees on the fair ground.

The Minister stressed on turning tree plantation campaign into a social movement and providing necessary training and technologies to the growers in rural areas to enhance production of the local, indigenous and high yielding varieties of fruits.

He suggested every citizen for planting all varieties of fruit, timber and medicinal plants to improve the ecology, environment, bio-diversity for getting economic benefits and saving the country from natural catastrophes amid changing climate.

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Saudis to launch Hajj media awareness campaign

Makkah, 14 Aug 2016, (IINA) – Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah, adviser to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and chairman of the Central Hajj Committee, will inaugurate on Monday the activities of the 9th stage of media awareness campaign, under the theme of “Hajj is Worship and Civilized Behavior”.

The campaign, to be inaugurated at the Office of Emirate of Makkah Region, aimed at raising awareness about abiding by the instructions, and not to perform Hajj without having permits. It also aimed at intensifying crackdown on visa overstayers, monitoring of owners of fake companies that organize Hajj and Umrah services without having licenses, from the Ministry of Hajj, to engage in such activity.

The Emirate of Makkah Region has developed, at an early time, the necessary plans and programs of action for the success of media awareness campaign, to achieve the desired objectives, in line with the magnitude of the care and attention provided by the government of Saudi Arabia to the pilgrims to ensure their comfort, tranquility and safety during their stay in the kingdom.

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Indonesia to build new Halal hub

5 Aug 2016, Jakarta, (IINA) – Indonesia will soon have a halal hub comprising of a seaport and a zone, Financial and Supporting Director of PT Jakarta Industrial Estate Pulogadung Sitta Rosdaniah stated Thursday.

“The market for halal products in Indonesia is enormous, and there is high demand to lead a halal lifestyle in every stratum of society, both in Indonesia and around the world”, Sitta remarked on the sidelines of the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum, which was held in Jakarta on August 2-4.

According to Antara News, Sitta stated that the halal hub will ensure that lifestyle products, including food, clothing, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals, which are imported by and exported from Indonesia, meet the Halal criteria.

The halal hub will be located in the Tanjung Priok seaport, Jakarta, while the halal zone, which will function to check the products, will be in Rawamangun.

“Hence, when goods, such as meat, which require special handling, arrive at the port, they will be segregated from other goods. Furthermore, they are immediately taken to the halal zone for further checking”, Sitta noted.

“We will also conduct training for people, who work in a halal zone, to ensure that each product meets the same halal standards”, he added.

Sitta noted that the operations of Indonesia’s halal hub would be supported by digital technology to conduct checks, so that the products are made available to consumers promptly.

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Indonesia promotes martabak in Namibia

Jakarta, 13 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian Embassy of Namibia is promoting Indonesian cuisines, such as martabak (stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread) and lumpia (spring rolls), to introduce Indonesian culture particularly to college students. This is a kind of soft diplomacy by Indonesia.

The Indonesian Women Unity of the embassy participated in the International Cuisine Day held in Namibia University Science and Technology (NUST), according to the press release received by Antara here on Saturday.

Cultural promotion through culinary delights is an effective effort to introduce Indonesia as a country that has various cuisines, Indonesian Ambassador Eddy Basuki said.

The active participation of the embassy and the women unity in promoting cuisines can be a stimulant to promote the tourism sector and culture of Indonesia in Namibia, Basuki added.

The unity also provided other cuisines including onde-onde, risoles, and bakwan.

The students and academics of NUST bought all of the meals, according to the embassy.

Among other countries that participated in the International Cuisine Day were Spain, China, Russia and Portugal.

The celebration is a part of Nust Cultural Festival held from 8 to 12 August 2016.

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IDB hands over 11 Schools-Cum-Cyclone Shelters in Bangladesh

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 6 August 2016, (IDB)– A representative of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), Dr. Mohammad Hassan Salem, handed over 11 Schools-cum-Cyclone Shelters as part of the fourth phase of the Fael Khair Program in Bangladesh. The program was funded by the Late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

A total of 106 out of 174 planned shelters have been handed over so far. Each building will serve as a modern educational institution for 240 students and will provide shelter to 2,000 people and 500 cattle during the country’s frequent cyclones.

The Late King Abdullah’s grant of US $130 million for relief and assistance to the victims of cyclone Sidr is used as follows:

• US $110 million to construct 174 School-cum-Cyclone Shelters in the coastal belt of Bangladesh

• US $20 million Waqf as partial support to maintain the buildings and to provide urgent relief and rehabilitation through agricultural and other inputs to the affected population

The handover was part of a series of special ceremonies that took place in several locations in Southern Bangladesh. The ceremonies were attended by high ranking local government officials, including representatives of primary and secondary education, the local government engineering department, school administrators and local community leaders.

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Islamic Development Bank okays US$745 mln for development projects

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 1 August 2016, (IDB) – The Board of Executive Directors of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) in their 313th meeting in Jeddah, approved US $745.3 million of financing to support socio-economic development projects in member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries.

The approvals of the meeting, chaired by IDB Group President, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, included:

  • US $378.6 million for Senegal inclusive of: “US $355.6 million for the regional express train (Dakar City Center to the new AIBD Airport)”, and “US $23 million for phase II of the Vocational Literacy Program for poverty reduction (VOLIP)”
  • US $66.4 million for Turkey as contribution to Manisa Training and Research Hospital project
  • US $89 million for Côte d’Ivoire as funding for the Abidjan storm water drainage and sanitation project
  • US $81.3 million for Lebanon to support the construction of the Northern Road project (Syr Road and the Tripoli Eastern Ring Road – Phase II)
  • US $59.8 million for two projects in Cameroon, namely: “US $31.5 million to support the integrated rural development project of the District of Chari Logone – Phase II”, as well as “US $28.3 million to go to the national Blood Transfusion System Strengthening project
  • US $30 million for the construction of Kandadji Bypass Road project in Niger
  • US $17.8 million for Mauritania as additional financing for the development of the National Cardiology Center project
  • US $20 million for Kyrgyzstan to fund the rural water and sanitation improvement project

The meeting also approved US $1.5 million as a special assistance grant for the emergency relief program of the Internationally Displaced People (IDP) by the war in Iraq, US $600 thousand as a special assistance operations under IDB Waqf Fund for educational projects in Muslim communities in non-member countries (Fiji, Thailand, and Canada) as well as a US $300 thousand technical assistance grant for strengthening rural community adaptations to climate change in The Gambia.

IDB Group President, Dr. Ahmad Mohamed Ali, asserted that the Board meeting also reviewed a number of administrative and technical documents including the document on the IDB Group’s ten year strategy, an updated report on the Country Partnership Strategy, as well as an update on the “Lives and Livelihoods Fund” signed during the 40th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in Maputo, Mozambique, between IDB and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which seeks to finance poverty alleviation projects in IDB member countries.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Qatar have already contributed a total of US $150 million to the Fund; “US $100 million by KSA and US $50 million by the State of Qatar”.

A report on the administrative and organizational activities reviewed at the 41st Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors in Jakarta in May was also presented to the Board.

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Indonesian population opens up broader digital business opportunities

Jakarta, 4 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia’s 250 million population opens up broader digital technology-based business opportunities, Shinta Dhanuwardoyo, a digital technology entrepreneur, stated here on Thursday on the sidelines of the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF).

“In addition, almost half of Indonesia’s population is under 30 years of age, so business opportunities in the field of digital technology are getting bigger,” she said.

However, Dhanuwardoyo pointed out that the development of digital technology in Indonesia was facing three major constraints.

The obstacles are the lack of infrastructure to support development and use of digital technology, the governments policy on digital businesses being not yet available, and the lack of human resources in such a field.

“If we can overcome these constraints, I believe Indonesia can become a major player in digital-based businesses at the regional and even international levels,” the founder of the first internet company in Indonesia affirmed.

She believes that synergy between the government and entrepreneurs is the right step to accelerate the development of digital businesses, one of which is the program named “1000 digital startup,” which is being implemented by the Coordinating Ministry for Economy and the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

The program is expected to help in creating one thousand startup companies in the country, with an investment of US$10 billion by 2020.

Dhanuwardoyo has been named among the 99 most powerful women in Indonesias technology industry by Globe Asia.

Dhanuwardoyo has also set up Svata, which is a nonprofit organization that bridges the knowledge gap between the Silicon Valley and Indonesias technology ecosystem.

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Indonesian coffee brands have opportunity to meet global demand

Semarang, 12 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – Local coffee brands have a huge opportunity to meet the global demand, according to the Indonesian Coffee Exporters Association (AEKI) of Central Java.

“There is steady demand for coffee from markets, such as Japan, the United States, Western Europe, Italy, and Spain. However, the demand from some countries has continued to increase from time to time,” Deputy of AEKI of Central Java Mulyono Susilo noted here on Friday.

Some countries having high number of coffee lovers are South Korea, China, and several Eastern European nations.

According to Susilo, the International Coffee Organization has forecast that by 2020, there will be a deficit of 10 million bags of coffee, taking into account that one bag contains 60 kilograms of coffee.

“The deficit is due to an increase in consumption in China and producer countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam. Indonesia has an opportunity to meet the worlds coffee deficit,” Susilo pointed out.

He added this is challenge for the Indonesian government, exporters, and farmers to develop their coffee businesses from the upstream to downstream.

“We really hope the coffee farmers would put in greater efforts in their plantations,” Mulyono remarked.

He also expressed hope that the coffee farmers would accept advice on growing the plants more productively by applying the pruning method.

Pruning is a necessary technique that is not only required to maintain a healthy tree but also to keep quality and yield at their highest levels.

“The coffee farmers in Indonesia are rarely implementing the pruning method,” he noted, adding that this method could boost the production and quality of coffee.

Pruning has been implemented in Vietnam and Brazil.

After harvesting, the unproductive branches are pruned for encouraging the growth of new tissue, which helps to generate dense flowering.

“This is what increases their coffee production,” he added.

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Indonesian oil company launches New Automative Oil Fuel Brand In Europe

JAKARTA, 1 Aug 2016, (NNN-ANTARA) — Indonesia’s state-owned PT Pertamina has launched a new automotive oil fuel brand in Europe, Pertamax Turbo, specially for high technology cars including race cars (super cars).

Vice President for Corporate Communications Wianda Pusponegoro said the launch was marked with the filling with Pertamax Turbo oil fuel of a race car of Pertamina’s Vice President for Fuel Marketing Affandi in a Lamborghini Blancpain Supertrofeo Series, Spa-Francorchamps circuit , in Belgium.

“The use of Pertamax Turbo is a follow up of a cooperation agreement between Pertamina as a technical partner with Lamborghini,” Wianda said in a statement here.

She said both sides had worked together to develop Pertamax Turbo for the latest technology cars fueled with gasoline.

“Pertamax Turbo is an advanced form of Pertamax Plus , which has a RON (research octane number/octane number) of at least 98 complete with ignition boost formula (IBF),” she said.

Pertamax Turbo has gone through trial run in a car race of Lamborghini Blancpain Supertrofeo European, Vallelunya circuit in Italy early January, 2016.

The successful test resulted in a cooperation between Pertamina and the Centro Petroli Roma (CPR) as the partner of Lamborghini in the distribution of Pertamax Turbo in all European circuits.

Wianda said so far Pertamax Turbo has been used in four races including the races of Monza in Italy, Silverstone in Britain, Paul Richard in France and Spa Francorchamps in Belgium .

Fuels with higher octane is needed for cars with engine of more advanced technology, she said.

“More advanced technology such as with the use of supercharger and turbocharger has high pressure of engine compressors of motor vehicles that fuel with higher octane is needed,” she added.

Pertamax Turbo proved that it could meet the requirement, enabling cars to maneuver easily, engine acceleration is better that the cars could run at top speed, she said.

The engine combustion is perfect and the engine power increases that Pertamax Turbo is suitable for vehicles with compressor pressure of more than 12, she added.

She said the use of the fuel in prestigious car races in Europe has won recognition of the quality and performance of Pertamx Turbo.

It is environmentally friendly with less gas emissions, she added.

“Pertamax Turbo would be introduced in Indonesian market targeting those already use gasoline with RON of 95. It is already accepted in Europe, therefore, we are optimistic it should be more acceptable to the market in the country,” Wianda said.

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Indonesia wins cultural award at Intl Folklore Festival

London, 1 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia has won the Cultural Minister Award at the 11th Sabah International Folklore Festival (SIFF) held in Kinabalu, Malaysia, last weekend.

Indonesia was represented by Gantari Gita Khatulistiwa cultural art center, the center’s spokesperson, Gilang Lestari, stated in a press release received by ANTARA News here on Monday.

The Indonesian art delegation performed the Baine Toraya dance from Toraja, South Sulawesi province and the Tua Basamo dance from Minang, West Sumatra province.

Besides Indonesia, the festival saw the participation of South Korea, Sri Lanka, Russia, Malaysia, Australia, India, the Philippines, Estonia, Thailand and Ireland.

Gantari Gita Khatulistiwa won the Best Music Arrangement Award, while the Prime Award was achieved by the Gaelic Girl Irish Dancing Troupe from Ireland and the Chief Minister Award was won by Sam Le Yaw Group from the Philippines.

The Coordinator of Gantari Gita Khatulistiwa at SIFF 2016, Cantika Reviera, recalled that the Indonesian cultural delegation had rehearsed their performances for at least three months.

“We are very happy that our hard work finally paid off and we won an award. We are very thankful to all the supporters, including parents and families,” she remarked.

The Jury Award was won by Anak Seni Asia Group from Malaysia, the Best Performance Award went to DUkeebil Sakha Yakutia from Russia, and the Highest Online Presence Award was bagged by Sam Le Yaw Group from the Philippines.

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Iran Lifts Ban On Tourism to Turkey

Baku, 14 August 2016, (AZERTAC) – Iran has lifted a ban on the country`s tourist companies sending Iranian citizens to Turkey.

The lifting of travel ban comes after the restoration of security in Turkey and following Iranian FM Mohammad Javad Zarif’s visit to Ankara.

Iran ordered travel agencies to cancel all trips to Turkey after the recent coup attempt in the country.

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Indonesian traditional dances performed in Teoloyucan, Mexico

London, 10 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – 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.

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

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Indonesian scholars ask Google to put Palestine back on its map

Jakarta, 14 August 2016, (IINA) – Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, has demanded Google to put Palestine on the map, after the company erased Palestine and replaced it with Israel.

“It must be brought back on the map,” ANTARA quoted NU Chairman Said Aqil Siroj as saying here on Thursday. He added that the problem should be addressed as soon as possible to prevent it from expanding into a religious sentiment. “If not put back, we will fight,” Siroj said.

More than 300,000 people have signed a petition launched on change.org, calling on Google to recognize Palestine in Google Maps, and to clearly designate and identify the Palestinian territories illegally occupied by Israel.

“I boycotted Google yesterday over this, it is totally disgusting and I now believe they aren’t the only corporation complicit with Israel’s mass genocide of Palestine,” wrote Mark Kavanagh from Birmingham, UK, who signed the petition initiated by Zak Martin.

The omission of Palestine is a grievous insult to the people of Palestine and undermines the efforts of the millions of people who are involved in the campaign to secure Palestinian independence and freedom from Israeli occupation and oppression, Martin wrote.

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Kazakhstan, China strengthening trade-economic cooperation

12 August 2016, (Kazakh TV) – Kazakhstan and China strengthen economic cooperation. In the next three months domestic business owners plan to sign trade agreements worth over $5 million with enterprises of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This became possible due to business visit of representatives of Kazakhstani companies in Urumqi.

During the trade mission, domestic manufacturers got the opportunity to analyze the needs of China’s market. As it turned out, China is mostly interested in Kazakhstani food industry products. Kostanay flour mill was of particular interest among Chinese partners. According to its representatives, the enterprise mostly exports its products, and China in the near future can also join these states.

Guo Yuan Xiang, Deputy Director Of China International Trade Committee: The Chinese market is interested in Kazakhstani food, especially flour and beverages. Kazakhstan produces environmentally friendly products, and in our country, there are a lot of companies that are ready to cooperate with you.

Nadezhda Bolkovich, Commercial Director Of Flour Mill, Kostanay: Large country-large potential. For example, as of today, we have production capacity of 300 railway carriages per month; we want to send up to 100 railway carriages in Chinese market. So we are ready to send this volume each month. Chinese part express interest, we analyzed for more than one year.

Chinese partners are also interested in Kazakhstani construction materials. And it opens a great potential for domestic export capacities. Only in Urumqi the demand for paint and varnish materials per month is by five times more than in Almaty. In terms of logistics, it is also convenient to export Kazakhstani products in China.

Almazbek Tashtanaliyev, Director Of Export Sales, Building Materials Plant: “We plan to export in China, because there is a good perspective, for instance Urumqi, which is geographically located close to us. In the general term of expenditure, transport logistics requires a lot of funds. And we are neighboring with Xinjiang, it is a good perspective.

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Jordan, Germany sign 20 million-euro grant pact for education sector

Aman, 14 August 2016, (Petra)- The Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation signed with the KfW Development Bank in Amman a financing agreement for the amount of euro 20 million.

The deal was signed by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Imad fakhoury and Director of KfW Development Bank in Amman Florian Rabe, in response to pledges made at the London Conference in February 2016 in respect of the Jordanian Government’s request for support to the public school system.

These grant funds will be used to finance salaries needed for the operation of “double-shift” schools in the school year 2016/17, thus supporting the Ministry of Education in providing and extending access of Syrian refugee children to formal education in Jordan.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Education, and in combination with financial contributions from other donors, up to 190,000 refugee children will thus be able to attend schools. Furthermore, additional employment opportunities for Jordanian teachers and administrative staff will be created in the education sector.

Fakhoury said in a press statement following the signing ceremony that Germany had pledges to provide 300 million euros to Jordan this year including 100 million in the form of humanitarian aid to the refugees through UN organizations, and 200 million as an aid to support communities hosting the refugees.

He thanked the German government for its support to Jordan in its quest to turn the Syrian crisis from a challenge into an economic opportunity.

German Ambassador Siefker-Eberle commended the Government of Jordan for the bold steps taken in recent months, which aim at ensuring that soon every child in Jordan will have the opportunity to attend school.

The funds are part of extraordinary grant commitments made available by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development under its new “Partnership for Prospects Initiative” launched at the London conference.

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Japanese agency offers Halal, Muslim-friendly tours

Tokyo, 12 August 2016, (IINA) – 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.

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Brunei Minister assures more mass cycling events in future

15 August 2016, (Borneo Bulletin)- THE royal birthday recreational cycling event, held in conjunction with the 70th birthday celebrations for His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, proved to be a success, with onlookers cheering as the monarch led thousands of cyclists yesterday along the main roads around the capital.

In an interview, Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports said, “The event was successful, and I really appreciate that His Majesty consented to attend the event, where His Majesty’s presence energised the cyclists, cycling associations and ministries involved.

“It is hoped that events such as this will become an ongoing tradition, in accordance with His Majesty’s call for a healthy lifestyle to overcome obesity, as Brunei has the highest obesity rates in the region,” he said.

The minister also said that the number of participants far exceeded the organiser’s initial target of 600, since many of those who showed up at the venue did not require registration.

“From what I can see, there are more than 1,000 participants, and the most encouraging part is how His Majesty’s participation encouraged a mass turnout from all age groups – the elderly, the adults and children,” he said.

“Not only will this event take place on an annual basis, but I hope that similar projects are organised at appropriate times in the year through other ministries.”

Meanwhile, one of the participants, Haji Abu Samah Syukri bin Haji Mohd Hussein, the Imam of the Al-Muhtadee Billah Mosque at Kampong Sungai Kebun, actually rode around the capital on his prized vintage bicycle. “I hope that this event will be held every year,” he said.

“We as the citizens, under the rule of His Majesty, support and uphold His Majesty’s wish for future generations to be healthy, and we pray to Allah the Almighty for His Majesty’s longevity, good health and continuing reign over Brunei Darussalam.”

Hamdi bin Matussin who joined his father on the ride, told the Bulletin, “I think it should be held annually because this is the kind of event that people talk about and remember for years to come since it brings so many individuals together.”

Fariza binti Abdul Latif, who hadn’t been on a bicycle since she was 10, agreed that the mass cycling event should be a yearly tradition.

“I am planning on investing on a bicycle and take up cycling as a hobby after this,” she said.

“The event was well-organised and it was a rare opportunity to cycle with His Majesty in a safe environment, with the roads being closed to traffic. We hope that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports will do this again and that more people can join in. Through similar programmes, Bruneians will be encouraged to take up a healthy lifestyle, as well as recreational activities.”

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Lampung to host Krakatau Festival 2016

Bandarlampung, 11 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – The Lampung provincial government, along with representatives from 15 districts and cities in the province, will host the 26th Krakatau Festival 2016.

“A series of activities have been prepared to enliven the Krakatau Festival,” Head of Public Relations and Protocol of Lampung Province Bayana stated in Bandarlampung on Thursday.

Bayana noted that the Krakatau Festival will kick off with an art exhibition showcasing photographs of underwater and tourist attractions in Lampung, a fashion show, acoustic music performance, and talk show.

Creative seminars will be held in Mal Boemi Kedaton Bandarlampung on August 24-28, 2016. Furthermore, on August 25-26, 2016, the festival will feature kite competitions and an amateur photo contest, in which participants from Bali, Yogyakarta, and West Nusa Tenggara as well as from foreign countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, and France will take part. A workshop is also planned that will be attended by 200 children.

According to Bayana, a food festival featuring a culinary bazaar and a variety of games for children will be held on August 26-28.

“As is the tradition followed in the previous years, a Krakatau cruising tour will be organized on August 27, 2016, to explore the Anak Krakatau Mount by boat. The event will be preceded by the ngumbai lawok featuring dozens of decorative boats,” he revealed.

The event will conclude with the Lampung Culture and Tapis Carnival. The participants at the event will be the delegates from districts and cities who will showcase the rich culture of Lampung and the archipelago.

The event is themed “Topeng Lampung.” A gala event titled “Summit Investor” will be held later in the evening. The dinner, featuring music and fashion creations of Lampung, will be attended by investors.

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Azerbaijan President opens bicycle plant in Ismayilli

Ismayilli, 10 August 2016, (AZERTAC)- President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has today attended the opening of “ISMA BIKES” bicycle plant as part of his visit to Ismayilli district.

The head of state was informed that located in the village of Diyalli, 6km from the city center, the facility was built as part of cooperation with the Bulgarian Sofia bicycle plant.

The facility is provided with Bulgarian, Danish, Dutch, Chinese, and Turkish made equipment.

The plant has a yearly production capacity of 20,000-30,000 bicycles. It created 60 jobs.

The head of state was informed that the number of workers is expected to be increased as the facility will enhance its activity in the future.

There is a modern cycle track in the yard of the facility which occupies a total area of 3 hectares.

President Ilham Aliyev launched the plant, and tested a bicycle produced here.

President Ilham Aliyev then met with representatives of the general public of Ismayilli district and staff of the plant.

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Pop singer Ali Zafar to participate in Toronto show

LAHORE, 10 Aug 2016, (APP): Famous Pop Singer, Ali Zafar on Wednesday left for Canada to participate in August 14 show in Toronto.

Ali Zafar has been invited for singing on “Independence Day” by Pakistani community of Toronto. Talking to APP, he said that he would sing national songs in the function.

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Pakistan airlines launches Premier luxury service

ISLAMABAD, 14 Aug 2016, (APP)- Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Sunday inaugurated PIA Premier – the luxury air service of Pakistan International Airline, giving a major facelift to the national flag carrier.

The Prime Minister saw off the Premier passengers of inaugural PK-785 to London here at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport – the event that coincided with Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Sri Lanka’s Minister for Public Enterprise Hashim M. Kabir, PIA CEO Bern Hildenbrand, PIA Chairman Azam Saigol, Chairman and CEO Sri Lankan Airlines Ajith Dias and Surendra Ratwatte, and former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Aviation Capt Shujaat Azeem were present.

The Prime Minister took round of the aircraft, met passengers and appreciated the quality of services.

The cabin crew onboard – women attired in new designer burgundy-maroon coloured uniforms with green scarves and men in navy blue suits with green ties – exuded a fresh, trendy and welcoming look. A few dressed in `head-to-toe green with white sash’ reminded of PIA’s old magnificent glory.

Earlier, the PIA CEO, in a briefing to the Prime Minister, said the project with new aircraft would be a “future gateway” for the PIA’s financial success.

“With a hospitable crew, good food and excellent service, this is something we can compete with the world,” he added.

He mentioned the cooperation of Sri Lankan Airlines and collective team work of PIA management that helped launch of quality air service in short time, under the directive of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Later, Sri Lankan Minister Hashim M. Kabir told APP that the launch of PIA Premier was a “symbolic moment of friendship” for Pakistan and Sri Lanka to intensify their close relationship in terms of trade, economy and culture.

He termed the project a mutually beneficial agreement between the two countries, and also recalled the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Colombo this January, which he said helped boost the economic relationship.

Chairman Sri Lankan Air Lines Ajith Dias in an interaction with APP said the PIA had acquired on wet-lease three A-330 aircraft from Sri Lankan Airlines, with fourth one joining the fleet in near future.

He said the Sri Lankan Airlines was delighted to be part of this project and would be providing a three-month training to the PIA Premier pilots and cabin crew.

He said Sri Lankan Airlines would also closely work with PIA in future in projects including code shared flights and sharing of engineering services.

The aircraft in brand new condition were aimed at giving passengers a better experience, allowing PIA to start regaining its market share, he added.

PM’s Special Assistant Shujaat Azeem during his tenure had initiated the efforts to translate the vision of Nawaz Sharif for launching a premium service in PIA and had a contribution in the selection of new aircraft and new uniforms for cabin crew.

There will be six weekly Premier service flights to London, three each from Islamabad and Lahore. Later, with addition of more aircraft, the service would be expanded to other destinations.

The aircraft is equipped with LCD screens and flight entertainment with 250 channels and flat bed service for business passengers.

Complimentary limousine service for PIA Premier Business Class customers will be given upon their arrival at Heathrow Airport.

The service will be available within a radius of 25 km from Heathrow Airport.

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PM lauds Pakistani Americans for contribution to economic uplift

WASHINGTON, 14 Aug 2016, (APP)- Lauding the contribution of Pakistani Americans in the country’s economic uplift, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said the government is determined to achieve the goal of development and prosperity and asked the expatriates to continue promoting soft image of the country.

In his message on the occasion of “Pakistan Festival USA” being organized to mark the country’s 70 Independence Day, said such events provide the opportunity to show to the younger generation the ideals Pakistan stands for, rich legacy, worthy traditions and promises its future holds for the nation.

I am very pleased to extend my heartfelt greetings to the organizers of “Pakistan Festival USA” the Prime Minister said and added it was certainly an honor and proud achievement to successfully hold this event every year.

Being held of 30 consecutive years, Pakistan Festival USA has become a forum for Americans of Pakistani-origin to celebrate the day together. States’ governors, lawmakers and other US government officials have regularly attended the annual daylong event which draws tens of thousands of people, mainly from the states of Virginia, Maryland and the Capital Washington DC.

The Prime Minister said that as the nation celebrates its Independence Day, all Pakistanis should feel proud of the achievements made in the past three years. “Our economy is back on track; terrorist activities have been contained to a large extent and days are not far off when we will purge our country from the menace of extremism.”

He said as an acknowledgement of the country’s economic progress, US-based Global Index Provider MSCI in June announced to upgrade Pakistan to Emerging Markets status from Frontier Markets. This re-classification will help attract much-needed foreign investment into Pakistan, he added.

The Prime Minister said that the government achieved this tremendous economic progress despite many hurdles. This was not possible without help and support of the patriotic Pakistanis both in the country as well as abroad, he said, adding that the government was determined to achieve the goal of development and prosperity for the nation in spite of attempts to create political instability.

“As our economy makes progress, let me add here that it was not possible without the support of our overseas brethren like you who are a critical source of the country’s foreign exchange. All Americans of Pakistan origin have been contributing handsomely, in this respect. And, I appreciate it,” he added.

The Prime Minister said that in the field of education and health services, the Americans of Pakistan descent have all along been doing their best; which, role is worth emulation, and is highly commended. He also reminded of the fact that Pakistani Americans were playing a singular role in consolidating people to people ties between the two nations.

“Events like “Pakistan Festival USA” provide the opportunity to show to the younger generation the ideals Pakistan stands for, rich legacy, worthy traditions and promises its future holds for the nation,” he said.

A fully democratic Government functions in Pakistan and steering the country on road to prosperity as envisioned by founder the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Prime Minister said. “The Pakistani-American community has an important role to play in helping their country of origin develop and progress.”

The Prime Minister commended the outstanding work being rendered by the Pakistan Festival USA, and congratulated the organizing team to successfully hold this event every year.

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Lebanese tourism officials discuss high prices at airport, beaches

10 August 2016, NNA – Tourism minister Michel Pharaon met with resigned Economy minister Alain Hakim with discussions reportedly featuring high on the consumers’ complaints regarding the rise in prices in some facilities, mainly the restaurants and cafes at the and beaches and at Beirut international airport.

Economy and Trade General Director at the Economy and Trade ministry Aliya Abbas attended the meeting.

The attendees agreed to study the possibility of putting in vending machines to provide basic commodities to the consumers especially water and soft drinks.

The minister also welcomed a delegation from the World Lebanese Cultural Union presided by the Union’s Chairman Elias Kassab who stressed during discussions the need to carry on cooperation with the Tourism ministry especially in the project “I, the Expatriate”.

Kassab said,”We asked (the Minister) to revive 2017 youth project in order to encourage young expatriates to visit Lebanon.”

Separately, Pharaon welcomed the MP Kazem El-Kheir.

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Pakistan rock climbers scale new heights

15 August 2016, (MENAFN – AFP) A dozen young men and women stand before a rock face on the outskirts of Islamabad, challenging and cheering each other on as they take turns scrambling up the limestone in front of curious onlookers.

The country has long been a magnet for mountaineers, drawn by the grandeur of regions like Gilgit-Baltistan, where three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges — the Karakoram, the Hindu Kush and the Himalayas — collide.

Highlights include the savage K2, the world’s second highest peak at 8,611 metres but often deemed a more challenging climb than the highest, Mount Everest.

But despite the tales of glory from professionals, usually from the mountainous north, the sport of climbing has never been particularly popular in the rest of the country.

Until now: Climbing enthusiasts such as Nazir Ahmed, who runs the Eco Adventure Club in Islamabad, which organised the day at the climbing wall for its young members, say there is growing interest in rock and mountain climbing.

“People are attracted to climbing because they are active on social media, they see it on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and get impressed, it’s a good sign,” Ahmed, from the magnificent Hunza valley in Gilgit-Baltistan, says.

He says his club now has 500 members who gather every weekend in the Margallas, the foothills of the Himalayas, which run along the edge of Islamabad — up from 20 when they started four years ago.

Wearing T-shirts and tracksuit bottoms — some are even bare foot — the climbers opt for routes based on their skill level, while their instructor handles the rope and offers guidance.

Most are themselves from Gilgit-Baltistan, a vanguard of dedicated adherents on a mission to spread their love of mountain climbing among the people of the lowlands.

And it seems to be working. Many locals start by taking it up as a hobby, before channelling their energies into organised competition.

Adnan Ali Shah, a sociology student at the Quaid-e-Azam University who won a sports scholarship told AFP: “I represented my university twice in inter-university climbing championships and won gold and silver medals.”

Climbing will for the first time be included as an Olympic sport in Tokyo in 2020, potentially giving Pakistan — which sent a team of only seven people to the current Games in Rio — a tantalising new medal route.

Jamshed Khan, a tall 29-year-old with a piercing green gaze, helped to found the first club in Islamabad with funding from a German NGO in 2007.

Its walls stretch 40 feet high with various difficulty levels. The more testing gradients slope backwards, forcing a climber to fight hard not to slip.

In addition to the wall, he and the group “discovered rock (faces) and established routes in the Margallas,” he said.

Not every city is blessed with natural hill and rock faces that allow for climbing, so in 2013 Khan set up a new club and wall in a Lahore park.

He said most of the people coming to the park in Lahore were children aged between six to fourteen. “When we started holding competitions there were hardly 10-12 people but now hundreds participate.”

Around 20 similar clubs have since appeared up and down the country.

Unlike many other sports, climbing is not divided by gender, allowing women to scale new heights in a country where they have not traditionally been given the same levels of opportunities.

For some, their inspiration comes from Samina Baig, the first Pakistani woman to scale Mount Everest.

“When a girl from a far-flung area like Gilgit becomes the first Pakistani to scale Mount Everest that’s a big deal,” said Sania Aziz, a student of clinical psychology who hopes to follow in Baig’s footsteps.

While rock climbing makes headway throughout the country, more Pakistanis are taking up mountaineering — a far broader challenge that can include ice climbing, navigation and survival skills — as a profession too.

Locals from Pakistan’s northern regions have long taken jobs as low paid high altitude porters, who make it possible for celebrated foreign climbers to scale peaks and win glory but remain relatively anonymous themselves.

Now the Alpine Club of Pakistan is organising joint ventures with foreign expeditions where local members also participate.

In these joint expeditions, the foreign climbers are charged only 50 percent of the regular fee but are asked to arrange logistics, such as travel and supplies, for local members in return.

“The aim behind these expeditions is to encourage local climbers and reduce the cost for them,” Manzoor Hussain, president of Alpine Club of Pakistan told AFP.

The initiative may even give Pakistani climbers the chance to go international, he said, such as to attend one of around 30 mountaineering events around the world.

“With this new approach we will be able to send our climbing teams abroad to participate in competitions,” he said, citing places like Europe — though after the peaks of Pakistan, even the Alps may seem like a mere uphill climb.

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Overseas Pakistanis remit US$1.32 bln in July

KARACHI, 10 Aug 2016, (APP): Overseas Pakistani workers remitted US$1328.18 million in the first month (July) of financial year 2016-17 as compared with US$1663.61 million received during the same period in the preceding year.

During July 2016, the inflow of worker’s remittances amounted to US$1328.18 million, which is 36 percent less than June 2016 and 20.16 percent less than July 2015, said a statement issued by SBP on Wednesday.

The country wise details for the month of July 2016 show that inflows from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman) and EU countries amounted to US$378.69 million, US$293.72 million, US$169.68 million, US$143.61 million, US$169.61 million and US$35.74 million respectively compared with the inflow of US$474.42 million, US$367.51 million, US$255.32 million, US$232.33 million, US$197.86 million and US$32.5 million respectively in July 2015.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during July 2016 amounted to US$137.13 million together as against US$103.67 million received in July 2015.

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Historic Olympics 2016: Palestine competes with six athletes

RAMALLAH,6 August 2016, (West Bank)- Palestine is to compete at the Olympics 2016 in Rio, kicked off Friday, with six athletes in four sports events, a record the Palestinian Olympic participation, in spite of Israel’s obstacles.

It is Palestine’s sixth participation in the Olympic Games and the most important in the number of competing athletes, who were only five at the Olympics 2012 in London.

The departure of the Palestinian delegation was delayed because of hindrances and restrictions to the movement of athletes and their coaches imposed by Israeli occupation authorities.

The chief of the Palestinian sports Jibril Rajoub has recently reported that the head of the Palestinian delegation Issam Qichta was prevented from leaving Gaza Strip, a city of nearly two million people who have been under tight Israeli blockade for nine years.

The number of Palestinians competing in the Olympics is slightly but surely increasing “in spite of the lack of resources and means and the difficulties we are undergoing under (Israeli military) occupation,” said the secretary-general of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, Munther Masalma.

This year, Mayada al-Sayad, a 23 Palestinian female marathon runner living in Berlin, Germany, is the Palestine’s standard bearer at the opening ceremony on Friday, in Maracana Stadium of Rio de Janeiro.

Judoka Simon Yacoub, 28, is the Palestinian athlete to have the most chances to get a medal in Rio, in the 60-kg judo event.

Mohammed Abou Khoussa, a 23-year-old athlete from the Gaza Strip, will compete in the 100-metre race.

Swimmer Ahmed Jibril, 24, will participate in the 200-metre freestyle event for the second time in the Olympic Games. His first participation was in London in 2012.

Mary al-Atrach, 22, who prepared for the Rio Olympics in Algiers, Algeria, will compete in the 50-metre freestyle.

In dressage riding, Palestine will be represented by Christian Zimmermann, a 54-year-old Palestinian living in Germany.

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Nigeria Government Set To Create 6,000 Jobs

ABUJA, 13 August 2016, (NNN-ALLAFRICA) — The Federal Government of Nigeria is set to create 6000 direct new jobs as parts of efforts to commemorate this year’s International Youth Day.

This was declared by the Senior special assistant to the president on youth and student affairs, Nasir Sa’idu Adhama, Thursday in Abuja.

Adhama said government was establishing textile clusters within the six geo-political zones where 1000 unemployed youth from each zone will be trained and provided with facilities like sewing machines, fabrics and other equipment.

The training which is set to take off in the next 60 days seeks to engage 6000 youths who will be trained, while those trained will be retrained.

“What we are looking at is after the training, state governments will provide the beneficiaries with opportunities to sew school uniforms for primary and secondary school students in the states. This will take away negative thoughts and idleness from them” he said.

He called on all stakeholders to focus on the role of youths in ensuring poverty eradication and achieving sustainable development through sustainable consumption and production.

He said towards achieving the 2030 agenda for sustainable development, and in line with the UN , the development and promotion of individual choices and actions that increase the eco- efficiency and consumption of all, and minimise waste and pollution.

The theme of the 2016 International Youth Day “The Road to 2030 eradication Poverty and Achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production.

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NY Film Festival hails movie “The Battle of Algiers”

NEW YORK, 9 August 2016 (Algeria Press Service)- Algerian movie “The Battle of Algiers” (La Bataille d’Alger) will be featured at the 54th New York International Film Festival which will be held from 30 September to 16 October, said the Festival’s website.

Directed by Italian Gillo Pontecorvo in 1966, the Battle of Algiers will be screened in the “Revivals” category on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its first

Several movies included in this category and having marked the international cinema will be presented in this event including “L’argent” (Money, 1983) from French director Robert Bresson, “Harlan Cointy USA” (1976) from American Barbara Cobel, Japenese director Kenji Mizojusci’s “Ugetsu Monogatari” (1953) and Panique (1947) from French director Julien Duvivier.

The Battle of Algiers, an Algerian-Italian co-production won several awards including the Golden Lion for best movie at the Venice Festival in 1966 and was nominated twice for the Oscars in 1967 and 1969.

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Pakistani Sales Tax initiatives to check huge tax evasions

ISLAMABAD, 12 Aug 2016,(APP)- The newly introduced sales tax automation system would help generate additional billions of rupees for the national exchequer besides ensuring transparency, discipline and proper monitoring of sales and purchase all across the country.

“The Sales Tax Real-time Invoice Verification Strive System’ has been put in place to check leakages in the tax system and improve over-all revenue collections,” Member Sales Tax, Dr. M. Irshad said while talking to APP here.

He said that the purpose of the system was to check under-invoicing as well as flying-invoicing which has been causing damages of billions of rupees to the government in terms of tax evasion.

He said that although the system has been put in place since the commencement of the current fiscal year, however the actual impact could be evaluated after August 18, when the

FBR receives returns from the sales taxpayers.

“We expect that with the help of this system, additional Rs40 to Rs 50 billion per annum revenue could be collected by checking and removing the loopholes and leakages,” he added.

As per the system all the companies and individuals involved in selling of goods would be bound to submit electronically their invoices of previous month to the FBR by 10th of next month and later file their returns by 18th of that month.

This practice would help FBR to recheck and re-examine the tax collection when the invoices and actual files are submitted, hence it would not only help check the bottlenecks in the tax collection system but would also make the overall system transparent.

He said that since the system was in place since July 1, 2016, so the sales taxpayers are bound to submit their invoices (annexes) by 10th of August and file their returns by August 18.

The board would then make cross-check to ensure that no under-voicing and flying invoicing has been included for the purpose of tax evasion, he told APP.

He was of the view that FBR had been facing such problems for a long time and it was after long consideration that this software has been developed to overcome the problems.

He said that before launching the software, the FBR had launched a pilot project and approached businessmen and chambers to inform them and create awareness among them regarding the system.

The member ST FBR said that similar systems have been developed to check sales tax evasion by vendors and electricity distribution companies (Discos) all across the country.

In future, two more software are being developed to introduce same facility in the real-estate business and motor registration system.

He said that the FBR has taken many incentives to revamp the existing sales tax system to facilitate taxpayers and also improve revenue collection system by making it taxpayer-friendly, transparent and disciplined.

Meanwhile, the FBR and Auditor General for Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) have joined hands to check tax evasions of billions of rupees by monitoring sale and purchase activities of government vendors.

“The FBR in collaboration with AGPR has put a mechanism in place to monitor and access complete data of sale and purchase of government vendors through Monitoring and

Invoice Verification System in order to check almost 80 percent of the sales tax evasion by the vendors,” a senior official of the board told APP.

As per the common practice, the government vendors were filing only one fifth of the sales tax on Sales Tax Return Number (STRN) with Accountant General Office (AG) on their own while evading 80 percent government tax due to non-availability of the STN verification facility at AGP.

The purpose is to check the malpractice that has been inflicting huge loss to national exchequer in terms of tax evasion, adding that with this system, the cross verification of the STRN of all the vendors working with government could be verified.

The FBR would also involve District Controller Accounts for properly accessing the data of the government vendors and contractors and ask them for filing of 80 percent sales tax account in order to recover huge amount evaded in terms of the sales tax.

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Merzouga, Morocco ranked 4th best destination for health tourism

Merzouga Village, Morocco, 11 August 2016, (IINA) – The National Geographic Traveler Magazine ranks the Moroccan touristic village of Merzouga as the 4th best destination for health tourism.

The exquisite presentation of this famous touristic spot appears in page 66 of the magazine’s latest edition (August/September) and eloquently describes the different phases of the sand bath operation that attracts international tourists, Morocco World News reported.

“Think of it as a sand bath. During the sweltering months of July and August, blue-turbaned Berbers dig bathtub size holes, in the ocher Sahara sand, wait for the grains to heat up in the sun, and then bury customers up to their necks. Participants stay in the ground for about 10 minutes and are afterwards wrapped in blankets for an hour before being served tea for rehydration.”

The magazine also discusses the health benefit of this practice, stating that “the sweaty sauna-like treatment soothes muscles” and informs readers that “most hotels in the area, including the castle-like ‘Ksar Merzouga’ can organize a ‘Bain de sable.’”

The first three attractions for health tourism, according to the same magazine, are Quebec City in Canada, Aguas Calientes in Peru and Bath in England.

The sand bath, although very specific to the area, is not the only thing that draws tourists to this attraction. Merzouga is also known for its magical Berber culture and traditions as well as romantic camel safaris that travel 350-meter dunes.

As to its geographic location and specificities, Merzouga is located on the edge of Erge Chebbi, a large area characterized by high sand dunes in southeastern Morocco, around 50 km close to the Algerian border. Because of its location in the Sahara Desert, the temperature reaches 48 °C in the months of July and August. During winter months, the weather is cool and sunny, whereas in spring, the temperature fluctuates between 25 and 30 °C.

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Najwa Karam opens first night of Kobayat Festival

15 Aug 2016, (NNA) – Famous Lebanese singer Najwa Karam opened the first night of Kobayat Summer Festival, amid high applauds of cheering huge crowds, National News Agency correspondent reported on Friday.

A panel of politicians, military and security chiefs, as well as high ranking dignitaries attended the event.

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Nahdlatul Ulama asks Google to put Palestine back on map

Jakarta, 12 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – Indonesias largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), has demanded Google to put Palestine on the map, after Google erased Palestine and replaced it with Israel. “It must be brought back on the map,” NU Chairman Said Aqil Siroj said here on Thursday.

The problem should be addressed soon to prevent it from expanding into a religious sentiment, he added. “If not put back, we will fight,” Siroj, alumni of a Mecca university, stated.

More than 300,000 people have signed a petition launched on change.org, calling on Google to recognize Palestine in Google Maps, and to clearly designate and identify the Palestinian territories illegally occupied by Israel.

“I boycotted Google yesterday over this, it is totally disgusting and I now believe they aren’t the only corporation complicit in Israel’s mass genocide of Palestine,” wrote Mark Kavanagh from Birmingham, Britain, who signed the petition initiated by Zak Martin.

The omission of Palestine is a grievous insult to the people of Palestine and undermines the efforts of the millions of people who are involved in the campaign to secure Palestinian independence and freedom from Israeli occupation and oppression, Martin wrote.

“Whether intentionally or otherwise, Google is making itself complicit in the Israeli governments ethnic cleansing of Palestine,” he added.

A Google spokeswoman was quoted as saying on the Guardian.com: “There has never been a Palestine label on Google Maps, however we discovered a bug that removed the labels for West Bank and Gaza Strip. Were working quickly to bring these labels back to the area.”

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Muscat Municipality to revamp Naseem Gardens

14 August 2016, (MENAFN – Muscat Daily) Muscat-The Muscat Municipality will be redesigning and revamping its most prominent and largest park, Naseem Gardens also a Muscat Festival venue.

The municipality is looking to invite companies from the private sector to develop the 700,000sq m park and turn it into a fun and entertainment zone.

‘The municipality will invite private parties to operate facilities through a bidding process. A high-level policy decision has been taken to install new recreational and entertainment facilities in the park to lure more visitors,’ the Muscat Municipality said in a written reply to Muscat Daily.

Another official said that Naseem Gardens receives maximum visitors during Muscat Festival which is held in the January-February period.

‘Apart from holidays and weekends, we get very few visitors on other days. The aim is to convert the more than 25 year old park into a fun zone as the concept of entertainment has changed over the years. Earlier, parks were one of the main entertainment options in the city. Now, with so many malls why would anyon visit a park? We have to offer visitors something different,’ the official said.

With the revamping of the park the civic body plans to offer more entertainment options, said the official. ‘It (Naseem Gardens) is bigger than the Amerat Park (another Muscat Festival venue) and the plan is to have a lot of fun rides and other options like sporting activities amongst others so that visitors can enjoy. Everything will depend on the plans of the private party that will redesign it.’

Meanwhile, the project to redesign and revamp the 50,000sq m Amerat Park is also underway. The project was initiated three years ago.

‘It is part of our plan to refurbish facilities in parks across the governorate. We plan to have fountains, an open amphitheatre, sport arenas, jogging and cycling tracks, open landscaped areas, public utilities like toilets, coffee shops and a restaurant,’ the municipality stated in its reply, adding, ‘Documents of this project are being prepared. Once it is completed, a tender will be issued for the said projects.’

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Moroccan American Network to hold 2nd international media forum

Washington, 09 August 2016,(IINA) – As both Morocco and the United States approach historical electoral crossroads, the Moroccan American Network (MAN) will hold the 2nd international media forum in Washington, D.C. in September.

The forum, which will be held on September 23, will address the role of media in influencing society, leading and adapting to change, and shaping history, Morocco World News reported.

The conference follows on from the first International Media Forum hosted by MAN in 2014. The forum will feature prominent members of the Moroccan and U.S. media, academics, and others to explore the role of media in today’s rapidly changing world, the importance of free speech and critical thinking in a democracy, and the potential impact of Moroccan voices in America.

“Our main objective,” according to the President of the Moroccan American Network Mohammed El Hajjam, “is to ignite and inspire Moroccan American strategic alliances by bringing journalists from all forms of media together.” As part of a week of associated activities, this year’s conference will provide a platform for debate, networking opportunities, and exchanges of views and best practices.

Panelists will address the changing face of media in a world of rapid technological change, and the development of digital media. They will explore the role of media in the political processes in the U.S. and Morocco, and the impact and influence of media on public opinion, society, and the development of democracy.

The conference recognizes excellence in media and will celebrate the fifth anniversary of on-line news platform, Morocco World News, the only English language media outlet focused on news relating to Morocco.

The conference is being organized by MAN, AV Actions Inc., and 50 Frames, with the support of other strategic partners and sponsors.

The Moroccan American Business Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening economic ties between Morocco and the United States. AV Actions, Inc. is a premier communications, event staging, and AV company specializing in light and sound.

Fifty Frames is a full-service TV production company, based in Washington, D.C., that provides news and program services to national and international broadcasters.

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US Muslim athlete wins bronze in women’s sabre in Rio Games

Rio de Janeiro, 14 August 2016, (IINA) – Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first United State Olympian to wear a hijab during competition, has won a bronze medal along with her teammates in the women’s team sabre in Rio Olympics Games.

Muhammad came to the Rio Games determined to show the world that Muslim-American women can excel in sports and she will return home to New Jersey with proof that she was right. The U.S. routed Italy 45-30 to clinch third place on Saturday and the first women’s medal in fencing for the Americans in Rio, Mail Online sport news reported.

‘This is sport. It doesn’t matter what hair color you have, or what religion you are. The point is to go out there and be the best athlete you can be,’ said teammate Dagmara Wozniak. ‘We’re the best explanation of what American is. A mix of so many different cultures and races, and everything all together.’

Muhammad made headlines around the world on Monday simply by wearing a hijab on the piste, adhering to the tenets of her Muslim faith.

The attention for the team event was much more focused simply on fencing and Ibtihaj reminded folks why she made the Olympic team in the first place.

‘This has been a long journey for us,’ Ibtihaj said. ‘To be able to compete at the level that we’ve worked toward, on the world’s biggest stage, the Olympic Games, is truly a blessing for us… I’ll never forget this moment.’

The Americans opened against Poland, blowing an 11-point lead before two-time Olympic champion Mariel Zagunis got the US through with a deft torso touch for the win.

Russia won the first four of the nine-bout semifinals to go ahead 20-12, but Muhammad slowed Russia’s momentum with a narrow victory over second-ranked Yana Egorian.

‘Our plan was that, no matter what happened, to just focus on these four voices,’ Muhammad said of teammates Zagunis, Wozniak and Monica Aksamit. ‘We were only listening to each other, and I just kept hearing “Just get one. Just get one”.’

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UNWTO Welcomes Indonesia’s Cutting Edge Tourism Visa Policy

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 10 August 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), welcomes Indonesia’s move to grant free visas to citizens from 169 countries, saying that it reflects the country’s commitment towards the development of the tourism sector as a driver of economic growth and new jobs.

In a statement, UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai, said that by doing so Indonesia has set an example to the world.

The UNWTO said that the initiative to attract international tourism to the country by simplifying travel procedures and considering the research done by UNWTO and World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), also indicated that visa facilitation in the ASEAN economies could create between 333,000 to 654,000 new jobs in a period of three years.

“UNWTO welcomes the decision of the Government of Indonesia which clearly reflects the commitment of the country with the development of the tourism sector as a driver of economic growth, jobs and well-being for its people,” the statement quoted Taleb as saying.

Valid for a maximum stay of 30 days, the visa-free policy, issued under a presidential decree on March 10, has no restriction on the number of visits per year and is non-extendable nor convertible to any other stay permit.

Nationals of visa-free countries can enter Indonesia via any of the country’s 124 immigration check points, the statement said.

According to the UNWTO/WTTC Report Impact of Visa Facilitation in ASEAN Member States, ASEAN stands to gain six to 10 million additional international tourist arrivals from improved visa facilitation.

The additional receipts generated by these tourists could reach between US$7 and US$12 billion.

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Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry launches ‘Business Intelligence System’

SHARJAH, 13 August, 2016 (WAM) — The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI) launched its ‘Business Intelligence System’ a smart scheme that aims to fully boost the chamber’s digital transformation process for all its transactions and inquiries, in a move to exploit digital and technical technologies providing cutting-edge support to administrative decisions and preparation of corporate reports as part of the efforts to inspire a new administrative culture that endorses digital technologies.

The initiative will assist in transforming traditional data and long-time stored information into digital formats, making these easy to handle and process. This will enable preparing advanced and smart reports, through which all kinds of information can be connected and analyzed, enriching such reports with useful information and performance indicators that help in making decisions based on truthful facts and benefit from today’s latest digital technologies.

The system will support management decision-making, expedite the preparation of corporate reports and publications and guarantee availability of information for businesses in all sectors, decision makers and interested parties.

Khalid bin Butti Al Hajri, Director General of SCCI, said: “SCCI’s launch of its ‘Business Intelligence System’ comes alongside its other initiatives and projects that the chamber has been working on to support full digital transformation of all its operations. The mentioned system reflects the chamber’s commitment to pursue know-how of strategically operational decisions and provide credible levels of information and data bases, to build precise and transparent financial and non-financial indicators for decision makers from the Emirate of Sharjah’s vast economic sectors.”

Al Hajri stressed the project represents an e-stage for collecting and preparing data from their bases and various references in order to be analyzed and transformed into information, which can be then put out before business analysts such as specialists and decision makers, by using interactive tables and graphics, making it available on mobile and tablet and making it possible to surf all categories on search engines. This would overcome all related challenges and come up with appropriate solutions to reach set objectives, Al Hajri added.

The kind of instruments and technologies provided by the ‘Business Intelligence System’ will play a significant role in expediting the process of transforming all data and primal information, so these can be classified and structured to be analyzed, and accordingly made ready to reach needed conclusions depending on the kind and approach of the search processes. This will play an important and pivotal role in dealing with mega storage sizes of data and information, so these can be transformed into visions and concepts, which can be easily comprehended, and which represent the core foundation for any carefully speedy decision process and can benefit all.

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Turkish Airlines to launch flights to Seychelles Island

Victoria, Seychelles Island, 14 August 2016, (IINA) – Representatives of Turkish Airlines are holding meetings with relevant authorities in Seychelles Island ahead of the start of their new service to the islands at the end of September this year.

The discussions that centered on the arrival date of the airline’s first flight to Seychelles at the end of September was also the opportunity for Turkish Airlines to review their target source markets for Seychelles as well as conditions presented to them for their operation in Seychelles, Aviation Tribune news reported.

During the meeting, the CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board Sherin Naiken confirmed to the Turkish Airlines delegation that their marketing and sales people were already actively working with the tourism board in countries already identified as target markets for Seychelles.

Turkish Airlines is launching its Seychelles service with three flights per week and is hoping to increase the number of flights to the islands in the near future.

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Turkey in pursuit of $24B foreign investment

Istanbul, 11 August 2016, (Anadolu Agency) – More than 150 new investment projects, with a total value of $24 billion, are testament to investors’ commitment in Turkey in the aftermath of the July 15 coup attempt, the president of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency (ISPAT) said Thursday.

Arda Ermut spoke to Anadolu Agency about 158 recent foreign investment decisions in Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Russia on Aug. 9.

He said the agency, which comes under the prime minister’s office, had talked to foreign investors who have new ongoing projects in Turkey after the coup attempt.

“We asked if they would continue their investments in our country or not,” he said. “The response we got from all the investors was that they will continue. We are closely following 158 projects now with a value of $24 billion. But, regardless of their outcome, which is not determined yet, they all will proceed.”

Ermut said he was surprised by the positive feedback from international investors following the coup plot.

“One of our investors from the Gulf region called his Turkish representative to get information on proceedings (after the coup),” he said. “After he learned what really happened in Turkey, he gave instructions to increase the investment volume in Turkey.”

Global companies explained their investment plans for Turkey when they meet Erdogan at the Presidential Palace in Ankara last week.

“Most of the investors at that meeting shared their new plans with President Erdogan,”Ermut said. “I hope these new plans will be announced as new investments in the near future. Beforehand, we plan to announce some new investments in different sectors this month in a meeting hosted by our Prime Minister Binali Yildirim in Istanbul.”

Ermut said the normalization of relations with Russia, which this week saw Erdogan visit President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg, would help improve investment levels.

Investment from Russia fell following the downing of a Russian fighter over the Turkey-Syria border last November.”

“Normally, Turkey has attracted around $700 million to $900 million worth of foreign direct investment per year from Russia over the last five years,” Ermut said. “However, the jet crisis impacted investments from this country.

“Now, with the normalization process, the foreign direct investment volume is not only expected to return to old levels but to be boosted to over $1 billion per year.”

He predicted large-scale Russian-linked projects in Turkey’s energy and property sectors, as well as company mergers and acquisitions.

“Normalizing relations with Russia will also contribute to Turkey’s foreign investment attraction because our relations with one more country got better and investors see this as an advantage,” he said.

“Most investors come to Turkey because they see our country as a production and management center from where they are able to manage their investments in neighboring countries.”

Among the major Russian-Turkish projects back on track following Turkey’s rapprochement with Moscow are the Turkish Stream gas pipeline and the Akkuyu nuclear power plant in Mersin, southern Turkey.

Erdogan said during his visit Tuesday that the plant would be granted “strategic investment status” and announced a joint investment fund between Turkey and Russia.

In a 2010 agreement, Russia said it would help construct and operate the plant, which is expected to produce around 35 billion kilowatt-hours per year and cost around $25 billion.

Ermut said the strategic investment status was critical to encourage Russian participation through tax incentives and planning support. He added that Turkey would offer these incentives to other strategic foreign investors.

“The government plans to evaluate each project individually and support it with many other enticements,” he told Anadolu Agency.

Referring to the joint investment fund, he added: “This fund excites me and many others as well. Details of the plan will be determined soon and it will create a difference in terms of investments.

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Surabaya to build green belt around Benowo landfill

Surabaya, 12 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – The Surabaya city government plans to plant trees on the green belt around the Benowo landfill to absorb the garbage odor.

“A good landfill must have a barrier in the form of a green belt,” Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini said while conducting an impromptu inspection of the landfill here on Thursday.

Risma, as the mayor is popularly called, said the green belt will help reduce the negative impact of the landfill on nearby residences. Therefore, the green belt will be developed with trees capable of absorbing the garbage odor.

The planned construction of the green belt is now entering the phase of land clearance. Nearly 100 hectares of land belonging to individuals and private companies will be cleared to make way for the construction of the green belt.

During the impromptu inspection, the mayor also visited a waste-to-energy plant at the Benowo landfill, which processes garbage into methane gas to produce electricity.

Part of the electricity is sold to state electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN) and the rest is used for the landfills operations.

Risma said the Benowo landfill is capable of producing 1.8 to 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity per day. Looking ahead, the city government will increase the electricity production by building a new waste-to-energy plant. Once the new power plant is completed, electricity production is expected to reach 10 MW per day.

However, she added that building a power plant is not as easy as building an apartment.

A good plan, land and supporting facilities are needed to build a power plant, she added.

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Brunei Sultan leads thousands in 15km cycling event

Bandar Seri Begawan, 15 August 2016, Borneo Bulletin — THOUSANDS of cyclists took to the streets of Bandar Seri Begawan yesterday, for the Royal Birthday Cycling Recreation 2016, held in conjunction with the 70th birthday celebrations for His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

Making the occasion a very special one, His Majesty led the pack of cyclists in a recreational 15km route that commenced at the Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien and back, through scenic routes along the main roads of Bandar Seri Begawan.

Also taking part in the event were His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office.

His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah and Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Zariah also took part, along with their children, Dr Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Muda Abdul Fattaah and Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Muda Omar Ali.

Eager participants arrived at the Taman as early as at 5.30am, and the 15-kilometre event was flagged off at around 7.30am, when His Majesty released a specially crafted balloon that represented the number 70, followed by the release of 70 balloons by 70 participants, symbolising the 70 years of His Majesty’s life.

The 15km route, led by His Majesty and His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, was also witness to the participation from thousands of people, on bikes of varying colours and styles.

Also taking part in the event were senior government officials, including Cabinet Ministers.

The route covered several main roads in the capital, taking His Majesty and the other cyclists past landmarks and historical sites through Jalan Haji Basir, Jalan Kumbang Pasang, Jalan Perdana Menteri, Jalan Menteri Besar, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Highway, Jalan Tasek, Jalan Kianggeh and Jalan McArthur.

His Majesty, who rode a ‘Smart Brabus Electric Bicycle’, was at the centre of the attention throughout the event, with members of the public taking the opportunity to cheer at the monarch and take pictures.

After circling Bandar Seri Begawan in the 15km route, His Majesty also witnessed the return of 70 cyclists in another category, with a longer route of 70km, which had been flagged off earlier in the morning, by Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.

The 70 cyclists comprised of national cycling athletes and representatives from the government and private sectors, as well as from local associations.

The 70km route covered several main roads in Brunei-Muara District, namely Jalan Sultan Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien, Jalan Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, Jalan Gadong, Tungku Highway, Muara-Tutong Highway, Jalan Jerudong Park, Lambak Kanan Bridge, Jalan Utama Berakas, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Highway, Jalan Kiulap and Jalan Tasek.

Before departing the venue, His Majesty received a ‘pesambah’ from a representative of the 70km event, and spent some time chatting with the participants and members of the public.

Initiated by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the event combines the aspects of a healthy lifestyle through recreational activities, while promoting tourism in the country.

The event was also made possible by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Development, Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Health, together with the Brunei Darussalam Cycling Federation.

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Science, technology advancing fast in Bangladesh: Speakers

RANGPUR, 9 Aug 2016, (BSS) – The modern science-, information and communication technology (ICT)-based education has been advancing fast in the country to build a middle income, and subsequently developed nation.

Divisional Commissioner Kazi Hassan Ahmed said this at the concluding and prize giving ceremony of a two-day Science & ICT Fair-2016 held at Zila Parisahd Community Centre in the city on Monday afternoon as the chief guest.

The divisional administration under patronisation of the Science & Technology Welfare Trust organised the fair to inspire the young students in science and ICT-based education for more innovations befitting for the 21st century to accelerate national uplift.

With Additional Divisional Commissioner (General) Minu Sheel in the chair, Additional Deputy Inspector General for Rangpur Range Chowdhury Manjurul Kabir, Additional Divisional Commissioner (Revenue) Abdul Mazid, Deputy Commissioner Rahat Anwar and Principal of Carmichael College Professor Binte Hussein Nasrine Banu, addressed the ceremony as special guests.

Different secondary and higher secondary level educational institutions from allover Rangpur division set up 28 stalls projecting different scientific innovations, research works and ICT-based digitised technologies at the fair.

The speakers said the advanced nations have achieved faster developments through innovating and adopting science and ICT-based modern education in their educational institutions.

Professor Binte Hussein Nasrine Banu put special emphasis on popularising science education among the students to attain self- sufficiency in all spheres of national life by enhancing science and ICT-based education befitting for the 21st century.

Deputy Commissioner Rahat Anwar said the digitisation process using ICT, computers and internet has been progressing successfully from the bottom to the top layers in the country for building a middle income digital Bangladesh by 2021.

“The common people are getting government services quickly in a hassle-free manner from the Union Digital Centres at their doorsteps and district and upazila level web portals by virtue of the digitised ICT facilities,” he said.

The chief guest stressed on popularising the science-and ICT- based education and technologies among the students for faster advancement in the modern technology sector to build a middle income nation by 2021 and developed Bangladesh by 2041.

Later, the chief guest along with other guests distributed crests, certificates and prizes among the stall owners in the ceremony followed by a colourful cultural function.

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Saudi Vision 2030 offers opportunities to Indonesian businesses

Jakarta, 13 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – A program called Saudi Vision 2030 offers opportunities to Indonesian entrepreneurs to expand their businesses to Saudi Arabia, an Indonesian government official.

“Saudi Arabia expects the program can wean the country away from its dependence on the energy sector,” Head of Research and Policy Development for Asia-Pacific and African regions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohamad, Hery Saripudin, who is also a Consul-General candidate of the Republic of Indonesia in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, said here Friday. .

Saudi Arabia is now intensively diversifying the countrys economic sector beyond energy, he added.

There are two reasons why Saudi Arabia strives to free itself from dependence on the energy sector that have been the mainstay of the country, according to him.

Firstly, the fall in world oil prices after the revocation of sanctions by the Western countries against Iran allows the country to freely distribute oil to the international market.

Secondly, the interest of Saudi Arabia to continue funding the leadership in the Middle East region increases spending in the state budget.

“Saudi Arabia needs a huge budget so it must diversify its economic resources, by privatization of strategic sectors, developing property, and so on. This is an opportunity for Indonesian businessmen to take part in it,” he said.

The Middle East is a strategic region because of the large number of Indonesians living there, Hery added.

In addition, issues such as the Palestine and Sunni-Shiah conflicts frequently touch the Indonesians, who are mostly Muslims.

A number of tasks has been awaiting him in Jeddah, such as preserving national sovereignty, protecting and serving Indonesians, and building economic diplomacy and Indonesias leadership in multilateral organizations, among others, Hery said.

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Rusafa water project in Baghdad inaugurated

Baghdad,13 August 2016, (IraqiNews.com) – The Municipality of Baghdad has inaugurated Rusafa water project with a production capacity of 910 thousand cubic meter water per day, and with a total cost of more than 1 trillion and 131 billion Iraqi dinars.

According to information shared by an informed source, it was stated, “Mayor of Baghdad Zekra Alwach this morning inaugurated the Rusafa water project at Bub al-Sham in northern Baghdad, which was also attended by the Secretary General of the Council of Ministers Mahdi al-Alaq, Governor of Baghdad Ali al-Tamimi and the commander of Baghdad Operations Major General Galil al-Rabei.”

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Qabala to host international jam festival

Baku, August 13, AZERTAC – The fourth international jam festival will be held in Qabala on August 27. The festival will be co-organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Qabala District Executive Authority, Azerbaijan National Culinary Center and National Culinary Association.

The festival will involve representatives of over 10 countries, as well as Azerbaijani regions.

The jury of the festival will choose the best jam makers to award in different nominations.

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Indonesian President orders immediate action against forest fires

Jakarta, 12 August 2016, (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has passed order for immediate action to prevent forest fires from spreading and became out of control.

Forest fires have been reported Riau and West Kalimantan spreading fast over the past week.

Jokowi said it is predicted that forest and bush fires were more devastating in August and September, therefore, action must not be delayed to put an end to fire when they are still easier to control.

He said there were fewer dots of fires compared with in the same period last year .

“But I want to draw your attention, that there are 217 dots of fire all over the country potential to cause big problem ,” the president said at limited cabinet meeting here on Friday.

He said the fires already broke out in Riau and South Sumatra and North Sumatra although attempts had been made from the air and over land by fire fighters to isolate and put out the fires.

Attempts from the air is made with water bombs dropped from helicopters while overland firefighters sprayed water.

He said artificially made rain could also be produced when the sky was still wrapped with clouds.

He said law enforcement must also be effective imposing administrative or criminal sanctions against perpetrators to meet sense of justice.

He reminded relevant agencies that no more license for exploitation of peat lands, and evaluation has to be made to ensure that restoration of damaged peat lands is effective.

On Thursday the South Jakarta District court a punished a sago starch producer PT Nasional Sago Prima (NSP) for fire in its concession land last year destroying peat land.

The court decided in favor of the Forestry and Environment Ministry, which filed the lawsuit against the company.

Director General Law Enforcement of the Ministry Rasio Ridho Sani described the court verdict as historical.

“This is a historical decision against injustice on the environment and human rights,” Rasio said.

It was rare that big corporation lost cases in forest fires that have extensively devastated the countrys tropical forests over the past year.

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Olympic Sport Complex in Baku undergoes major overhaul

Ismayilli, 10 August 2016, AZERTAC – President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has viewed conditions created at the Olympic Sport Complex in Ismayilli district after the major overhaul. The major reconstruction work started here in 2015.

The complex occupies a total area of 7.5 hectares. It has a 936-seat artificial football stadium, tennis courts, three two-storey four-bed cottages, basketball and volleyball courts.

The main 510-seat sport hall of the complex is supplied with state-of-the-art equipment. The hall is designed to host both local and international competitions.

The complex also has a modern swimming pool.

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Number of Egyptian museums visitors increases

Cairo, 8 Aug 2016 (AlAhram Online) – The number of visitors to museums around Egypt in the last week of July reached 32,497, with an income totaling EGP 745,533 ($84,431), the secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities announced.

Mostafa Amin also said that the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir received the most visitors, at 17,206, while revenues reached EGP 624,101 ($70,679).

“This indicates that the number of visitors to Egypt has increased which in turn suggests that the tourism industry in Egypt is on its way to recovery,” Amin told Ahram Online.

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Egypt halves fees for filming at archaeological sites

Cairo, 8 Aug 2016 (AlAhram Online) The Supreme Council of Antiquities board approved yesterday a 50 percent reduction in fees for the filming of movies and TV shows at archaeological sites and museums all over Egypt starting November 2017.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany told Ahram Online that the decision comes as part of the ministry’s agenda to encourage tourism to Egypt, as films and shows depicting Egyptian sites could attract tourists to the country.

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Iran, Azerbaijan put visa waiver on agenda

Tehran, Aug 7, IRNA – Iranian ambassador in Baku Mohsen Pakaeen said on Monday that visa waiver is on the agenda of Iran and Azerbaijan.

Pakaeen said that Iran and Azerbaijan are willing to enhance level of consular cooperation to cancel visa formality step by step.

In the first phase, the two countries will provide the tourists with visa on arrivals at airports and in the second phase almost three months later, they will provide the tourists with visa on Astara and Bile Savar border crossings, the ambassador said.

Pakaeen said that in the third phase, Iran and Azerbaijan will complete their technical facilities to cancel visa formality.

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​Call For Papers: Int’l Symposium On “Konya In Islamic Civilization”

Konya, as one of the oldest settlements and civilisation centre, achieved its real civil development under Islamic-Turkish rule. Muslim armies, from the beginning, tried to conquer Konya, so first Muslim conquest was at 723 AD but the city went out from Muslim dominance in the course of time. Konya was conquered second time by Seljuk Turks.

The Seljuks, shortly after Malazgirt (Manzikert) Victory in 1071 AD, conquered Konya in 1073 AD. Just after its conquest the city was declared as the capital city of the Seljuks. Konya was the capital city of Kılıçarslan who defended Anatolia against the Crusaders and Alâeddin Keykubad who turned Konya one of the civilisation centers in the middle ages. Konya, during this period, became, one of the significant capitals of Islamic Civilization after Medina, Damascus, Baghdad and Cairo. The city had its most magnificent days in the beginning of 13th century.

Konya that mentioned as “Dar al-Mulk ” (The Capital) in the historical sources, became an international trade center at Asia Minor, as well as a scientific center. Thus, Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi had been identified with the city in this century. “Akhi Organization” was the most crucial mainstay of the city at tough days of Mongol Invasion. Konya after Ottoman domination in late 14th century become a “Beylerbeylik” (Province). Many Ottoman princes such as Cem Sultan, were trained for state administration while governing Konya.

Konya, after a millenium of Seljuk conquest, is still continuing to be an attraction center with its population over one million, organized urban structure, industry, trade and tourism, as well as being the Seljukids capital and having international eminent figures like Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi, Sadr al-Din al-Qunawi, Shams Tabrizi, Sahib Ata, Jalal al-Din Karatay, Hacıveyiszade Mustafa Sabri Efendi and also Seljuk sultans’ tombs, mosques, and madrasas and “Şeb-i Arus” organizations.

The International Symposium on “Konya in Islamic Civilization” will be organized between 11-13 November 2016 by IRCICA and KTO Karatay University within the framework Konya’s declaration as Islamic Tourism Capital of 2016 by The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The city’s history, culture and art with economic and social structure from its conquest to present day will be discussed during the symposium.

Symposium Dates:

Sending of Abstracts: 30 August 2016

The Announcement of Acceptence of the Abstracts: 15 September 2016

Symposium Dates: 11-13 November 2016

Co-Presidents: Assoc. Prof. Halit EREN (IRCICA General Director); Selçuk ÖZTÜRK (KTO Karatay University Chairman of The Board of Trustees)

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