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26 Sep, 2016

Aceh wins three Indonesian Halal Tourism awards

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 26 September 2016 (24 Dhul Ḥijjah 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




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

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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



The Thailand Halal Assembly, the country’s largest global event for the Thai-Muslim Community, will be held on 9-11 December 2016 at Queen Sirikit National Convention Center, Bangkok. The Assembly will include a exhibition with more than 300 booths in zone C, which is twice as big as the 2015 Assembly, seminars from world-class experts and an academic conference on various interested topics. The promotion of the Halal economy is a key component of the Royal Thai Government’s strategic direction under the 2016-20 National Economic and Social Development Plan. The country’s economic progress has advanced from an agricultural-based economy in the “Thailand 1.0 model”, to a light industry, in “Thailand 2.0 model”, and a heavy industry, in “Thailand 3.0 model”. The Halal market, which has been driven by the cooperation of business owners and the support from customers, has now reached Halal 4.0 era as well. For registration and further information, pls click here: http://thailandhalalassembly.com/index.php.

A special app has been created by the TAT to help Muslim visitors find the appropriate facilities and services. It can be downloaded by clicking here: http://www.tourismthailand.org/muslimfriendly


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




Malaysia: KL Tower Jump On Sept 30

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (NNN-Bernama) — The KL Tower International Jump Malaysia 2016 – a four-day event, will be held from Sept 30 showcaseing 120 international professional jumpers from Australia, France and Japan.

Among the attractions for the 16th annual event would be a canopy jump by 20 jumpers on Oct 1, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the seventh tallest telecommunications tower in the world.

“As usual, they will jump from T07 situated 312 metres from the ground while displaying actions that will surely give a different kind of experience and adrenaline to spectators,” a tower official said.

Visitors could also feel the excitement by watching their stunts from a closer view through ‘Sitting On The Ledge’ and the latest attraction, Sky Box, he said.

This year’s event also features photography competition themed ‘KL Tower International Jump’ together with the most interesting caption with hashtag #KLTOWERBASEJUMP. The event aims to attract 15,000 domestic and international visitors.

Kuala Lumpur Tower (KL Tower) is optimistic of attracting 800,000 local and foreign visitors this year, compared with 715,000 last year.

Its chief executive officer, Meor Shahril Anuar Ahmad Rathuan said he was confident that the number could be achieved following its latest attractions such as Sky Box and Upside Down, launched in June while various activities held were well-received by the public. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malay Civilisation Study Centres Need To Revive Archipelago’s Socio-Culture

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 20 (NNN-Bernama) — The centres for Malay civilization studies have been called upon to ensure the revival of the Malay Archipelago’s socio-culture.

Socio-cultural affairs advisor to the Malaysian government, Dr Rais Yatim said such centres at the tertiary education institutions in Malaysia,

Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei should be able to suggest what should be done to preserve the Malay socio-cultural characteristics in their respective countries.

“This is because currently, there are worrying drastic socio-cultural changes within these Malay communities,” he said in his speech at the Malay World Conference in London on Monday.

The text of his address titled “The Challenges of Malay World and Islamic Civilisation Studies”, was issued here today.

The Conference was organised by the School of Oriental and African Studies London, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and International Islamic University Malaysia.

Rais said most obvious were the effects of the social media as well as foreign entertainment and socio-culture on the young generation of Malays in the region, resulting in them discarding local values.

“Will their Islamic faith, for instance, be able to withstand the onslaught and parasitic nature of the western media? Will the English language eventually be the number one language of knowledge, commerce and communication in the Malay world?” he asked.

Rais suggested that the Malay study centres in Malaysia pay serious attention to matters pertaining to Malay culture and civilisation through elements of re-training.

“Our young need to know and practise Malay customs and courtesies as learnt by the British colonialists,” he said.

Rais said in pre-independence Malaya, each of the British colonial officers like Frank Swettenham, Hugh Clifford and Richard Windstedt learned, among others things as administrators, the do’s and don’ts in Malay culture, village customs and way of life, besides the Malay language and royal court protocol.

He regretted that the Malays now lagged behind in these aspects as part of their identity and cultural values, hence the Malay study centres needed to conduct research to find out how these could be revived.

Rais said this was important as the Malays in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, southern Thailand and southern Philippines made up 330 million of the world’s population and almost 53 per cent of the population in the ASEAN region.

He also suggested that Malay Studies be renamed Malay World Studies, saying there were so many aspects of the Malay World and Malay Archipelago to be studied in depth, including the history, culture, economy, maritime life and diplomacy for the benefit of current and future generations.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Mangroves: Best Natural Embankment To Address High-Tide Phenomenon In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 22 (NNN-Bernama) — Planting of mangroves is seen as the best solution to address the incidence of floods due to the high-tide phenomenon in the country, said National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) deputy director-general (Operations Implementation Sector) Zainal Azman Abu Seman.

Although there were other measures, like building embankments, he said the mangrove trees provided the best natural embankment.

“Existing infrastructure, like embankment along the coast, is important as the primary embankment during huge waves. In areas where the high-tide phenomenon occurred, in Selangor state particularly, we find the natural embankment, that is the mangrove trees, which is among the important eco-system for the coastal areas, depleting,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.

Zainal said the mangrove areas should be preserved as they could help to reduce strong winds along the beach, as well as pressure from the sea waves.

It serves as a natural embankment which is effective to address the high-tide phenomenon, as well as save cost and last long, compared with existing man-made embankment, which could easily break, he added.

He said the presence of settlements or housing areas in places affected by the high-tide phenomenon should be studied.

Meanwhile, a lecturer at the Institute of Oceanography and Environment, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Mohd Fadzil Mohd Akhir said the disaster early warning system should be improved to address the high-tide phenomenon.

He said a more ‘real-time’ system should be used by the relevant quarters to alert residents so that they could make the necessary preparations, including to evacuate.

The public, he said, should also be sensitive to the environment as this would help them to prepar early for any eventualities.

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Malaysia: RM88.4 Billion Worth Of Investments Approved In 1H2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (Bernama) — The approved direct investments in the services, manufacturing and primary sectors in the first half of 2016 (1H2016), totalled RM88.4 billion compared with RM125.9 billion in the same period last year. The investments approved in 1H2016 were in 2,499 projects, and are expected to generate more than 76,000 job opportunities. The better investment performance in 1H2015 was mainly due to two big petrochemical projects approved in the manufacturing sector during the same period last year, i.e. Pengerang project in Johor and LNG9 project in Sarawak.

“With our strong fundamentals, Malaysia remains on a steady economic growth path. We continue to attract foreign direct investments (FDI). A total of RM28.2 billion of FDI was approved in 1H2016. Our approved foreign investments for 1H2016 have already reached 78.2% of the total foreign investments approved for the whole of last year,” said the Minister of International Trade and Industry, YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, today.

The services sector continued to account for the largest share of total investments, contributing 76.3% or RM67.5 billion, followed by the manufacturing sector with investments of RM19.6 billion or 22.2%, while the primary sector contributed the remaining approved investments of RM1.3 billion (1.5%).

Services Sector

The services sector contributed the largest number of projects in 1H2016. A total of 2,106 projects were approved and will create more than 44,000 job opportunities. More than 95% of these jobs will be in the distributive trade, MSC status companies, hotel & tourism, education and global services establishments.

Within the services sector, the real estate subsector continued to be the leading contributor with investments of RM29.3 billion, followed by the financial services at RM9.7 billion, global services establishments at RM7.3 billion, distributive trade at RM5.4 billion, and MSC Status at RM4.5 billion. These subsectors made up 83.2% of the total investments in the services sector.

Investments in distributive trade registered a significant increase from RM2.1 billion in 1H2015 to RM5.4 billion in the same period this year. The increase was largely contributed by investments in the wholesale, retail and hypermarkets, making up 75% of the total approved investments in this subsector. In addition to providing over 21,000 job opportunities, these investments will also create thousands of spin off benefits for local businesses. These include investments announced by UAE-based Lulu Group and Japanese-based Aeon Co. The official opening of Lulu Hypermarket in Kuala Lumpur recently is the first of its 10 planned outlets in Malaysia. Aeon has indicated that the company plans to open two new malls next year in Johor and Sarawak.

In 1H2016, MIDA approved 128 global services establishments with investments of RM7.3 billion. The approvals of 10 Principal Hubs contributed 97.5% to the total. The companies which have been approved include Super Group, JCY and Honeywell. “The opening up of these global establishments will increase demand for professionals in supply chain management, financial & treasury management, and data & information services to serve the global network of companies. Some of these companies will make Malaysia their regional centre for the procurement and distribution of their products. This will create higher utilisation of our ports and airports as well as indirectly promote the growth of our local logistic providers,” said the Minister.

Manufacturing Sector

Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, three (3) catalytic subsectors namely chemicals, electrical and electronics (E&E) and machinery and equipment (M&E) industries; and two (2) subsectors of high potential growth namely aerospace and medical devices have been identified to drive the growth of the manufacturing sector. The ‘3 + 2’ subsectors were selected due to their strong inter-linkages to other subsectors and indirectly their capacities will be the base to support the development of the overall manufacturing sector.

“In 1H2016, the total approved investments for these subsectors were RM10 billion, 51% of the total. The E&E, chemical & chemical products, M&E and medical devices, in particular, have contributed more than 50% to the exports of manufactured goods in 1H2016,”said Dato’ Sri Mustapa.

Approved investments according to the catalytic and high potential growth subsectors for 1H2016 are as follows:

Malaysia continues to attract encouraging levels of foreign investments in the manufacturing sector for the first six months of 2016. Foreign investments amounted to RM12.5 billion or 63.8% of the total approved investments in the manufacturing sector for this period. The leading sources of foreign investments in 1H2016 are United Kingdom (RM2.07 billion), China (RM1.58 billion), Korea (RM1.52 billion), Singapore (RM1.46 billion), and Japan (RM0.91 billion).

These approved manufacturing projects will create 32,310 jobs of which 7,130 or 22.1% of these jobs are in the managerial, technical and supervisory categories while 20,240 or 62.4% will be for the skilled craft category.

The top five investment recipients were Johor, Selangor, Penang, Perak and Sarawak. Investments in these states accounted for 77% of the total approved investments in the manufacturing sector. These projects will contribute more than 22,700 job opportunities to these states.

Primary Sector

The primary sector contributed 1% to the total approved projects in 1H2016. The mining subsector continued to lead with approved investments of RM1.02 billion, followed by plantation and commodities with RM211.1 million and agriculture with RM61.2 million.


“Despite the current economic scenario, there was continued interest by foreign investors to invest in quality projects in new growth areas and emerging technologies. With the strong presence of FDI in the country, we trust that our supply chain ecosystem and related services industry will continue to grow. To complement FDI, MITI/MIDA will continue to assist Malaysian companies to strengthen their competencies and bolster their competitive edge,” said Dato’ Sri Mustapa.

“As at August 2016, MIDA has 264 projects in the pipeline with investments worth RM30.8 billion for the manufacturing and services sectors. These projects are mainly in chemical & chemical products, machinery & metal, transportation technology, global establishments and hospitality. These projects would potentially provide over 20,000 more jobs for Malaysians. We expect to process these investment proposals by the end of this year,” added YB Minister.

Website: www.mida.gov.my

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Malaysian Banks to hold Ethics, Risk & Compliance Culture Awareness Programme

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (Bernama) — AFFINBANK Group (AFFINBANK) today signed an agreement with Asian Banking School (ABS), an industry provider of premium professional certification and capability development programmes for financial institutions, for a customized training programme on Ethics, Risk and Compliance Culture Awareness.

The main objectives of the programme are:

  • To empower staff to develop ethical and critical, risk return based decision making skills;
  • To align core behaviour to inculcate a strong and healthy ethics, risk and compliance culture; and
  • To equip senior management with the right tools to baseline and measure ethics, risk and compliance culture.

“Having a strong risk culture means that all employees of the Affin Bank Group know what the organization stands for, the boundaries within which they can operate, and that they can have open discussions about which risks can be taken or not, to enable the Group to achieve its long term strategic objectives”, said En. Kamarul Ariffin Mohd Jamil, Managing Director/ Chief Executive Officer, Affin Bank Berhad, at the signing ceremony which was held at Menara AFFIN here today.

“This collaboration is also very timely with our recently launched strategic transformation programme, AFFINITY, that is intended to propel the group to a new level of performance by remodeling its businesses to compete more effectively in the ever changing regulatory and challenging operating environment,” he added.

ABS Chief Executive Officer, Professor Colyn Gardner said that the school is excited to be part of this strategic collaboration.

“A customised training programme of this nature is very effective as content is tailored specifically to the bank’s strategies, as well as its operating environment, business scenarios and work culture. A comprehensive programme like this, covering ethics, risk and compliance, is very new for the Malaysian banking industry and Affin Bank introducing this at their senior management level sets a positive tone from the top,” he says.

About Affin Bank Berhad (25046-T)

Affin Bank Berhad (AFFINBANK) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Affin Holdings Berhad which is listed on the Bursa Malaysia.

It commenced operations in January 2001 following a merger between the former Perwira Affin Bank Berhad and BSN Commercial (M) Berhad in August 2000. In June 2005, it merged with the former Affin-ACF Finance Berhad. As at 31 May 2016, it has a network of 108 branches nationwide in Malaysia.

AFFINBANK provides a suite of financial products and services that is catered to both retail and corporate customers. The target business segments are categorized by the portfolio of customers under key business units such as Business Banking, Consumer Banking and Treasury. Business Banking offers services in corporate banking, contract financing and trade finance to corporations, institutional clients and SMEs. Consumer Banking provides credit cards, personal loans, mortgages, savings/current and deposit taking services as well as hire purchase loans to individuals.

Our tagline of “Banking Without Barriers” signifies the removal of boundaries within the processes of the Bank as well as in its attitude in servicing its customers. The latter means reaching out to the customers, improving relationships with them, making each one of them feel privileged and enhancing services to them. Simply put, AFFINBANK is embracing a new approach to banking and changing the face of conventional banking.

AFFINBANK’s Islamic banking subsidiary Affin Islamic Bank Berhad (AFFIN ISLAMIC) commenced operations on 1st April 2006. As a full-fledged Islamic bank, AFFIN ISLAMIC has 9 branches on its own and offers a complete range of Islamic Banking products and services encompassing the areas of Business and Consumer Banking in compliance with Shariah principles and laws.

Log on to www.affinbank.com.my for more information.

About Asian Banking School

ABS is the industry provider of premium professional certification and capability development programmes. Dedicated to developing talent, it specializes in professional banking education and serves as a channel for intellectual content and thought leadership for the banking sector.

As one of the industry’s preferred partners in learning and development, ABS offers industry relevant training programmes that cover a comprehensive list of banking areas and are designed and developed by our Specialist Training Consultancy Team or in collaboration with strategic learning partners that includes some of the top business schools in the world. It provides specialised consulting services and tailored learning solutions to meet the specific needs of our clients; as well as executive education offerings.

ABS works closely with the Asian Institute of Chartered Bankers in raising competency standards for the banking industry through the delivery of training classes for professional qualifications developed and awarded by the professional body.

ABS also plays a significant role in enriching the talent pipeline for the financial services sector through the industry recognised Financial Sector Talent Enrichment Programme (FSTEP) and graduate training programmes.

For further information, please visit www.asianbankingschool.com

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LEAD STORY: Aceh wins three Indonesian Halal Tourism awards

Banda Aceh, Aceh (ANTARA News) – Aceh Province has won three prizes in the National Halal Tourism Competition (KPHN) 2016, an official said.

The three awards were in the categories of Muslim Friendly Airport–given to Sultan Iskandar Muda International Airport in Banda Aceh, as well as best Muslim friendly cultural destination, and best tourist attraction for Baiturrahman Grand Mosque, said Reza Fahlevi, head of the Aceh cultural and tourism office, on Thursday.

He expressed his gratitude to the people of Aceh for helping develop halal tourism in the province, and to the Central Government for supporting Aceh in its participating in the World Halal Travel Awards 2016 in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

“Alhamdulillah (Thank God), Aceh won prizes for three categories in competition with 117 nominees in 15 categories,” he remarked.

The results of the competition were announced in Jakarta on Wednesday (Sept. 22).

The Aceh provincial administration seeks to improve its tourism industry to meet its 3As – Amenity, Accessibility, and Attraction– in order to transform the province into a world-class tourism destination.

The following comment was received from Mr Rahmadhani Sulaiman, Marketing Director, Aceh Culture and Tourism Department, Aceh Government:

Aceh with its unique diverse culture and distinct ethnic groups has been known worldwide with its long history and glorious Islamic culture. The exotic beauty of nature with its splendid underwater attractions will provide another value addition to Aceh as a potential tourism destination in the westernmost part of Republic of Indonesia with its well maintained Islamic values and norms.

Post Aceh’s Reconstruction of Tsunami event, Aceh tourism industry started to develop and generate significant income for the locals. Many tourism-based industries are so far established and carried out by the locals, especially by youngsters with their grown entrepreneurship in the hospitality industries like accommodations, restaurants, cafes, resorts, travel bureaus, guides, etc.

Having all endowments of nature and culture owned by Aceh, the Aceh Government in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism and other stakeholders like local Islamic scholars, district governments, parliament members, tourism and culture actors and academicians are committed to promoting Aceh as an halal-based tourism destination as a new niche in the tourism market supported with Aceh’s newly designed tourism branding “The Light of Aceh” or “Cahaya Aceh”.

The branding is philosophically meant a reflection of the spirit of the people of Aceh to be united through the Islamic sharia as rahmatan lil ‘alamiin that brings blessings and prosperity to all the rest of universe.

As an halal tourism destination, Aceh is ready to welcome tourists, either Muslim or non Muslim tourists with Muslim friendly tourism products or services. In other words, all tourism-based products and services are provided according to tourists’ needs and expectations based on Islamic rules and regulations or “sharia”, for instance, providing halal food hygienically and easy access to facilities for Islamic prayers purposes and other activities.

Flight connectivity to some tourist markets is also sped up and developed in line with the development of other tourism facilities, such as amenities, attractions and capacity building training for the tourism actors. Partnership with the MUI (Indonesia Ulamas Council), LP POM and LSP is also being established in order to obtain halal certificates, particularly for providing food and services to Muslim tourists and certification for tourism products and services.

Sharia law, which is being applied in Aceh has become a civic pride and spirit for the locals and will not be a “stumbling block” in convincingly promoting Aceh as an halal tourism destination. Otherwise, it will be another interesting tourist attraction that will add values to Islamic-based tourism we are promoting, while enjoying and experiencing local wisdom and Islamic life among the locals.

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Malaysia Proposes Skills Training To Foster Stronger ASEAN Cooperation

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia Sept 23 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia has proposed to the relevant bodies to form a network of skills training institutions in the ASEAN region to fosterstrong cooperation in the area of skills development.

Human Resources Minister Richard Riot Jaem said the institutions would play a role to enhance collaboration and engagement in the capacity

building for trainers, vocational training and enhancing the development of skills curriculum across the region.

He said it would also cater ideas, views and experiences exchange among ASEAN members to remain relevant and attuned to the technological changes and skills sets required by the industries.

“As ASEAN enters the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the need to continuously upgrade the skills of the workforce to keep pace with the advancement of technologies becomes more critical,” he said.

Riot said this when delivering his keynote address at the opening ceremony of the 11th ASEAN Skills Competition (ASC) 2016 here today.

In addition, Riot stressed that the government must continuously adapt to this fast changing transformation through collaboration with stakeholders and industries to ensure the future workforce is equipped with the relevant skills sets needed by the future job market.

“With the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community last year, the ten-member bloc will face challenges related to skills development, wages and productivity, labour migration and social protection system.

“In addressing these challenges, further collaboration and engagement among the relevant bodies in the ASEAN member states are vital,” he said.

Themed ‘Skills for a Brighter Future’, Riot said the skills competition reflects the important role of skilled workforce for are sustainable development of ASEAN.

The competition will see 276 participants, aged 25 and below, from 10 ASEAN countries contesting in 25 skill areas.

The skills competition, held concurrently with the National Skills Exposition and Carnival (KEKK) will be organised at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park (MAEPS) in Serdang from Sept 19 to 28. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia Wants Indonesia To Consider Sumatra Rhinoceros Conservation Partnership

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 23 (NNN-Bernama) — Recognising the importance of conservation of the endangered Sumatran Rhinoceros, Malaysia is currently making a formal request to Indonesia to consider the proposal to implement the Rhinoceros Conservation Partnership Programme between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said yesterday that Malaysia presented the proposal at the 10th Heart of Borneo (HoB) Trilateral Meeting held in Brunei from Sept 5 to 7.

In addition, efforts are underway to arrange further discussion regarding the implementation of this initiative among scientists and experts in the field from both countries as early preparation for implementing it.

“The Indonesian government has also offered its facilities in Way Kambas

National Park to support this scientific cooperation,” he said in a statement in conjunction with the World Rhino Day being celebrated on Sept 22 each year.

He said the Sumatran rhino is categorised as ‘critically endangered’ in the Red Data List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2001) with only three Sumatran rhinoceros found in the country at present.

These are being placed in the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, Lahad Datu, Sabah via the Borneo Sumatran Rhinoceros Sanctuary Programme. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Kota Kinabalu-Hangzhou Friendship Cities Ties

KOTA KINABALU, Sabah state, Malaysia Sept 23 (NNN-Bernama) — Chief Minister Musa Aman said he is looking forward to the establishment of friendship cities relationship between Kota Kinabalu and Hangzhou under the linking work of the Chinese Consulate General in Sabah state.

“I am covinced that more fruitful outcomes will surely be yielded under the joint efforts of both the Sabah government and the Consulate General of China in Kota Kinabalu,” he said at the 67th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and the opening ceremony of the Tianjin folk culture exhibition here, last night.

His text was read by Deputy Chief Minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Reviewing the work of the Chinese Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu, Musa said, it had made remarkable and efficient efforts in the aspect of education, culture, tourism, and trading this year.

“It has further strengthened the relationship between Sabah and China and ensured mutually beneficial collaboration,” he said.

He added the Sabah state government would continue to provide support and assistance to the Chinese Consulate General here.

On the anniversary, Musa wished China all the best in future and hoped that the friendship between China and Malaysia stayed strong in the years to come.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysians Introduced To Virtual Museum Techonology At KL Converge

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 23 (NNN-Bernama) — It is now possible for museum developers in this country to use smart technologies for interpreting, preserving and valorising cultural heritage with the introduction of the “virtual museum”.

Institute For Technologies Applied to Cultural Heritage (CNR-ITABC) digital archeologist Daniel Ferdani said museum visitors could now look and ‘feel’ artifacts through digital techology.

“A virtual museum is a big set of applications. For example, we use technology for surveying digital objects and for creating 3D constructions of these objects.

“We also implement digital objects inside museum applications like touch screens, virtual reality, mixed reality and video mapping. All these technologies can be used to create a virtual museum that is adaptable to any work floors,” he said.

He told Bernama this after speaking on “Digital Malaysia: Digital Technology and Culture in the Museum of the Future” held in conjunction with KL Converge! event here, yesterday.

Ferdani said a virtual museum was an evolution from current museums as museums were always changing.

“Museums are not only places where we store and preserve objects, but it is also where education and entertainment can be implemented.

“A virtual museum also can help visitors to further understand the use of artifacts and take them back to the archelogical sites in the past,” he said.

He said that this museum could attract people to visit archelogical sites and thus improved their knowledge of the past.

Ferdani, who has seven years experience as a digital technology expert, said collaboration between museum developers in Malaysia and CNR-ITABC could be done as the cost for creating a virtual museum was relatively low.

“Usually one of the characteristics of a virtual museum is its sustainability. This means that it is scaleable and adaptable to any museums as well as low in cost,” he said.

For more information, Malaysian museum developers who are interested in the technology may visit http://www.v-must.net to look through ITABC’s past successful projects in Rome, Italy.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Tunisia: Europe To Ease Visa Procedures For “Some Privileged Groups”

TUNISIA, Sept. 23 (NNN-TAP) — European MP and rapporteur of the EU-Tunisia Joint Parliamentary Committee Fabio Massimo Castaldo, on Thursday, stressed commitment to help Tunisia benefit as soon as possible of easing of visa procedures for “certain privileged groups,” citing in this connection, researchers, teachers, students and artists.

“We want Tunisia to be included in the list of countries eligible for these benefits,” the European parliament official said at a debate at the headquarters of the Dauphine University with attendance of members of the delegation of European MPs visiting Tunisia on September 19-23.

In this connection, he reminded of the resolution adopted last September 14 by the European Parliament on the EU’s relations with Tunisia in the current regional context, a resolution recommending the signing of partnerships with the countries of the Southern Neighbourhood, easing visa procedures for certain categories of persons and issuing multiple entry long-stay visas.

“We also called in this resolution, to benefit Tunisia of Erasmus programme to further develop student mobility and to associate it to the programme” Creative Europe “which aims to enhance cultural and artistic diversity,” he further said.

The European Parliament also recommended encouraging Tunisia to establish a coherent strategy for the development of technology and scientific research to boost investment in research and development and create partnerships between schools, universities and centres of research and strengthen joint lifelong learning projects,particularly in the fields of language learning, new technologies, development of women’s education and entrepreneurship.

The resolution of Sept 14, 2016 mulls a Marshall Plan for Tunisia and provides for a series of political, economic, social and cultural recommendations in favour of Tunisia, including the conversion of Tunisia’s debt into investment projects.

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European Parliament Supports “Marshall Plan” For Tunisia

TUNIS, Sept. 23 (NNN-TAP) —The European Parliament (EP), a delegation of which is visiting Tunisia from September 19 to 23 has called in its latest resolution on EU-Tunisia relations for converting Tunisia’s debt into investment projects, especially in the construction of strategic infrastructure and reducing regional inequalities, believing that “the situation in Tunisia justifies the implementation of a true” Marshall Plan” properly resourced.

In the resolution adopted on September 14, 2016, the EP called on member states of the Union to explore ways of securing a preferential rescheduling of Tunisia’s debt and a diversification of debt components.

The 70-point resolution covers various aspects of Tunisian-European cooperation: political, social, security, and especially economic.

In this respect, the European Parliament said it was ” Concerned about Tunisia’s lack of asset recovery, owing notably to the lengthy and cumbersome processes involved in confiscating and repatriating assets and calls for specific technical capacity support to be provided to Tunisia in order to undertake investigations and collect the intelligence and evidence needed to build cases of asset recovery”.

It also invited member states to “demonstrate support and political will in order to speed up the recovery of frozen Tunisian assets” and calls for the “promotion of faster and safer transfers of remittances and of the investment potential, especially with regard to local and regional development, of Tunisians and North Africans already residing in the EU.

The EP has also called for a stronger fight against corruption, particularly in the context of the growing underground economy, with a view to achieving a more efficient and transparent decision-making process and to establishing a better environment for investment and business.

It advocated welcoming the creation of the Tunisian Anti-Corruption Agency but regrets its limited budget; urges the Tunisian authorities to strengthen its capacity and affectivity and to provide it with all the necessary financial and logistical support to ensure the proper functioning of public administration and the regularity of public procurement; calls on the Tunisian authorities to ensure that the steps they take against corruption are highly visible;

It called for an “increase in EU aid to Tunisia through the ENI and for co-ordination of international aid to Tunisia in order to allow the country to benefit fully from the EU support and encourage partnerships with other interested global and regional donor countries and organisations.”

In the same context, the European institution recommended the use of European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) funds to further assist SMEs, encourages the development of business start-up programmes targeting women and young people specifically, with a view to developing business management training and access to financial support in order to enhance the SME sector.

Placing emphasis on the agricultural sector in Tunisia, to be included in the ongoing negotiations on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) between Tunisia and the EU, the European Parliament said it “requires a deep reform and a series of urgent practical measures, such as developing the capacities of desalination plants to tackle the water deficit issue and other emerging problems owing to climate change.”

It urged, in particular, the Tunisian authorities to ban the use of any pesticide that is already banned in the EU and to foster sustainable agriculture and eating habits and adopt “a land reform to incite farmers to preserve forests and rivers.”

Regarding the tourism sector, the Parliament called on the Member States which have not yet done so to reassess the security situation as quickly as possible so that the Tunisian tourist sector may recover, recalling that sustainable development of Tunisia’s coastal tourism requires a strong reduction in hotel density in order to rationalise investments and manage the water front.

The EP also called for EU cooperation to focus more on the green economy and sustainable development and to increase the use of renewable energies, as well as better water and waste treatment, especially considering Tunisia’s high potential in the renewable energy sector.

It also welcomed the adoption of the new investment code, “which should create regulatory stability and facilitate investments, and the tax reforms; calls for the modernisation of the public administration, which should operate in an efficient and transparent way, thus greatly facilitating the implementation of projects and the better use of funds.

Tunisia is currently hosting the meeting of the EU-Tunisia Joint Parliamentary Committee.

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Kuwait, Costa Rica Sign Visa Waiver Agreement

NEW YORK, Sept 23 (NNN-KUNA) — Kuwait and Costa Rica have signed an agreement on visa waiver of diplomatic and private passport holders.

This came during a meeting between Kuwait’s First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah with Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Affairs and Religion Manuel Gonzalez Sanz on Thursday night.

The two officials also signed a memorandum of understanding over consultations between the foreign ministry of Kuwait and the Costa Rican Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Religion.

Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled and Sanz also discussed promotion of bilateral relations and issues of common interest.

The meeting was attended by Assistant Foreign Minister for Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaledآ’s office Ambassador Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Nasser Mohammad Al-Sabah and Kuwait permanent representative to the UN Mansour Al-Otaibi. — NNN-KUNA

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Azerbaijan’s joining JATA-2016 tourism exhibition

Tokyo, September 19, AZERTAC – Japanese “World Investors TV” internet television has broadcast a special program on Azerbaijan’s participation in JATA Tourizm EXPO Japan – 2016 international exhibition.

The host of the program and the exhibition organizers first hailed the importance of the exhibition and briefed the audience on the participating countries. They noted that JATA-2016, which considered one of the largest tourism exhibitions in the world, would be held on September 22-25 in Tokyo Big Sight exhibition hall, Japan.

This year’s exhibition will bring together more than 700 companies from more than 170 countries from the fields of tourism, travel and leisure time organization.

The program underlined that one of the main themes of the exhibition will be dedicated to the countries in Black Sea basin. “Most of the Black Sea basin countries in many cases are still unknown destination for Japanese tourists. In this regard during the next exhibition JATA has chosen some of the Black Sea countries as the destination point. These countries include Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, as well as Azerbaijan.”

Participants of the program gave information about Azerbaijan, highlighted the country’s rapid development in recent years and its achievements in creating a magnificent tourism infrastructure.

“A modern and comfortable network of hotels has been established, new roads have been built in Azerbaijan which is distinguished by its natural mystery, ancient historical monuments and rich musical and culinary culture.” The program participants emphasized that one of the seminars to be held as part of the exhibition would be wholly dedicated to Azerbaijan. President of the Cross Border Club company Kazuyasu Ishida will provide an insight into Azerbaijan’s tourism potential.

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Jordanian Wins Emmy Award For Documentaries

NEW YORK, Sept 23 (NNN-Petra) — Jordanian Amjad Tadros has won an Emmy Award dedicated for news and documentaries. Tardos was recognized for his role in a report prepared for “60 Minutes” program at CBS News channel.

In a telephone conversation, Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications and Government Spokesman Mohammed Al Momani congratulated Tadros and said his achievement was a motivation for all Jordanian journalists and media persons to provide the best they can.

Tadros contributed to a documentary about a chemical attack on Ghouta near Damascus back in 2013, which claimed the lives of 1,400 civilians. — NNN-PETRA

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Oman Tourism Ministry Organises Activity For Tourist Guides

MUSCAT, Oman, Sept 22 (NNN-ONA) – The Ministry of Tourism, Oman, organised today, at its headquarters, an activity for tourist licensed guides, and employees working in this area, under the auspices of Ahmed bin Hamad al- Mahrzi, Minister of Tourism.

Eng. Mohammed bin Mahmoud al-Zadjali, Director General of Investor Services and Quality Management, said that, this event stems from the ministry’s keenness in tourist guides, as they are partners of the Ministry in the implementation of plans and strategies to improve the tourism sector.

Dr. Hibat Allah Abdulaziz, reviewed the efforts made by the Ministry of Tourism, of the studies and questionnaires about the tourist guides.

A discussion was opened between the Minister of Tourism and tourist guides, where the minister replied to all inquiries and comments made by the tourist guides.

The Minister then honoured a number of tourist guides, who have had a good effect in giving the tourists and visitors of Oman, positive impression about the country and their active contribution, in the Sultanate’s tourism activities.– NNN-ONA

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World Bank To Continue Supporting Reforms By Tunisia

TUNIS, Sept. 23 (NNN-TAP) –The World Bank’s support for the Tunisian financial sector reforms was the focus of the talk that Finance Minister Lamia Boujnah Zribi had, on Wednesday in Tunis, with a delegation of the World Bank (WB) led by Eileen Murray, World Bank’s Country Manager for Tunisia.

Zribi gave an overview on the progress of reforms in the banking sector at the regulatory level and the implementation of the action plan of restructuring public banks.

She also spoke of reforms aimed to diversify the capital market, insurance sector development and financial inclusion.

She reiterated the government’s commitment to continue reforms in these fields in close collaboration with Tunisia’s partners, commending the WB for its continued support to the financial reform projects.

For their part, representatives of the World Bank voiced the bank’s readiness to carry out cooperation between the two parties to continue their support for the reforms engaged by Tunisia. ”

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Indonesia To Build Wind Powered Electricity Generating Plant In Sulawesi

COPENHAGEN, Sept 22 (NNN-Bernama) — Indonesia has signed an agreement for the development of wind-powered electricity generating plant of 60 megawatt capacity in South Sulawesi, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reports.

“Twenty-one wind turbines will be set up, each with a capacity to produce 3.5MW electricity. In total, 60MW of power will be generated. The construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2017,” State Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno said in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The power purchase agreement was signed by business director for Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara, Machinson Masri, on behalf of Indonesias state-owned power company PT PLN and Tim Russel, director of Equis Indonesia.

Danish company Vestas Wind System will be responsible for the construction and supply of turbines.

The PLTB project will be the biggest wind-powered electricity generating project in Indonesia, Rini added.

She stated that as per the cooperation agreement, it would bring investment into the country and government will not have to contribute any resources. As of now, installation and construction was still being funded through foreign investment.

Equis director for Indonesia Tim Russell said the total investment for the development of PLTB will be between US$130 and US$140 million.

The turbines at the PLTB would be the first assets owned by Equis in Indonesia.

“The construction process will take 18 months. We also plan to carry out other projects in other regions in Indonesia. Right now, we have five wind speed measuring equipment sets for conducting study,” she noted.

PT PLNs corporate director Nicke Widyawati said the price of the electricity from the project has been agreed to at Rp10.89 per KWH, which is very competitive.

“The price is competitive. Actually Indonesia has a lot of potential for wind energy, such as in West Java which can yield between 250MW and 400MW of power,” Nicke said.

Denmark’s ambassador to Indonesia Casper Klynge said the agreement was a milestone in making a transition to clean energy usage in Indonesia.

The agreement is expected to open the door for other cooperation agreements in Indonesia.

“The agreement was made possible because of close cooperation between the governments of Indonesia and Denmark as well as private parties. Denmark is happy to be able to help the government of Indonesia to meet its target of 35,000 MW electricity supply,” he underlined.

The project is expected to help meet the 35,000 MW target and increase the component of renewable energy in the total national energy supply to up to 23 per cent.

At present, renewable energy accounts for five to six per cent of total supply. The Indonesian government decided in 2015 to reduce carbon emissions by up to 29 percent by 2030.

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Malaysia, Thailand, Laos Ink Multilateral Cross-Border Power Trade

NAY PYI TAW, Myanmar, Sept 22 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia, Thailand and Laos inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to facilitate the implementation of multilateral cross-border power trade up to 100 Megawatt (MW) through Thailand.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry (KeTTHA) in a statement said the MoU would pave the way for Malaysia to purchase up to 100MW of hydro power from Laos transmitted through Thailand by 2018.

“The multilateral power trade is the initial stage of the ASEAN Power Grid initiative which is a flagship project under the ASEAN Vision 2020.

“The project is aimed at enhancing energy security in ASEAN through the establishment of a network of interconnections between the ASEAN member states,” it said.

The MoU was signed on the sidelines of the 34th ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

Malaysia’s Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili, Thailand’s Energy Minister General Anantaporn Kanjanarat and Laos’ Energy and Mines Vice Minister Viraphonh Viravong represented respective governments.

KeTTHA said the signing of the MoU also marked Malaysia’s commitment to increase the share of renewable energy in its fuel mix by 2020 as part of the mitigation action to reduce carbon emission in the power sector.

Currently, it said the fuel mix of Malaysia was dominated by coal and gas and the government was committed to rationalise this as per the commitment made in the Paris Agreement at end of 2015.

Meanwhile, Ongkili said the pilot project would pave the way for other multilateral power trading in ASEAN as a means to enhance energy security in the region which would be of significant advantage to Malaysia.

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Malaysia Maal Hijrah 1438 Celebration On Oct 2

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia Sept 22 (NNN-Bernama) — The national-level Maal Hijrah 1438 celebrations will be held at the Malaysian Agro Exposition Park, Serdang, Selangor state on Oct 2, with the theme ‘Islamic Brotherhood, Fundamental to Unification of Ummah’.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Jamil Khir Baharom said 105 contingents involving about 10,000 participants from government and private agencies, uniformed bodies and non-governmental organisations, as well as students would take part in a 1.7km Maal Hijrah parade.

He said the theme coincided with the government’s efforts in uniting the people to ensure that everyone in the country could enjoy living in peace and harmony.

“A bond which is built upon faith and piety will foster a sense of brotherhood, and love and respect for each other regardless of their status, race, religion and political affiliation,” he told a press conference, here.

Jamil Khir said like in previous years, an individual would be selected to receive the national-level Tokoh Maal Hijrah award, which included a prize of RM100,000 in cash, a medal and a certificate.

At the press conference, Jamil Khir also launched the 2016 “Klik Dengan Bijak” creative digital poster competition, aimed at educating the people on internet safety.

“The competition is to encourage and boost the involvement of the community in the use of technology, in line with Islamic values, which in turn will produce a technology-savvy society,” he said.

Organised by the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the competition consists of six themes, namely ‘Sabar Sebelum Sebar’, ‘Mana Adab’, ‘Syurga Ekspress’,’Permata Hatiku’, ‘Antara Pahala dan Dosa’ and ‘Menjauhkan yang Dekat’.

The competition is divided into three categories – general, school and 1Malaysia Internet Centre (PI1M ) community – with the winners selected every two weeks.

Jamil Khir said the winners in the general and school categories would compete again to determine the overall winner who would receive a cash prize of RM5,000 while the winner in PI1M category would take home a cash prize of RM1,000.

More information on the competition can be obtained from www.dakwahdigitalkdb.my portal or call the secretariat at 03-8688 8057 or 03-8886 4286.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Qatar National Library Hosts Colouring For Adults Event

DOHA, Qatar, Sept 21 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar National Library (QNL), recently hosted a special arts event for adults, titled: ‘Coloring for Adults,’ at the Education City’s Clubhouse.

The event was attended by a diverse array of community members, who joined QNL in exploring the popular new trend of colouring for adults.

The new hobby, which is taking the world by storm, is likened to meditation, with activities enabling participants to switch off, and allow their brains to enjoy some much needed rest.

This, in turn, has been shown to reduce anxiety, create focus and bring about greater mindfulness, alongside the creation of general enjoyment for amateur artists.

Commenting on this event, Engineer Saadi Al-Said, Director of Administration and Planning, at QNL, said, “Hosting this joyful activity, allowed us to engage with the community in a productive and positive environment, which encourages both creativity and peace of mind.”

In addition to its community events, QNL offers all residents and citizens of Qatar, free access to an array of diverse online resources, that promote creativity and provide entertainment and social value. These resources are free to all of QNL’s registered members and include subjects such as arts, literature and music. Members can also read thousands of eBooks, listen to audio books and stream music recordings and concerts.

Through such events, QNL, a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), exemplifies its firm commitment to unlocking human potential by cultivating creativity and fostering a progressive society, which addresses Qatar’s social needs, and offer opportunities for community engagement.– NNN-QNA

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Bahrain Tourism Announces ‘Moroccan-Bahraini Handicraft Week’

MANAMA, Bahrain, Sept 21 (NNN-BNA) – The Moroccan-Bahraini Handicraft Week, will kick off Monday, at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre.

The event, held in cooperation between the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) and the Embassy of Morocco in Bahrain, will be under the patronage of the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, Zayed Alzayani.

“We will be launching a series of events and activities, to promote the tourism ties between Bahrain and other countries,” said the Chief Executive of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al Khalifa, during a briefing.

The Morrocan Ambassador to Bahrain, Ahmed Rashid Khatabi, meanwhile, said that, his side is happy to host this event in the Kingdom of Bahrain, which reflects the strong ties between both nations.

The unique first of its kind event, will showcase the traditional Moroccan craft, alongside Bahraini handicraft, to the public.

It will also highlight the creativity and talents of both countries, and allow for further exchange of experience and knowledge. The event, open to the public, will continue until Oct 1.

The exhibition will include 22 Bahraini handicraft and 13 Moroccan handicraft. The event will also include live traditional music and workshops.– NNN-BNA

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100,000 People Create Longest Malaysian Flag Using Palms

JOHOR BAHRU, Johore state, Malaysia Sept 18 (NNN-Bernama) — About 100,000 members of the public and school children joined hands in creating the longest Malaysian flag using palms throughout the National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations recently.

The ‘Jalur Gemilang’, measuring 1,297.78 metres (about 1.3 kilometres), made it into the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) here yesterday.

MBR representative Yap Sow Fun presented the award to Kembara Amal Anak Merdeka 2016 (Patriot 16) programme director Muhamad Athir Adib Zulfakor at the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai here.

The effort was part of the programmes by Patriot 16 in instilling patriotism among society especially the undergraduates, in conjunction with the two celebrations.

The Patriot 16 participants comprising 180 UTM student volunteers and superbikers from Gagasan Anak Malaysia Bikers; the National Civics Bureau (BTN); and the Superbike Association of Malaysia (SAM) also took part in a convoy touring several main cities in the country, covering 2,074.7 kilometres.

The convoy also met with army veterans along the way and helped to repair their houses with assistance from 1M4U volunteers. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Algeria, China To Boost Cooperation In Tourism

ALGIERS, Sept 21 (NNN-APS) — Algeria and China committed to exploring cooperation opportunities in all the activities relating to tourism, intensifying human exchanges and increasing training sessions for professionals and tourism players in the two countries.

This commitment was taken following the talks of Minister of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry Abdelouahab Nouri with Li Jinzao, director general of China National Toursit Office, said a communiqué of the ministry.

Nouri arrived Monday, in China, to take part in the works of the 1st international cultural exhibition on “Silk Road,” which was held on Sept 20-21 in Dunhuang in the province of Gansu.

The two sides reviewed the state of the Chinese-Algerian relations in the sector of tourism and ways to strengthen them through the forthcoming signing of the bilateral legal instrument in tourism.

They agreed to increase the exchange of visits between the two countries.

In this regard, Nouri invited Li Jinzao to pay an official visit to Algeria after which the two officials will sign an Algerian-Chinese memorandum of cooperation which will facilitate the trips of Chinese tourist groups in Algeria.

Meanwhile, Nouri highlighted Tuesday in Dunhuang (China) Algeria’s advantages as a privileged tourist destination in Africa, which deserves to be recommended by the relevant Chinese authorities to tourists in the country.

Besides, Nouri called Chinese companies to prioritize Algerian craft industry products in order to redress the trade balance between the two countries, which remains in favour of China.

The Algerian delegation participated in the works of workshops held on the sidelines of this event that focused on the promotion of cultural exchanges between the two countries attending the “Silk Road” event in order to enhance the quality of facilities and strengthen trade in these countries.

On the sidelines of a diner in honour of heads of delegations, Nouri held talks with Deputy Minister Liu Yandong and Chinese Deputy FM Liu Zhenm. These discussions focused on the state of Algeria-China bilateral relations in the field of tourism and means to promote Algeria destination among Chinese investors in the field of tourism.

As regards exchanges on strengthening human capacities between the two countries, Nouri called on multiplying training sessions in the fields of tourism and craft industry offered by the Chinese party for the benefit of Algerian tourist operators.

The Chinese official reiterated high Chinese authorities’ commitment to promoting multifaceted cooperation relations and partnership with Algeria. — NNN-APS

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Kuwait Leads In Organ Transplant In Mideast

AMMAN, Jordan, Sept 22 (NNN-PETRA) – Kuwait is among the first Arab countries in the field of organ transplants, as it comes second in the Middle East, Chairman of Kuwait Transplant Society, Dr. Mustafa Al-Musawi said, Wednesday.

In a statement to KUNA, on the sidelines of the 15th Congress of the Middle East Society for Organ Transplantation, which kicked off in the Jordanian capital Amman, earlier, Al-Musawi said that, the annual rate of kidney transplant is between 75 and 100 in Kuwait, noting that, Pancreas transplant operations are also increasing.

Al-Musawi pointed out that, preparations are underway to start with conducting liver transplant soon, according to the guidelines and directives from Kuwaiti Minister of Health, Dr. Ali Al-Obaidi.

Regarding participating in the congress, Al-Musawi stressed importance of such gathering, which brings together specialists and those who work in the field of organ transplant, from various Middle Eastern countries, as well as from the United States, Australia and Europe.

He also said that, the conference, which was hosted in 2006 by Kuwait, was “an ideal platform” for those working in the field, to meet and exchange views on the matter.

The three-day conference is participated by 31 countries, including discussion of 240 scientific papers on brain and heart transplants.– NNN-PETRA

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AirAsia To Reward Guests Using Web Or Mobile Check-In At KLIA2

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 (NNN-Bernama) — AirAsia Bhd will reward 100 BIG points to guests, once they have completed their web or mobile check-in process and had their boarding passes ready at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2) for a limited time period.

The BIG points can be used to redeem free AirAsia airfare tickets.

In a statement, the low-cost carrier said the reward was an effort to realise the fully-automated check-in process and enhance travelling experience for AirAsia guests at klia2.

“The points will be credited to the guests’ BIG accounts,” it said.

The web and mobile check-in services are available 14 days and up to one hour prior to departure for all AirAsia flights and up to four hours prior to departure for all AirAsia X flights.

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First Round Of Talks Held on Qatar-EU Comprehensive Aviation Pact

DOHA, Qatar, Sept 22 (NNN-QNA) – The first round of negotiations for comprehensive aviation agreement, between the Civil Aviation Authority of the State of Qatar and the European Union (EU) concluded Wednesday.

The negotiations aimed at reaching a comprehensive air transport agreement, to regulate aspects of air services and the rights of air transport between the State of Qatar and the EU member states.

The Qatari side was chaired by Chairman of Civil Aviation Authority, Abdulla bin Nasser Turki Al Subaey, and attended by Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways Group, Akbar Al Baker.

From the EU side, it was attended by head of the international transport affairs of the EU Commission, Carlos Acosta.

The two sides reviewed, during the meetings, hosted by Doha over the past three days, the provisions of the proposed comprehensive agreement and also discussed them in detail, to reach a common understanding.

They agreed on the need to complete the negotiations, in the subsequent phases of the negotiations, to finalise the comprehensive air services agreement, between the State of Qatar and the European Union.– NNN-QNA

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First Silk Road Int’l Cultural Expo Concludes

LANZHOU, China, Sept. 22, 2016 /Xinhua-AsiaNet/–Delegates from Belt and Road countries signed a declaration in northwest China’s Dunhuang City to further cultural exchange as the Silk Road International Cultural Expo concluded on Wednesday.

In the Dunhuang Declaration, cultural diversity, equality and inclusiveness are stressed. The signatories agreed to protect historical and cultural heritage,

strengthen cultural dialogue at all levels, and promote cultural trade and industry cooperation.

According to the organizing committee, 89 agreements relating to cultural industries with a total value of 108 billion yuan (16 billion U.S. dollars) were signed during the two-day expo.

Chinese Culture Minister Luo Shugang said the Dunhuang Declaration marked the establishment of a new cultural exchange mechanism within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

In addition, Gansu Province, which administers Dunhuang, signed cooperation agreements with a European Parliament cultural commission on the Belt and Road, and the government of Tajikistan.

Source: Publicity Team of the Executive Committee for the Silk Road (Dunhuang) International Cultural Expo

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Malaysian Brands Among 210 Winners Of 2016 World Branding Awards

LONDON, Sept 21 (Bernama-BUSINESS WIRE) — The third edition of the prestigious World Branding Awards saw 210 brands from 30 countries named “Brand of the Year” in a glittering ceremony held in the main entrance and orangery at Kensington Palace today.

Apple, BMW, the British Council, Cartier, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Google, Lego, L’Oréal, Louis Vuitton, McDonald’s, Nescafé, Nike, Oral-B, Pampers, Rolex, Samsung, Starbucks, Schwarzkopf and VISA were announced as global winners.

Winning brands from Malaysia include Getha, Lewré, Marini’s Group, MML, Maybank and Spritzer, while Singaporean winners were Aztech, BreadTalk, ComfortDelGro, DBS, Great Eastern, Raffles Education, Singapore Airlines, Singtel and Skylight.

Other national tier winners included ICBC (China), Bang & Olufsen (Denmark), Hermès (France), Nivea (Germany), Chow Tai Fook (Hong Kong), State Bank of India, Indomilk (Indonesia), Prada (Italy), Sukiya (Japan), Dulux (Netherlands), SM Supermalls (Philippines), Nando’s (South Africa), AmorePacific (South Korea), Santander (Spain), Zurich (Switzerland), Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan), King Power (Thailand), Dubai Duty Free (UAE), and Prudential (UK), among others.

Regional winners included Eu Yan Sang , Giordano, Lee Kum Kee, Mandarin Oriental and Watsons from Hong Kong; Indomie (Indonesia); Ajinomoto, Isetan, Kikkoman and Uniqlo from Japan; MTN from South Africa; Zara (Spain); and RAK Ceramics (UAE).

Uniquely, winners are judged through three streams: brand valuation, consumer market research, and public online voting. Each brand was named “Brand of the Year” in their respective categories. This year, a newly designed 24-kt gold plated trophy was introduced for all winners.

The awards is organised by the World Branding Forum, a global non-profit organisation dedicated to advancing branding standards for the good of the branding community as well as consumers. It organises and sponsors a range of educational programmes, and has joint collaborations with leading universities and museums. The Forum also publishes branding news on its website that reaches a global audience of over 5 million.

“The Awards celebrates the achievements of some of the greatest brands around the globe. With 70 percent of the scoring process coming from consumer votes, winning brands have managed to build a good trust score with their consumers,” said Richard Rowles, Chairman of the World Branding Forum.

“Due to a successful campaign, this year saw a huge increase in participation of the awards. Over 120,000 consumers from around the world voted for more than 2,800 brands from 35 countries. Winners at the awards have clearly demonstrated their ability to stand out from their competitors,” said Peter Pek, Chief Executive of the Forum.

The event was hosted by David Croft from Sky Sports. For more information and the full list of winners, visit awards.brandingforum.org.

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3rd Silk Road International Film Festival Held In Xi’an

XI’AN, China, Sept. 21, 2016 /Xinhua-AsiaNet/–On the evening of 19th September, the 3rd Silk Road International Film Festival (SRIFF) kicked off in the ancient city of Xi’an. The five-day film festival will showcase the charms of countries along the Silk Road and serve as an important bridge to promote the integration and development among cultures.

Under the theme of “Film in Development, Culture with Diversity”, this year’s SRIFF features diverse units including Film Awards, Film Screening, Film Forum, Film Market, Cultural Show and others. The event attracts 676 films from 35 countries including China, Russia, Japan, Germany, South Korea to participate among which Best Drama, Best Documentary Feature, Best Animated Feature, Best Actor, Best Actress and other awards will be selected.

Founded in 2014 and prioritizing countries along the Silk Road, SRIFF is alternately hosted by Xi’an and Fuzhou, two starting cities of “Belt and Road Initiative”, and renowned as a major platform for exchange of film culture among countries along the Silk Road. This year’s SRIFF marks the third of this event and will be held for five days from Sept. 19th to 23rd.

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Stock Challenge By CIMB In Search Of Region’s Best Young Traders

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 (Bernama) — The CIMB ASEAN Stock Challenge returns in 2016, promising a more innovative and challenging competition targeted at unearthing the brightest young talents in stock trading from ASEAN. In its seventh edition, the challenge offers total cash prizes worth US$38,000 and a trip to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to undergraduates from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Cambodia.

The CIMB ASEAN Stock Challenge was created to provide university students a hands-on opportunity to demonstrate their investment skills in a real time stock trading environment. It is also about exposing the next generation of investors to value creation opportunities based on thorough research of listed companies in various industries, both in their own countries, as well as in the region. This unique competition will see young investors trading across five major stock exchanges in the region i.e., Bursa Malaysia, Indonesia Stock Exchange, Singapore Exchange, The Stock Exchange of Thailand and The Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Hamidah Naziadin, Group Chief People Officer, CIMB Group said, “We are extremely proud of the CIMB ASEAN Stock Challenge, which is now in its seventh year. We are also pleased to announce that the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education is officially supporting the competition for the first time this year, which is a valuable recognition of the educational value of our Stock Challenge.”

The CIMB ASEAN Stock Challenge 2016 raises the bar a few notches this year. At the national round, students participate against each other in their respective countries from 10-28 October with virtual capital of US$80,000. The top three teams with the highest returns on investments at the end of the trading period will then be judged based on their strategy papers. The team with the best strategy paper will be crowned National Champion for their country. The National Champion will receive US$800, First Runner-Up – US$500 and Second Runner-Up – US$400. All of them will also have the opportunity to land an internship with the CIMB Group.

The National Champions from the five countries will then vie for the overall Regional Champion title in Singapore in January 2017. This year’s Challenge has added twists – the returns on investment of the National Champions’ portfolios will be re-assessed to determine how well the investments have withstood the test of time.

“This enhancement to the judging criteria is to inculcate the mindset of researching and selecting stocks with sound fundamentals amongst the participants. This will really test their ability to distinguish stocks that have medium- to long-term value-creation prospects, instead of picking stocks for short-term gains,” said Hamidah.

Another additional feature to the challenge includes on-the-spot stock analysis, where the contestants are given the historical data of five stocks to analyse and to decide on which stock has made the most gain. There will also be a strategy presentation by the teams before the judges decide on the Regional Champion.

The Regional Champion will walk away with USD$12,000, as well as a trip to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The First Runner-Up will receive US$8,000, the Second Runner-Up -US$5,000, the Third Runner-Up – US$3,000 and the Fourth Runner-Up – US$1,500.

Partners for the Challenge include TalentCorp, Malaysia’s official entity on facilitating initiatives on talent availability for the country’s long-term needs, and the five regional stock exchanges. TalentCorp is partnering CIMB on the Stock Challenge for the fourth time. Malaysia Airlines will return as Presenting Sponsor for the Challenge.

Registration for the CIMB ASEAN Stock Challenge 2016 is open from 19 – 30 September 2016 at https://stockchallenge.itradecimb.com/. Additional virtual capital of US$20,000 will be offered to those who register from 19-23 September.

About CIMB Group

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

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

CIMB Group operates its business through three main brand entities, CIMB Bank, CIMB Investment Bank and CIMB Islamic. CIMB Group is also the 97.9% shareholder of Bank CIMB Niaga in Indonesia, and 93.7% shareholder of CIMB Thai in Thailand.

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

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Deloitte Malaysia Signs Badminton World Junior Champ 2015 As Brand Ambassador

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 (Bernama) — Deloitte Malaysia announces the signing of 16-year old Badminton World Federation (BFW) World Junior Champion, Goh Jin Wei as a Deloitte Brand Ambassador yesterday at the Deloitte office in Kuala Lumpur. The agreement was signed between Deloitte Malaysia, Badminton Association Of Malaysia and Goh Jin Wei.

Touted to be the successor to continue Dato’ Lee Chong Wei’s legacy, Goh Jin Wei attended the signing ceremony wearing a specially given Deloitte T-shirt together with Loh Bee Sim, her mother who signed the agreement on her behalf. Among other guests in attendance at the signing ceremony include Acting President of the Badminton Association Of Malaysia (BAM), Yang Bahagia Tan Sri Ir (Dr) Haji Mohamed Al-Amin Haji Abdul Majid, BAM Honorary Secretary, Ng Chin Chai, BAM Council Member, Datuk William Toh, BAM General Manager, Lawrence Chew and BAM Technical Director, Morten Frost Hansen.

Deloitte Malaysia Country Managing Partner, Tan Theng Hooi said, “Deloitte admires the tenacity and dedication that Goh Jin Wei has to the sport, as she has managed to clinch an unbelievable number of championship titles, including the Junior World Champion at the Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Junior Championships 2015 in Peru. With the long-term plans that BAM has to nurture and continuously develop her, we are assured that her badminton career is going to be that much more exemplary as she progresses along the years.”

Tan continues, “I am confident that Deloitte’s people will be proud to have Jin Wei as our Brand Ambassador and will look up to her as an inspiration.”

As a Deloitte brand ambassador, Jin Wei will be rewarded with a monthly allowance, incentives for winning tournaments and scholarship for her tertiary education.

“We want Jin Wei to know that Deloitte is committed to support her in long term and will always welcome her to join the organisation if she desires,” added Tan.

Badminton Association Of Malaysia (BAM)’s Acting President and Chef de Mission for the recent 2016 Olympics at Rio, Tan Sri Mohamed Al-Amin mentioned, “We are delighted that Deloitte spearheaded this initiative with BAM and Goh Jin Wei. This partnership is a statement of Deloitte’s enthusiasm and support of the national aspiration to train talented individuals such as Jin Wei towards achieving every Malaysian’s greatest dream to win the Olympic Gold Medal in 2020.”

BAM Technical Director, Morten Frost Hansen noted, “We believe that Jin Wei is well on her way on becoming one of the best players in the world. With this collaboration between BAM and Deloitte and most importantly, between Jin Wei and the Firm that is committed to supporting her in many years to come, we have even greater hopes for the future of badminton in Malaysia.”

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Sapurakencana National Classic To Advance Golf In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 15 (Bernama) — SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad (“SapuraKencana”) will be hosting the nation’s most anticipated annual golf tournament, the SapuraKencana National Classic (“National Classic”) with an elevated stature this year. For the first time ever, the SapuraKencana National Classic will also count towards the Professional Golf of Malaysia (“PGM”) Tour’s Order of Merit, which is the leading professional tour in Malaysia. The tournament is an opportunity for home-grown talents to enhance their standing as they compete to win the single coveted spot to play at the CIMB Classic 2016.

The National Classic, scheduled for 20-22 September 2016, will showcase nearly 100 leading Malaysian golfers and will take place at the newly accredited Tournament Players Club (“TPC”) Kuala Lumpur, Southeast Asia’s first prestigious TPC-certified golf facility.

SapuraKencana, a leading global integrated oil and gas services and solutions provider, is the title sponsor of the National Classic. SapuraKencana is also a sponsor and lead partner in the CIMB Classic 2016, the region’s richest tournament with a purse of USD7 million and PGA TOUR’s only official FedExCup event in Southeast Asia.

“The SapuraKencana National Classic 2016 has played a key role in elevating the game of golf as a sport in Malaysia, which has spurred on more home-grown talents, especially with the addition of the PGM Tour Order of Merit. In continuing to cultivate national interest in the sport, we look forward to witness our local talents as they compete amongst internationally-renowned golfers at the CIMB Classic 2016,” said Ahmad Zakiruddin Mohamed, Senior Vice President of Operations, SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad.

Top local golfer and Olympian Gavin Green will be playing in the SapuraKencana National Classic, along with defending champion Ben Leong and 2013 champion Rashid Ismail. Leong, who won the event last year, finished T64 in his first appearance at the 2015 CIMB Classic. Ismail’s victory in 2013 qualified him for the CIMB Classic as well, where he finished T75. Green represented Malaysia in the Men’s Olympic Golf Competition during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

Sanctioned by the Professional Golf Association of Malaysia (PGAM), the SapuraKencana National Classic will be held with an approximate field size of 100 players and offers a total prize purse of RM150,000. The winner will bag RM22,000, and a spot at the CIMB Classic 2016.

The CIMB Classic 2016 will return to TPC Kuala Lumpur from 20 – 23 October as the second tournament of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR schedule. Offering full FedExCup points, the CIMB Classic will feature 78 players; 60 coming from the PGA TOUR, 10 from the Asian Tour and eight sponsor’s exemptions.

Out of the eight sponsor’s exemptions, CIMB Classic accords two spots for Malaysians. The second spot will be accorded to the highest ranked Malaysian golfer on the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR) as of 11 October 2016. If the winner of the SapuraKencana National Classic is also the leading Malaysian in the OWGR, the second spot for the CIMB Classic will automatically go to the next top-ranked Malaysian on the OWGR.

About SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad

SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad (“SapuraKencana” or “Group”) is a leading global integrated oil and gas services and solutions provider operating across the entire upstream value chain. As a full-fledged upstream player, the Group’s spectrum of capabilities covers exploration, development, production, rejuvenation, as well as decommissioning and abandonment.

With a highly-skilled and technically-capable workforce, strategic world-class assets, and strong project management capabilities, the Group today has a global presence in over 20 countries.

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CIMB-PRINCIPAL Islamic Launches Malaysia’s First Global Sukuk Fund

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 (Bernama) — CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management (Ireland) PLC has obtained approval from the Central Bank of Ireland to launch its Global Sukuk UCITS Fund (“Fund”), Malaysia’s first global sukuk fund under the Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (“UCITS”) funds structure.

CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management Sdn. Bhd. (“CIMB-Principal Islamic”) will act as the investment manager and master distributor of the Fund. The Fund reaffirms CIMB-Principal Islamic’s continuous support towards developing Malaysia as a hub for Islamic Finance products at the global stage.

The USD-denominated Fund seeks to maximize total returns over the medium to long term through a combination of capital growth and income by investing primarily in a diversified portfolio of Shariah-compliant fixed income securities (Sukuk) issued by government and government-related entities, corporates or supranational entities, based mainly in the Middle East and Asia.

Datin Seri Norashikin Mohd Kassim, Chief Executive Officer of CIMB-Principal Islamic, said, “The Fund will appeal to investors looking for ethical investments with stable returns in major currencies, for example, US Dollar, by tapping into the sukuk of leading issuers, predominantly sovereign and sovereign-related credits in the Middle East and Asia. We believe sukuk offer superior risk-adjusted returns and diversification benefits to investors due to the lower volatility and lower correlation to conventional equities and fixed income. We expect strong demand for the Global Sukuk UCITS Fund given the current volatile equity markets and a shortage of good sukuk issuances in the market.”

“The outlook for global sukuk issuances in 2016 will remain constructive due to strong underlying credit fundamentals and the need to access capital markets to close budget gaps.

UCITS funds, governed by strict international regulations, provide an excellent platform for investors to access global investment opportunities efficiently. Additionally, global investors can leverage on our investment expertise as the premier Shariah-compliant asset manager,” continued Norashikin.

The Fund will be offered to investors for a minimum investment of USD1,000 and is ideal for investors who seek a diversified portfolio and capital appreciation over the long term. The Fund has an initial offer price of USD10.00 per share. The Shariah adviser for the Fund is CIMB Islamic Bank Berhad. It provides a stable investment returns, lower volatility, and also portfolio diversification. The fund offers an attractive option for fixed income asset managers to hold investment exposure to Middle East and Asian economies.

Historically, global sukuk has outperformed conventional emerging markets’ bond during periods of market downturns. Global sukuk issuances have witnessed a rapid growth over the years. The total issuance from January 2001 to December 2015 was USD767,099 millioni. 2012 recorded the highest global sukuk issuance, amounting to USD137,599 millionii. In recent years, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, South Africa and Luxembourg have also issued sukuk, creating a diversification of new issuances.

Since the establishment of the new Islamic fund range in Ireland in 2011, CIMB-Principal Islamic has built up a good asset management track record, attracting both institutional and retail investors for UCITS funds, as well as for Shariah-compliant discretionary mandates. As at 31 July 2016, CIMB-Principal Islamic managed a total of USD608 million in global sukuk mandates.

About CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management Sdn. Bhd.

CIMB-Principal Islamic Asset Management Sdn. Bhd. (“CIMB-Principal Islamic”) offers Islamic investment solutions to global institutional investors and sub-advisory (sub-investment manager) services to collective investment trust funds. CIMB-Principal Islamic is a partnership between Principal Financial Global, a leading Fortune 500 diversified global financial services group, and CIMB Group, a leading ASEAN universal bank with strong Islamic banking background. The company is an offshoot of CIMBPrincipal Asset Management Berhad (CIMB-Principal), which was founded in 1995 and has a reputable heritage of managing Islamic institutional mandates since 2000.

Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, CIMB-Principal Islamic is strategically located in a country with a complete Islamic financial system operating in parallel to the conventional banking system. This allows the firm to leverage on Malaysia’s comprehensive Islamic financial infrastructure and its adopted global regulatory, legal and Shariah best practices.

i Islamic Finance Sukuk Database, Total Global Sukuk Issuances 2001 to 2015

ii Islamic Finance Sukuk Database, Total Global Sukuk Issuances 2001 to 2015

Source : CIMB Group

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SIDC Appoints Sharifatul Hanizah Said Ali As CEO

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 (Bernama) — The Securities Industry Development Corporation (SIDC), the training and development arm of the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), has appointed Sharifatul Hanizah Said Ali as its Chief Executive Officer.

Sharifatul Hanizah will be leading SIDC’s professional development initiatives at the forefront of the capital market learning and development space, in support of national development objectives to raise the standard of market participants and grow the Malaysian capital market.

A financial services industry professional with more than three decades of experience, Sharifatul Hanizah began her career in 1998 with a bank-backed broking house, subsequently joining Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB) in 1991 where she assumed several leadership roles before moving on to helm RHB Asset Management Sdn Bhd in 2007. She was made Managing Director of RHB Investment Management Sdn Bhd in 2008, a position she held until July 2012. Under her six-year leadership, assets under management (AUM) grew from RM4 billion to RM16 billion.

Prior to joining SIDC, Sharifatul Hanizah was Chief Executive Officer of Muamalat Invest, where she successfully led a twenty-fold increase in AUM from RM120 million to RM3 billion during her four-year tenure. Sharifatul Hanizah brings to her current position ample board experience, having served on the boards of exchange-listed and private companies as a Nominee Director for PNB and RHB.

Sharifatul Hanizah is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (F Fin) and a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), with extensive and diverse experience in the fields of investment analysis, portfolio management, equity trading and unit trust. In addition to being an SIDC faculty member for the SC’s Capital Market Director Programme, Sharifatul Hanizah is also a moderator and panel assessor for the Finance Accreditation Agency (FAA), a body supported by both Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the SC.

SIDC is a leading learning and development solutions provider for capital market industry participants in Malaysia and the growth and emerging markets. Catering to market professionals, regulators and company directors, it supports the regulatory functions of the SC by setting competency standards for the capital market industry through licensing examinations and continuing education initiatives for intermediaries, as well as by delivering capacity building programmes for regulators and investor education programmes to cultivate smart investors. SIDC also contributes to capital market talent pipeline development by conducting graduate training programmes to widen the entry-level talent pool and meet industry demand for competent professionals.

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Orchid Run & Ride Returns With A Bang

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 (Bernama) — The Orchid Run & Ride 2016 returns on 25 September 2016 at Persiaran KLCC with more exciting activities. Already in its second year, the event, organised by the Association of Wives and Women Staff of PETRONAS (PETRONITA) aims to raise funds for various charitable causes in Malaysia.

“We are targeting to raise approximately RM200,000 which will be channeled to our beneficiaries namely the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM), Paediatric & Congenital Heart Centre (PCHC) of the National Heart Institute (IJN) and the National Intra Ocular Lens Bank, Ministry of Health Malaysia”, said Datin Dr Azura Ahmad Tajuddin, President of PETRONITA.

PETRONITA has been working closely with these charitable bodies which included its collaboration with Prince Court Medical Centre (PCMC) in the Sayangi Matamu project that successfully provided treatment to approximately 45 patients with cataract and eye-related diseases. This effort has been further amplified through joint efforts with the National Intra Ocular Lens Bank, enabling treatment to be extended nationwide to benefit more underprivileged patients.

In addition, members of PETRONITA worked with PCHC in spreading cheer and motivation to the young paediatric patients during the month of Ramadhan. Special arrangements were made to surprise the children with the presence of clowns and mascots, while individual wards were visited by volunteers who also delivered gift bags consisting iftar meals, toys as well as duit raya.

The Orchid Run & Ride 2016 is expected to attract more than double of last year’s participants. The inaugural event held last year saw over 3,000 runners and cyclist participate in the programme. Response this year has been encouraging whereby registrations for all categories have been sold out. There are two main categories, namely Category A – 12km Run: Men’s & Women’s Open (open to ages 16 years and above); and two sub categories under Category B, namely the 5km Fun Run (open to ages 7 years and above) and 5km Fun Ride (open to ages 12 years and above).

Orchid Run & Ride 2016 is set to be the largest sporting event organised by PETRONITA to date in collaboration with PETRONAS. The event will be officiated by PETRONAS President & Group CEO, Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin.

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Algerian operators take part in Rencontres Africa 2016 in Paris

ALGIERS-A delegation of Algerian economic operators take part Thursday in Paris in Rencontres Africa 2016 event that brings together more than 2,000 French and African companies.

Many leaders of private Algerian companies attend this event including Abderrahmane Benhamadi (Condor Electronics), Slim Othmani (NCA-Rouiba), Laid Benamor (Amor Benamor group), as well as chairperson of the Algerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACI) and chairperson of the Business Leaders Forum (FCE) Ali Haddad.

Algeria’s participation in this two-day event aims at finding new business opportunities with African partners (over 500 companies).

Held at the headquarters of the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE), Rencontres Africa 2016, which prepares for the French-African Summit on January 2017 in Bamako, offers participants a space where fifty companies showcase their products, skills and expertise.

CEO of Condo, a private company specialized in electronic appliances, told APS that his group seeks other opportunities to export its products, adding that “there will be a real African market in the ten years to come.”

After conquering Mali, Mauritania, Tanzania and Sudan, Benhamadi announced that he his group is currently in negotiations with a Beninese partner, affirming that his products will be marketed in France as from next October.

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Qatar Airways to increase flights to Brazil, Argentina by 40%

MENAFN – 22/09/2016 – Qatar Airways (QA) has announced to introduce nearly 40 percent additional capacity to its two South American gateways – Buenos Aires and Sao Paulo – from December 1, when the airline upgrades its aircraft operating on the route from a Boeing 777-200LR to a Boeing 777-300ER.

The upgrade to the ‘Extended Range’ aircraft will provide an additional 99 seats a day from the airline’s hub in Doha to Sao Paulo and Buenos Aires, the capital cities of Brazil and Argentina, respectively.

QA’s aircraft operating on the route are Boeing 777-200LR with 259 seats, which will increase to 358.

Commercial passenger traffic from the two cities to QA’s network of over 150 destinations via Doha provides travellers with some of the shortest travel times from South America to destinations such as Bangkok, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beirut, Singapore, Delhi and Maldives, and many other places can be conveniently reached via Doha.

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Dubai aims USD2.5bn loan to enlarge metro for expo

MENAFN – 22/09/2016 (MENAFN) Dubai is aiming USD2.5bn in loans in order to finance a 15-kilometer extension of its above-ground metro line to the World Expo site.

Moreover, funding is predicted to be offered by global banks, while the ECA-backed facility has a maturity of 18 years, while the commercial loans has 10-year tenor.

Dubai Road & Transport Authority awarded USD2.9bn in June metro-rail deal to a consortium including France”s Alstom, Spain”s Acciona and Turkey”s Gulermak Agir Sanayi Ve Taahhut.

The country predicts to double the number of visitors to the emirate to 20mn by the time of the global trade and tourism event, which may spend USD8bn of infrastructure projects.

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Kazakh embassy fetes Kuwaiti poet for literary contributions

KUWAIT, Sept 21 (KUNA) — The embassy of Kazakhstan honored on Wednesday famed Kuwaiti poet Abdulaziz Al-Babtain, presenting him with an honorary gold medal for his contributions to Arabic literature.

The gold medal is a token of appreciation for a man who helped develop Arabic literature and was instrumental to the betterment of Kuwait’s ties with the central Asian nation, Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Kuwait Almas Abdramanov said in a speech during a ceremony to honor Al-Babtain.

Moreover, Abdramanov added that the Kuwaiti poet helped educate Kazakh pupils ia number of academic institutions.

Meanwhile, speaking on the medal, the Kazakh Ambassador said that it is given to notable figures who have made indelible and remarkable contributions in their respective fields.

In a speech of his own, Al-Babtain said that he is elated to have been honored by the Kazakh embassy, noting that his efforts over the years are acknowledged and appreciated.

The University of Oxford had recently conferred the honor of “Laudian Professor of Arabic” upon Al-Babtain, the highlight of a career dedicated to developing the Arabic language. (end) aas.nam

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First Kochi UAE Short Film Fest begins Friday

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 22/09/2016 – The wait is over for hundreds of Malayalee short filmmakers here in the UAE.

Khaleej Times broke the news of a short film festival in July, and ever since the UAE chapter of the Kochi Metro Short Film Fest, a Whatsapp group community of filmmakers, has been waiting for their dreams of becoming filmmakers to materialise.

Kochi Metro UAE Film Fest is planning to produce 45 films before the UAE’s 45th National Day, thus providing an opportunity for the Malayalee community in the UAE to pay tributes to the country.

The details will be announced soon, Ravindhar, festival director said: “The formalities will be the same as in the case of the short film festival. Registration is free and open for all. We offer guidance and assistance to nurture talents.”

According to the organisers, it is also the culmination of a mobile film literacy movement ,which is taking shape in the form of the Kochi Metro Short Films UAE. It is also planning 45 short films on the occasion of UAE’s 45th National Day.

On Friday, the first of its kind film festival will have an informal opening at Ramada Hotel, Deira, Dubai, with the screening of Reflections, a 20-minute short film, which has Mohanlal, one of the top Indian actors, in the lead role. This screening is open only to members.

The three-day film festival has two other venues in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi. On September 29, the venue of the festival will be Sharjah Indian Association Hall and on October 1, the films will be screened in Abu Dhabi Indian Social Centre. The organisers are also planning to arrange screenings in Al Ain.

According to Ravindhar, who has been in the South Indian film industry for decades as an actor and script writer, the festival is part of his mobile film literacy movement, followed by the Malalayali community worldwide.

Ravindhar said: “If feature films are looked upon for entertainment, short films serve the purpose of social reformation. It also provides a platform for new comers.”

As part of the Kochi Metro Short Films UAE, expat filmmakers can also to participate in two theme-based contests namely “Sneham” (Love) and “Pravasam” (On Expat life) for first comers (non-experienced) and filmmakers (the experienced) respectively.

Explaining the themes of the contests, Ravindhar, who is also the festival director, said: “Intolerance is widespread and there is a need to spread the importance of universal love among people. The Indian diaspora has so much to share, but they do not have a strong platform to unleash their creativity. Short films are a powerful tool in this digital age to make their voices heard.”

Submissions for the Kochi Metro Short Films UAE are open until October 15.

“The main task is to identify budding talent and help them grow,” the actor added.

The Kochi Metro UAE, which has Mohanlal as its chairman, is a 250-member Whatsapp group, and makes use of the vast digital landscape for their creative expression.

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International Chamber of Commerce-UAE discusses future plans

SHARJAH, 21st September, 2016 (WAM) — The International Chamber of Commerce-United Arab Emirates held a meeting on Wednesday to discuss plans to develop and promote its services, raise its reputation and rankings to beat international counterparts and ensure a larger representation of the local business community globally.

During its 5th meeting, hosted by the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry and chaired by Humaid Mohammed bin Salem, Chairman of the ICC-UAE, the ICC-UAE’s board of directors reviewed the package of benefits and privileges offered to corporate members in the UAE and the future plans to develop these services and expand the membership base to include a larger segment of the local business community.

The chamber plans to participate in the ICC-UAE Trade Finance Conference and the ICC’s 8th regional congress in the Middle East, and is preparing to hold the ICC-UAE’s 6th board meeting in December 14.

In 2016, the ICC-UAE participated in the ICC World Chambers Federation Congress, the ICC’s 4th annual Conference on International Arbitration in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) which took place in Dubai in April this year and the ICC Permanent Heads Meetingn Sao Paulo, Brazil on 15th and16th June 2016.

Fatima Khalifa Al Mukarab, Member of the ICC-UAE, commended the vital role of the ICC-UAE in promoting investment opportunities and developing a business environment to enhance the competitiveness of the UAE as a global leader in economic development.

She further noted that the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry is committed to strengthening its partnership and cooperation with the ICC-UAE. “This will ensure the effective integration of roles and responsibilities and support the economic diversification strategy guided by our wise leadership. ”

Founded in 2004, the International Chamber of Commerce-United Arab Emirates is the largest national representation of the commercial, industrial and business enterprises. The chamber has a huge national network of companies operating in various business sectors in the UAE. The chamber voices the interest of the UAE economic communities worldwide.

Headquartered in Paris, the International Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1919 to promote international trade and the business sector worldwide. Its main activities include arbitration, dispute resolution and free trade and free economy policy advocacy.

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Spending on family tourism in UAE to increase 4.4% in 2016: Dubai Chamber

DUBAI, 21st September, 2016 (WAM) — Total spending on family tourism in the UAE is projected to increase by 4.4 per cent in 2016, while outbound family travel expenditure of Emirati citizens is set to rise at 3.6 per cent this year, according to a study conducted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The study which was announced on Wednesday coincides with the Third Global Islamic Economy Summit, to be held in Dubai on 11th and 12th Octobernder the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

With the theme “Inspiring Change”, the summit will tackle family tourism as part of Islamic economy.

The Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) for 2016 ranked Malaysia first in the world in terms of Muslim travel friendliness. Meanwhile, the UAE moved up one spot to second place, effectively replacing Turkey, Dubai Chamber said.

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Oman- Thousands visit Al Hoota Cave during Eid holidays

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 21/09/2016 – Thousands of visitors flocked to Al Hoota Cave following its recent reopening. During the Eid al Adha holidays, more than 12,700 people visited one of the region’s leading natural attractions to enjoy the cave experience and its enhanced facilities.

The high turnout of visitors reinforces the interest in Oman’s natural wonders and that local and regional tourism in Oman is on the rise.

Omran, the operator of the cave complex, was pleased with the large turnout of the visitors during Eid.

The mix of visitors included local Omani tourists as well as people from the GCC including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Anticipating a large turnout, Omran and the on-site team operating the ave made the decision to open on the day of Arafah and the first day of Eid. Marking the huge interest in the cave, it remained open for an additional three hours per day in order to accommodate the large amount of visitors.

Eng Khalid Mirza, director of projects development at Omran, said, ‘We’ve transformed the offering at Al Hoota Cave, making it a completely new experience for visitors. The number of visitors over Eid was staggering; it shows how excited people are about Oman’s natural wonders and finding out what’s new at the cave.’

Al Hoota Cave will resume operations on Thursday. To book your trip, please visit the online website booking system at http://www.alhootacave.com

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Oman- EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour 2017 to start February 14

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 21/09/2016 – Five offshore legs, starting in Muscat and finishing 763 miles later in Dubai, combined with three in-port showdowns in Oman, Doha and Dubai are likely to make Arabia’s leading offshore race one of the most competitive yet, confirming its status as the most highly regarded sailing event in the region and a recognised tourism platform for showcasing the Gulf and its maritime heritage.

In response to the extensive feedback collected after each edition, teams can now invest in turnkey campaign packages from event organisers Oman Sail, comprising bespoke branded Farr 30s, on board safety equipment, communications and logistical support and even a crew, if needed.

According to Dee Caffari, the Volvo Ocean Race sailor who skippered the first women’s entry in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour in 2012 and has now competed in four editions, this opportunity has immediately created more interest among teams who have never sailed in the region before.

‘We were in Sweden recently at the Farr 30 International Regatta and quite a few teams were very interested in SATT when they realised that they could turn up and race without any drama,’ Dee said.

She added, ‘It means they can come to a region they might be unfamiliar with and know they can be competitive with the full support of the organisers. Being unique as the only annual event in the world to combine the challenge of offshore and inshore racing was also a massive draw.’

In February 2017, the fleet of identical Farr 30s crewed by a mix of professional and amateur sailors will gather in the warm waters of Muscat where they have up to five days of training before opening their accounts in the first in port race at Al Mouj.

They will then head north on the first overnight leg (105nm) to Sohar where International Maritime College will once again host a day of culture and entertain the teams with Omani food, dance and ancient traditions.

The second leg (140nm) takes them through some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the Middle East, as they pass rocky mountains dropping directly into fjords to Khasab. It will be back to sea for the testing 153nm snakes and ladders course to Abu Dhabi before the penultimate leg (160nms) to Doha.

The final leg to Dubai is the longest (205nm). EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour 2017 gets underway at Al Mouj Marina in Muscat on February 14, 2017 and finishes with a prize-giving celebration in Dubai on March 1, 2017.

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Algeria Awards “Emir Abdelkader for Promotion of Living Together” Prize

MOSTAGANEM, 23/09/2016, Algeria Press Service – Emir Abdelkader Prize for the “promotion of living together and peaceful coexistence in the Mediterranean and the world” was presented Wednesday evening, in Mostaganem, to three international figures who have significantly contributed to the spirit of this distinction, in the presence of Minister of Culture Azzedine Mihoubi.

The three honoured figures are former head of the Algerian diplomacy, special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations and international mediator of the UN, assistant secretary general of the Arab League Lakhdar Brahimi who gained a considerable experience in the settlement of conflicts in the world, in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Africa, Lebanon, and most recently in Syria.

The two other prize winners are Spanish Federico Mayor, former Director General of the UNESCO and co-founder of the UN Alliance of Civilizations, he is also president of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace and finally Canadian Raymond Chrétien, former Canadian ambassador to the U.S and President of the International Observatory of Mayors Living Together.

In the absence of Frederico Mayor, it is the ambassador of Spain to Algeria Alejandro Polanca Matas who received the prize.

The prize awarding ceremony was organized at the headquarters of the foundation “Djenatu El Arif,” one of this action’s initiators, alongside international non-governmental organization AISA and MED 21 Programme.

It was co-chaired by ambassador and Special Rapporteur of UN Human Rights Council Driss El Djazaïri and Secretary of State and Minister-President of Brussels’ francophone Government Fadila Laanan.

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Egypt- Hurghada hotels see 80-90% occupancy during Eid Al-Adha

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 21/09/2016 – On 12 September, in the week of the Eid Al-Adha, a large number of holidaymakers headed to private hotels in Hurghada, while some families preferred to spend the public holiday on the beaches of Giftun island, away from the public and private coasts.

Hurghada witnessed a rebound of tourism during the Eid Al-Adha holiday, as hotels had organised a number of concerts and events that attracted Arab tourists.

Foreign tourists represented more than 15% of the total and came from Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, and China.

Director of the Egyptian Tourism Authority’s Red Sea office, Ahmed Moustafa, said previously that occupancy rates in Hurghada during Eid Al-Adha would not fall below 85%.

Moustafa added that since schools and universities would not recommence before the Eid Al-Adha holiday, there was increased demand to spend the holiday away from Cairo.

He pointed out that many bookings were made more than two weeks before the holiday, and that the majority of the demand fell on four- and five-star hotels, with per-room prices ranging between EGP 700 and EGP 1,000.

Bahaa Hefz Allah, marketing manager at Al-Dau Developmentwhich owns Hurghada Steigenberger Aqua Magic and Steigenberger Al-Dau Beach Hotel said that the great turnout in Hurghada is attrbuted to Arab and local tourism who attended concerts and events organised by hotels in the city.

On the first day of Eid Al-Adha, Steigenberger Al-Dau Beach Hotel organised a concert for two Egyptian singers, pushing the occupancy rate in the hotel to 97% and the other hotels close-by to 80%, according to Hefz Allah.

Maged Fawzy, former deputy chairperson of the Chamber of Egyptian Hotels, said that the occupancy rate in most hotels during the Eid Al-Adha holiday ranged between 80% and 90%. Some hotels even surpassed this percentage, while a few hotels fell under 80%.

Fawzy noted that hotels hold promotions at discounted prices throughout the year, but that these offers can’t be provided during the holidays.

Mohamed Mosaad, a taxi driver in Hurghada, said that his city witnesses a great demand during the Bayram holidays, but that the demand on hotels during Eid Al-Fitr surpasses the demand during Eid Al-Adha.

Mosaad complained about the current situation and noted: ‘Currently, our work has become seasonal or during both Eid holidays. Before, we didn’t stop working for the entire year.’

He pointed out that currently, most foreign tourists are German, Polish, and Asian, and there are no Russians, especially after the tragedy of the Russian aeroplane crash in Sinai.

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Federico Mayor, winner of Emir Abdelkader Award, an “honour for Spain”

MOSTAGANEM, Thursday, 22 September 2016, Algeria Press Service – Spanish Ambassador to Algeria Alejandro Palanco Matas said that granting Emir

Abdelkader Award to former Director General of UNESCO Federico Mayor was a honour for him as well as for his country Spain.

“It is a great honour for us, Spaniards. The Award recognizes the work of Mayor within UNESCO for building bridges between peoples. He is among those who advocated the idea of the culture of peace and peaceful coexistence. His thoughts are in line with the spirit and philosophy of Emir Abdelkader,” the Spanish diplomat told APS on the sidelines of the award ceremony, held Wednesday evening in Mostaganem.

The historic path of Emir Abdelkader is linked with his image of a man of action and fierce fighter, even though this profile contrasts with the image of a thinker and philosopher he always was, advocating solidarity, fraternity and tolerance.

Federico Mayor, the winner of the northern shore of the Mediterranean, was absent from the award ceremony due to health reasons. The Emir Abdelkader Award was handed to the Spanish ambassador to Algeria for him.

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Algeria awarded six prizes at International theatre festival in Jordan

AMMAN, 22 September 2016, Algeria Press Service – “Thelth El Khali” play, directed by El Eulma’s regional theatre, won six prizes at the 9th edition of the International theatre in Jordan, which wrapped up Wednesday evening in Amman.

The play received the prizes of best work, best direct, best music work, best actress, best dramatic scenario, best lightning, respectively awarded to Tounes Ait Ali, Hocine Smati, Houria Bahloul, Mohamed Chouat and Farouk Redhouana.

In a statement to APS, Khalil Aoun, head of programming, distribution and external relations at the regional theatre of El Eulma expressed the troop’s happiness following this success.

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26 countries at International Festival of Miniatures, Decorative Arts

BATNA, 21 September 2016, Algeria Press Service – A total of 26 countries will participate at the 9th International Festival of Miniatures and Decorative Arts which will held from 22 to 27 September at the exhibition centre Moufdi Zakaria of Algiers, the festival’s commissioner Moussa Kechkeche told APS Tuesday in Batna.

Merged with the International Festival of Arab Calligraphy, this 9th edition will particularly be marked by the presence of Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Iran, India and Pakistan, said Kechkeche.

In addition to conferences on the story of miniatures and visual art, held by specialists, practical workshops of introduction to pictorial techniques will also be on the festival’s programme, he added.

The winning works in this festival, generally made by the world’s greatest specialist, will decorate the Algerian museums, added the source.

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Saudi Monarch Orders Rehabilitation of Historic Sites

Kuwait, Dhu-AlHijjah 20, 1437, Sep 21, 2016, SPA — Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the General President of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage confirmed that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, through his early interest in history and culture, has paid enhancing national identity a special priority and instructed rehabilitation of heritage and historical sites, as destinations of visitors and linking citizens with their heritage and national identity and unity of the homeland, which was founded at these sites, pointing out what the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques has told him: “We are Arabs and Muslims, and our pride is associated by belonging to our history and our identity and this is the common identity, as these are the element that stem from the history, memory, values and a common language.

He pointed out during his speech at a symposium under the motto: (Strengthening the Gulf National Identity) which was held today in the State of Kuwait, under the patronage of Sheikh Salman Al-Hamoud Al-Sabah, Minister of Information and Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Chairman of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature, in Kuwait and organized by the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council, in cooperation with the National Council for Culture and the Arts and Literature in Kuwait, that the success of the Kingdom organizing the pilgrimage, is a part of the message of the state throughout the ages as it is the most important component of our cultural history, he concluded.

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Solo exhibition of Scrap Metal Sculpture in Dhaka

DHAKA, Sept 23, 2016 (BSS)- A 15-day solo Exhibition of Scrap Metal Sculpture by Arham ul Huq Chowdhury titled ‘HARD EMOTIONS’ began today (Friday) at La Galerie, Alliance FranOaise de Dhaka.

Alliance FranOaise de Dhaka and ARTcon are jointly organizing the exhibition, Founder of Artcon ARK Ripon told BSS today.

The exhibition was inaugurated by three physically challenged people. Bruno Plasse, Director of Alliance FranOaise de Dhaka presided over the opening ceremony.

Executive Director of Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) Shafiqul Islam, among others, was also present at the function.

Total 24 scrap metal sculptures will be displayed at the exhibition. The entire proceeds of the 13th solo of the artist will be contributed to the welfare funds of the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP).

The exhibition will remain open for all from September 23 to October 7.

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Pakistan President urges trade cooperation among OIC states

ISLAMABAD Sept 23 (APP): President Mamnoon Hussain Friday called upon the member states of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to increase trade among them.

The President was talking to the outgoing ambassador of Morocco to Pakistan Mustapha Salahdine who paid a farewell call on him here at the Aiwan-e-Sadr.

The President noted that bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Morocco was below potential and called for increasing it.

He said unnecessary duties between Pakistan and Morocco should be done away with to boost bilateral trade activities.

The President said Pakistan offers attractive investment opportunities and Moroccan entrepreneurs should benefit from it.

The President called for regular exchange of delegations in the fields of education, culture and other sectors between Pakistan and Morocco.

He lauded Morocco’s journey to progress and prosperity under the leadership of Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane.

President Mamnoon Hussain conveyed his best wishes for the people and leadership of Morocco.

The outgoing ambassador of Morocco thanked the Government of Pakistan for extending support to his country on various regional and international issues.

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Foton Group keen to manufacture automobiles in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Sep 23 (APP): The Foton Group of China Friday expressed keen interest to invest in manufacturing a range of automobiles in Pakistan.

A delegation from Foton Group China called on the Finance Minister and appreciated the pro-investment policies of the government.

Among others the meeting was attended by Chairman Board of Investment and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Revenue.

The Finance Minister welcomed the delegation and appreciated its plans for investment in Pakistan.

He said that the government has earlier this year announced the new auto policy for the next five years and encouraged the Chinese company to make use of the opportunities for investment offered under this policy, in consultation with the Chairman BOI.

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Pak-Bahrain Investment Forum held for first time

ISLAMABAD, Sep 23 (APP): Pakistan-Bahrain Investment Forum will be held for first time in the Kingdom of Bahrain Manama on Sunday.

The opening ceremony is to be attended by 350 guests including government officials, investors and businessmen from both countries.

The Forum on September 25 will provide a rare opportunity to the investors and the businessmen of both sides to discuss the potential areas of two-way investments, bilateral trade and expansion of existing commercial ties, BNA reported.

“Bahrain and Pakistan are expected to ink seven agreements on the sidelines of the Forum to be addressed jointly by the Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism Bahrain Zayed R.

Al Zayani and his Pakistani counterpart Khurram Dastgir Khan Minister of Trade Islamic Republic of Pakistan, “the Ambassador of Pakistan to the Kingdom of Bahrain Javed Malik, said.

Bahrain and Pakistan are keen to explore further avenues of co-operation in the vital areas of trade, investments, defence, education, health, labour, energy and training. During His Majesty King’s visit six memoranda of understandings were signed and many of them have already been ratified.

“This is the first time that a high level investment forum is being held between the two countries which shows the excellent existing ties between the two brotherly countries,” Ambassador Mr Malik added that apart from Bahrain the Forum will be attended by delegates from the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries.

“There is a huge investment potential in Pakistan in all vital areas including banking and finance, real estate, energy, transport and power generation sectors. For Pakistani investors in Bahrain the areas of agriculture and food security, import and export and fruits and vegetables will be attractive.”

The historic visit by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to Pakistan in 2014 has provided a historic opportunity for Bahrain and Pakistan to further cement their already existing strong ties.

His Majesty King’s visit to Islamabad was seen as a major development as previously, almost 40 years ago, the late Emir His Highness Shaikh Isa had visited Pakistan, but it was for an international Islamic Summit in 1974.

His Majesty King’s visit was reciprocated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Mohammed Nawaz Sharif in January 2015, which provided a great opportunity to review the existing ties between the two sides.

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Pakistan devises vision 2020 for revival of hockey

LAHORE, Sept 23 (APP): Pakistan Hockey Federation has devised a comprehensive plan ‘Vision 2020’ to revive and rejuvenate hockey in the country.

The plan would be implemented from next month aims at the activation of grass root hockey at the club and school level, said a spokesman of PHF here on Friday.

“Clubs are a very important segment and constitute the basic unit of the edifice of Pakistan hockey,” he said.

In the past, Pakistan’s hockey successes owed a lot to the clubs. The domestic club scene was very active and competitive.

They played the role of nursery in producing quality players and there was no shortage of talent available to the national sides, he added.

The PHF desires to recreate the same old club culture.

Hence, the Inter Club Competitions are being organized at all the levels and they will be a permanent fixture of the PHF’s annual calendar.

It would start from the Inter Club ‘District’ Hockey Championships to be followed by the Inter Club at Divisional level and then the Provincial.

It would culminate at the National level where the top clubs emerging from the provincial competition would participate for the title of the National Club Champion, who would also be sent to some competition outside Pakistan.

“The whole event will be organized under the patronage of the PHF as per the rules and regulations of the game. PHF Director Development and Domestic, World Cup winner, Naveed Alam will be the chief Coordinator and would monitor the event,” said the spokesman.

The Provincial Hockey Associations have been told to organise the Preliminary Rounds of the Inter Club Championship at the district and divisional level in their respective provinces as per the following schedule:

-Interclub at District level: Oct 24 Oct- Oct 31 -Interclub at Divisional level: Nov 3- No v 10 -Interclub at Provincial level: Nov 14 –Nov 21 -Interclub at National level: Nov 24- Dec 2

Format at the National Level shall be as following:

From KPK- Top three clubs Punjab- Top four clubs Baluchistan- Top two clubs Sindh- Top three clubs Islamabad- Top one club AJK- Top one club Gilgit & Baltistan- Top one club FATA- Top one club

The prime objective of the entire exercise to identify new talent and to broaden the base of the game by having an increased pool of players for every position to infuse fresh blood in the national teams besides finding timey replacements for outgoing player, he added.

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Pakistan Players complete 1st round in Millat Golf tournament

LAHORE, Sept 23 (APP): Top players Asfandyar Khhna, Wazir Ali and Tariq Abbas Qureshi displayed quality golfing skills and emerged as top three leaders at the end of the first round of the 33rd Millat Tractors Governors Cup Golf Tournament at the par 72 Lahore Gymkhana Golf Course, here on Friday.

Asfandyar, a very young player, is the outright leader with a round of net 67, five under par, Wazir an accomplished one and Tariq Abbas a devoted one are bracketed at a score of net 70, two under par. Sikandar Mustafa of Millat Tractors was in touch and also was Ahsam Imran to offer a word of encouragement to the leading performers. In fact, Ahsan Imran hit a youth-oriented powerful tee shot to tee off the championship.

Out of the remaining 72 aspirants taking part in this prestigious competition, those who came safely through the first 18 holes, besides the top three leaders are Ahmed Baig (Lahore Garrison), Najam Hafeez (Gymkhana) and Asad Abbas (Gymkhana). These three played with a consistent touch to produce similar score of net 71 and are bracketed at this score.

Following them are Raza Saeed and Jehanzeb Saleh and are placed at a score of net 72.

Others in line are four contestants, and they are placed at the score of net 73. Mohsen Zafar, the defending champion, is one and three others are Ahmed Zafar Hayat, Salman Jehangir and Tanwir Najam Butt.

The bright spot of the first day was that at least 15 players reflected game of quality in the net section and 10 players impressed with their performances in the gross category.

The captain of Gymkhana Golf Club, Sardar Murad, and convenor golf, Agha Ali Imam, hoped that the leading contenders of the first day will continue the champion-like approach and tackle the demands of this razor-sharp competition like established champions.

For Asfandyar, it has been a wonderful day as he is a very young one who has been working hard during the past four weeks, duly monitored and coached by his golf playing father.

“I am extremely happy about the way I hit the tee shots. They were all accurate and the distance was in the 280 yard plus range. And the consoling thing was that I got a pat on the back from my father. That really made my day,” said Asfandyar.

Besides Asfandyar, star performers of the first day were Wazir Ali, Tariq Abbas Qureshi and the very young one Ahmed Baig and as things stand the competition over the remaining two days will be immensely competitive.

Gross section leader is Wazir Ali with a score of gross 72, followed by Ahmed Baig at 73 and Mohsen Zafar at 76 ball.

The tee off tomorrow (Saturday) will be at 8:30am for men amateurs and 12:45pm for ladies.

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Fukuoka Arts & Culture prize awarded to Pakistani female architect

ISLAMABAD, Sep 23 (APP): Marking yet another achievement by dynamic women of Pakistan, the first and leading female architect Madam Yasmeen Lari was awarded the prestigious Fukuoka Prize for Arts and Culture in the Japanese city of Fukuoka.

Ambassador Farukh Amil attended the ceremony, where Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Akishino were the chief guests, according to a message received here Friday from the Embassy of Pakistan in Tokyo.

At the prize ceremony Madam Lari was lauded for her immense contribution for historical conservancy and in particular her ground breaking work to construct low cost housing/basic shelter made with materials with a low carbon footprint for the most under privileged and affectees of natural disasters.

Responding on the status of women in Pakistan Madam Lari outlined that there were many areas in which Pakistan had made great achievements and said that there were many young women who had taken up architecture as a profession.

Subsequently The Japan Foundation celebrated her work in a lecture on 20th September at Japan Foundation Headquarters in Tokyo which was attended by many people from the world of academia and development.

Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino graced this event also.

During her visit to Tokyo the renowned architect visited the Embassy premises on September 21, 2016 and offered her candid and professional opinion on the architecture of the Chancery Complex.

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Azadi Train warmly receives at Gojra, Shorkot cantt

TOBA TEK SINGH Sept 23 (APP): Thousands of people warmly received Azadi Train on Friday at various Railway Stations including Gojra, Toba Tek Singh, Shorkot Cantt and Abdul Hakeem.

A huge crowd of people was present at every Railway Station to welcome Azadi Train.

A large numbers of students, families, administration and Railways officials were also present at every Railway Station.

The visitors of Azadi Train took keen interest in the cultural floats and historical galleries.

The historical galleries opened for the visitors at every Railway Stations.

Directorate of Electronic, Media and Publications (DEMP) also distributed booklets of Pakistan movement among the visitors.

The cultural floats of Sindh, Punjab, Khyber Pakhtun khwa, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan and Azadi Jammu Kashmir attracted a huge crowed at all the Railway Stations.

Officer Incharge Azadi Train Muhammad Ali Chachar told APP that Azadi train was a special gift for the whole nation.

He thanked people for their warm welcome, adding that Azadi Train had become a symbol of solidarity among the nation.

He said that Azadi train would continue its journey to remaining parts of the country.

He said Azadi Train will travel to Kohat, via Jand and Basal tomorrow.

Azadi Azadi Train started its journey from August 11 at Margalla Railway Station and visited various cities across the country.

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Young Pakistani print makers to present ‘Entanglement 2016’

ISLAMABAD, Sep 22 (APP): Nomad art gallery will organize a collectors exhibition ‘Entanglement 2016’ presented by seven young print makers here on September 24.

In the exhibition the narratives are reflections of obstacles and challenges faced by girls and women in a patriarchal society, a press release said.

A young artist Ramsha Ikhlaq told that,”My work is a reflection of the daily obstacles faced by the female students of our society, when they leave the house to study or work; it just adds more responsibilities.”

“The main purpose of my work is to portray this struggle and also to motivate female students that the task to achieve the goals is difficult but not impossible” she added.

Another artsit Anum Ahmed said. “ Through the progression of time, one faces a considerable measure of changes, and has a great number of minutes that made one grin, stress, scared, joyous. wrinkles are signs of the development of age as well as imply experience and close perceptions of time. “

An artist Saima Jamil said, “My work aims at depicting a metamorphosis in a stereotypical housewife’s life and how it can change the way we look at life in a positive way.”

Fatimah Sajid said while describing her work that “If you carry your childhood with you, you never became older” is the topic based on remembering some of the childhood memories of my past. “

“I always miss my childhood days as they were full of innocence and free from tension and worries. Today we are caught in a busy lifestyle and limit our acts due to responsibilities and we worry and burden ourselves about the society as to what they will think about us if we act in a childish way.” She added.

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Dhaka, Moscow sign agreement on visa-free visit

DHAKA, Sept 23, 2016 (BSS) – The government has signed a reciprocal agreement with Russia on visa-free visit for the nationals of the both countries holding diplomatic or official passports.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister A H Mahmood Ali and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments at a meeting held on Thursday at the UN headquarters, New York.

“The agreement once implemented will ease and enhance the level of engagements between the peoples of the two friendly countries,” said an official release of the foreign ministry issued here today.

During the meeting, the two foreign ministers also discussed issues of mutual interest, including the possibility of a visit by Russian Prime Minister Medvedev to Dhaka sometime early 2017, dates for which will be worked out through diplomatic channel.

Russian side showed interest in formalising a few agreements including the inter-governmental cooperation, maritime cooperation and send delegation to Dhaka to further the ongoing discussion.

Russia thanked Bangladesh for its constructive and balanced role at the UN on various issues of mutual concerns.

Foreign Minister Ali thanked the Russian government for its continued support to Bangladesh and especially referred to the implementation of the country’s first nuclear power plant under Russian assistance. Foreign Secretary Md. Shahidul Haque was present during the meeting.

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Bangladesh holds Right to Information Day on Sept 28

DHAKA, Sept 23, 2016 (BSS) – The government has taken extensive preparations to observe International Right to Information Day 2016 in the country on September 28.

The Information Commission will organize the main programme of the day under the supervision of information ministry.

President M. Abdul Hamid will attend the main function as the chief guest at Osmany Memorial Auditorium in the city at yesterday noon, said an official release.

The programme will include a cultural function highlighting the issue of right to information.

Bangladesh Television and Bangladesh Betar will air the programme live.

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‘Bangladesh a ‘silicon valley’ for pro-poor growth’

DHAKA, Sept 23, 2016 (BSS) – Bangladesh has become a ‘silicon valley’ for pro-poor growth, with driving financial innovation and empowering people from the bottom of the society, former Bangladesh Bank (BB) governor Dr Atiur Rahman said.

The economist was speaking on Bangladesh’s experiences in financial inclusion and inclusive growth at a seminar, organised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at its headquarters in Washington DC on Thursday, according to a press release received here today.

He attributed the pro-poor economic development to the government for providing the space for innovation by giving highest emphasis on digitisation.

“Indeed, the policy move for faster digitisation has been democratising and enhancing efficiency and inclusion of financial services,” he said.

Dr Rahman, who led the country’s central bank for several years, said BB’s initiatives for financial inclusion complemented with the core objective of the government’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which focuses on the notion of none should be left behind.

This drive for financial inclusion of BB together with cheaper health and social solution helped improve the human development indicators of the country, he said, noting that all this eventually led to faster reduction of poverty and enhancement in life expectancy.

At the seminar, Atiur also gave a brief on the tremendous development in the agriculture sector, contribution of mobile financial services and targeted credit programme to boost quality of financial inclusion.

He invited multilateral financial institution like IMF to conduct research and process documentation for understanding the impact of financial studies on the macroeconomic stability and social cohesion.

IMF Director for Asia and Pacific Dr. Changyong Rhee, the chair of the seminar, appreciated Dr Rahman for his ‘out of box’ policy interventions, not only in the arena of financial inclusion, but also for help maintaining macroeconomic stability in Bangladesh.

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Dhaka Chamber of Commerce seeks more Chinese investment

DHAKA, Sept 22, 2016 (BSS) – Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) has urged Chinese entrepreneurs to come up with more investment in Bangladesh.

The DCCI made the call while a Chinese delegation, by Li Ronghua, Executive Deputy Director, Chenggong New District Administrative Committee, today met with DCCI leaders at DCCI Bhaban, said a press release.

Welcoming the delegation, DCCI Vice President K Atique-e-Rabbani, invited the Chinese entrepreneurs to invest in Bangladesh especially in the agriculture and ICT sector.

He said Bangladeshi ICT sector is a thrust sector and the young entrepreneurs are very enthusiastic and innovative here. Bangladesh is doing well in software industries, he added.

Chinese entrepreneurs can collaborate with Bangladeshi IT professionals as joint ventures in order to share technology.

Li Ronghua said Bangladesh has huge fertile and plain land which is potential for agriculture. He said Chinese entrepreneurs are interested to invest in agro-based industry in Bangladesh.

He said in Kunming there is an industrial zone especially for micro industries where Bangladeshi SMEs can invest. He requested to send delegation from Bangladesh to explore new business opportunities in China.

DCCI Directors A K D Khair Mohammad Khan, Asif A Chowdhury, M Aladuddin Malik and Ryiadh Hossain and Secretary General A H M Rezaul Kabir were also present during the meeting.

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Garuda Indonesia opens new flight to E. Nusa Tenggara

Kupang (ANTARA News), 22 September 2016 – The national airline Garuda Indonesia launched a new flight route here to expand connectivity in East Indonesia, said Director of Garuda Indonesia Cargo Sigit Murhartono on Thursday.

“The two new routes are Maumere-Denpasar, round trip, and direct flights on Kupang-Jakarta, round trip,” he said in a press statement in Kupang.

The inauguration of the new flight path for Garuda Indonesia was conducted at the Frans Seda Airport in Maumere, Sikka District, and was attended by Sikka Regent Yoseph Ansar Rera.

Murhartono said the new flight service to and from the NTT is part of the expansion of the flight network, which continues to be conducted by Garuda Indonesia.

In addition, the opening of the new route is part of the continued commitment of the state-owned airline to support the programs of the Presiden Joko Widodo (Jokowi) administration.

“We have a commitment to always support government programs to improve connectivity between the island and the city, especially in developing the tourism industry to realize the target of 272 million tourists visiting Indonesia and to make NTT Province a new tourist destination,” he noted.

He also expected the opening of the new routes would allow Garuda to increase the flow of tourists and businesspeople between Kupang City, as the capital of the province, and Maumere, which has many tourist spots.

Murhartono explained that the Maumere-Denpasar route will be served by Garuda Indonesia four times a week — Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday — with scheduled flights from Maumere departing at 10.55 a.m. and arriving in Denpasar at 00.55 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Denpasar-Maumere trip will depart at 7 a.m. and will arrive in Maumere at 9 a.m. The Maumere-Denpasar round trip flight route will be served by an ATR 71-600 aircraft with a passenger capacity of 70 economy seats.

The Kupang-Jakarta round trip flight will be served by a Bombardier CRJ 1000 NextGen aircraft, which is touted as being reliable and environmentally friendly with cost-efficient operations.

“For the daily Kupang-Jakarta, round trip, service departure from Jakarta will be at 5 a.m., arriving in Kupang at 8.55 a.m. and then returning from Kupang at 6.55 p.m. and arriving in Jakarta at 8.10 p.m.,” he stated.

With the opening of the new routes, Garuda Indonesia will serve up to 39 flights to and from NTT Province every week.

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Chinese company builds infrastructures in N Kalimantan

Nunukan, N.Kalimantan (ANTARA News), 23 September 2016 – China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) is ready to build infrastructures in North Kalimantan province, according to a statement issued by the provincial administration on Thursday.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on infrastructure projects has been signed by North Kalimantan Governor Irianto Lambrie and CRBC General Manager Wen Yuegang, facilitated by Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia Xie Fang.

The governor said the MoU is a legal umbrella to implement the first phase of the projects.

Under the MoU, CRBC will provide design, construction and financial services especially for the construction of roads and bridges.

The governor explained CRBC is the fourth largest company in China which has a lot of experiences in building Suramadu Bridge in East Java and Tayan Bridge in West Kalimantan, among others.

He said the company has contributed to the enhancement of relations between the two countries in the fields of trade, economy and culture.

The governor expressed the hope that the MoU would create a wider chance to invest in the construction of other infrastructure projects in North Kalimantan.(*)

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Garuda targeting Rp386 billion transactions during travel fair

Jakarta (ANTARA News), 22 September 2016 – PT Garuda Indonesia is targeting transactions of up to Rp386 billion in ticket sales during the Garuda Travel Fair (GATF) Phase II in 2016, to be held in 18 cities in Indonesia.

Commercial Director of Garuda Indonesia A. Toni Soetirto said at a press conference here on Thursday that for Jakarta alone, the company targets sales transactions amounting to Rp225 billion and 80 thousand visitors.

“The implementation of GATFs second phase provides an opportunity for service users to receive attractive offers,” he stated.

In addition, he targeted a 3 to 4 percent increase in occupancy rate (load factor) compared with the off-season or low season.

“In the third quarter, the interest of the public is higher,” he remarked.

The overall target for transactions, he added, was higher than that of GATF Phase I, which raised Rp350 billion, and in Jakarta alone raised Rp179 billion, with 69 thousand visitors.

Soetirto said GATF Phase II will be held in 18 major cities: Jakarta, Bandung, Medan, Lampung, Palembang, Semarang, Solo, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Denpasar, Lombok, Kupang, Balikpapan, Makassar, Manado, Ambon, Timika, and Jayapura.

“Through this travel fair, the customers get the best prices and attractive packages,” he stated.

Soetirto said Garuda Indonesia is also working with its subsidiary, Citilink Indonesia, as well as a number of travel agents to participate in the exhibition being held at the Jakarta Convention Center for three days from October 7 to 9.

For the seventh time, Garuda will collaborate with Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI) as its bank partner in organizing the exhibition.

On the same occasion, Director of Consumer Banking BNI Anggoro Eko Cahyo said BNI would offer a variety of promotions and convenient services for customers at the exhibition.

Among them, BNI credit card holders will receive 600 cashback tickets per day with a value up to Rp1 million, while the banks debit card holders will have a similar offer.

“We appreciate Garuda Indonesias invitation to partner with them again and share profits, values, and so on,” Cahyo noted.

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Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah foundation builds 14 new mosques in Kenya

Nairobi, (IINA), 22 Sep 2016 – Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah Qatari Foundation for Humanitarian Services has built 14 new mosques across Kenya in which more than 100,000 people can offer prayers.

The project, which costs about QR1 million was financed by philanthropists from Qatar through donations, The Peninsula Newspaper reported.

The mosques will serve not only for prayers but also for Islamic festivities for thousands of Muslims in the country. The mosques are of different sizes from 80sqm to 130sqm. Some have special places for women worshippers.

The mosques could also be used for holding classes for teaching children from the respective localities reading and memorizing the holy Qur’an, and basic teachings of Islam.

Religious lectures and social programmers could also be organized in these facilities. There are about 30 million Muslims who constitute about 30 percent of the population in Kenya. There are not enough mosques to accommodate the growing number of worshipers in Muslim-majority villages and towns.

The existing mosques are old and built according to limited resources of the residents. Big mosques are needed in big cities for offering Friday sermons.

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Church in Colorado, USA to hold weekly sessions on Islam

Loveland, Colorado (IINA), 23 Sep 2016 – A church in Loveland, Colorado in USA will host a four-week study on Islam with the goal of clearing up misconceptions about the religion and the Muslims who practice it.

First United Methodist Church’s “Introduction to Islam” will include weekly conversations and panel discussions from Sept. 25 to Oct. 16 in the church’s Coy Hall, Loveland Reporter Herald newspaper reported.

“A lot of us don’t understand Islam or the Muslim culture,” said Sue Mullins, chairwoman of the committee organizing the study.

“We understand there is a lot of confusion about the whole Islamic faith and cultural practices of Muslims,” Mullins said. “The whole question of what is Islam and what do Muslims believe has been highlighted during this presidential campaign and by the recent events in New Jersey and New York.”

The study, which is open to the public, will start with an introduction to Islam at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, presented by Professor of Islamic studies at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Aun Hassan Ali.

The introduction and study will address several questions about Islam and Muslims, Mullins said. Goodier emphasized the importance of establishing relationships with the Muslim community in Colorado.

“It’s not just about learning about a religion or different people; it’s about creating friendships and a deeper understanding between people,” Goodier said. “The Muslim community can’t be just them people out there they need to be part of us, all of us together, in Northern Colorado.”

The other events that are part of the study on the following Sundays will include: • 6:30 p.m. Oct. 2: A conversation between Shakir Muhammad, acting imam in Fort Collins, and Goodier on what the Christian and Islam faiths share and how they differ.

• 12:30 p.m. Oct. 9: A potluck meal for members of the church and the Fort Collins Islamic Center following regular church services.

• 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16: A panel discussion with Muslim students from Colorado State University on what it is like to be a Muslim, called “Living As a Muslim in Northern Colorado.”

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Istanbul to host 23rd “World Energy Congress” in October

Istanbul, (IINA), 22 Sep 2016 – Under the auspices of President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Istanbul will host the 23rd World Energy Congress (WEC) from October 9 to 13.

According to a statement obtained by the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), the Congress will be the fourth major global event to be hosted by Turkey since the past year, following the G20 Summit, the 13th Islamic Summit Conference and the UN World Humanitarian Summit.

This event will be unique as it brings together senior industry leaders, government ministers, and other highly influential actors. The 23rd WEC will host some 250 speakers including more than 50 ministers of various countries, CEOs and experts. Sessions will be held in Istanbul’s Congress Valley along with an exhibition and side events converging on the theme of this year’s congress, “Embracing New Frontiers”.

In addition to the debates at the Congress, executives have a chance to showcase their technologies and explore business opportunities at the parallel exhibition.

Since the first event in 1924, the triennial WEC has been a main platform where the world’s top leaders and thinkers in the energy industry have discussed major energy issues.

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OIC and USAID Sign Memorandum of Understanding

Jeddah, 23/09/2016 – The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Iyad Ameen Madani and the Administrator of United Sates Agency for International Development (USAID) Gayle E. Smith signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Thursday, 22 September 2016, in New York on the sidelines of the UNGA. The OIC and USAID renewed their commitment to strengthen cooperation on humanitarian assistance and to uphold humanitarian principles.

The Memorandum of Understanding builds on original commitments made in 2012, which outlined a framework for cooperation that included mutual consultations and strategic dialogue, exchange of information, participation in disaster response and training, operational support and facilitation, and enhanced coordination. Since the original commitments were made, USAID and OIC have partnered to support trainings for humanitarian responders on best practices, in addition to co-hosting the Global Forum for Humanitarian Action in advance of this year’s World Humanitarian Summit.

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Turkey looking to invest in Kuwait’s $150B projects

20.09.2016 KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, Anadolu Agency – Turkish Development Minister Lutfi Elvan said Tuesday that Turkish contractors were keen to bring their experiences to Kuwait’s $150 billion mega projects in the next five years.

The minister’s remarks came at a meeting with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Hind Subaih Barrak Al-Subaih.

“Kuwait is planning to complete within a five-year development plan 523 projects that are worth around $150 billion.

“We expect Minister Al-Subaih to support Turkish companies so that they can get a bigger share of these upcoming superstructure and infrastructure investment projects, especially the airport and subway projects,” he said, adding Turkish contractors had so far completed approximately $6.3 billion projects in Kuwait.

Elvan praised Al-Subaih’s significant contributions to Turkey-Kuwait relations, and said that the relations between the two ministries would continue to grow.

The Turkish minister also appreciated Kuwait’s support for the democratically-elected Turkish government and approach against the July 15 thwarted coup in Turkey.

“They (Kuwaitis) announced in the very early hours (of the July 15 coup bid) that they stood against the coup attempt and supported the Turkish Government. I hereby would like to thank them again,” he said.

Elvan was accompanied by a group of prominent Turkish business people on his Kuwait visit, including the chairman of Turkish Exporters Assembly, Mehmet Buyukeksi, chairman of Turkish Contractors Association, Mithat Yenigun and board chairman of Limak Group of Companies, Nihat Ozdemir.

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Archaeologists Map Cultural Heritage of Afghanistan

Kabul (BNA), September 18, 2016 – For archaeologists Afghanistan, rich in ancient treasures and once a key stop on the legendary silk road, is an “open-air museum”, albeit one ravaged by war and plagued by looters. After 30 years of conflicts, Afghanistan’s cultural heritage is in dire straits, but one group of archaeologists is trying to put the country’s historical sites back on the map literally.

An international team is working to map the country’s numerous sites and monuments with satellite imaging into a huge database — a giant geographic information system (GIS). “The authorities have long feared encouraging looting by locating such sites… In fact, most have already been looted,” says Julio Bendezu-Sarmiento, a French-Peruvian archaeologist who heads the French Archaeological Delegation to Afghanistan (DAFA).

The project is going ahead now because “it is often the looters who are best informed about where the archaeological sites are,” he adds, so a database will not affect this. Afghanistan’s location and the variety and abundance of its bountiful mines of gold, copper and precious stones make it an archaeological holy grail. The Afghan lapis-lazuli, a brilliant blue semi-precious gemstone, was used as decoration by the Egyptian pharaohs and the great kings of Assyria and Babylon, Bendezu-Sarmiento notes.

In DAFA’s offices a large satellite image of the country, with its bust bowls, deep valleys and steep mountains, is shown on a widescreen display. Heritage sites are indicated by yellow, blue and red dots depending on whether they have been excavated, identified or only recently discovered. The work consists of linking this mapping to each site in the database. In 1982, under pressure from Soviet Russia which had invaded Afghanistan, DAFA who had been there since 1922 had to leave the country where they’d identified 1,286 heritage sites.

“Today, we’ve identified five times that,” Bendezu-Sarmiento says.

On the map, there are numerous marks as the archaeologists try to connect information from the first excavations in the 1930s. “The country is huge, with an enormous wealth of sites,” says Elena Leoni, an Italian archaeologist specializing in Central Asia and GIS.

Leoni gives the example of the historical town of Balkh in northern Afghanistan, known to the ancient Greeks as Bactra, where an incredible amount of gold was discovered.

Often compared to the famed treasures discovered in the burial chamber of Egyptian king Tutankhamun, “L’Or de Balkh” is shown all over the world as part of a touring exhibition. Thomas Lorain, the organization’s scientific secretary adds: “When one digs, one always stumbles across something.” Mohamed Nader Rassouli, a consultant at DAFA who is esteemed by his colleagues as a living “library of Afghan archaeology” and studied the subject in Russia in the 1960s, has seen his country’s vast cultural heritage tragically squandered.

“Houses have been built over the sites around Kabul that DAFA excavated in 1937,” he laments. “And in the provinces, sites have been destroyed by looters and antiquities traffickers as well as people simply working in the fields,” he adds. For the Afghan authorities, the archaeological map will also serve as a tool for ministries to launch major development projects, explains Haroon Hakimi, spokesman for the ministry of culture. “People say Afghanistan is an open-air museum,” he says. “It is vital to identify these sites, then you know where they are when you want to build roads, operate mines or drill for oil.”

This is especially important as the government is in the process of distributing mining concessions and according to sources plans to sign at least 25 contracts this year. “Interest in mineral resources is not a modern thing and it was the desire to exploit and manage these resources that undoubtedly led to the creation of these great cities,” Bendezu-Sarmiento says.

Mes Aynack, a huge historical site with thousands of Buddhas located south of Kabul, was discovered by a Chinese mining company because of the huge amounts of copper lying beneath the ruins. The Metallurgic Corporation of China agreed to suspend its work there, but Afghan archaeologist Rassouli says many other sites remain at risk. “Once this map is complete, it will be publicly available for people so that they can participate in its protection. Everyone must do their bit,” Rassouli said.

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149 Public Utility Projects Executed In Nangarhar

Jalalabad City (BNA),September 21, 2016 – At a cost of more than AFN 174,812,000 funded by the National Solidarity Program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD/NSP) 149 welfare projects were recently implemented in eastern Nangarhar province.

The projects completed in various districts of Bati Koot, Behsoud, Hasarak, Khogyani, Koot, Koz Kunar, Mohmand Dara, Pacheragam, Roudat, Shirzad and Shinwari.

According to information of relation and publication department of MRRD to BNA, these development projects included the construction of water canals, protection walls, agriculture water supply, culverts, retaining walls, hydroelectricity water dams, pathways and excavation of water wells with hand pumps.

Approximately, 17000 families in various communities have gained access to basic human needs upon completion of these projects.

Since its inception in Nangarhar province, the National Solidarity Program has been covered 1850 villages and able to execute 5183 development projects in different sectors throughout the province.

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55 Welfare Projects Completed In Herat

Herat city (BNA) September 21, 2016 – At a cost of more than AFN 67,889,395 funded by the National Solidarity Program of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD/NSP) 55 infrastructural projects were recently executed in western Nangarhar province.

The projects completed in various districts of Adraskan, Shindand, Ghoriyan and Gulran of the province.

According to information of relation and publication department of MRRD to BNA, these development projects included the construction of community centers, protection walls, water canals, culverts, excavation of water wells with hand pumps, extension of drinking water supplies and gravelling of rural roads.

Approximately, 8222 families in various communities have gained access to basic human needs upon completion of these projects.

Since its inception in Herat province, the National Solidarity Program able to execute 4559 development projects in different sectors such as electricity, irrigation canals, education and livestock throughout the province.

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Afghan Cricketers Beat Uttar Pradesh-India Team in Friendly Match

Kabul (BNA) September 20, 2016 – Afghanistan National Cricket Team (NCT) in a friendly match has defeated Utrapardesh-India Cricket Team the other day.

Farid Hotak spokesman of cricket board told BNA, in the match first Afghan players start bowling and in 50 overs targeted 259 runs, which the rival team could reach to the given target and accept his failure.

Afghanistan national cricket team players since two weeks stay in India to get preparedness for three one-day 50-overs matches against Bangladesh national cricket team.

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Kazakhstan Kazakhstan to increase export of agricultural products to Uzbekistan

22.09.2016, Kazakh-tv.kz – Kazakhstan will increase agricultural products export to Uzbekistan. The agreements were reached during the working visit of the First Vice – Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Askar Mamin in Tashkent. He held talks with the Minister of Foreign Economic Affairs, Investment and Trade of Uzbekistan Elyor Ganiev and, also met with the First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov.

Much attention was paid to the creation of favorable tariff conditions on cargo traffic through the territory of the two countries, mutual discounts for the services of railway transport, launch of regular container trains with fruits and vegetables. They also considered issues on opening shopping malls in the form of joint ventures. In addition, during the visit Askar Mamin is going to meet with Acting President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev.

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Best restaurateurs for EXPO-2017 contest starts

22.09.2016 Kazakh-tv.kz The organizers of EXPO-2017 announced a contest for the best restaurateurs for the exhibition. The best Kazakh and foreign companies to provide their catering services on EXPO town will be identified in October. It’s planned to open about 50 food venues from cheap fast food to premium class restaurants. Visitors will be able to taste both Kazakh and foreign cuisine. The competition results will be summarized in the end of this year.

DAulet Yerkimbayev, Director, Department Of Commercialization, Astana Expo-2017 Nc: The experience and quality of a potential operator for the organization of this work will be the main criteria for us. Honestly, we would like to see foreign networks, which would come to the Kazakhstan market after the exhibition.

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Asian Inter-Parliamentary forum to be held in Astana on September

22.09.2016 Kazakh-tv.kz Parliamentarians from 25 countries will discuss issues on science, technology and innovation in Astana. Astana will host the Asian Inter-Parliamentary Forum on September 26-27. The event will be also attended by representatives of six international organizations and leading international experts in the field of innovation. According to organizers, the purpose of the Forum is to strengthen cooperation in educational and scientific capacity building of the OIC member states. Special attention was paid to the development of science and introduction of advanced technologies.

Jamilya Nurmanbetova, Member Of Mazhilis, Lower House Of Kazakh Parliament: One of the sessions will be devoted to the presentation of the study by ISESCO on ‘Regulatory framework and incentives in the field of science, technology and innovation’ in the participating countries. I hope that this forum will result in fruitful discussion on improving the legal framework and its implementation.

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