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12 Sep, 2016

Bangladesh to host PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum

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 12 September 2016 (10 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.



Muslim World Marks Eid Al Adha, Feast Of Sacrifice

MANILA, Philippines Sept. 12 (NNN-PNA) — The Muslim world celebrated Monday Eid al Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice, which commemorates the sacrifice of Ibrahim of his son Ishmael in obedience to Allah’s command.

The festival also marks the end of Hajj, a yearly pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia which is part of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, namely Shahada (faith), Salat (prayer), Zakat (charity), Sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).

Islamic tradition states that Ibrahim was commanded by God to sacrifice the life of his son.

An angel however intervened to stop him and gave him a ram to sacrifice in place of his son.

The act showed that Ibraham was willing to trust God as he was ready to give up everything that was special to him, even his son, in obedience to His command.

During the Eid, families gather to pray and listen to a sermon at the mosque. They wear new clothes, visit family members and may sacrifice an animal in an act known as qurbani, which represents the animal that Ibraham sacrificed in place of his son.

In most Muslim countries, families or groups may purchase an animal known as udhiya, usually a goat or sheep to sacrifice. The meat from the sacrificed animal is divided into three parts.

The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends, and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.

People may also give money to poorer members of their community to enable them to partake of the meal. Families who do not own livestock can make a contribution to a charity that will provide meal to those who are in need.

In the Philippines, Eid al Adha was declared as a national holiday to strengthen relations and foster goodwill between the minority Muslim Filipinos and the majority Christian Filipinos.

Eid al Adha falls on the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijah on the Islamic calendar and lasts for four days on the 13th day.

The feast is part of the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca and a mandatory religious obligation that must be carried once in a lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable to undertake a pilgrimage.

During Hajj, pilgrims join processions of hundreds of thousands of people, who simultaneously converge on Mecca for the week of the Hajj, and perform a series of rituals: each person walks counter-clockwise seven times around the Ka’aba (the cube-shaped building and the direction of prayer for the Muslims), runs back and forth between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwah, drinks from the Zamzam Well, goes to the plains of Mt. Arafat to stand in vigil, spends a night in the plain of Muzdalifa, and performs a symbolic stoning of the devil by throwing stones at three pillars.

The pilgrims then shave their heads, perform a ritual of animal sacrifice, and celebrate the three-day global festival of Eid al Adha.

Eid al Adha is one of two Muslim holidays in which the other is Eid al Fitr , which marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. — NNN-PNA

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Appreciate Meaning Of Sacrifice, Says PM Najib In Aidiladha Message

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 12 (NNN-Bernama) — Najib Tun Razak has urged Muslims in the country to mark the Aidiladha celebration this year as a starting point to motivate themselves towards improving the virtue of self-sacrifice .

The Prime Minister said they should learn from the story of sacrifice mentioned in the Quran, which also touched on the determination and courage of the prophets Ibrahim and Ismail.

“This is the spirit we should have in facing our struggles,” he said yesterday in a message in conjunction with the Aidiladha celebration via his blog at www.najibrazak.com.

Najib pointed out that performing the deed of sacrifice (korban) was not just a mere ritual, but it also put into perspective the sacrifices that a Muslim needed to make in life, setting aside self-interest and personal demands.

“Sacrifice requires perseverance and it should start from ourselves. This is what we learn from the history of Prophet Muhammad, which inspires and strengthens us in our struggle to develop this beloved country,” he said.

He thus encouraged the people to fight and sacrifice for the nation’s future, build a more advanced and progressive Islamic state based on the objectives of the syariah.

The Prime Minister added that he and his family prayed for the wellbeing of the Malaysian pilgrims in the Holy Land, so that they could safely complete their Haj.

“As for the rest (Muslims who have not gone for Haj), let us join them (pilgrims) in performing prayers and the deed of korban.

“Let us also take the opportunity of these blessed days to pray for the welfare and continued wellbeing of our beloved country,” said Najib.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid in his Aidiladha message called on Muslims in Malaysia and around the world to confront the constraints, problems and challenges they faced with full determination.

Citing the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim to sacrifice his own son Prophet Ismail on the command of Allah, Ahmad Zahid said Muslims should take lessons from the incident, and be prepared to sacrifice for the sake of their religion.

“May all the sacrifices we make for our religion be for the sake of empowering and strengthing it, and not to undermine it,” he said in the videorecording on his YouTube page.

Ahamd Zahid also reminded all Muslims to stop differentiating among themselves, and sacrifice to ensure the sanctity of the religion was maintained at all times.

He also took the opportunity to wish “Selamant Aidiladha” to all Muslims, especially the pilgrims who are performing the Haj in Makkah.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Improving Hajj, Umrah services among Saudi Arabia’s top priorities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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221 Eid-ul-Azha congregations in Rangpur city, Bangladesh

RANGPUR, Sept 12, 2016 (BSS) – Rangpur City Corporation in association with the concerned administrations and authorities have completed preparations to hold 221 Eid-ul-Azha congregations amid tight security measures in the city tomorrow.

According to sources in local administrations and Islamic Foundation, preparations have also been completed for holding Eid-ul-Azha congregations at about 1,000 Eidgahs in all eight upazilas in the district.

The national flag will be hoisted atop all government and private buildings, special munajat be offered at all Eid congregations, improved diets be served among inmates of the hospitals, orphanages, jail, vagabond centres and ‘Shishu Paribars’.

The district, upazila and police administrations have taken comprehensive security measures for holding the Eid jamats peacefully in the city as well as everywhere in the district.

The main Eid-ul-Azha congregation will be held on Rangpur Collectorate Eidgah in the city at 8:30 am. Alternatively, the main Eid-ul-Azha jamat will be held twice at Rangpur Court Jam-e-Mosque at 8:45 am and 9:15 am if the weather remains unfavourable.

Former President, Special Envoy to the Prime Minister and Jatiya Party Chairman Alhaj Hussein Muhammad Ershad will participate in the main Eid congregation.

State Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives Mashiur Rahman Ranga, City Mayor Alhaj Sarfuddin Ahmed Jhantu will take part in the main Eid jamaat.

Divisional Commissioner Kazi Hassan Ahmed, Deputy Inspector General for Rangpur Range Khondker Golam Faruk, Deputy Commissioner Rahat Anwar, Police Super Mizanur Rahman and Acting President of district Awami League Mamtaz Uddin Ahmed, political leaders, public representatives, academicians and professionals will participate in the main jamaat.

The major Eid-ul-Azha jamaats will be held at Police Line Ground at 7:45 am, Keramotia Jam-e-Mosque at 9 am, Shalbon Mistripara Jam-e-Mosque at 8 am, Mandalpara Baro Eidgah, Damodarpur Baro Maidan and Satmatha Jam-e-Mosque at 9 am in the city.

Besides, bigger Eid Jamats will be held on Munshipara Eidgah, Kamal Kachhna Baro Jam-e-Mosque, Nasirabad Ekramia Jam-e-Mosque, Mahiganj Shahi Jam-e-Mosque, Aftabia Eidgah and Medical College Ground between 8 am and 9 am in the city.

Outside the city, bigger Eid jamaats will be held at Sadar and Mithapukur upazila parisahd Eidgahs, Badarganj Chandamari Karamotia Eidgah, Pirgachha Karbala Eidgah, Taraganj Chowpathi Eidgah, Gangachara Paikan Jam-e-Mosque, Kawnia Central Eidgah, Mithapukur Central Eidgah, and Pirganj Central Eidgah between 9 am and 10 am.

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BR to operate four special trains for Sholakia Eid jamaat

DHAKA, Sept 12, 2016 (BSS)-Bangladesh Railway (BR) will operate two pairs of special trains on the Eid-ul-Azha day tomorrow on Bhairab-Kishoreganj and Mymensingh-Kishoreganj routes to facilitate the devotees participating in Sholakia Eid congregation, the largest one of the country.

Transport officer Mahabubur Rahman of Bangladesh Railway’s Dhaka Division told BSS that one of the trains ‘Sholakia Express’ would start from Bhairab Bazar at 6am and expected to reach Kishoreganj at 8am and it would leave Kishoreganj at 12noon and reach Bhairab Bazar at 2pm.

He said the other ‘Sholakia Express’ will start from Mymensingh at 5:45am and reach Kishoreganj at 8am and after the Eid prayers it will leave Kishoreganj at 12 noon and return to Mymensingh station at 3pm.

Sholakia is famous for its Eidgah ground where the largest congregation of Eid prayers in Bangladesh has been held.

The trains will touch all the stations on the way to and from Sholakia, he added.

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Over 400 Eid jamaats held in Dhaka

DHAKA, Sept 12, 2016 (BSS) – The holy Eid-ul-Azha, the second largest religious festival of the Muslims, will be celebrated throughout the country tomorrow amid due solemnity and religious fervor.

Meanwhile, Dhaka South City Corporation and Dhaka North City Corporation have taken all out preparations for holding Eid jamaats (congregations) at different Eidgahs, play grounds and mosques.

More than 400 Eid congregations, including the prime one at the National Eidgah, will be held in areas under the two city corporations.

As many as 228 Eid congregations in Dhaka South City Corporation and 180 congregations in Dhaka North City Corporation areas will be held.

The main Eid congregation will be held at the National Eidgah at 8am. All the preparations including overall security arrangements for holding Eid congregation has been completed.

In the case of inclement weather, the main Eid congregation will be held at 8.30am at Baitul Mukarram National Mosque.

Arrangements have been made for more than one lakh people, including five thousand women, to offer prayers at the National Eidgah. Senior Pesh Imam of Baitul Mukarram National Mosque Mawlana Muhammad Mizanur Rahman will lead the main Eid congregation.

A total of five Eid congregations will be held at the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque-the first one will be held at 7am, second at 8am, third at 9am, fourth at 10am and the last one at 10.45am.

Adequate water supply and security arrangements have already been taken at the Baitul Mukaram National Mosque to facilitate the Eid-ul-Azha prayers.

With the initiative of the parliament secretariat, the Eid congregation will be held at the south plaza of the Sangsad Bhaban at 7.30 am.

Two Eid congregations will be held at the Dhaka University central mosque -the first one will be held at 8am and the second at 9am.

Apart from this, two separate Eid congregations will be held in the field adjacent to Salimullah Muslim Hall Main gate and Shahidullah Hall lawn of Dhaka University at 8am.

Eid congregation will also be held at Dhanmondi Sobhanbagh Jame Mosque at 7.30am.

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Over 10 Million Muslims Join ‘World #Quranhour’

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 12 (NNN-Bernama) — Over 10 million Muslims from across the globe participated in the inaugural ‘World #QuranHour’ programme yesterday by reciting holy verses from the Quran simultaneously for one hour from 9am, according to their respective time zones.

The programme, stemmed from an idea by the Warisan Ummah Ikhlas Foundation (WUI) in collaboration with various quarters including the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and Karangkraf Media Group, was supported by 50 countries such as the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Macedonia and Turkey.

WUI chief executive officer Marhaini Yusoff said the programme was meant to instill love for the Quran and to make it a practice for Muslims to recite the verses for an hour a day.

“This is not just an event but a continuity of a project in 2013 to instill the “Quranic mindset” among Muslims so that they will eventually become true-blue Muslims,” she told a press conference at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) here yesterday.

Meanwhile, Jakim director-general Othman Mustapha hoped the programme could be turned into annual event.

“I am confident that through the programme (like this) Sunday, society will spend an hour a day to read the Quran no matter how busy they are,” he said.

Socio-cultural adviser to the Government Dr Rais Yatim, who is also IIUM president, urged Muslims to apply the teachings from the Quran in their daily lives as a guide to “unite souls” and to put aside differences.

He explained there were various principles and guidelines in the Quran that can be used as examples for the people to achieve unity, which played a vital role in developing the nation.

The ‘World #QuranHour’ programme is a continuity of WUI’s initiatives since 2013 through ‘#AktifkanRumahNgaji’ and ‘#MalaysiaNgaji’ events which are held on the 24th day of Ramadan. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia: Celebrities, Independent Preachers Participate In World #Quranhour

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 12 (NNN-Bernama) — The World #QuranHour programme held at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Mosque of the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) yesterday also attracted the interest of several local celebrities and independent Islamic preachers.

In general, the programme that was held simultaneously nationwide and in 50 countries, is considered the best platform to urge Muslims to return to the Quran and make it their guide in their daily life.

Lefthanded vocalist, Nash (real name Jamaludin Elias), who was also given the opportunity to be among the 12 reciters of opening verses during the event, said he felt excited when chosen to recite Quranic verses in front a grand audience of more than 4,000.

“Sunday, marks the start for me to continue to learn and understand the Quran. The presence of so many people here has awakened my realisation to its greatness,” said Jamaludin, who recited verse 103 of surah Al-Asr.

Singer Elyana (real name Erneelya Elyana Emrizal), who attended the event with her husband said that even though it was a weekend, she took part in the programme to mingle with good people, adding that the programme was made more special as it coincided with Wukuf day (9 Zulhijjah).

Sharing the same sentiments was actor Rosyam Nor who said the reading of the Quran in unison for an hour, beginning from 9am, had successfully united Muslims nationwide.

“I see that World #QuranHour is capable of instilling love for the Quran …we progress from an hour of reading it to more than that in the future, understanding its meaning as a guide in life.

“There are advantages in making it a practice to read the Quran…and since it is for Muslims, I urge the public to uphold the Quran,” Rosyam told reporters after attending the World #QuranHour programme at Sri Pentas 2, Plaza Alam Sentral here.

National cyclist, Azizul Hasni Awang who also supported the programme, said that it should be continued as it can boost the image of Muslims in the eyes of the world while debunking negative views towards Islam that implicate it with violence.

“The Quran is the best guide for Muslims. Bringing ourselves closer to it will also indirectly curb us from committing sins,” Azizul said.

Well-known Imam Muda Asyraf, (real name Muhammad Asyraf Mohd Rizuan), said the programme urged Muslims to continue making the Quran the main part of their lives.

Muhammad Asyraf said, the underlying message of the unity of Muslims worldwide in choosing the same time to recite the Quran shows that it is the main guide in the life of Muslims.

Meanwhile, independent preacher, Ustaz Abdul Rahman said that he saw programme had opened the minds of Muslims on the need to ensure that they followed the teachings in the Quran.

Independent speaker and Islamic preacher Mohammad Rozie Mohd Rejab also urged the people to spend more time reading the Quran to produce a generation of Muslims with good morals and self-worth, as commanded by Allah.

The World #QuranHour programme was broadcast live by TV3, as continuation of the 2013 effort through the #AktifkanRumahNgaji Program as well as the #MalaysiaNgaji programme held on June 29 (24th day of Ramadan).

The date Sept 11 was chosen for the World #QuranHour programme as it coincided with 9 Zulhijjah, the day when Haj pilgrims perform the Wukuf at Arafah in Makkah. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Holy Ka’aba adorned with new Kiswa

11 Sep 2016 Makkah (IINA) – The Holy Kaaba was adorned with a new Kiswa (cover) on Sunday, as an annual tradition carried out on Dhul Hijah 9 after Fajr (dawn) prayer. The new black cloth was placed on top of the Kaaba, at the center of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

According to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the black cloth, which is made from precious metals and pure silk, costs SR22 million and takes eight full months and goes through different stages before being ready for use. This includes dyeing, weaving, designing, printing, embroidering, undergoing quality control at laboratory, assembling and delivering the Kiswa to the Sadin, the senior keeper of the Kaaba’s key.

Officials from the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques took off the old Kiswa and installed the new one, which is made of pure silk and gold threads. It costs SR22 million and is considered one of the most exquisite works of Islamic art.

The Kiswa is 14 meters (42 feet) high, to match the height of the Kaaba, and 47 meters (141 feet) wide, enough to cover the four sides of the Kaaba, which are not identical in dimension. Its upper half is decorated with a 95-centimeter (three-foot) wide strip featuring verses from the Holy Qur’an, inscribed in gold plated silver thread, which weigh 120 kilograms (264 pounds). The Kiswa is made of five pieces. The fifth piece is the curtain of its door. Nearly 650 kilograms (1,400 pounds) of natural silk was required to make the Kiswa. The silk is imported, but the Kiswa was designed and tailored by Saudi employees at the Kiswa Factory of the Holy Kaaba in Makkah.

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Namirah Mosque one of most important landmarks in plains of Arafat

11 Sep 2016 Arafat (IINA) – Namirah Mosque is one of the most important landmarks in the plains of Arafat, where tens of thousands of pilgrims perform Dhuhr and Asr prayers shortened and combined on Arafat Day at the time of Dhuhr prayer, following the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

The Mosque was built in the place where the Prophet (PBUH) stood and delivered his Farewell Sermon in the early period of the Abbasid Caliphate, during the 2nd Hijiri century. It is located to the west of Arafat Mount, and the western part of the mosque is in Wadi Uranah – one of Makkah’s valleys. The Prophet forbade standing in Wadi Uranah, as he said: “I am standing here but all of ‘Arafat is the place of standing, except for the bottom of Wadi Uranah”. The bottom of Wadi Urnah is not part of Arafat but it is close to it.

According to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Namirah Mosque has passed through several expansion processes over the history, after which the front section of the mosque stretched outside the plains of Arafat, while the back section remained inside Arafat.

Namirah Mosque witnessed its largest ever expansion in history in the Saudi era, at the cost of SR 237 million, bringing the length of the mosque, from east to west, to 340 meters, and its width, from north to south, to 240 meters. The mosque covers an area of more than 110,000 square meter, and there is a shaded space to the back of it, with an area estimated at 8,000 square meters.

The mosque accommodates up to 350,000 worshipers. It has six 60-meter-high minarets, three domes, 10 major entrances with 64 doors. There is also a radio station for live transmission of the Hajj sermon as well as Dhuhr and Asr prayers on the Day of Arafat.

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LEAD STORY: Bangladesh to host PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum

Dhaka – The PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum 2016 will take place from November 23-25, 2016 at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The two-days program consists of a one-day Conference, networking events and one-day Technical Tour and Tourism Marketing Treasure Hunt.

Bangladesh is a tourism destination in South Asia with high potential. The country is a combination of verdant forest, riverine countryside, long stretches of sun-bathed beaches, fearsome wild, meandering rivers.

Recognizing the huge potential of Tourism in Bangladesh the Government declared 2016 as “Visit Bangladesh Year” for promoting Bangladesh as a popular Tourist destination in home and abroad. As part of the Visit Bangladesh-2016 campaign Bangladesh is going to host some international conferences, seminars, and meetings in collaboration with PATA, UNWTO, OIC, BIMSTEC, ACD and others in coming years.

Cox’s Bazar combines the world’s longest unbroken beach with the unique lifestyle of ethnic minority groups in the neighbouring hills. Located some 90 miles south of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar is popular among locals but remain largely untapped by international travelers.

The Forum brings together Tourism professionals to share their insights and experiences in branding, marketing and managing tourism growth to lesser-known destinations like Cox’s bazar.

The PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum will examine how to manage tourism growth in this area in a sustainable manner whilst delivering real and tangible economic benefits to local citizens.

The two-day program consists of A One-day Technical Tour and Tourism Marketing Treasure Hunt on 24 November and A One-day conference, networking events on 25 November

Breakout teams of delegates will be taken along an action-packed journey that consists of: Cox’s Bazaar Beach, Himchori Waterfall, Dorianagor, Inani Beach, Ramu and Rankut Buddhist heritage sites, Moheshkhali Island for Hindu and Buddhist temple

Message from UNWTO Secretary General Mr Taleb Rifai: “PATA’s New Frontiers Forum is one of the most innovative and effective ways of building a strong image and brand for emerging destinations. We commend Bangladesh for hosting such important event, particularly as the country celebrates the ‘Visit Bangladesh 2016’  Year, and trust this will be a relevant step forward in building as stronger image of Bangladesh as a tourism destination.”

Message from PATA CEO Mario Hardy: “Tourism is one of the most powerful tools for economic growth and social development. The most interesting and unique attractions – including indigenous culture, wildlife and natural landscapes – are often located in areas where access is difficult and poverty levels are high. The challenge is to evolve those assets into attractive, marketable tourism products that maximize social and economic benefits while minimizing any negative impacts.”

“The PATA New Tourism Frontiers Forum will provide all industry stakeholders valuable insights on how to overcome these challenges through thoughtful discussions and hands-on experience during the Technical Tour and Tourism Marketing Treasure Hunt.”

Confirmed speakers for the event include Yasmin Choudhury, British social entrepreneur; Damian Cook, founder and Managing Director, E-Tourism Frontiers; Rob Holmes, founder and Chief Strategist, GLP Films; Sarah Mathews, Head of Destination Marketing APAC, Trip Advisor; Tania Miorin, Country Representative Myanmar for Istituto Oikos, and Maeve Nightingle, Mangroves for the Future (MFF) Program Manager, IUCN.

Mr. Xu Jing, Regional Director of Asia and the Pacific at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) will be providing special remarks at the opening of the conference. Mr. Rashed Khan Menon, MP, Hon. Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism, Bangladesh, will be the Chief Guest.

Royal Tulip Sea Pearl Beach Resort & Spa is located on Inani beach, Cox’s Bazar with lush green hills rise from the east and endless sea stretching on the west, the resort offers panoramic visuals of Bay of Bengal. Nestled in the heart of nature along the world’s longest natural sandy beach, the resort is spread over 15 acres, set amidst organic orchards bearing a vast selection of tropical fruits, immaculately manicured landscaped gardens and water bodies.

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Malaysian Paralympic Athlete Breaks Three World Records

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 12 (NNN-Bernama) — Najib Tun Razak congratulated Abdul Latif Romly for winning the country’s third gold medal at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, setting three world and Paralympic records in the process.

“Three world records in one night, breaking your own record. Abdul Latif Romly, you’re amazing! Congratulations, 3rd gold for #MAS in #Rio2016 #Paralympics #TerbangLatifTerbang,” said the prime minister via his official Twitter account,yesterday.

Abdul Latif, 19, from Kangar, broke the long jump T20 (learning disability) category with a 7.60m jump in his fifth attempt at the Olympic Stadium in Rio yesterday.

The previous world record of 7.35m was also his own which he set at the IPC World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar last year.

The previous Paralympic record of 7.25m was held by Jose Antonio Exposito Pineiro from Spain. He achieved the feat at the London Paralympic Games in 2012.

Mohamad Ridzuan Mohamad Puzi won the first gold medal for Malaysia in the men’s 100m T36 (cerebral palsy category) dash.

Mohamad Ridzuan clocked 12.07 seconds to erase the old Paralympics record of 12.25s set by Roman Pavlyk from Ukraine at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

The second gold was delivered by Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli with a new world record in the men’s shot put F20 (learning disability) event.

He hurled the iron ball 16.84m in his fifth attempt to erase the old world record of 16.29m set by Todd Hodgetts of Australia at the London Paralympics in 2012.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia: Japanese Film Festival To Showcase 13 Movies

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 7 (NNN-Bernama) — September will bring much excitement for Japanese film enthusiasts. Fans can enjoy various movie genres at selected Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) nationwide in conjunction with the Japanese Film Festival 2016.

Japan’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Makio Miyagawa said the festival which enters its 13th edition of Malaysia’s premier Japanese film celebration would present 13 movies that depict various aspects of Japan’s cultural landscape with diversity of themes and genres.

The festival is organised by The Japan Foundation Kuala Lumpur (JFKL).

“The Japanese film scene is considered one of the oldest in the world’s film industry and I hope through the films it could continue to represent the mind and soul of Japanese culture to Malaysians,” Miyagawa during the opening ceremony of the festival, here, today.

Also present were the three-time Japan Academy Prize-winner, Kiki Kilin, National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas) director-general, Kamil Othman and JFKL director, Koichi Horikawa.

Horikawa said the festival was not only to attract fans of Japanese films but also a place in which art and culture were made accessible to everyone in different and exciting ways.

He said among the films that would be showcased starting on Sept 8 until Oct 2 are After the Storm, An, Bakuman, Creepy, The Magnificient Nine, My Love Story!! and Desperate Sunflowers.

More details can be obtained at JFKL’s official website, www.jfkl.org.my or www.gsc.com.my.

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KL-Bangkok High Speed Rail Project Planned

BANGKOK, Thailand Sept 9 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to start initial study on the possibility of introducing the High Speed Rail (HSR) between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, said Najib Tun Razak today.

The Malaysian Prime Minister said, the agreement between both neighbouring countries for the initial study on HSR was in line with the ASEAN Masterplan For Connectivity.

“We (Malaysia and Thailand) agree to set the motion for a possible HSR between Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to complement the proposed HSR between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.”

“We believe increased connectivity will advance the economies of both countries and people to people relations of Malaysia and Thailand,” he said here.

Najib said this in a joint media conference with his Thai counterpart Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha after the conclusion of the annual consultation between Malaysia and Thailand at the Government House, here.

The HSR project between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is expected to cut travel time to 90 minutes and scheduled to kick off next year.

Najib also said, he and Prayut had agreed to work hard towards achieving the target to increase bilateral trade between Malaysia and Thailand to US$30 billion in 2018.

Currently, bilateral trade between both nations stood at US$22 billion with Thailand remaining as Malaysia’s second largest trading partner in ASEAN.

Both leaders, he said, had also agreed to expedite the construction of the Rantau Panjang-Sungai Golok and Pengkalan Kubor-Takbai bridges from 2018 to the middle of next year.

The Prime Minister of both countries, he said, had also agreed to upgrade the expansion of Sadao-Bukit Kayu Hitam customs complex to facilitate better border trade between the two countries.

Najib also said, Malaysia would maintain Thailand as one of its major source of rice imports, with 40 percent of a million metric tonnes of rice imports coming from Thailand.

A study would be carried out to explore the possibility of using land routes for rice imports from Thailand, he said, adding that it must not create smuggling problems.

Thailand’s prime minister, he said, had also proposed that both tourism authorities collaborated in joint tourism promotions.

Najib said, both leaders had a successfull and fruitful annual consultation this year, but the discussion needed to be followed up with effective implementation. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malindo Air Flying Daily To Taipei From Kuala Lumpur

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 (Bernama) — Malindo Air, Malaysia’s new premium service airline, officially launched its brand new daily service between Kuala Lumpur and Taipei today – its first connecting flight to Taiwan bringing its total route network to 41 destinations in 14 countries.

Malindo Air’s flight OD 632 will depart every day from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 7.15am and arrive at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 11.45am. There is no time difference between Malaysia and Taiwan. The return flight OD 633 will depart from Taipei at 12.45pm and arrive at KLIA at 5.30pm.

Promotional fare for the new route, Kuala Lumpur-Taipei starts from RM309 for Economy Class and RM1109 for Business Class one-way all inclusive. The fares include perks such as free baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment, and light refreshments.

With the expansion of its network, Malindo Air is now aspiring to be renowned for its aviation excellence and onboard hospitality.

The new route will be operated with a two-class Boeing 737-900ER aircraft, offering a total of 12 seats in Business Class and 168 seats in Economy Class. It will be a daily service with connections onward to vital destinations beyond Malaysia.

Chandran Rama Murthy, Chief Executive Officer of Malindo Air, said: “The launch of Malindo Air’s new service from KLIA to Taipei reinforces the continued growth of the Malaysian aviation industry, and cements Malaysia as an increasingly attractive investment in the region. This new daily service to Taipei will continue opening Malaysia up to the world, making it easier for passengers to travel not just to Malaysia but also beyond on Malindo Air, to Indonesia, Singapore, the Indian sub-continent and Australia. We are delighted to be able to provide connectivity to our passengers further than ever before.”

“In terms of boosting inbound tourism, this connectivity will give convenience for travellers from all corners of the globe to visit Malaysia and experience our diverse culture, explore our eco-tourism and enjoy the renowned Malaysian hospitality. Our extensive network coverage in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak will enhance the choice of travel destinations to Visit Malaysia for customers in both the business and leisure segments. Our objective is also to ensure KLIA remains the airport of choice for international passengers and a preferred regional transit and tourism hub,” added Chandran.

For bookings and enquiries, visit www.malindoair.com, write in to Customer Care Centre at customer_care@malindoair.com or call +603-7841 5388 from 7am to 11pm daily.

For purchases through mobile phones, use mobile.malindoair.com or download the Malindo Air App on Google Play and App Store.

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Resilient Spirit Of Malaysian Artists Celebrated At Galeri Petronas

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 (Bernama) — GALERI PETRONAS yesterday launched its latest exhibition, “CROSSINGS: PUSHING BOUNDARIES”. This exhibition showcases the artworks by 15 Malaysian artists on their artistic interpretation of world issues and events shaped by socio-economic and political development of the 1970s up to present times.

Speaking at the exhibition launch, PETRONAS Chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said, “CROSSINGS: PUSHING BOUNDARIES is a testament to PETRONAS’ long-standing commitment in promoting Malaysian talents by cultivating creativity of expression, innovative ideas and critical thinking through art.

Tan Sri Sidek added, “Through CROSSINGS: PUSHING BOUNDARIES, we are able to traverse Malaysian contemporary art at a global front. Images born in response to the artists’ spaces and surroundings, and their interactions with the environments around their subjects of gender, landscape, pop-culture and the broader social-cultural ecosystems, showcase the artists’ work in global and universal terms. In this respect, artworks featured in this exhibition are visual statements on issues confronting humanity”

Curated by acclaimed writer of Southeast Asian art history, Shireen Naziree, the exhibition seeks to explore the theme of internationalisation and diaspora through the eyes of the artists who have worked internationally and have embraced the changing pace of global contemporary art.

Among 15 artists showcased in this exhibition are Ali ‘Mabuha’ Rahamad, Anuar Rashid, Bayu Utomo Radjikin, Chang Fee Ming, Chong Siew Ying, Dolly Unithan, Eng Tay, Ahmad Fuad Osman, Hayati Mokhtar, Khoo Sui Hoe, Nadiah Bamadhaj, Sabri Idrus, Roslisham ‘Ise’ Ismail, Wong Perng Fey and Latiff Mohidin.

Also present at the launch was PETRONAS Senior General Manager, Group Strategic Communications, Puan Zahariah (Liza) Abdul Rahman.

The exhibition is open for public viewing at GALERI PETRONAS which is located at Level 3, Suria KLCC from 6 September until 30 October 2016. Admission is free.

Exhibition materials

Artwork Photos- http://goo.gl/d5PmKP

Exhibition Catalogue – http://goo.gl/4ZG8s4

Artists Profile – http://goo.gl/Cbktwt


GALERI PETRONAS is located at Level 3, Suria KLCC. It was established by PETRONAS with the aim to promote, develop and preserve contemporary art in Malaysia by providing a versatile, world-class platform for Malaysian and international artists to display their works and inspire industry thought leadership.

GALERI PETRONAS has received almost two million visitors since it opened its doors to the public in 1992 hosting numerous local and international exhibitions. GALERI PETRONAS aims to make art accessible, enjoyable and engaging to the public and will continue to enthrall audiences with exciting exhibitions and public programmes.

GALERI PETRONAS is open from Tuesday – Sunday, from 10:00am – 8:00pm.

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Afghanistan’s Pakistan-Funded Projects To Be Ready This Year

September 04, 2016, Kabul (BNA) Pakistan Ambassador to Afghanistan, Syed Abrar Hussain, said that Pakistani-funded projects in Afghanistan in the health sector would be completed by the end of current year, a press release from Pakistan embassy in Kabul said.

He made the remarks during a visit to 300-Bed Naib Aminullah Khan Hospital here the other day, which is being built by Pakistan inLogar province.

Speaking on the occasion, the Ambassador stated that Pakistan had built a number of projects in Afghanistan in the health and education sectors, including Liaquat Ali Khan University, Balkh, Allama Mohammad Iqbal Faculty in Kabul University, Sir Syed Post Graduate Faculty of Sciences, Nangarhar University, Rehman Baba Hostel and School in Kabul, Nishtar Kidney Centre, Jalalabad, 400-Bed Jinnah Hospital, Kabul, and 300-Bed Naib Aminullah Khan Hospital at Logar, the press release added, saying Ambassador Hussain expressed optimism that these projects would significantly contribute to the social and economic development of Afghanistan. Highlighting the importance of the Naib Aminullah Khan Hospital, the Ambassador expressed hope that the hospital would not only cater to the needs of the people of Logar province but also to the adjacent provinces.

“Similarly, the people of Kabul would also enormously benefit from the 400-Bed Jinnah Hospital”, the Ambassador added as quoted in the press release. Abrar Hussain informed that both the hospitals would be fully equipped with the latest technology providing various services to the patients.

The Ambassador also emphasized the need for closer cooperation between the two neighboring countries, saying that both neighbors can benefit a lot from each other in various fields. He said that the destinies of the two brotherly countries are inter-linked and Pakistan had been endeavoring to work for the promotion of peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan.

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Governor in Philippines south calls for unity on Eid

ZAMBOANGA CITY, the Philippines, 12.09.2016 (Anadolu Agency) — The governor of the Philippines’ Muslim south called for unity Monday as worshippers flocked to mosques across the country for Eid al-Adha.

Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said in a statement, “we remember (Prophet) Ibrahim’s sacrifice, one that is guided by his faith in Allah.”

He also underlined the need to “take pause to remember what Islam means to us as Muslims living in a time where many choose to turn a blind eye to our sacrifices and in a world where many look upon our faith with prejudice”.

“As Muslims, this prejudice is a burden that is familiar to us. We are often persecuted because of our faith, because there are those who sow fear and terror as they claim they are Muslims who follow the path of Islam,” Hataman added.

“We need to stand together and unite against these traitors to Islam and the many other evils that try to tear us apart.”

In the nearby predominantly Christian city of Zamboanga, hundreds of Muslims gathered for congregational prayers at several places of worship including the Santa Barbara district mosque in the heart of the city.

Emerging from the mosque after the morning prayer, local Muslims expressed their wish for peace as well as harmony with those of other faiths.

“I hope that peace will reign in our city and Muslims and Christians will unite,” Omar Mandi, a market vendor, told Anadolu Agency.

During a celebration at the University of the Philippines Diliman in Metro Manila, Muslims also prayed for an immediate end to the decades-long conflict in Mindanao, where several armed groups — including some involved in an ongoing peace process with the government– operate.

The dean of the university’s Institute of Islamic Studies, Professor Macrina Morados, emphasized that Islam is a religion that promotes peace and love.

“It is wrong to identify with Islam the extremist groups that use the religion’s name to perpetrate crimes,” she told news broadcaster ABS-CBN.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who hails from Mindanao, has declared Sept. 12 a public holiday throughout the country in observance of Eid al-Adha

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110 needy, elderly Algerians perform Haj

ALGIERS, 05 September 2016 – Minister of National Solidarity, Family and Women’s Affairs Mounia Meslem Si Ameur held Sunday, at Houari Boumediene international airport (Algiers), a farewell ceremony for 110 needy and elderly hajjis living in specialized centres, before they left for the Holy Places of Islam.

This group of hajjis, aged between 60 and 70 and coming from several provinces, is accompanied by an administrative and medical staff.

After underlining that “this initiative, which takes place on the instructions of President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is meant to be a continued tradition,” Meslem said that “it is a model to follow in terms of caring for the destitute people, by allowing them to perform the rites of hajj.”

“President Bouteflika has brought the smile back to these hajjis who have waited, so long, for this pilgrimage to the Holy Places of Islam,” said the minister.

Meslem underlined that her ministerial department made sure to implement the directives of the Head of State by creating all the conditions favourable to the success of this operation of solidarity, notably at the administrative and technical levels, to ensure the trip and accommodation of this group of hajjis, made up of 37 women and 73 men.

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Kyrgyzstan celebrates Eid al-Adha

Bishkek (AKIpress) – Kyrgyzstan is celebrating Kurman Ait (Eid al-Adha) today. Prayers has been held in all cities and towns across Kyrgyzstan this morning. Prime Minister Sooronbai Jeenbekov today attended the prayer at the Old Square in Bishkek.

President Almazbek Atambayev congratulated Kyrgyzstanis with the Kurman Ait.

“Kurman Ait is the festival of sacrifice. It symbolizes peace, mercy and unity, care for close relatives and compassion for the needy,” President Atambayev said in his address.

“Kurman Ait, like other religious holidays of our nation, has become an important event in spiritual life of Kyrgyzstanis, strengthening of moral values, cohesion of the society. On this day we visit relatives, neighbors, friends, pray for those who have died, receive guests, congratulate each other,” the President added.

Democratic Kyrgyzstan ensures all rights and freedoms of believers, main religious holidays have been declared public holidays, the President stated.

“The ideas of peace, patience, spirituality underlie Islam. What is happening in different parts of the world makes us realize value of peace and unity on our land,” the President stressed.

The Eid al-Adha is the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year. It honors the willingness of Ibrahim to sacrifice his son, as an act of submission to God’s command, before God then intervened, through his angel Jibra’il (Gabriel) and informs him that his sacrifice has already been accepted.

The meat from the sacrificed animal is preferred to be divided into three parts. The family retains one third of the share; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy.

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Marrakesh Hosts the “SMART Tourism Africa” Conference 10-11 November

RABAT, Morocco–(BUSINESS WIRE)–As part of the holding of the COP22 in Marrakech, The Moroccan Company for Tourism Engineering (SMIT), in partnership with “La Tribune”, has organized the first international conference dedicated to “Smart Tourism” in Africa (www.smarttourism.gov.ma) on the 10th and 11th November.

Labeled by the COP22 Committee, this significant event will be attended by several hundred professionals, who will gather for two days around the theme of tourism investment development in a global context where sustainability is a key focal point.

Expected to speak at this conference in Marrakech are some 40 international high-level panelists from the fields of innovation, entertainment, hospitality, finance, and mobility, as well as local and senior elected public officials.

On the agenda: Breakthroughs and continuities within their respective industries and sectors, as well as the ways and means to meet the challenges of sustainable development, with a particular focus on the rapid growth of tourism in Africa.

B to B meetings grouped by fields as well as specific workshops on innovation are both scheduled to be held during this first « COP22 Smart Tourism Africa ».

In this light, the organization has given pride of place to technological breakthroughs in the field of sustainable tourism and invites the community of innovation to a unique moment of sharing in this keystone event that will act as a link between tourism, sustainable development, and mobility.

Moreover, a substantive debate will be held around the currently dominating trends in innovation in tourism.

To register, or for more information about the agenda of “Smart Tourism Africa”, visit the dedicated website: www.smarttourismafrica.gov.ma

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Abu Dhabi to host “Talent in Aviation” Global Summit

NEW YORK, September 8, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Recruitment, talent and HR practitioners in the aviation industry can hear speakers from Aer Lingus, easyJet, Etihad Airways, Ryanair and other experts highlighting key issues and innovations in talent management, assessment, selection, recruitment, customer service and cultural change at a free two-day summit in the United Arab Emirates on 24-25 October 2016.

Organized by cut-e, the international assessment specialist, and Etihad Airways, the annual Global Aviation Talent Summit will feature keynote presentations, interactive discussions, technology showcase sessions and informal networking opportunities.

“This event offers an opportunity to find out how major airlines and aviation companies are addressing specific HR and talent management challenges,” said David Barrett of cut-e. “The speakers will offer expert advice, lessons and best practice case examples on issues such as hiring and retaining the right staff, candidate care, initiating cultural change and enhancing the employer brand. We’ll showcase the latest developments in assessment, gamification, analytics and data privacy and participants will also learn what the future holds for recruitment in the aviation industry and how talent data can inform marketing and revenue generation strategies.”

The keynote presentations will cover issues such as creating an enterprise-wide talent strategy involving global standards; new initiatives to recruit and develop cabin crew, cadets, first officers and command pilots; customer experience improvement programs and their implications for talent.

The Global Aviation Talent Summit will be held at the five-star Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel on Yas Island in the United Arab Emirates. The event is free to attend. Discounted rates at the hotel are available for participants and a sponsored networking dinner will be held on 24 October. Delegates can also tour the Etihad Innovation Centre, a centre of excellence and state-of-the-art training environment.

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Total number of pilgrims exceeds 1.85 million

Makkah (IINA) 11 Sep 2016 – The General Authority for Statistics said that the total number of pilgrims exceeded 1.8 pilgrims, until 5:00pm of Tarwiyah (Watering) Day, Dhul Hijjah 8.

It explained that, until 5:00 of Saturday evening, the total number of pilgrims who arrived in Makkah for the Hajj pilgrimage accounted for 1,855,406, of them 1,325,372 represent those who arrived from outside Saudi Arabia, and 199,922 domestic pilgrims who came from different parts of the Kingdom to Makkah through its six entry gates, while the number of pilgrims from inside Makkah reached 330,112.

The General Authority for Statistics added that the number of Saudi pilgrims out of the total number of pilgrims accounted for 165,599 pilgrims so far, while the number of non-Saudis out of the total number of pilgrims so far stood at 1,689,807 pilgrims, coming from outside and within the Kingdom.

The total number of male pilgrims so far accounted for 1,076,698 pilgrims, while the number of female pilgrims reached 778,708 pilgrims until now. Pilgrims are still streaming into Makkah through its entry gates.

The General Authority for Statistics stated that the process of counting the number of pilgrims is ongoing, and will stop on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. Makkah local time (Dhul Hijjah 9). Thereafter, the total number of the three basic paths for counting the number of foreign pilgrims, home pilgrims and pilgrims from within Makkah will be announced.

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Winners of OIC’s Human Face of Ramadan Photo Contest Honored

Jeddah, (OIC) 06/09/2016 – The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation OIC hosted a reception and photo exhibition for the six winners of its maiden edition of Human Face of Ramadan Photo Contest. The reception was held at the General Secretariat of the organization in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where the winning photos were exhibited.

OIC’s Assistant Secretary General for Palestinian Affairs Ambassador Samir Bakr Diab represented the Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani at the reception and awarded plaques to the winners.

The six winners of the Photo contest which witnessed extensive participation from individuals from the OIC member states are: Heba Ismael Mohamed Obeidiya from Palestine, Sami Ucan from Turkey, Ahmed Jamal Ali Hassan from Egypt, Saidu Abdulkadir Hamdullahi from Nigeria, Yusef bin Saud from Morocco, and Ahmed Fadlil Imran from Indonesia.

In her speech at the occasion, OIC’s Director of Information Ms Maha Akeel whose department organized the competition said the contest is aimed at close relationship between different communities in the Islamic world.

“We encouraged contestants to depict the Spirit of Ramadan which include brotherhood, sharing, gathering and divers Muslims’ traditions and cultures, which all fall within the OIC’s objectives of promoting Islamic solidarity, brotherhood and cultural awareness,” said Maha Akeel.

After the reception, the winners of the photo contest left for the Holy City of Makkah to perform Umrah, in preparation for Hajj, which is their prize for winning in the competition.

You can view the winning photos here, and top 40 photos entered for the competition here.


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1st Oman Franchise Expo and Conference in October

Muscat, Sept 10 (ONA) — The first version of Oman Franchise Expo and Conference, which is organized by Al Nimr Expo, in cooperation with International Franchise Association, will kick of 30th October 2016.

The two-day event aims at providing new investment opportunities and projects for SMEs, entrepreneurs and investors. It will highlight the importance of franchise and its constant growth in the world. The franchise business in the Middle East region is worth billions of dollars.

More than 45 exhibitors from the different franchise sectors along with franchise local and international experts, entrepreneurs, businessmen and potential investors will take part at the exhibition.

On the sidelines of the expo, there will be a conference that aims at promoting franchise culture and raising awareness of entrepreneurs of this vital sector.

The conference includes lectures and seminars on franchise, business opportunities, investment and leadership. It will also present some success stories.

The conference focuses on a set of themes including franchise concepts and principles, how to select your franchise and the legal problems associated with franchise. The Ministry of Commerce and Industry, represented by “Invest Easy” program, will present a working paper on “One Stop Station”.

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Training Workshop on ‘Liquidity Management for Islamic Banks’ in Malaysia

Date : 19-23 September 2016 Venue : Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

SESRIC will organise the Training Workshop on “Liquidity Management for Islamic Banks” in Malaysia in collaboration with the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Central Bank of Malaysia, at the premises of BNM in Kuala Lumpur on 19-23 September 2016. Officials from central banks or regulatory agencies involved in supervising or developing regulatory framework for Islamic banks are the main target audience of the programme.

The Training Workshop will be a blend of presentations, case studies and group exercises, and cover the following topics:

Overview of Islamic liquidity management.

Factors to consider in developing liquidity management infrastructure and money market for Islamic banking industry.

Approaches and key considerations for the assessment of liquidity management in Islamic banks.

Liquidity management, issues and challenges for Islamic banking.

How regulatory requirements affect liquidity management in Islamic banks.

At the end of the programme, participants will be able to demonstrate understanding of key considerations and challenges in managing liquidity for Islamic banks, and identify key liquidity instrument structure, legal and documentation considerations in developing Islamic finance money market.

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Training Course on ‘Labour Statistics’ in Togo

Date : 13-15 September 2016 Venue : Lomé Togo

In accordance with its 2016 Annual Work Plan and within the framework of Statistical Capacity Building (StatCaB) Programme, SESRIC will organise the Training Course on ‘Labour Statistics’ at National Institute of Statistics and Economic and Demographic Studies (INSEED) of the Republic of Togo on 13-15 September 2016.

The Training Course will be conducted by Mr. Adéyèmi Appolinaire Tollegbe, Head of Employment Service Statistics of National Institute of Statistics and Economic Analysis (INSAE) of the Republic of Benin with the participation of relevant officials of INSEED.

As defined in the Classification of Statistical Activities (CSA Rev. 1 – October 2009; http://goo.gl/olg3Tz); Labour – covers statistics on labour force, labour market, employment and unemployment; the more detailed topics include economically active population, labour conditions, health and safety at work (accidents at work, occupational injuries and diseases, work-related health problems), working time and other working conditions, strikes and lockouts, job vacancies, and job creation.

The Training Course on ‘Labour Statistics’ will include discussion activities with a focus on the following topics:

Employment Statistics,

How to Calculate Employment Statistics,

Other Employment Statistics including the Key Indicators of the Labour Market, Decent Work Indicators, NEET (Young People Neither in Employment nor in Education and Training), and Child Labour Indicators, The Latest Innovations in terms of Economic Activity and Employment Definition,

Conceptual Framework of Employment Statistics,

Case Study Calculation of some Employment Indicators with SPSS, and

Sources of Employment Statistics including Censuses, the Household Surveys, and Administrative Sources.

Sign up for an account at OIC-StatCom Forum (http://forum.sesric.org/) to join the group discussion on the Training Course on ‘Labour Statistics’ in the Republic of Togo available at: http://forum.sesric.org/?p=77

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Nominations open for 15th IDB Prizes for Science & Technology

The 15th Edition of the IDB Prizes for Science & Technology for has been announced. These Prizes are awarded annually to scientific institutions in IDB Member Countries in the following three categories:

Category -1: Outstanding scientific or technological contribution to the socio-economic development of a member country.

Category -2: Outstanding contribution to any of the scientific disciplines of engineering, agriculture, medicine, biotechnology, information technology, optronics, material sciences, pharmaceutical, industrial microelectronics, nanotechnology and alternative energy sources.

Category -3: Noted scientific research institutions in IDB least developed member countries (LDMCs).

Winners in each category receive a cash reward of US$ 100,000 (one hundred thousand US dollars) along with a trophy and a certificate.

Electronic version of the application forms, brochures and guidelines in three languages are available: (English) (Arabic) (French)

Applicants can fill in the form and send it to email: STPrize2017@isdb.org

The deadline for receiving the applications will be 30 November 2016.

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Third Global Islamic Economy Summit: Innovation, Youth, and Financing

Dubai, September 6, 2016 – The third instalment of the Global Islamic Economy Summit (GIES) is set to take place on October 11 and 12, 2016, at Madinat Jumeirah to discuss the developments occurring on the Islamic Economy front.

Bearing the theme “Inspiring Change” and endorsed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the summit is organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, with Thomson Reuters as a Strategic Partner.

The Global Islamic Economy Summit seeks to cement Dubai’s position as a capital for the Islamic economy and provide an integrated platform for decision makers and specialists to discuss key issues and major trends in Islamic economy in the region and the world.

All in all, this year’s event will include six plenary sessions covering, on the one hand, broad topics such as the global dynamics shaping the Islamic economy, as well as, on the other hand, more specific subjects such as Islamic finance and sukuk. In addition to that, the summit will host parallel sessions discussing Islamic economic sectors from halal products and modest fashion to family tourism and Islamic art. These sessions aim to find practical and sustainable solutions for the challenges that the Islamic economy faces.

His Excellency Majid Saif Al Ghurair, Chairman, Dubai Chamber, and Board Member of the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, said: “The fact that influential leaders, decision makers, and experts in key economic sectors have all converged in Dubai for the Global Islamic Economy Summit only goes to prove the emirate’s position as a true capital for the Islamic economy. It reflects the tremendous efforts exerted by Dubai to shed light on the concepts and mechanisms of the Islamic economy. The summit’s main topics are broad and comprehensive and, thus, allow for an open discussion about the components of the Islamic economy, all the while shedding a light on innovative solutions to confront the challenges that face the global economy today and achieve sustainable development.”

Meanwhile, Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre, added: “This year’s summit tackles themes and strategic issues that are relevant to both local and international stakeholders and, therefore, call for in-depth discussion to map out a clear future for the global economy – not just the Islamic domain.

“Given the fact that each sector of the Islamic economy offers incredible potential to impact the overall economic culture, GIES 2016 will help further clarify its many nuances. We are confident that a renewed understanding of the sector will greatly benefit all segments of society, particularly the youth to help them apply the knowledge gained for achieving sustainable social and economic development. We believe that with greater clarity comes greater appreciation – inspiring people to adopt moral principles that makes this responsible economic model unique in all respects.”

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International Ballet competition kicks off in Astana

10.09.2016 kazakh.tv – Ballet dancers from Kazakhstan, Russia, Japan, from the countries of Central Asia and Europe will perform at the third international contest in Astana. Well-known figures of contemporary ballet will evaluate the skill, grace and lightness of movements. This year, a special prize was established for the best interpretation of the classical heritage. The winner of this award will perform the main role in the ballet “Le Corsaire” by Marius Petipa at the National Theatre in Bratislava.

Altynai ASSYLMURATOVA, CHAIRWOMAN OF JURY, said: The jury is very professional and well-respected in the world of ballet. They are very good. And I’m sure that everything will be fair and objective. They will choose the best dancers according to the criteria required for professional skills, musicality, good shape and understanding of the style.

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Karakol museum hosts Swiss journalist’s Central Asia photo exhibition

Bishkek, Sept. 9 / Kabar /. The Karakol historical regional study museum is to stage a permanent exhibition of the unique journey across Central Asia accomplished by Ella Maillart, world-renowned Swiss traveller and journalist.

The official opening ceremony will be held on September 10, 2016 at 11:00 in Karakol, Embassy of Switzerland in the Kyrgyz Republic reports.

Ella Maillart (1903-1997), a distinguished traveler, journalist, writer, athlete and photographer of the 20th century, was born in Switzerland, Geneva. Throughout her life she explored distant regions of the world under truly adventurous conditions. During the 1930s, she journeyed across Central Asia, including Karakol town. Carefully documenting her experience, Ella Maillart thus ensured revival of an important historical period.

Today, 125 photos of Ella Maillart from her 1932 expedition across Central Asia are presented to the people of Kyrgyzstan to be permanently displayed at the “Photos of Ella Maillart” exhibition hall in the Karakol museum.

This culturally significant event is organized with the support of Kyrgyz, Swiss and international organizations, including the Embassy of Switzerland in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The Embassy of Switzerland has continually provided financial support to all projects of Ella Maillart since 2010. The projects have been initiated by the Swiss Association “Pamir’s Bridges”. This year the Swiss Embassy and the Karakol municipality financed the construction of the new exhibition hall for the permanent exhibition of Ella Maillart; the museum “Le Musée de l’Elysée” of the city of Lausanne has donated photos of Ella Maillart.

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National sports tournament kicks off in Astana

10.09.2016 kazakh.tv – The Republican national sports tournament kicked off in Astana. The three-day tournament will host participants from all over the country at the hippodrome Kazanat. They will compete in traditional games on horseback. In addition, the show will host a festival of hunting birds and hounds Tazy. This tournament is being held for the first time and is dedicated to the 25th anniversary of thbe Independence of Kazakhstan.

Bekbolat TLEUKHAN, PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATION OF NATIONAL SPORTS: We organize these competitions to promote the traditions and customs of our people. Equestrian games are always a lot of fun and are really interesting. There were so many spectators. We want to show people how the national sports is developing today.

Ramazan SATTYBAI, HEAD JUDGE: The competitions will be held in 7 events. All participants are well-prepared, each of them is determined to win. A colorful and interesting program was prepared for the audience within the three days, so it will be interesting.

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Kazakhstan EXPO routes demonstrated for tourists

10.09.2016 kazakh.tv – Tourist routes were showcased in the Atyrau region. Guests can pay a visit to the region during the international exhibition EXPO next year. A group of 75 people were taken to visit some of the sites. They are tour operators and residents of Germany, Russia, Switzerland and China. They visited the Ak-Zhayik Nature Reserve on the Caspian Sea coast, the excavations of the ancient city Sarayshyk and the historical museum.

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“Facial Recognition” exhibition Sept 15-25 in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Sep 11 (APP): An exhibition of “Facial Recognition” will be starts from 15-25 September at MyArtWorld with the aim to empower emerging artists and provide affordable art to art enthusiasts.

According to a press release, a group exhibition showcasing 
new works by Zoya Manan, Ammama Malik & Sana Saeed. The collection
focuses on facial familiarity and how each artist perceives 
distinct facial features that encompass their surroundings.

Zoya Manan is showcasing paintings on wood from two of her
latest series using her signature style merging real situations
 into surreal paintings mainly using faces and figures in enclosed,
claustrophobic spaces.

Ammama Malik’s larger than life oil on canvas portraits have
an air of stillness. She takes inspiration from Renaissance &
Baroque art and portray’s her muse’s narrative through light, 
shadows, tonal variation and drapery.

Sana Saeed has explored various forms of layering very 
effectively. Her oil on canvas paintings are mostly layered with a 
translucent sheet with further detailed ink rendering on them.

Each painting has a different mood and concept that’s shown by the

The show captures a wide essence of the concept and reveals 
multiple narratives that each of us can relate to and connect with
through various angles.

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Pakistan to host International Children’s Film Festival

ISLAMABAD, Sep 10 (APP): International Children’s Film Festival (ICFF) organized by ‘The Little Art’ in collaboration with ‘Teachers’ Resource Centre’ (TRC) and ‘Cinepax Cinemas’ will be started nationwide from October.

This year’s festival will showcase selected 82 films from 28 countries, including several films by young Pakistani film makers.

These films have been selected from a total of 1,100 film entries from 67 countries “This was an unexpectedly huge response to the submission call. The Little Art made for international film entries in March 2016”, an official said.

“The festival jury this year selected top international entries for this year’s festival consisted of known Playwright/Educationist/Critic Asghar Nadeem Syed, Pride of Performance Director/Actor Sarmad Khusat, Director and Owner KINO films, Tazeen Bari, Director/Actor Adeel Hashmi and known Independent Researcher at Film Museum Society, Wajiha Raza Rizvi, he told.

The competition is open till the 30th of September and is accepting entries from children and young people for short films under 5 mins. The winning entries will be awarded a cash prize of Rs. 5000 and mentorship by The Little Art to work on future film projects.

The film programming has been carefully curated keeping in mind the young audience largely comprised of school children from different backgrounds.

The Little Art announced it’s national film making competition “Once Upon a Film” inviting young local film makers to send their short films and to showcase themselves at the Lahore/Karachi/Islamabad International Children’s Film Festival.

The festival would be started in Karachi from the 17th of October, in Lahore from the 21st of November, in Rawalpindi from the 5th of December 2016 and from January 2017 in Hyderabad and Faisalabad.

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10th Diwan festival: “Jil Diwan El Kandoussi” band wins competition

BECHAR, 07 September 2016 (Algerian Press Service) -The young band “Jil Diwan El Kandoussi” from the town of Kenadsa won Tuesday evening in Bechar the competition of the 10th national diwan music festival following a performance that wowed the audience.

Created in 2011, the band, made up of young artists aged less than 23, enthralled the public with the power of their performance, its Koyo choreography, harmony an d the voice of each singer.

The jury of the competition is chaired by Lahcen Bestam, leader of “Essed” band, also awarded the second Prize of the competition to “Mâallem Fayçal Soudani” band from Algiers, which focused on rare texts. “Diwan Essarab” band from Tindouf received the third Prize.

The three winners will participate in the 9th International Diwan Music Festival in Algiers in 2017.

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Visual artists exhibit at Algerian Cultural Centre in Paris

PARIS (France), Sunday, 11 September 2016 – Algerian visual artists, under the banner of Fen’Art, an association founded by 12 painters of Algerian origin, are exhibiting their works, featuring various styles, at the Algerian Cultural Centre in the French capital.

The artists, born in Algeria or in France, with their different training schools and methods of expression, have tried to create a “synergy among their creative potentials.”

The artists are displaying semi figurative, semi abstract, calligraphy and graphic works.

Through his works, Cherif Ahmed-Chaouch, a lacquering artist calligrapher, proposes a mixture of cultures combining ancestral techniques and modernity.

In his works he draws inspiration from his peasant origins combined with contemporary themes.

Visual artist Moho Sharaoui uses a very special painting technique.

He draws inspiration from ancestral practices, such as the scribe in ancient Egypt or millennial writing techniques.

Glazier Dalila Ammari Chaieb, who holds a glass arts and techniques degree, has adopted a special artistic approach using glass to achieve “coordination among the different cultures in a bid to break stereotypes and better fulfil the “living together” principle.

Abdelkrim Benbelkacem, a self-taught calligrapher born in Souk Ahras (east), has an artistic approach that is a fruit of about fifty years of learning and rigorous work.

He tries, through calligraphy, to “take part in the building of a cultural bridge between the East and the West,” and to convey this ancestral art to the current generation.

Smail Metmati, a virtual artist and Tifinagh calligrapher graduated from the Algiers’ School of Fine Arts, performs Berber calligraphy using Tifinagh characters, so as to give an “artistic dimension to our ancestors’ script,” he stressed.

Opened Friday evening, the collective exhibition, which includes workshops led by artists, is to run until October 1.

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Bank Muscat’s Jadara programme gains momentum  

07/09/2016 (MENAFN – Muscat Daily) Muscat – A unique management development programme launched by Bank Muscat, the flagship financial services provider in the sultanate, to build a potential leadership pipeline has gained momentum.

The bank hosted a review of the Jadara Management Development Programme in which H E Maitha al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Tourism, addressed the programme participants in the presence of management team members led by AbdulRazak Ali Issa, chief executive.

Delivering the keynote address, H E Maitha said, ‘Leadership roles carry huge responsibilities. Leaders operate on a vision with a noble purpose.

They are passionate to achieve results and create the ground for themselves to excel. Leaders have a strategic mind to execute their vision and they think and act differently. Leaders recognise teamwork as essential and surround themselves with positive people.’

Ranked among the most influential leaders in the Middle East by Forbes magazine, H E Maitha, who has an exceptional fast-track career graph straddling both private and public sectors, added, ‘Leadership is a never-ending learning process. There is always something new to be discovered through positive learning. Leaders are always motivated and they value and appreciate others. To be successful, leaders must strike a fine balance between work and life.’

Further, she said that tourism will serve as one of the country’s pillars of economy as defned in the sultanate’s 2040 tourism strategy. Wishing the Jadara Programme participants success, H E Maitha said, ‘We must all play our part to take our beloved country forward.’

In step with its dynamic ‘Let’s Do More’ vision and commitment to partnership in development of Omani talents, the Jadara Management Development Programme launched in collaboration with Duke Corporate Education is one of the most ambitious initiatives by the bank to equip Omani employees with higher levels of professional competence and skills. A group of 42 employees selected from across the bank are associated with this programme. Future roles have been identified and each participant has been assigned challenging positions and put on an accelerated career path.

Reinforcing commitment to developing young Omanis and providing viable career options, the Jadara Programme is aimed at sustaining the bank’s top ranking as employer of choice with better attraction and retention of Omani talent.

Issa said, ‘Bank Muscat is happy to see the steady progress of the Jadara Management Development Programme. The bank has full trust in the pool of competent young Omanis within the organisation to successfully complete the training and take up important roles. In line with the vision of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for a qualitative shift in the national workforce, the bank is committed to providing opportunities to competent employees.

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Brilliant Iranian Taar musician to perform in EU venue

Tehran, Sept 11, IRNA – Brilliant Iranian musician Ali Qamsari is to perform in the European Union venue soon.

The musician who has a great talent with the centuries-old and most traditional of Iranian musical instruments has been invited by the European Council to have a performance on the topic of “Islam and Europe”.

Qamsari, a prolific musician, is to deliver a joint performance with another musican Lucian Khachaturian November 9 in the European Council venue in Strasbourg. 

Qamsari’s Taar performance will stand out as a symbol of Islam and eastern culture in contrast with the piano Khachaturian will play as the symbol of European traditions. Then the arts of the two will mingle together to represent common points the two cultures share.

By organizing the event, the European body hopes to reduce the Islamophobic concepts in Europe.

EU foreign ministers as well as a number of world-renowned figures are going to attend the event.

Qamsari is well recognized outside Iranian borders as he had had performances in over 70 international festivals, produced 15 albums both in Iran and France, worked with the best voices of Iranian music, held workshops in a number of ranking world universities like the Barcelona and Paris conservatories, contributed to peace promotion projects and published books on Iranian traditional music.

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Pakistan studies promotion of Islamic Banking

ISLAMABAD, Sep 9 (APP): Federal Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Friday constituted a committee for the implementation of the recommendations of the Steering Committee for the promotion of Islamic Banking.

Steering Committee consists on governor, State Bank of
Pakistan (SBP), Finance Secretary, Secretary Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights, Chairman Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FB),Saeed Ahmad (Currently Deputy Governor, SBP), said in statement issued by Ministry for Finance.

Dr.Imran Usmani, Chairman Pakistan Banks Association (PBA), President Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), Joint Secretary (IF), Finance Division (Secretary of the Committee) also will be members of the committee.

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CPEC western route projects to be completed by December 2016

ISLAMABAD, Sep 12 (APP): The connectivity through mega CPEC
project will enhance trade opportunities for Pakistan with 70 per cent of the international maritime trade via Pakistan’s two big ports of Karachi and Gwadar.

According to Khaleej Times report, China Pakistan Economic
 Corridor (CPEC) is planned to shoot up for a $ 150 billion
 investment, And a new whole world of business that will make it the largest economic region, as details of its size and stature are unveiled this week.

The plan is to connect three engines of growth South Asia,
 China and Central Asian Republics and aligning it with the entire
 South, Northern and North Western regions.

“CPEC will blaze a whole new trail,” Chinese President Xi
Jinping and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif say.

The latest “Summit of top government leaders and Investors”
which has just concluded in Islamabad, projects the overall international investment in CPEC, covering 2014 to 2030, will shoot up to $150 billion, terming the $46 billion initial plans for it as just the starters just the beginning of its phase one.

Prime minister Nawaz Sharif, while inaugurating the summit
said CPEC is going to change fate of the entire region.

He said it will eliminate poverty and unemployment and bring the people up front into the mainstream of modern and developed countries.

“The CPEC project is the fusion of President Xi’s ‘one Belt
One Road’ with Pakistan’s ‘Vision 2025’, which is sought to
 harness Pakistan’s geo political position into geo economic
advantage by connecting the three engines of growth South Asia, 
China and Central Asia,” Sharif said.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, speaking about the CPEC, its
 economic fruits, and investment and business potential of Pakistan, at the summit, said Pakistan will soon become the choice destination for foreign investment.

Miftah Ismail, chairman of Board of Investment (BoI) said on 
completion of this mega project, Pakistan will be expecting
 approximately $150 billion international investment in the country
into different business and manufacturing centers and investment
 by Chinese firms.

“The estimate for the projected investment of $150 billion 
have been worked out on the basis of firm commitments with prospective investors,” he said.

Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning and Development, who is
 also Minister in Charge of CPEC, said the connectivity through this mega project will enhance trade opportunities for Pakistan with 70 per cent of the international maritime trade via Pakistan’s two big ports of Karachi and the new Chinese built port of Gwadar.

“Gwadar will fast track exports and import to and from 
UAE, GCC, Saudi Arabia and adjacent regions,” he said.

“About $18 billion worth of projects are in the
implementation phase while the remaining portfolios of $17 billion projects are at the preparation stage,” Ahsan Iqbal said.

An amount of $11 billion will be spent on infrastructure
 mainly construction of roads and development of Gwadar port.

Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong, speaking at the summit said: “We look forward to speedy completion of the projects, included in the CPEC plan. We hope, with its full implementation, it will help create more jobs, provide better health and educational facilities.”
Yan Zhiyong, chairman, Power Construction Corporation of
China, spoke on the role of China in promoting ‘One belt one road 
CPEC initiative’.

The summit attracted more than 150 leading 
Chinese businessmen and investors, representing industries ranging from energy to autos.

Nasir Saeed, vice president of the Lahore Chamber of 
Commerce and Industry, said CPEC has drawn the attention of foreign investors towards Pakistan.

Ali Mohammad, chairman of Gul Ahmed Textile Mills, asked 
Chinese companies to shift plants to Pakistan to overcome their high labour cost.

“Pakistan will help with its has a hug bulge of youth
 population. China is still exporting 36 per cent of world’s textiles,” he said.

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Culture minister lauds Iranian cinema for blocking Hollywood

Tehran, Sept 12, IRNA – Iran’s Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Ali Jannati on Sunday praised the role of Iranian cinema in warding off the cultural invasion against the country.

He made the remarks in a ceremony held to celebrate the national day of cinema in Iran.

Jannati hailed efforts by the Iranian filmmakers and said that due to the hard work by Iranian artists, Hollywood whose products have overwhelmed the world stopped outside the borders of Iran.

Iranian cinema stood against the cultural invasion and people turn off their satellites to go and watch Iranian films in the cinema, the culture minister said.

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Pakistan to host CAREC conference 25-26 October

ISLAMABAD, Sep 10 (APP): Finance Minister, Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar Saturday wrote letters to the ministers of nine countries inviting them to attend the 15th CAREC Ministerial Conference.

The 15th CAREC (Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation) Ministerial Conference is scheduled to be held in Islamabad on 25th-26th October 2016.

The CAREC would brings together ten regional countries for the purpose of economic and development cooperation, said in statement issued by the Ministry of Finance.

Finance Minister, in his letters, invited the ministers to lead a delegation from their countries to the conference which starts with a Senior Officials’ Meeting on 25th October 2016 before the Ministerial Meeting on 26th October 2016.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Linking connectivity with economic transformation in CAREC”. An Energy Investment Forum is also planned on 24th October 2016.

Invitations have been sent to the Finance Minister of Afghanistan, Minister of Economy of Azerbaijan, Chinese Finance Minister, Minister of National Economy of Kazakhstan, Minister of Economy of Kyrgyz Republic, Finance Minister of Mongolia, Minister of Economic Development and Trade of Tajikistan, Minister of Economy and Development of Turkmenistan and Finance Minister of Uzbekistan who is also the First Deputy Prime Minister of that country.

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Algerian documentary “Contre-pouvoirs” at Film Festival in USA

ALGIERS, 11 September 2016 (Algeria Press Service) – Documentary film “Contre-pouvoirs” (Checks and Balances) by Algerian filmmaker Malek Bensmail will be screened at the 11th Twin Cities Arab Film Festival, scheduled from 29 September to 2 October in Minnesota (north of USA), said the film’s producer.

Released in 2015, the film will be screened alongside other works from Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Syria and Tunisia.

Coproduced by the Algerian company “Cirta films” and French “Zeugma film,” this documentary suggests a reflection on the job of journalists during the last presidential elections of 204.

The festival’s programme includes also the film “A peine j’ouvre les yeux” (I hardly open my eyes) by Tunisian filmmaker Leila Bouzid which will be screened at the opening of this edition.

“Checks and Balances” will also be screened at the 1st “Take One Action” Festival, to be held from 14 to 25 September at Edinburg and Glasgow (Scotland).

Screened in 2015 at the 13th Film Meetings of Bejaia, “Checks and Balances” has already participated in several film events in France, Switzerland, Italy and Morocco where it won an award at the International Film Festival of Tetouan.

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Mideast airlines posts 13.1pct passenger demand increase  

MENAFN – 08/09/2016 – The Middle Eastern airlines, involving the three main carriers of the GCC States, recorded passenger demand increase in July, witnessing a growth of 13.1 percent.

Moreover, capacity increased by 15.5 percent, making load factor to decline by 1.7 percentage points to 78.6 percent.

In addition, whole revenue passenger kilometers increased by 5.9 percent, compared to the same month of 2015.

Meanwhile, the global passenger demand in the cited month grew to 7.1 percent compared to July 2015, which was a growth over the 0.5 percent increase in June.

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Moroccan, British Tourism Professionals Meet in London  

MENAFN – Morocco World News – 07/09/2016 – The Moroccan National Tourism Office (ONMT) organized, on Tuesday in London, a meeting between Moroccan and British tourism professionals to discuss partnership opportunities and promote Morocco as travel destination.

This ‘B-to-B’ meeting brought together several representatives of major tour operators, travel agencies, resorts, hotel establishments and tourism service providers.

It allowed the tourism professionals from both countries to renew contacts, examine business opportunities and discover new products as well as the assets of the Moroccan market.

On this occasion, a number of British tour operators hailed the ‘positive’ performane of the tourism sector in Morocco, described as a ‘tolerant and open country that has a strong political and macroeconomic stability.’

The organization of this meeting is part of ONMT efforts to attract more British tourists through highlighting the diversity of the Moroccan offer.

In 2015, nearly 660,000 British tourists visited Morocco against 490,000 in 2012, that is an increase of 34 pc.

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Now or never for Lagos tourism sector

September 12, 2016 LAGOS (AFP) – Traffic jams may clog the city and the beaches look like garbage dumps, but for the Lagos state government developing tourism is now a do or die matter.

Nigeria has survived almost exclusively on oil revenues for decades, but the plunge in crude prices since mid-2014 along with militant attacks on oil infrastructure have driven the continent’s economic giant into a recession.

“We must find alternatives,” Lagos state tourism minister, Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, told AFP. “Encouraging tourism is a matter of life or death now.”

Lagos, Nigeria’s financial hub, is arguably the best placed to respond positively to the economic crisis.

The city has the most solid economic foundation, accounting for 25 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and 65 per cent of commercial activities, according to Lagos state ministry of Commerce and Industry.

Despite a suffocating dollar shortage that has made imports more expensive for businesses, those in the metropolis of 20 million say the city is ready for reform.

“Recreation and tourism are the fastest ways to revive the economy. The money they generate drives straight into the community,” Coker said.

“A concert can support vendors of suya (grilled meat) in the street, sound engineers, promote an artist,” he said, imagining Lagos nightlife as the new ‘Ibiza of Africa’.

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism accounted for only 1.7 per cent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product in 2014.

That number could be much higher. The tourism sector is “neglected”, said the Oxford Business Group consultancy, which believes it could reach nearly five percent of the economy this year if managed properly.

The city authorities have a steep climb facing them.

The Lonely Planet travel guide describes Lagos as having “wall-to-wall people, bumper-to-bumper cars, noise and pollution beyond belief, an intimidating crime rate … and absurd traffic jams.”

Coker admits there are challenges, but says that he isn’t necessarily aiming to turn Lagos into Miami overnight.

First he has to convince people from Nigeria that Lagos is a worthwhile option for a vacation.

“Today we must build the foundations for local tourism. Tourism is a middle-class thing, and we have an emerging middle-class,” he explained.

Having enough hotel rooms is part of the problem. In 2014, Coker estimated the city was short 8,000 hotel rooms.

Major international brands including Radisson Blu and Intercontinental have recently established themselves in the rich neighbourhoods of the city, but there is a major need for rooms catering to the middle-class.

Raphael Chiadikobi worked 18 years in banking before entering the hospitality industry.

His first three-star hotel, Imax Guesthouse, opened last month in the bustling port neighbourhood of Apapa.

“Every country has petrol now. We have now to think out of the box,” Chiadikobi said.

“The hotel industry has a lot of potential. But we have no electricity, no good roads”, he said, “Nigeria is a place where a businessman has to provide everything for himself.”

This desire to build up an industry from scratch is what pushed Emeka Okocha to launch “Nothing to do in Lagos”, a mobile application that lists activities and entertainment for 20,000 subscribers.

“People complain that there is nothing to do but it’s unfair,” the young entrepreneur said.

His site lists upcoming movie nights, concerts, sporting events and even picnics.

“There is no park in Lagos, no reliable road map and don’t even count on Google to find anything. But thanks to word of mouth, we find amazing places.”

In some ways, the country’s economic crisis may help push Lagos into realising its tourism potential – starting with the locals.

“With the fall of the naira, Nigerians can no longer travel, and the economic crisis is making people stay and spend their money here,” Okocha said. “The crisis forces us to be more creative.”

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Pakistan to attend ADEX-2016 exhibition in Baku

Baku, September 11, AZERTAC – Pakistani Federal Minister for Defense Production Rana Tanveer Hussain has said his country would be participating in ADEX-2016 Azerbaijan International Defense Industry Exhibition due to take place in Baku on September 27-30. He met with Azerbaijani ambassador to Pakistan Ali Alizade.

Tanveer Hussain highlighted Pakistan’s defense industry potential, and expressed the country`s readiness to supply defense industry products to the Azerbaijani army. He also pointed out prospects for cooperation in the military and technical spheres.

Tanveer Hussain noted that Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan`s independence.

Ambassador Alizade spoke of the Armenian provocations against Azerbaijan. He praised Pakistan`s supporting Azerbaijan on the conflict with Armenia. The ambassador said that as a member of the Contact Group on Kashmir of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Azerbaijan had always been committed to the settlement of the Kashmir issue based on UN Security Council resolutions.

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Pakistan Photo exhibition on life of Father of Nation

RAWALPINDI, Sept 11 (APP): A photographic exhibition was held here at Rawalpindi Arts Council (RAC) showcasing pictures and historical documents pertaining to Quaid i Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to highlight different aspects of his life.

More than 100 rare pictures of the great leader were exhibited in connection with his 68th death anniversary.

Additional Registrar Fatima Jinnah Women University Prof Humayoun
Iqbal inaugurated the exhibition. Naheed Manzoor and RAC Resident
Director Waqar Ahmed were also present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Humayoun Iqbal lauded the great
Quaid for his role in achieving a separate homeland for the Muslims of Sub continent.

“We should focus on ‘unity, faith and discipline’ in order to make Pakistan a prosperous country,” he added.

A large number of people from different walks of life attended the exhibition.

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Preserving biodiversity for a prosperous Papua

11 September 2016 Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Agirway dancers of Papua performed the exquisite Ballads of Cendrawasih (Birds of Paradise) dance, marking the opening of an International Conference on Biodiversity, Eco-Tourism and Creative Economy (ICBE), and showcasing Papuas famed biodiversity.

Indonesias easternmost island of Papua is, in fact, often referred to as the last remaining fortress of the worlds biodiversity.

Held under the theme of “Biodiversity and Ecotourism, Papua Economic Solutions”, a number of countries and international institutions participated in the conference held in Jayapura from September 7-10.

Discussions also revolved around the sub theme of “Utilize Natural Resources, Increase Livelihood, Protect the Golden Generation of Papua.”

An exhibition featuring 60 stands, and screening of 20 short films on Papuas culture and environment marked the conference.

The gala opening ceremony was attended by Norwegian Ambassador to Indonesia Stig Traavik and diplomats from the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Papua New Guinea, among others.

Voicing high expectations, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe hoped the ICBE would boost the efforts to set up biodiversity parks and cultural parks to preserve the environment, particularly protect bird of Paradise, Papuas iconic bird.

Birds of Paradise, locally called birds of Cenderawasih, are the pride of Indonesia, particularly of Papua, whose forest is home to these birds, considered among the most beautiful in the world.

The birds of Paradise are endangered not just on account of poachers, but also because visitors seek dead and preserved ones as souvenirs.

The governor believed that preserving environment is crucial for the prosperity of Papua’s indigenous people to help pull them out of backwardness and a life of poverty, ignorance and isolation.

Papuas range of biodiversity encompasses half of Indonesias mega biodiversity, particularly the endemic flora and fauna that are only found on this island.

The island, comprising West Papua and Papua Provinces, is home to some 250 tribes that retain ancient cultural traditions, and over 250 indigenous languages and dialects.

Home to the worlds remaining virgin tropical rainforests with vast biological diversity, the island is also endowed with endemic fauna such as possums, wallabies, tree-kangaroos, and endangered Long-beaked Echidna. It also has the worlds longest lizards and largest butterflies.

Its biodiversity includes 15 thousand to 20 thousand plant species (55 percent endemic), two thousand species of orchids, 602 species of birds (52 percent endemic), and 125 species of mammals (58 percent endemic), in addition to 223 species of reptiles and amphibians (35 percent endemic), 25 species of freshwater fish and 1,200 species of marine fish, as well as an estimated 150 thousand species of insects, according to the 2013 data of Papua Ecology.

Large parts of the equatorial glacier fields in the highlands remain substantially unexplored. Protected areas within Papua province include the Lorentz National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the Wasur National Park, a RAMSAR wetland of international importance.

The Papua provincial administration hoped that events such as the ICBE will inspire Papua to realize a vision of prosperity, and enable it to pursue sustainable and high quality development programs.

The conference played an important role in propagating Papua as a region rich in natural resources, onshore and offshore, that must be developed in a sustainable fashion.

The governor underlined that with the support of the visionary people of Papua who have entrepreneurship skills in biodiversity, eco-tourism and creative economy, Papua and West Papua would be able to grow fast.

The provincial administration of Papua is observing 2016 as the year of investments, he recalled.

“Therefore, through this conference, I call upon all of us to work together, hand in hand, for the welfare of Papua,” he exhorted.

The conference’s recommendations will be crucial to Indonesias efforts to preserve its easternmost islands environment. The agreements reached during the meeting are also expected to support environmental preservation, not only in Papua or Indonesia but even globally.

Enembe remarked that the Norwegian ambassador, in cooperation with the United Nations, will assist in supervising the export of timber products from Papua to ensure these are not sourced from illegal logging activities, he noted.

In the field of tourism, Papua is particularly trying to lure tourists from Southeast Asian nations to visit the country’s largest island. One of its tourist attractions is the Baliem Valley Cultural Festival that celebrates fertility and welfare of the tribal people.

The Baliem Valley is located in the central mountains of Papua. The valley, once dubbed as “Shangrila,” is incredibly lush and fertile, with 2.5 thousand to three thousand meters high towering peaks surrounding it on all sides.

The Baliem Valley Festival, organized annually since 1989, is usually held in August.(*)

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Putin hails importance of Muslim community for social harmony

Baku, September 12, AZERTAC – Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated the country’s Muslims on the Eid al-Adha holiday that marks the end of the hajj pilgrimage, the Kremlin press service said on Monday, according to TASS.

“Over the past centuries, this bright holiday has played a huge role in the life of the Muslim Ummah and serves towards the rapprochement of people, accustoms them to the timeless values of Islam, educates them to have careful and respectful attitude to the ancient history, customs and covenants of ancestors,” Putin said. “I note with satisfaction that Russia’s Muslims honor the spiritual traditions and celebrate Eid al-Adha widely.”

“The Muslim community actively participates in the country’s life and makes a significant contribution to educating the youth and developing interreligious and interethnic dialogue. Of course, its activity is very important for maintaining peace and social harmony in society,” the Russian president stressed.

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Raja Ampat, home to more than 300 bird species

11 September 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Besides known as an object of beautiful marine tourism, the Raja Ampat Islands District in the Indonesian province of West Papua also holds the potential wealth of outstanding land with more than 300 species of birds in its forests.

Having more than 1500 large and small islands with many of them under protecting status, Raja Ampat is famous for its unique biodiversity of both flora and fauna.

Raja Ampat, also dubbed as the “last paradise on earth,” is home to a variety of unique plants and animals of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and hundreds of bird species such as the famous birds of paradise and the flightless cassowary.

The islands of Waigeo, Misol, Kofiau, Batanta, and Salawati are some of the more than 1500 islands in Raja Ampat that are rich in biodiversity of birds.

Raja Ampat District Head Abdul Faris Umlati has stated that the Flora and Fauna International (FFI) has recorded 173 bird species in Waigeo island, 141 species in Misol islands, and more than 50 species in Kofian island.

Thus, in these three islands of Raja Ampat, more than 300 birds species have been recorded, of which 94 including 11 endemic ones are protected.

Based on a research conducted in West Waigeo Nature Reserve, there are 27 mammal species including including bandikut (Echymipera kalubu), spotted cuscus (Phalanger maculatus), striped opossum (Dactylopsila trivirgata), bats and the tree rats.

The survey in South Misool Nature Reserve recorded 159 bird species including 4 birds of paradise and 5 bat species, and numerous protected rare birds.

There are yellow-crested white cockatoo bird (Cacatua galerita), forest kingfisher (Halcyon macleayii), julang Irian (Aceros plicatus), king parrots (Probosciger aterrimus), parrots (Eclectus roratus), red-black-headed parrot (Eclectus roratus lory), Mambruk Viktoria (Goura victoria), cassowaries, Paradisaea sp., and maleo (maleo Magrocephalus).

Once the visitors arrive in the forest of Raja Ampat, they will be greeted by these lovely birds with their lovely songs found and heard nowhere else around the world.

Also, delicately tinted wild flowers perfuming the air, along with the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green, are found around for visitors to enjoy.

In just a moment, the lofty, trees, the buds, the flowers, and its surrounding beauty can speak to the hearts of visitors and invite them to become acquainted with Him who made them all.

There, the visitors will be amazed by the trees, the buds, the flowers, and the birds of the air as they warbled their carols of praise, unencumbered with thought of care.

Further, the hospitality of the local residents will cause the tourists visiting Raja Ampat to be amazed and curious to explore the extent to which the area is rich in both natural and marine beauty.

The abundance of undersea and land biological diversity is so stunning and has also made Raja Ampat archipelago a paradise for eco-tourism activities.

With average sea temperatures from 22 to 30 degree Celsius, the waters of Raja Ampat has approximately 603 hard coral species, representing 75 percent of total coral reefs in the world.

Based on various studies by the world natural conservation agencies like Conservation International and Nature Conservancy, Raja Ampat waters are estimated to have 1397 fish species. It is not mistaken that the waters of Raja Ampat is also called “Capital for Fish in the World”.

Besides fish species in the marine waters of Raja Ampat archipelago, there are also 60 crayfish, 699 types of soft animals (species of mollusks) consisting 530 snails (Gastropoda), 159 shells (bivalva), 2 Scaphopoda, 5 squid (Cephalopoda) and 3 Chiton.

Known as the most bio-diverse marine habitat on earth, the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat is an ideal destination for both local and foreign tourists to relax and unwind.

The visitors to Raja Ampat will have the opportunity to witness a multitude of marine habitats and coral reefs in one glance without having to swim a stroke.

Raja Ampat comprises four large islands and hundreds of dots and specks off the fragmented western corner of the land of Papua, the world’s second-largest island.

Most visitors arrive in Raja Ampat through Sorong, a city on the far west coast of Papua, which has an airport, army barracks, and a karaoke bar called Happy Puppy.

In less than two hours from Sorong, the visitors can reach Raja Ampat, where they can indulge in activities, such as swimming, diving, and snorkeling, or just relax.

Reaching Raja Ampat has now become easier as the Bahari Express fast boat, a public transportation service, is offering rides to foreign tourists from Sorong city to visit the tourist attractions there.

In Raja Ampat, the tourists can enjoy not only the beautiful marine biodiversity but also the scenic beaches and gain local insights into the history of Raja Ampat.

In terms of historic relevance, in the 15th century, the Raja Ampat Archipelago was part of the reign of Tidore Sultanate, a great kingdom centered in Maluku Islands.

To run its government, the Sultanate of Tidore appointed four local kings to rule the islands of Waigeo, Batanta, Salawati, and Misool, which are the fourth-largest until this day.(*)

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Saudis discuss tourism cooperation with Albania

Riyadh, Dhu-AlHijjah 07, 1437, September 08, 2016, SPA — Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, here today met with a number of Albanian officials to discuss strengthening cooperation between the two countries in tourism, antiquities, museums and architectural heritage areas.

The meetings were held as part of Prince Sultan’s current official visit to the Republic of Albania. Prince Sultan bin Salman arrived in Tirana on Tuesday on an official visit to the Republic of Albania.

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Successful IBDExpo 2016 attracted 43,000 visitors

Jakarta, Sept. 11, 2016 (Antara) — Indonesia’s biggest state-owned ministry expo, Indonesia Business & Development Expo 2016 (IBDExpo) was successfully concluded marked with a closing ceremony held on Sept. 11 at Jakarta Convention Center, Jakarta. The event was closed by the Deputy of Mining, Strategic Industry & Media, Ministry of SOE Republic of Indonesia, Fajar Harry Sampurno, and Chief Organizer, Hempi N. Prajudi, which is also the Director of Marketing, Business Development & IT, Antara News Agency.

According to the organizer, the event saw 123 exhibitors spanning of SOEs (112 of entire exhibitors), SOE-assisted SME partners and ROEs, as well as Khazanah from Malaysia, Temasek from Singapore, and ICBC from China. In addition, the four-day event attracted up to 43.000 visitors.

During the event, the visitors not only could expect to explore all of the SOE’s achievements and innovations, and business opportunities as well as its role to the national development in the framework of “BUMN Hadir untuk Bangsa” or “BUMN for Country” program in building and empowering the frontier, outermost, and least developed regions.

IBDExpo 2016 also featured a number of side events namely Ministerial Lecturer featuring Ministry of SOE, Rini Soemarno as keynote speaker; Business Matching; PKBL Pitching; Sharing Session with Temasek, Khazanah, and ICBC; and BUMN Career Opportunity.

The event also saw 418 business transactions with the initial transaction value of Rp. 420 million and 106 business deals closed during the Business Matching. In addition, IBDExpo 2016 also featured PKBL Pitching, a networking session of SOE-assisted SMEs, which was led by PT Permodalan Nasional Madani (PNM).

Deputy of Mining, Strategic Industry & Media, Ministry of SOE Republic of Indonesia, Fajar Harry Sampurno, said, “I’m so proud that this event was successfully organized. In addition, I also would like to convey my particular gratitude to NPNC for their tireless hard work to ensure the success of this event. Former CEO of Dahana continued, “This event is the right momentum for the SOE sector to synergize not only with the fellow SOEs, but also with the private sector.”

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Pakistan trade authority sends 3,227 to attend global fairs

ISLAMABAD, Sep 10 (APP): Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has sent 3,227 traders from local companies abroad to participate in different fairs and exhibitions during last three years.

TDAP provided a platform to exhibitors to enhance Pakistan’s market share in countries where the exhibitions are arranged.

Issuing an year-wise data, official sources on Saturday said of the total, 1039 exporters were facilitated during 2013-14, 1022 during 2014-15 and 1,166 participants were sent abroad during 2015-16 to attend trade related events.

The sources said during the period 857 traders were sent to Europe to attend different exhibitions and fairs. Of the total sent to Europe, 252 participants sent in 2013-14, 281 during 2014-15 and 324 during 2015-16.

Similarly, during the period 183 traders were sent to Africa to attend different exhibitions and fairs. Of the total sent to Africa, 55 participants sent in 2013-14, 66 during 2014-15 and 62 during 2015-16.

The sources said during last three years, 1758 traders were sent to Asia/Middle East and China to attend different exhibitions and fairs organised there. Of the total sent to these destinations, 602 participants sent in 2013-14, 515 during 2014-15 and 641 during 2015-16.

Another destination was America where TDAP facilitated 429 Pakistani traders during the period and their year-wise number was 130 participants in 2013-14, 160 during 2014-15 and 139 during 2015-16.

The sources said according to “Guidelines for Participation in International Trade Fairs/Exhibitions” 15 per cent of participants will be new exporters and women entrepreneurs where preference will be given to manufacturing exporters.

At least one-woman entrepreneur will be encouraged to join every event as an exhibitor/exporter.

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Tehran to host 2nd int’l medicine, pharmaceuticals exhibit

Tehran, Sept 11, IRNA – The second International Medicine and Pharmaceutical industry (Iran Pharma) Exhibit is to be held in Tehran on September 14-16.

The exhibition aims to present data on import-export activities and introducing capacities and investment opportunities in Iran.

Around 400 domestic and foreign companies from countries including Belgium, Germany, Britain, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland as well as countries from Asia — India, South Korea and China will take part in the exhibition.

Introducing the latest achievements and innovations in Iran’s pharmaceutical industry, contacts with international research centers, holding specialized panels, workshops, presenting case studies and holding the first specialized book fair for medicine and medical sciences are among other programs of the exhibition.

The first international medicine exhibition was held in Tehran in September 2014.

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Thai Airways to launch flights to Tehran from Oct 1

Kuala Lumpur, Sept 10, IRNA – Thai Airways will launch direct flight from Bangkok to Tehran from October 1, Thai Airways said on Saturday.

President of Thai Airways International Charamporn Jotikasthira announced in June the plan to launch direct flight between Bangkok and Tehran in near future. 

The company declared October 1 as the day for initiating the direct flight between the two capitals.

The company will have four flights in a week to Tehran with Boeing-777 planes.

 Thai Airways International is to compete with Air Asia X, which had already launched direct flight between Thailand and Iran and is offering its tickets by price of almost 460 dollars for round trip tickets for first three months.

The weekly flights will be on Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, which will go back on the same evening.

 The company said that 250,000 Iranians pay a visit to Thailand annually, so there is enough demand for direct flight.

Currently nine weekly flights are operating between Tehran and Bangkok, six of them are by Iranian Airlines ‘Mahan’ and three flights by Air Asia X.

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Truck art programme concludes at Pakistan’s Lok Virsa

ISLAMABAD, Sep 9 (APP): The 5-day training programme in traditional truck art organized by National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) concluded here at Shakarparian on Friday.

It was part of the series of programmes that Lok Virsa is currently holding under the title “Craft of the Month” with a major objective to promote traditional skills, giving knowledge to young generation about the importance and utility of different crafts.

Executive Director Lok Virsa, Dr. Fouzia Saeed Said while talking to APP, “Pakistani children has a great potential to learn knowledge about craft heritage of Pakistan. Here we
also saw little boys who were equally keen to gain information about the truck art techniques.”

While announcing next programme she said, “Our next programme is “Traditional Pottery Making” is from 3-9 October, 2016. Master artisans in the field of pottery from all over Pakistan will be invited to coach children at Islamabad for a week.”

Seventy students/children from the schools running under the administrative control of Federal Directorate of Education, Directorate General for Special Education and children of the visitors to Heritage Museum participated in the program and learnt craft making techniques from master trainers/artisans between September 5-9, 2016 at the beautiful surroundings of the Heritage Museum.

Master artisans Habib ur Rehman said “it was a unique experience for me to teach craft making techniques to children. They were keen to know each and everything involved in the process. They have even given me ideas and suggestions how can I make new innovations in my profession I tried to transfer my knowledge to them in an interactive manner”.

A student Hansa, said “I enjoyed learning this beautiful craft from my trainer. He was very nice and loving in providing details. I asked my mother to buy some material for me so
 that I can practice truck art at home”.

The venue of Heritage Museum was decorated with beautiful truck art items and related accessories.

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Turkey’s economy records over 3 percent growth

ANKARA, 09.09.2016, Anadolu Press Agency – Turkey’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 3.1 percent in the second quarter of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015, the Turkish Statistical Institute reported Friday.

The figure was slightly short of the median forecast by the Anadolu Agency Finance Desk, which predicted a 3.3 percent expansion in the second quarter.

The GDP increased by 3.1 percent compared to the same quarter of previous year in the second quarter of 2016 and reached 33.06 billion Turkish liras ($11.4 billion) at constant prices, the report said, suggesting the economy had maintained its momentum according to constant prices, which excludes inflation effect from prices.

At current prices, the GDP saw a more pronounced increase, rising to $525.9 million Turkish liras ($178.9 billion), which is up 9 percent compared to the same quarter of previous year.

The report showed that a seasonal and calendar-adjusted GDP increased by 0.3 percent compared to the previous quarter.

Also, the first quarter of GDP was downgraded 0.1 points to 4.7 percent from the previously announced 4.8 percent.

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Turkish Airlines sees 3.8pct rise in passengers

ANKARA, 09.09.2016, Anadolu Press Agency – Turkish Airlines carried 42.7 million passengers between January-August this year — up 3.8 percent compared to the same period of 2015, the company said in a stock filing on Friday.

Increases in domestic and international routes were 4.8 percent and 3.0 percent respectively while international-to-international transfer passengers surged by 17.7 percent.

The seat occupancy rate was down 4.4 points to 74.4 percent.

Available Seat Kilometers (ASK) offered by the company was 114.2 billion during the January-August 2016 period, up 14.1 percent from a year earlier.

Increases in ASK on domestic and international routes were 6.1 percent and 15.3 percent respectively.

By the end of August 2016, the number of destinations Turkish Airlines flew to was 290 compared to 277 as of August 2015.

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Turkmen president opens $100 mn cruise ship-shaped hotel  

MENAFN – AFP – 10/09/2016 – Turkmenistan strongman President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov on Friday opened a giant five-star hotel worth over 100 million, shaped like a cruise ship, at the country’s main Caspian Sea resort.

The 13-floor, 350-room hotel is the biggest in Turkmenistan’s Avaza tourist zone, which the government is trying to promote despite an incredibly restrictive visa regime for foreigners.

“The purpose of this resort is to create the best conditions for interesting recreation time for the Turkmen people,” Berdymukhamedov said of Avaza, adding that the hotel was called “Gami”, or “Boat” to symbolise “the boat of our friendship.”

“And since we are on a boat, we will be having nautical pasta — a cheap Soviet pasta dish with minced pork and beef — for lunch,” he joked, before the dish was served to officials, diplomats and journalists at the ceremonial lunch.

The Central Asian country’s leader, 59, also quoted a nautically-themed poem by Russian wordsmith Mikhail Lermontov.

The 90-metre by 200 metre (300 by 650 feet) white marble-clad hotel was built to echo a “snow-white ocean ship” a representative of the state company that ordered it built, told AFP .

A giant portrait of Berdymukhamedov spanned three floors of the building as dancer performed in front of it.

The hotel was built by the Turkish construction and logistics firm Ekol.

Hydrocarbon-rich Turkmenistan’s secretive government has a reputation for lavish spending on frivolous architectural projects, even in times of economic crisis.

The country devalued its manat currency by around twenty percent in early 2015 under pressure from low prices for hydrocarbons, which account for practically all of the country’s exports.

On the black market the currency’s value can fetch up to 6 manats to the dollar against an official rate of 3.5 to the dollar, down from 2.8 to the dollar in 2014.

Despite Berdymukhamedov officially encouraging belt-tightening, the country has continued to spend heavily on infrastructure ahead of the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games it will host in the capital Ashgabat.

In 2013 Ashgabat earned a Guinness World Record as the city with the highest density of white marble-clad buildings.

“If the marble was laid out flat, there would be one square metre of marble for every 4.87 m of land,” Guinness said at the time.

The city also hosts a golden statue of Berdymukhamedov and a similar statue of predecessor Saparmurat Niyazov, which once rotated with the movements of the sun.

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Two famous Iranian singers to hold concert in Europe

Tehran, Sept 11, IRNA – Iranian well-known singers Homayoun Shajarian and Sohrab Pour-Nazeri are to hold concert in France, the Netherlands and Belgium in mid-October, 2016.

The two singers are to perform parts of albums; ‘Godess of Secrets’ and ‘Mirrors’.

The poetry of the songs are from Iranian great poets: Khayyam, Molavi and Hafez.

The concerts will be held in Concert Hall of Paris Philharmonic Orchestra and Cultural Complex of Bouzar in Belgium.

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UAE – When travel bug bites during Eid Al Adha holidays  

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 08/09/2016 – Khaled Al Balouchi, an Emirati from Al Ain, will be among thousands to fly out of the UAE this weekend for a week-long holiday during this Eid Al Adha.

Al Balouchi, a government employee, already booked his ticket three weeks ago, even though the Eid dates were not certain back then.

“I found this really cheap flight to Bulgaria, with Wizz Air, from Al Maktoum Airport. It was only about Dh240 one way, so even though the dates were to differ, I would not lose much money if I had to work on the day of the flight,” he said.

“As it happened, I’m okay to fly this weekend and I didn’t book the return flight yet. I heard Bulgaria is still quite cheap, so I plan to do some shopping there, but I would also like to travel to Romania, by train. It is not that far and I’ve never travelled by train before. I heard you could book an overnight trip in a sleeping compartment, which should be fun!”

With one week break from work and schools, many Abu Dhabi residents are choosing a holiday abroad. Thailand, Morocco and Europe remain some of the top preferred destinations.

“Me and my friend are going to Egypt. I know it’s still a bit hot, but my friend is visiting me from Romania and since we were in school together we dreamt of pharaohs and pyramids, so this is a great chance to go to Cairo together,” said Magdalena Candea, a Romanian expat in Abu Dhabi.

Many families, though, will be staying “home”, in Abu Dhabi, particularly those who have just returned from their summer vacation.

“To be honest, this week off is like a knife with two edges. On one hand it is nice to have the holiday, but on the other we only returned from UK three weeks ago and the kids were just starting to settle into the new school year, so the timing for a week break is not ideal,” pointed out Lisa Delilo, a British expat here.

“Plus, I work in the private sector, so I only have off until Tuesday, while the children will be off for the whole week and I would have to find someone to look after them,” added the mother of two.

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Iran VP hails economic outcomes of nuclear deal

Mashad, Khorasan Razavi, Sept 12, IRNA – Vice President for Executive Affairs Mohammad Shariatmadari lauded on Sunday the economic outcomes produced by the nuclear deal between Iran and G5+1.

Speaking in a local ceremony in the provincial capital of Mashad, Shariatmadari called for implementation of the Economy of Resistance as pre-condition to the country’s economic growth.

He referred to the restrictions imposed on Iran during the sanctions era and said that the embargos tended to limit Iran’s access to financial resources and had inflicted great damages on Iranian economy. 

After the nuclear deal, restrictions gradually started declining and the ground get ready for development of economic activities, the official added.

Shariatmadari also praised control of inflation and economic growth during the presidency of Hassan Rouhani.
The government is going to continue its support for the manufacturing sector and for promoting the national production.

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Omani company nominated for Medical Tourism Award in Singapore  

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 07/09/2016 Wide Vision International (WVI), a medical facilitation company in Oman has been nominated for 2016 Icons of Healthcare Awards, for being the leading international medical tourism agency to be given out in Singapore on September 23.

Icons of Healthcare (www.iconsofhealthcare.com) is a unique international thought leadership platform that brings together various stakeholders in the medical and healthcare ecosystem for an exchange of ideas and best practices across the countries of South and South East Asia.

‘Based on our internal research and your contribution in this area, the executive team at BERG Singapore is proud to recognise and present the 2016 Icons of Healthcare Awards to Wide Vision International, Oman for being the Leading International Medical Tourism Agency and join us at the summit and gala awards evening in Singapore on September 23,’ said Vishwesh Iyer, managing partner of Singapore-based organisation Business Excellence & Research Group Pte Ltd (BERG).

‘The goal is not just to recognise the great work, but also enable a sharing of knowledge and networking opportunity and provide a global benchmark and recognitin. It is a day-long summit followed by the gala awards evening on September 23 at the Raffles Town Club in Singapore,’ added Iyer.

The awards are being introduced by BERG that is committed to nurturing and promoting business excellence across diverse sectors.

The inaugural Icons of Healthcare Summit & Awards are being introduced by Singapore-based organisation Business Excellence & Research Group Pte Ltd (BERG).

BERG is committed to nurturing and promoting business excellence across diverse sectors. In this quest, BERG has gone on to establish thought leadership platforms over the past three years since its inception.

‘As you will appreciate, recognition on a global platform like Icons of Healthcare gives a fillip to your brand and will be useful for engaging in deliberations and finding mutual synergies with other professionals form the industry across South & South East Asia,’ said Iyer.

Iqbal Ahmed Syed, medical consultant at WVI said, ‘I am extremely happy to be given this honour and am looking forward to meeting various people at the awards event. I thank BERG for nominating WVI for this prestigious award.’

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First Commercial Cargo Enters Afghanistan Via Railway

September 7, 2016, Mazar-e-Sharif City (BNA) After inauguration of Afghanistan-China railway for the first time China commercial cargo entered through Hairatan town to Afghanistan today.

Musafer Quqandi spokesman for Ministry of Commerce and Industries told BNA, the commercial cargo is includes 84 wagons with a cost of USD 20 million.

After that with using the railway the commercial dealings will increase between Afghanistan, China and some other Middle Asia countries, Quqandi added.

With inauguration of the railway Afghan traders will be able to expert and import cheaply high quality commercial goods from China and some other Middle Asia countries and vice versa.

The inauguration of railway and Chabahar port will rescue the Afghan markets from high price and law quality of Pakistan products.

Officials of economic and commercial sectors say, efforts underway that Afghanistan will be having accessible in various markets around the world, which want to have commercial dealings with each countries regarding his benefit.

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Qatar to streamline visa process in major tourism drive

Monday 05 Sep 2016, Doha, (IINA) – Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) signed recently an agreement with VFS Global leading provider of visa processing services for an efficient and transparent tourist visa application system for tourists visiting the state.

The agreement comes as Qatar steps up efforts to attract and welcome more visitors to Qatar in line with Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 2030 (QNTSS). The agreement will enable Qatar to identify and implement the ideal visa solutions for its visitors, while capitalizing on VFS Global’s expertise in developing multi-platform visa services, and Qatar Airways’ extensive international footprint, Trade Arabia News reported.

Qatar Airways group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said: “Qatar Airways has been bringing tourists to Qatar for nearly two decades and today’s announcement marks another milestone in our commitment to making Doha a world-class tourist destination. Qatar’s tourism industry is experiencing exponential growth and the visa advancements announced today will further support our country’s vision to invite and welcome visitors from around the world to experience all that Qatar has to offer. We look forward to welcoming more passengers on-board, at Hamad International Airport and into Qatar, as a result of today’s initiative.

“I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Interior’s General Directorate of Nationality, Borders and Expatriates Affairs, and Qatar Tourism Authority for their partnership in making today’s announcement possible. This initiative is a great example of what we can accomplish by working together, and we have other initiatives planned to further enhance Qatar tourism.”

In a signing ceremony held in Doha, Hassan Al Ibrahim, chief tourism development officer at Qatar Tourism Authority, commented on the development that Qatar’s tourism sector has witnessed in recent years. “It is a great source of pride for all of us at QTA to be making this announcement only two and half years after the launch of QNTSS. Facilitating the visa application process is an important step in our drive to increase the number of visitor arrivals to Qatar, and in raising inbound tourism spending. This agreement is also testament to the public-private-partnerships that are employed in the development of the sector, creating positive impacts across the tourism value chain and the broader economy.”

Qatar Airways and QTA will be working with VFS Global and MOI over the next few months to establish the new tourist visa application process, after which full details of the new system will be announced. The steps taken are expected to increase Qatar’s openness ranking on the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index.

From his side, Zubin Karkaria, CEO, VFS Global said; “We are pleased to partner with Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority to make the Qatar visa application process available to travellers globally, through online and mobile platforms. These new channels, which are sure to prove convenient and beneficial for visitors here, signify the next level of flexibility and security in the visa application process. This service will leverage on our experience and reliability in providing seamless visa application services, and will act as an important tool to boost tourism and make Qatar a preferred tourist destination.”

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Muslim leaders in Philippines pledge cooperation with police for peace

05 Sep 2016, Cebu City, Philippines (IINA) – The Muslim leaders community in Cebu, Philippines pledged their support to the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) to maintain peace in the city after the Davao City bombing last Friday evening.

The Muslim leaders also condemned the Davao bombing by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and wants peace in Cebu. President of the Islamic Propagation Society of Cebu, Freddie Muhammad Arafat’ S. Lozano said Muslims in Cebu are mostly traders and want a peaceful Cebu. Lozano and 24 other Muslim community leaders manifested their support to the CCPO to keep peace in the city.

They met with the police on Saturday at the CCPO headquarters in Camp Sotero Cabahug, Cebu Daily News reproted. In a press conference after the meeting, Lozano told reporters that those responsible for the bombing in Davao, misunderstood the Islam religion. “Where is the peace there? What they were doing was not anymore Islam as Islam is a religion of peace,” Lozano said. “We renew our vow to support police not just only for us. We believe on coexistence,” he told the reporters.

“We live here for peace not for mess. We cannot afford and tolerate doing bad things that will happen in Cebu,” he added.

There are around 10,000 Muslims in Cebu.

CCPO Director Joel Doria has placed the entire city under tight security, especially the Cebu IT Park, one of the busiest business locations in the city where BPO companies, banks, restaurants and bars are operating.

“We have deployed a 24-7 security in populated areas, most especially, the IT Part and have canceled all leaves of our policemen to ensure round-the-clock security in the area,” Doria said.

They have also coordinated with major establishments to ensure their CCTV cameras are fully functional.

“We are urging the public to submit to the inspections and be wary of suspicious baggage and paper bags left in public places,” Doria added.

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India’s central bank opens door to Islamic finance

05 Sep 2016, Mumbai, (IINA) – India’s central bank has proposed working with the government to introduce interest-free banking to tackle financial exclusion for religious reasons, potentially opening Islamic finance to the largest Muslim minority population in the world.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) made the proposal in its annual report last week, as departing Central Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan hands over the reins to close ally Urjit Patel. The proposal marks a shift in stance by the RBI, which has previously said Islamic finance could be offered through non-bank channels such as investment funds or cooperatives, Zawya news reported.

That has meant an estimated 180 million Muslims in India, the country’s second-largest religious group, have been unable to access Islamic banking because of laws that require banking to be based on interest, which is forbidden in Islam. The RBI said it would explore introducing interest-free banking products in consultation with the government, a key detail as this opens the prospects of supportive legislation.

“This is definitely a significant development as it is the first time that the RBI has concretely mentioned that it will now work with the government to introduce Islamic banking,” said Saif Ahmed, managing partner at Bangaluru-based Infinity Consultants, which specializes in Islamic finance. “For Islamic banks to function in India, separate parallel legislation or an amendment needs to be passed by Parliament and that can only happen with the active support of the incumbent government.”

In 2015, a central bank committee recommended opening a specialized interest-free window to offer cost-plus financing, deferred payment and deferred delivery contracts, a reference to common sharia-compliant contracts such as Murabaha. Development of Islamic finance has been slow, however, partly because of strong opposition from bureaucrats and politicians from the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

This has long hindered development, although there are signs that India is warming up to Islamic finance. The government’s external lending agency, Exim Bank, said in April it would extend a $100 million credit line to the private sector arm of the Islamic Development Bank.

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Mosques across Morocco to switch to solar energy systems

06 Sep 2016, Rabat, (IINA) – Around 600 Mosques across Morocco will be fitted with solar energy systems in government scheme to boost clean energy awareness

Six hundred “green mosques” are to be created in Morocco by March 2019 in a national consciousness-raising initiative that aims to speed the country’s journey to clean energy.

If all goes to plan, the green revamp will see LED lighting, solar thermal water heaters and photovoltaic systems installed in 100 mosques by the end of this year.

Morocco’s ministry of Islamic affairs is underwriting the innovative scheme, paying up to 70 percent of the initial investment costs in a partnership with the German government, The Guardian reported.

The first 100 mosques to get a green makeover are mostly based in big population centres such as Rabat, Fez, Marrakech and Casablanca but the project will quickly move on to smaller villages and towns.

The new green mosques project plans to do this with established technologies that can be adapted to public buildings and residential homes. By training electricians, technicians and auditors, it hopes to direct Morocco’s clean energy along the path followed by German’s Energiewende, (energy transition).

Commenting on the project, Project’s Chief Jan-Christophe Kuntze, said: “We want to raise awareness and mosques are important centres of social life in Morocco. They are a place where people exchange views about all kinds of issues including, hopefully, why renewables and energy efficiency might be a good idea.”

Morocco has established itself as a regional climate leader with high-profile projects, ranging from the largest wind farm in Africa to an enormous solar power plant in the Sahara desert, which opened earlier this year.

In November, Marrakech will host the COP22 climate summit to discuss preparations for implementing the Paris climate agreement.

The country’s Environment Minister Hakima Al-Haité, told the Guardian that religion could make a powerful contribution to the clean energy debate, shortly before an Islamic declaration on climate change last year.

“It is very important for Muslim countries to come back to their traditions and remind people that we are miniscule as humans before the importance of the earth,” she said. “We need to protect it, and to save humankind in the process.”

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Turkey to invest $3.4 billion in rebuilding southeast region

05 Sep 2016, Istanbul, (IINA) – Turkey will invest 10 billion lira ($3.4 billion) in rebuilding areas in the largely Kurdish southeast that have been damaged by heavy fighting between militants and the state, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Sunday, Reuters reported.

Turkey’s Southeast has been hit by waves of violence following the collapse of a 2.5-year ceasefire between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the state last year. The government has previously estimated some 6,000 buildings have been destroyed in security operations, and put the cost of replacing them at 1 billion lira ($345 million). “We are investing 10 billion lira,” Yildirim said in a speech in Diyarbakir, the region’s largest city. “Instead of houses destroyed by the PKK we are building beautiful houses.”

He said the government would invest in seven provincial centers across the southeast, and build houses, mosques, and hospitals. The government will also focus on rebuilding Diyarbakir’s historic Sur district, he said. Sur’s Roman-era walls are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, the district sustained heavy damage in fighting this year, leading to concern it may be beyond repair.

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World Bank Loans Egypt US$1 Billion to Support Economic Reform

CAIRO, Egypt, Sept 10 (NNN-MENA) – The World Bank (WB), on Friday, transferred one billion U.S. dollars to Egypt, to boost the Arab country’s economic reform programme.

“This is the first batch of a three billion U.S. dollar deal, allocated for funding a government economic development plan,” Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Sahar Nassr, was quoted as saying.

The WB fund will support the government efforts to mobilise financial resources, for implementing its economic programme and the national projects, that will help provide job opportunities, improve the citizens’ living standards and strengthen the state’s infrastructure, Nassr said.

She added that, the WB fund will be directed to the projects with high employment rates, and will help achieve sustainable economic development.

The Egyptian economy has been battling recession, over the past five years, due to political turmoil that led to the ouster of two presidents, shrinking the foreign currency reserves at the central bank, from 36 billion U.S. dollars in early 2011, to 15.5 billion dollars as of end of July, 2016.

The country’s main sources of foreign currency — tourism, the Suez Canal and the remittances of Egyptian expatriates — declined over the past few years for various reasons.

The country has been struggling to carry out economic reforms and establish national projects, to revive its ailing economy, which included deals with the world’s major financial organisations.

Egypt has recently reached an initial agreement with the International Monetary Fund to get a 12 billion U.S. dollar loan, to reduce its budget deficit and carry out a three-year tough economic reform programme, that will include subsidy cuts and extra tax.– NNN-MENA

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Khalifa Foundation provides help to Thousands Of Sudanese

KASSALA, Sudan, Aug 30 (NNN-WAM) – The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, has distributed humanitarian and relief aid to 4,000 Sudanese families, affected by the recent floods that hit parts of the state of Kassala, in Sudan.

According to a Khalifa Foundation spokesperson, the foundation team arrived in the affected areas, after a long and arduous journey, in coordination with the UAE Embassy in Khartoum, and the Sudanese Red Crescent Society.

The aid followed the directives of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and the follow-up of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Khalifa Foundation.

The beneficiaries expressed their thanks and appreciation to the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, for providing them with assistance, in efforts to alleviate their difficult circumstances.– NNN-WAM

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Food and Hospitality Oman To Kick Off Sept 20

MUSCAT, Oman, Sept 11 (NNN-ONA) – ‘Food and Hospitality Oman’ will kick off at Oman International Exhibition Centre on Sept 20, under the patronage of Eng. Mohsen bin Mohammed al-Sheikh, Chairman of Muscat Municipality.

The three-day event is an international trade exhibition, that serves as a business and networking platform, for companies and industry stakeholders, to promote the latest products and services in the food and beverage, agriculture and fisheries, food processing technologies, kitchen and catering equipment, hotel supplies and equipment, and restaurant and cafe segments.

The conference, which will be organised by Oman Expo, aims at raising the culture of food safety in the country and highlighting the importance of food safety standards.

The conference will provide an avenue for the exchange of ideas and strategies among policy makers and various stakeholders in the Sultanate, on issues relating to food policy and regulations, taking into account the implications and the legitimate expectations of consumers, i.e. safety, healthy and nutritious. The theme of the conference depicts the present need of a food secure nation in the Sultanate and the urgency to place attention to food safety in the Sultanate.

The exhibition of the event will attract experts from food and beverage (F&B) manufacturers, processors, producers, retailers, catering and restaurant services, packaging and processing technology providers, vendors and government representatives, to discuss the latest policies regulations, innovative approaches and technological advancements for assurance of food safety and quality in the Sultanate.

It will provide an opportunity for those with different food safety responsibilities to learn, network, and see others’ perspectives. Speakers, with varying degrees of expertise in a variety of food safety fields, moderate the technical components of their presentations, so the audience as a whole gains useful “take home” messages.

The exhibition will involve about 250 trademarks, representing several companies in the field of food and hospitality business from various countries, besides the Sultanate, such as Germany, India, Iran, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Malaysia, Thailand and Spain.– NNN-ONA

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Sultan Qaboos University Oman Hosts Solar Energy Seminar

MUSCAT, Oman, Aug 30 (NNN-ONA) – The innovators’ incubator at the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU)’s Self-Learning Centre, has organised a seminar on ‘Solar Energy’ under the patronage of Ali bin Khalfan Al-Jabri, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Information.

The lecture was presented by a researcher from the engineering and material department, at Dong Hwa University of Taiwan. Some 63 students from the various universities and colleges in the Sultanate, took part in the seminar.

Dr. Majidah bint Talib al-Hinaeyah, Director of SQU Centre for Self-Learning, said that, the innovators’ incubator, established in 2015, organised its first summer activity this year at the university.

The seminar, aimed at increasing the knowledge of SQU students, in the field of renewable energy, to qualify them to present novel ideas in this field.

The seminar covered a number of topics, including solar cells, effect of photocells, solar radiation, solar energy saving, applications and photo-voltaic (CPV).– NNN-ONA

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15th Energy Forum to be held in Algiers

ALGIERS, Sept 8 (NNN-APS) — The Secretary-General of the International Energy Forum (IEF), Sun Xiansheng, has described the 15th edition of the forum to be held in Algiers at the end of this month, as an opportunity to strengthen the dialogue between energy producers and consumers in a market marked by a drastic drop in oil prices.

IEF15, which will take place from Sept 26 to 28 “will be a new opportunity to strengthen dialogue between producers and consumers and will allow greater openness in the market,” Sun told journalists here Wednesday after calling on Algerian Minister of Energy Nourddine Boutarfa.

The IEF secretary-general, who is on a three-day visit to Algeria as part of preparations for the holding of the 15th meeting of the forum, expressed confidence that the Algiers edition of the forum would be be successful.

In this regard, he welcomed the Algerian government’s commitment to ensure the success of this international meeting, underlining that it was a “very important” meeting which would be attended by a number of Cabinet ministers and representatives of large international organizations and market operators.

On the sidelines of Algiers’ meeting, an informal meeting of the member countries of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will be held to discuss particularly the freeze in oil production to increase oil prices. — NNN-APS

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Algeria Launches Online Application For Biometric ID Cards

ALGIERS, Sept 12 (NNN-APS) — Algerian citizens who have a biometric passport can now apply online for a biometric national identity card on the website of the Ministry of Interior and Local Assemblies at https://passeport.interieur.gov.dz.

According to the Interior Ministry website, the applicant must have a biometric passport in order to use this online service. The data which will be printed on the biometric national ID card will be similar to those mentioned in the biometric passport.

According to the Ministry, the applicant must indicate his current address and cell phone number. Once his biometric national identity card is issued, the applicant will receive an SMS informing him of the date and place of collection. — NNN-APS

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Tourism Recovery In Tunisia’s Djerba And Zarzis

DJERBA/ZARZIS, Tunisia, Sept 10 (NNN-TAP) – The tourist season in Djerba and Zarzis, is experiencing a significant revival, accompanied by the reopening of several hotels to accommodate many tourists, mainly Russian and local markets. Tourism-related businesses, such as handicrafts and transport have also registered a new dynamics.

Positive results were achieved over the last three months (June, July, Aug) 2016, where the number of arrivals reached 298,000 tourists, up 25%, compared to the same period of 2015, Regional Commissioner for Tourism, Ahmed Kalboussi, told TAP.

Overnight stays totalled 2.1 million, an increase of 50%, with an occupancy rate of 70%.

The Russian market ranks first, in terms of arrivals (130,000 tourists), the local market is in the second place (85,000), followed by the French market (26,000), Germany (14,000) and Libya (12,000).

Efforts continue to promote tourism for the rest of the season (Sept, Oct and Nov) and give additional impetus to the sector, pending the winter holidays, said the Regional Commissioner.

The success of the season does not hide some problems related to cleanliness, communication, with the new Russian market and the hasty resumption of some hotel units, which affected the quality of services, noted Kalboussi, stating that, 72 hotels have reopened and eleven remained closed, two of which are preparing to return before the new year.– NNN-TAP

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Afghan President Attends Holy Quran Full Recitation

September 10, 2016, Kabul (BNA) President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani participated in full recitation of holy Quran ceremony held in presidential palace on the occasion of martyred week with participation of a number of members of cabinet and national assembly, ulema and national figures.

In the ceremony, the country’s President and the participants prayed to the souls of the country’s all martyrs in particular martyrs of recent incidents and wished them forgiveness. Meanwhile, President Ghani participated in praying ceremony of Gen. Mohammad Zaman Ahmadzai, deputy director of physical security for presidential palace. The country’s President once again extended condolence to the deceased family and colleagues, wishing paradise to the martyred and patience to the remained.

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Over 150,000 Domestic, Foreign Tourists Visit Bamyan Annually

Kabul (BNA) Located in the center of Afghanistan, the ancient Bamyan is one of the most secure provinces that beside the devastated Buddha statues, thousands caves on the heart of mountains as well as the old cities of Gholghola and Zuhak and its natural scenes and cultural monuments enjoy universal reputation.

Following the blasting of Buddha statues in 2001 during the petrified rule of Taliban, this province was deprived of tourists. Fortunately as a result of indefatigable rebuilding efforts once again this province hosts local and foreign tourists. The head of Information of Bamyan provincial department of Information and culture Ahmad Hussein Ahmadpoor said, despite of escalating insecurity and wars in a number of provinces, the number of visiting domestic and foreign tourists has increased in Bamyan. The first National Park of Afghanistan, Band-e-Amir hosts during spring and summer daily thousands Afghan families from Kandahar, Herat, Jalalabad, Balkh, Kabul and hundreds foreign tourists.

He added, in the first six months of the year 2016, approximately 287, domestic tourists visited Bamyan ancient sites and 212 foreign tourists visited ancient sites. A considerable development is the increase of domestic tourist to Band-e-Amir. In recent years, the culture of picnic has been common among families of volatile provinces due to feeding up of war, improvement of economic situation, security in Bamyan. The incharge of Bamyan Wild Life Protection Organization, Mohammad Ibrahim Ebrar said, in the first five months of last year, over 130,000 domestic tourists visited Band-e-Amir. Although no precise data are available, but we imagine that in current year, over 150,000 tourists including 300 foreigners visited the National Park of Band-e-Amir.

Ebrar added, in the past tickets were given only for persons but today tickets are given for cars Afs 100, for mini buses Afs 300 and foreign cars Afs 500. Talking on the available facilities in Band-e-Amir, Ebrar said, there are over ten small restaurants, tens rooms for rent, 3 sailing companies and tents for rents are available there.

Touching the animals in Band-e-Amir, Ebrar went on to say, fishes, Deers, Swans, Goose, Loopard, Persian leopard and over 170 native and immigrant birds specially a type of small rare bird called “Snow bird” as well as over 500 kinds of rare natural herbs. All these animals and brides are accommodated there in spring and winter. He added, a number of 50 Botanists from different countries who were searching for national herbs, have discovered over 50 kinds. These herbs especially a rare and expensive plant called chemistry bush, was found in Bamyan. Unfortunately all these bushes are usually burned by locals. Touching the challenges there, Ebrar said, 14 villages IVO Band-e-Amir use these plants and bushes as firewood that causes destruction of natural environment and greening areas. Hunting of fishes is another challenge.

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