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5 Sep, 2016

Pakistan hosts International Heritage, Museum Conference

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 05 September 2016 (04 Dhul Ḥijjah 1437). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.

Wishing all my readers a blessed and peaceful Eid Ul Adha.




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

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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



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

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

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


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




Malaysia’s GDP Among The Best In ASEAN

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 3 Sep 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani reiterated today that Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is among the best in ASEAN, despite the global economic slowdown.

In brushing off negative criticism over the country’s economic position by the opposition, he said based on statistics as of July 31, the economy still grew by 4.1 per cent in the first half of this year, while Singapore registered only two per cent.

“Our debt to the GDP is only 54.5 per cent compared to Singapore’s 89 per cent and our trade surplus for 2015 at about RM95 billion and RM45 billion for the first six months of this year,” he said in a statement here today.

He added that Malaysia’s economy is well diversified with the services sector contributing 54 per cent to the GDP, followed by manufacturing (23 per cent), mining (nine per cent), agriculture (eight per cent) and construction (four per cent).

Johari went on say that Malaysia’s financial system was very resilient, with the banking sector well-capitalised.

“Our capital market is very strong at RM2.8 trillion, equity market RM1.7 trillion and Sukuk/Bond stood at RM1.1 trillion,” he added.

The fact that Fitch Ratings has maintained the country’s ‘A-‘ rating with stable outlook, is a reflection of the country’s strong economic fundamentals.

“The rating by Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s remain as A- compared to all ASEAN countries, except Singapore, shows that we are much better,” Johari said.

Meanwhile, Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) international reserves amounted to RM391.9 billion as at Aug 15, 2016. (BNM is Malaysia’s central bank)

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Japan Airlines Unveils Boeing 787-9 With New Interior At KLIA

SEPANG, Malaysia, 1 Sep 2016, (NNN-Bernama)– Japan Airlines (JAL) today unveiled the Boeing 787-9 equipped with all-new cabin interior called JAL Sky Suite 787 (SS9) at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) here.

Kuala Lumpur would be the first destination in Asia outside Japan to welcome the new cabin configuration.

JAL Chairman Masaru Onishi said the SS9 adopted a three-class configuration namely business, economy and a new premium economy class for daily (Tokyo) Narita-Kuala Lumpur routes, beginning today.

“With JAL’s 787-9, we offer fully flat JAL Sky suites in our business class and spacious JAL Sky premium seats in the premium economy class.

“We also maintained the existing 2-4-2 configuration and increased the seat pitch in the SS9’s economy class with wider seats and more legroom,” he told reporters upon the arrival of the aircraft from the Narita International Airport.

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Malaysia: Eid Ul Adha Falls On Sept 12

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 1 Sept 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Muslims in the country will celebrate Aidiladha on Sept 12, Assistant Secretary of the Council of Rulers Mohd Aseral Jusman announced tonight.

“In carrying out the order of the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and after being agreed upon by Duli-Duli Yang Maha Mulia Raja-Raja, I hereby declare that 1 Zulhijjah 1437 Hijrah is on Saturday, Sept 3 2016.

“As such, Hari Raya Korban (10 Zulhijah) for all the states in Malaysia is fixed for Monday, Sept 12, 2016,” he said when announcing the date over Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), here.

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LEAD STORY: Pakistan hosts International Heritage, Museum Conference

LAHORE, Sept 3 (APP): A three-day international heritage and museum conference concluded here on Saturday at Alhmara Arts Council with stressing for preservation of museums and cultural heritage of the globe.

The aim of the conference was to highlight importance of heritage and museums and how heritage should be treated as a national asset.

The mega event was jointly organised by British Council Pakistan and the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) in which more than 100 heritage and museum experts from Pakistan, South Asia and the United Kingdom shared knowledge, best practices and discussed challenges faced by Pakistan in the sector.

Around 40 speakers throughout the three-day conference shared their professional and personal experiences to help curators to improve the sector in their respective areas and countries.

The first two days of the conference focused on case studies presented by experts about the museums, enhancing public and community participation in heritage initiatives.

On the third day, the conference was concluded with a workshop at Information Technology University Lahore focused on digital imaging of objects/sites, HDR imaging, photogrammetry and related topics pertaining to digital technologies.

The conference, during all the days, drawn a sizeable crowd from amongst the avid supporters and fans of arts and culture in the provincial metropolis.

Through presentations, their experiences and research, the speakers highlighted the importance of involving communities in various projects/joint ventures of museums to strengthen their affiliation with their heritage and the need to conserve it.

They said that enhancing public and community participation in promotion of heritage and cultural history is a need of time through different programmes and vocational certifications.

This will generate grassroots level interest and will help in raising awareness among communities about the history.

They also demanded the government to regulate festivals and praised the government for constituting a committee for the revival of Basant.

Jim Booth, Acting Country Director British Council Pakistan, Kamran Lashari, DG Walled City of Lahore Authority, Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England, Salima Hashmi, Duncan Wilson of Birmingham Museums, Friederike Voigt of National Museums Scotland, Masood Khan, Aga Khan Cultural Service, Neil Gregory, Historic Environment Scotland, Mark Suggitt, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, Jasdeep Singh, National Army Museum Chelsea, Megan De Silva and Jane Henderson, Monmouthshire Museums Service/Cardiff University and a large number of moderators also spoke on the occasion.

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Bangladesh celebrates National Sports Awards

DHAKA, Sept 4, 2016 (BSS)-Thirty two sports personalities, including Shaheed Sheikh Kamal and country`s ace all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan, were honoured today with National Sports Awards for 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed over the awards to them at a function at Osmani Memorial Hall in the capital this morning in recognition to their outstanding contributions from their respective fields to the development of games and sports.

State Minister for Youth and Sports Biren Sikder presided over the function, while Deputy Minister Arif Khan Joy and Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Youths and Sports Zahid Ahsan Russell were present as the special guests.

Secretary of the ministry Kazi Akhter Uddin Ahmed delivered the welcome address.

Sheikh Kamal, a star in sports arena during the post-independence period and the eldest son of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was given the National Sports Award (posthumously) for 2011.

Founder of the country’s leading sports club Abahani Krira Chakra, Sheikh Kamal was assassinated along with his parents, spouse and other family members on the fateful night of August 15, 1975.

The National Sports Award, introduced in 1976, is the highest honour bestowed upon a sports personality. A total of 188 sports personalities so far have been given the award, which includes 19 cricketers.

Before Shakib, ICC Trophy-winning captain Akram Khan received the award in 1998 while Mohammad Rafique, the architect of country’s first-ever one-day international win, got the national award in 2006.

The recipients of the National Sports Award for 2010 are: Master Warrant Officer Harun-Ur-Rashid (swimming), Atiqur Rahman (shooting), Mahmuda Begum (athletics), Dewan Md. Nazrul Hossain (gymnastics), Mizanur Rahman Manu (organiser), ASM Ali Kabir (organiser), Nayek Md. Tokbir Hossain (swimming, posthumously), Farid Khan Chowdhury (athletics), Nelee Jesmine (athletics) and Nipa Bose (athletics, Autistic).

The National Sports Award recipients for 2011 are: Rowshan Ara Chobi (gymnastics), Sergeant Md. Kanchon Ali (boxing), Md. Ashraf Ali (wrestling), Helena Khan (Eva) (volleyball), Khaled Masud Pilot (cricket), M Robiul Islam (Fatik Dutta) (bodybuilding), Jumman Lusai (hockey, posthumously), Kutub Uddin Ahmed Chowdhury (Aksir) (organiser), Ashikur Rahman Miku (organiser) and Sheikh Kamal (athletics and organiser, posthumously).

The National Sports Award recipients for 2012 are: Shakib Al Hasan (cricket), Md. Mohsin (football), M Khurshid Alam Babul (football), Ashish Bhadra (football), Satyajit Das Rupu (football), Abdul Gaffar (football),Firoza Khatun (athletics), Nazia Akter Juthi (badminton), Kazi Rajib Uddin Ahmed Chapal (organiser), ANM Mamun Ur Rashid (hockey), Umme Salma Rafique (organiser, posthumously) and Nurul Alam Chowdhury (organiser).

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SESRIC Training Course on ‘Living Conditions and Poverty Statistics’

Date : 04-08 September 2016 Venue : Doha Qatar

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 ‘Living Conditions and Poverty Statistics’ at Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics (MDPS) of State of Qatar on 4-8 September 2016.

The Training Course will be conducted by Ms. Maha Dawass, Head of Poverty Division of Department of Statistics (DOS) of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan with the participation of relevant officials of the MDPS.

As defined in the Classification of Statistical Activities (CSA Rev. 1 – October 2009; http://goo.gl/olg3Tz); Living conditions, poverty and cross-cutting social issues – includes work on multidimensional methods to measure poverty, living conditions in the broad sense, social inclusion/exclusion, social indicators, and social situation.

The Training Course on ‘Living Conditions and Poverty Statistics’ will include discussion activities with a focus on the following topics:

Definition of surveys-expenditure and consumption survey-panel surveys coordination council on quality

(+) Data sources of measurement and analysis of poverty and inequality
(+) Methods of analysis of expenditure and income data
(+) Poverty concepts
(+) Determining poverty line
(+) Measuring poverty indicators
(+) Poverty profile
(+) Measuring inequality indicators

Sign up for an account at OIC-StatCom Forum (http://forum.sesric.org/) to join the group discussion on the Training Course on ‘Living Conditions and Poverty Statistics’ in State of Qatar available at: http://forum.sesric.org/?p=73

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SESRIC Training Course on ‘Transport Statistics’

Date : 05-08 September 2016 Venue : Nouakchott Mauritania

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 ‘Transport Statistics’ at National Statistical Office (ONS) of Islamic Republic of Mauritania on 5-8 September 2016.

The Training Course will be conducted by Mrs. Magda Ahmed Metwaly, General Manager of Transport Department at the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) of Arab Republic of Egypt with the participation of relevant officials of ONS.

As defined in the Classification of Statistical Activities (CSA Rev. 1 – October 2009; http://goo.gl/olg3Tz); Transport – covers statistics on all modes of transport (air, rail, road, inland waterways, sea), includes topics like transport infrastructure, equipment, traffic flows, personal mobility, safety, energy consumption, transport enterprises, passengers and freight transport, transport sector trends, and road traffic accidents.

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

(+) General introduction on transportation,
(+) Transportation statistics publications issued by the CAPMAS,
(+) Phases of statistics production,
(+) Inventory statistics of licensed vehicles,
(+) Public transport passenger statistics inside and outside the cities,
(+) Air transportation statistics,
(+) River transport of passengers and goods statistics,
(+) Transportation of goods by road, and
(+) Sustainable Development Goals, Egypt Strategy 2030.

Sign up for an account at OIC-StatCom Forum (http://forum.sesric.org/) to join the group discussion on the Training Course on ‘Transport Statistics’ in Islamic Republic of Mauritania available at: http://forum.sesric.org/?p=76

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25,000 tourists from Mideast visit Azerbaijan in first half of 2016

Baku, 30 Aug 2016, (IINA) – Around 25,000 tourists from Arab countries visited Azerbaijan in the first half of this year, approximately eight times more than that of the same period last year.

Baku, which is also known as the City of Winds, drew a large influx of tourists from Middle East during this summer. Not only Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, but also its regions saw a record number of Gulf tourists this year, AzerNews reported.

Streets, restaurants and hotels were fully crowded with Arab citizens, who are delighted with the wonderful weather, the food and the beauty of the country.

One of the main reasons for the rising number of Arab tourists is the introduction of a simplified visa regime from this year for citizens of Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and other countries.

Interestingly, Iraq demonstrates the highest rate for this indicator among Arab countries. In the first six months of this year, 11,000 Iraqi tourists visited the country, which is 30 times more than that of January-June of 2015.

Experts say that there are different reasons attracting Arab tourists to Azerbaijan including beautiful nature, halal foods in restaurants, direct flights as well as short distance between the countries.

In addition to the abolition of visas, Muzaffar Agakarimov, the adviser of the Chairman of the Azerbaijani Tourism Association, sees the cause of massive growth of Arab tourists in the country’s security and safety, as well as in multicultural values of Azerbaijan.

“Azerbaijan has factors bringing together Europe and Asia, what attract tourists. Tourists mostly prefer to get acquainted themselves with the country’s sightseeing. They like Baku Boulevard. Many of them love Azerbaijani nature, cuisine and historical monuments. Stability is another factor attracting tourists to Azerbaijan,” he said.

Agakarimov noted that Arab tourists arriving in Azerbaijan stay here for about a week. “Arab tourists actively use city tours,” he said. “Some of them stay in 5-star hotels and some in 2-3-stay hotels. Agakarimov also emphasized that Arab tourists are going to visit Azerbaijan in winter season as well.

“According to our analysis, Arab tourists will visit Azerbaijan not only in summer, but also in winter, since our country has good conditions for winter tourism,” he said.

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“Halal Guys” food cart to opens in Springfield, Fairfax

Manhattan, 01 Sep 2016, (IINA) – “Halal Guys” food cart, which sell hot dog and other meals in Manhattan from 1990 and founded by Muhammed Abouelenein, Ahmed Alaska and Abdel Basset Elsayed, will start to serve in Springfield and Fairfax in USA on Friday.

The brand has not only expanded into a family of carts that consistently draw long lines, but it also has additional bricks-and-mortar locations in New York and franchises around the world, including outposts in Springfield and Fairfax (near Dunn Loring) that are opening on Friday, The Washington Post‎ reported.

Meal format options include a platter or sandwich (a pita wrap, basically); both come with your choice of falafel or halal meats and chicken. In the platter, you can request a mixture of two proteins. Dishes can be further customized with the company’s hot or white sauces, the latter being a particular favorite that has inspired much speculation as to its ingredients and attempts to re-create it at home. Fries, hummus and baklava are on the menu, as well.

The Halal Guys expansion into franchising is being facilitated by Fransmart, which has helped grow brands, including Five Guys and Qdoba. Additional D.C. area locations coming soon include H Street NE and another Fairfax location near George Mason University.

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Digital World-2016′ to be held in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Sept 4, 2016 (BSS) – Country’s largest digital expo – Digital World 2016 – will be held in the capital on October 19-21 showcasing the technology-based innovations and achievements and a single platform for sharing ICT knowledge and idea.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to inaugurate the flagship annual event of the country’s ICT sector at the International Convention City Bashundhara (ICCB) in the city, Mohammad Enamul Kabir, Secretary of the Digital World-2016 Secretariat told BSS.

The ICT Division is organising the event with assistance of the Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC), Bangladesh Association of Software and Information Services (BASIS) and A2I programme of the Prime Minister’s office.

Kabir said the event would be the major focus for the government decision makers in the ICT sector, chief executives and high profile tech persons and thousands of spectators.

Like previous years, the exposition would be based on the major targets of showcasing achievements of Bangladesh in ICT and offering a single platform for free-flow of ICT related ideas which would guide the country toward achieving Vision 2021, he said.

Kabir, also Director (Training) of the Digital World, said the three-day mega event would include seminars, IT career fair, soft expo, e-Governance expo, mobile innovation expo, e-commerce and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) programme.

Over 5,00,000 visitors including corporate, institutional and individual buyers are expected during the three-day event, he added.

Around 400 local and foreign exhibitors including policymakers and senior government officials, industry leaders, civil society spokespersons,investors and multinational software vendors would participate in the event,Kabir added.

He said representatives of ICT companies, international ICT associations,international development agencies, local software development firms will be present alongside the multinational and local companies, government departments and agencies implementing successful ICT and e-Governance projects.

Kabir said representatives from renowned IT training institutes as well as university faculty members and students would also participate in the different events of the fair.

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922,292 Hajj pilgrims arrive by Wednesday

Riyadh,01 Sep 2016, (IINA) – The General Directorate of Passports stated on Thursday that 922,292 Hajj pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia as of Wednesday.

According to SPA, a total of 877,134 pilgrims arrived by air, 34,456 by land, while the figure of pilgrims who came by sea stood at 2,737.

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ASEAN Character Award 2016 Winners Announced

TOKYO, 1 Sep 2016, (Bernama) — The ASEAN-Japan Centre announced on August 18 the winners of the ASEAN Character Award 2016. This year, three out of 36 self- or recommended nominees were chosen by a group of professional jurors.

The winners will be given opportunities to exhibit their character products at the Tokyo Game Show 2016 on September 15-16, 2016, at Makuhari Messe in Japan. In addition, each winner will have an opportunity of making presentations on their works during the ASEAN Networking Seminar on September 17 at the meeting room 303 of International Conference Hall (3F) at Makuhari Messe.

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Arafat Day is on September 11

Makkah, 02 Sep 2016,(IINA) – Arafat Day, when pilgrims stand in prayer on the plains of Arafat near Makkah at the peak of the annual pilgrimage, will fall on Sunday, September 11, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday, quoting a statement from the Supreme Court.

The court said in a statement that it had received not any authentic information with regard to sighting of the new moon on Thursday evening, and hence Saturday, Sept. 3 will be the first day of Dul Hijjah. Eid Al-Adha will be celebrated on Monday, Sept. 12, the statement added. This year’s Hajj pilgrimage will begin on Sept. 10, with pilgrims heading to the tent city of Mina where they will spend the day and night in preparation for their standing on the plains of Arafat the next day.

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American Muslims fear backlash during Eid Al-Adha festival

New York, 01 Sep 2016, (IINA) – American Muslims have been preparing for their holiest holiday, Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated from the 10th of the Hijri month of Dhul Hijjah after the sighting of the crescent moon and that could fall this year on September 11.

The Director of the New York Chapter of Muslim Public Affairs Council Dalia Mahmoud fears the coincidence could provoke a backlash on the Muslim community, CBS New York news reported.

“It will be important for us to just be cognizant and cautious in the environment we are in. It is a political year. There is unfortunately a fair amount of Islamophobia,” she said.

“It’s a mixed feeling, joy with sadness. Joy because of Eid, holiday, and stuff like that, but at the same time sadness. It’s a very sad event,” Yusuf Ibrahim told CBS2 TV News Reporter Fatima Rahmatullah.

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All Systems Go For Malaysian Haj Pilgrims

MAKKAH, 2 Sept 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Tabung Haji (TH) is confident that their preparations to bring 22,000 Malaysian haj pilgrims to perform haj rituals such as the “wukuf” in Arafah, spending nights in Muzdalifah and Mina, as well as the ‘stoning of devil’ at Jamrat al-Aqabah will go well. (Tabung Haji is Malaysia’s pilgrimage management board)

The head of the Malaysian haj delegation, Syed Saleh Syed Abdul Rahman said as Wukuf day falls on Sept 11, it gives them the advantage of

bringing the haj pilgrims to Arafah a day earlier.

“The Saudi Arabian government has announced that Wukuf day will fall on a Sunday, thus enabling us to be ready to transport the pilgrims on Saturday, if not they would be stuck in traffic congestion,” he said after a meeting with the Southeast Asia Muassasah at the Tabung Haji (TH) headquarters in Makkah, here on Thursday.

Also present was Southeast Asia Muassasah chairman, Muhammad Amin Hassan Andarqiri.

Syed Saleh said TH staff were working closely with the muassasah (pilgrim delegations) in ensuring the smooth running of preparations.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Amin said they were in their final stages of preparing for amenities in Arafah, Muzdalifah and Mina. All that was left was the supply of electricity and water at the camp sites before Wukuf day.

Yesterday, the Saudi Arabian government had announced that Arafah day (Wukuf day) would fall on Sept 11 (Sunday) and on the following day Aidiladha would be celebrated.

The date was set after the Saudi government declared tomorrow as 1 Zulhijjah 1437 Hijrah.

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Afghan Muay Thai Athletes Doing Well

Kabul, 3 September 2016, (BNA) Afghan Muay Thai athletes obtained two silver medals from Muay Thai international championships.

Manawar Shah Shahzad in-charge of publication in National Olympic Committee today said BNA, Zahra Rezayee and Suhrab Ahmadi in the weight of 48 kg won silver medals from the international tournaments.

The competitions held with presence of Muay Thai athletes from 54 countries, which Afghan players could to achieve two silver medals.

Also four Afghan referees, which attended in a seminar was held in Thailand were achieved international arbitration degrees in Muay Thai sport.

The Muay Thai athletes and their delegation will return home tomorrow.

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Bali’s buffalo racers battle to keep tradition alive

BANJAR JEMBRANA, Indonesia, Sept 4, 2016 (BSS/AFP)- Wearing crowns and colourful horn coverings, the buffaloes haul wooden carts at high speed past paddy fields on Bali, with the racers aboard cracking whips in a bid to push their beasts on to victory.

Hundreds of spectators cheer from the sidelines, hoping their team will come out on top in the annual festival on the Indonesian island reminiscent of chariot racing.

The buffalo racing, known as “Makepung”, pits two farming communities against each other in western Jembrana district, in a tradition that marks the rice harvesting season.

A world away from the popular tourist hangouts further south on the island, the races are an awe-inspiring spectacle that see participants stand on speeding carts with flags fluttering from the top, as two buffaloes pull each of the rudimentary vehicles.

But the races, which have been held annually for decades, are falling out of favour — regular competitors are now elderly and few of the younger villagers are keen to take up the sport.

“I am old now, and there is no new generation,” said Kadek Nuraga, 51, who has been racing for the West Ijo Gading community for over 35 years.

“Many of the older racers would like to retire, some are already over 60, but they simply don’t have much choice. Somebody needs to preserve the tradition.”

  • Ageing racers –

Nowadays younger people tend to leave Jembrana once they have reached adolescence in search of better education in cities, and community elders complain that those who stay are more interested in playing video games than the high-speed buffalo races.

One of Nuraga’s sons, now aged 27, has already left his village, and he is training his neighbour’s teenage son at the weekends so he can take up the reins of the sport in the future.

But training a good competitor takes time and the older a competitor gets, the easier it is for him to fall off a speeding cart, said Makepung chief organiser Made Mara. Some veteran racers have even died after tumbling off speeding carts.

There is such a shortfall of people wanting to take part some teams are having to hire racers, said Komang Hendra, Jembrana tourism chief.

But this costs 100,000 rupiah ($7.50) per race, a hefty sum in a country where many earn the equivalent of two to three dollars a day.

Still for many Jembrana residents the investment is worthwhile due to the potential financial gain.

The typical prize money for each session of the Makepung race is 25 million rupiah ($1,900) but that is split among the whole winning team, often made up of 1-200 people.

But the value of a pair of victorious animals tends to soar on the local market and some can reach prices of 175 million rupiah.

  • Decades of tradition –

The Makepung tradition started in the 1960s when two communities on either side of the Ijo Gading river took a competitive approach to working their fields, with farmers racing each other as they laboured.

What started off as a bit of fun evolved into a serious competition and now the communities field teams each year for the racing season.

The season runs from July to November, with races roughly every fortnight, and this year involved about 300 water buffaloes.

The competitors from the West Ijo Gading team dress in green and adorn their carts with green flags, while those from the East Gading Team use the colour red.

A race day usually lasts about five hours, with numerous races that each typically see one cart from each community hurtling down a track that measures about 1,500 metres (5,000 feet).

There are four categories, with buffaloes deemed the fastest in the first category. One of the communities is declared the winner at the end of a day’s racing.

While the sport does not lure tourists in the same numbers as Bali’s palm-fringed beaches, each race day usually attracts foreigners, in addition to many locals.

For most Jembranese, the financial gains are just a bonus and the real attraction is the prestige.

“It’s not actually winning the prize that matters — there’s a certain pride and prestige if you win Makepung,” said tourism chief Hendra.

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Cash prizes of AED250,000 for winners of Sharjah Startups

SHARJAH, 3 September 2016, (WAM) — The Sharjah Economic Excellence Network (ShjSEEN) Award has announced that valuable cash prizes will be awarded to the winners of its Sharjah UAE Startups Award and Sharjah Entrepreneurship Award.

The move aims to promote a culture of quality and excellence in private sector, support and stimulate young entrepreneurs and honour the pioneering businessmen in recognition of their significant contribution to sustainable development and prosperity.

The ShjSEEN Award is organised with the support of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, and under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Crown Prince and Deputy Ruler of Sharjah. It is, also, consistent with the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s (SCCI) efforts to improve the investment climate in the emirate, boost its competitiveness and adopt the values of quality, leadership and innovation.

Sharjah UAE Startups Award is presented to the innovative entrepreneurial ventures and the newly emerged and fast-growing organisations in the UAE. Entry is open to all private sector organisations in the UAE. Entries will be evaluated based on innovation and measureable outcomes. The winner will receive a cash prize of AED100,000.

Sharjah Entrepreneur Award will be presented to the most successful entrepreneurs who have made a significant difference in their lives and community. Private sector entrepreneurs can enter one of the three categories covering Sharjah, Eastern Region and Central Region. Entries will be assessed based on quality, professionalism, leadership and measurable outcomes. The winner in each of the three categories will receive a cash prize of AED50,000.

Nada Al Hajri, General Coordinator of ShjSEEN, said, “The decision to allocate this fund for these two awards, in particular, was taken with the aim of supporting the startup companies and encouraging the innovative entrepreneurial ventures, as well as recognising the entrepreneurs and investors who significantly contributed to the community’s progress and the overall economic development in the Emirate of Sharjah and the UAE.”

Al Hajri has called upon all the start-up companies and entrepreneurs, who meet the award requirements, to participate in the two awards, and to benefit from this great platform to present their innovative ideas and ventures. “Participants will receive financial and moral support and will be honoured in recognition of their outstanding contribution to sustainable development and prosperity,” she said.

Al Hajri pointed out that all entries in the ShjSEEN Award will be evaluated based on professional, clear, transparent and objective criteria with the aim to recognize excellence of businesses and innovative entrepreneurs.

The SCCI has recently announced that the deadline for the submission of entries for the Sharjah Economic Excellence Network (ShjSEEN) Award has been set for 29th September. The awards include five categories: Sharjah Award for TOP 10 Businesses Award, Sharjah Award for Best Startups in the UAE, Sharjah Entrepreneurship Award, Sharjah Green Award and Sharjah Social Responsibility Award.

The award is aimed at promoting corporate governance, encouraging adoption of quality standards and business code of ethics, developing corporate social responsibility in private sector, encouraging eco-friendly practices and strengthening the role of business community in advancing sustainable development. These goals will be achieved by providing necessary facilities, launching and supporting new enterprises and recognising excellence.

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CIMB Chief Calls On Private Sector To Move ASEAN Integration Forward

KUALA LUMPUR, 2 Sep 2016, (Bernama) — KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 (Bernama) — After a slow start in implementing regional integration, the private sector in Southeast Asia under the leadership of Indonesia should push harder to achieve a single economic market, said Nazir Razak, chairman of Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings and co-chairman of the ASEAN Business Club.

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review, the 49-year-old banker, whose financial group has a strong presence in the region, said a lack of political will and public acceptance is hampering planned regional economic integration.

The 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations established the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015 to lay the foundation for a single production base through the elimination of tariffs and other liberalization initiatives.

“Political resistance is about sovereignty, but it is also about lack of mass appeal,” said Nazir, who is the youngest brother of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. “ASEAN has never done enough to sell the importance of the concept as a trade-off to the masses.”

Moreover, the AEC is falling short of expectations against the backdrop of territorial disputes in the South China Sea involving China. Nazir proposed that businesses should form independent bodies among themselves to implement, monitor and push forward projects under the economic integration plan.

Despite having a significant presence in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore, CIMB still cannot set up a centralized back-office operation due to the differences in national laws. “When I think of that, there is very little focus and leadership to drive economic integration,” he noted.

As a start to tackling more demanding liberalization measures later, he suggested that regional banks, for example, should be allowed to move senior staff freely “at very little cost to everyone.”

Due to the development gap among ASEAN members, many in the less developed economies are defensive due to fears that more advanced economies will be the only ones to benefit once their markets are opened.

One solution is to encourage companies with regional operations to take their corporate and social responsibility roles more seriously and show that the AEC actually benefits everyone, Nazir said.

“We should also spend time helping companies there to raise capital in more developed markets rather than having to wait for the formation of their own stock market,” he added.

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Etihad Airways Medical Centre hosts annual Aviation Health Conference

ABU DHABI, 4 September 2016 (WAM) — Etihad Airways Medical Centre has welcomed more than 120 medical professionals and international experts to its annual Aviation Health Conference, being held this year under the theme, “Ophthalmology and Colour Vision in Aviation” under the patronage of the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority Aeromedical Section, in partnership with Etihad Airways and Moorfields Eye Hospital Centre, Abu Dhabi.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Nadia Bastaki, Etihad Airways Vice President for Medical Services and Senior Aviation Medical Examiner, the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in aviation medicine, said, “Etihad Airways Medical Centre organises annual aviation health conferences to encourage collaboration among aviation medicine practitioners and health industry stakeholders both in the region and internationally.”

The Etihad Airways Medical Centre is staffed by 13 physicians and 15 nurses offering a full range of services, including general medicine, dental services, physiotherapy, 24 hour ambulance service and national service medical checkups for the airline’s staff.

Guest speaker, Dr. Ansa Jordaan, Chief of the Aviation Medicine Section at the International Civil Aviation Organisation highlighted the issue of colour vision assessments, calling it a matter of high priority for the industry.

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Top Diplomatic Turnout at Malaysia’s Merdeka Reception In New York

NEW YORK, 2 Sep 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presidency which ended Aug 31, has been a “very successful” tenure.

“August will be a month in which we will be having activity but there will be less Security Council engagements,” said Malaysia’s permanent representative to the UN, Ramlan Ibrahim to Bernama at the sidelines of a reception marking the Merdeka anniversary as well as the ending on Malaysia’s presidency of the UNSC.

He added that many of the present issues such as Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Guinea Bissau, etc. would however, continue to be there.

The envoy also observed that Malaysia’s Security Council presidency was characterized by two discretionary events – firstly, children involved in armed conflict and, secondly, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), with Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi recently attending the last-named event.

Ramlan said that both the events were well attended.

“The event on children in armed conflict had a participation of over 70 per cent participation from member states while the second event on WMD had over 60 per cent participation. The two main events were selected on the basis of consensus,” he said.

Heaving a sigh of relief from the pressures that are inherently associated with the high-profiled presidency of the UNSC, the envoy himself welcomed the guests along with his senior staff at the entrance of the mission.

The guests were, mainly, ambassadors and diplomats from other countries accredited with the UN, but also high-ranking UN officials, prominent cultural and social figures and the Malaysian diaspora from the east coast region.

Helen Clark, former New Zealand Prime Minister and one of the candidates in the race for the UN secretary general’s position, was also among the guests.

She was “very happy” to be at the reception as she tried out some of the food that was generously spread out on the large trays at the tables.

Another prominent visitor, who made a cameo appearance towards the end of the reception, was the high-profile US permanent representative to the UN, Samantha Power, who was warmly greeted by Ramlan and his senior staff.

Asked whether he felt elated at the turnout of so many prominent guests at the reception which was hosted both for the Merdeka anniversary and the ending of Malaysia’s presidency of the UNSC, Ramlan said that he was happy to welcome all his guests.

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First Post-Ban Russian Charter Flight Arrives in Turkey’s Antalya

ANKARA, 3 Sept 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The first Russian charter flight arrived at Antalya, Turkey late Friday after the charter ban lifted by Moscow, China’s Xinhua news agency reported citing local Anadolu Agency.

A Royal Airlines Flight Boeing 767 with some 309 Russian passengers from Moscow landed at Antalya International Airport on Friday night.

The Russian government signed on Aug 28, a decree lifting the restrictions on charter flights to Turkey after an eight-month ban.

The ban were introduced due to tensions between the two countries arising from the downing of a Russian warplane by Ankara in November 2015.

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Bangladesh to declare new media policy

CHITTAGONG, 4 Sep 2016, (BSS)- Prime Minister’s Media Affairs Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury yesterday said the government is expected to declare a general policy for the print, electronic and online media soon.

“The proposed policy will be aimed at development of media industry,” he told a function organised for distribution of cheques among the ill, distressed and unemployed journalists from Bangladesh Journalists Welfare Trust at Chittagong Press Club (CPC).

A total of 27 ill, distressed and jobless journalists received cheques from the premier’s adviser.

Iqbal said the policy would be prepared after discussions with all stakeholders.

The adviser said the 9th wage board for the media industry would also be announced very soon removing anomalies in the 8th wage board to enhance the salaries and other benefits of journalists and employees of the media industry.

He said the government also took initiatives to amend the Newspaper Employee’s Service Condition Act-1974 to be passed in the Jatiya Sangsad (Parliament).

Chittagong Union of Journalists (CUJ) organised the function, where Iqbal Sobhan urged the journalists to work with responsibility in order to strengthen democracy to resist militancy and conspiracy with a view to upholding the county’s image.

CUJ President Reaz Haidar Chowdhury presided over the function while vice president of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists (BFUJ) journalist Shahidul Alam, former president of CPC and director of Rupali Bank Abu Sufian, CPC president Kalim Sarwar, CPC general secretary Mohsin Chowdhury, CUJ general secretary Mohammad Ali, former CUJ presidents M Nasirul Hoque and Mostaq Ahmed, BFUJ leader Tapan Chakkrabarti and senior journalist Anjan Sen, among others, spoke on the occasion.

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Indonesia to Celebrate Eid Ul Adha On Sept 12

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 2 Sept 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The Republic of Indonesia has fixed Sept 12 as

the day for celebrating Aidiladha.

Its Religious Minister, Lukman Hakim Saefudin announced the date after having a closed-door meeting with ulama or clerics and leaders of several Islamic organisations in the country yesterday afternoon.

He said the date for Hari Raya Aidiladha this year was based on ‘hisab’ or computation following the position of the crescent which was not visible.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world with more than 70 per cent of the 300 million living in the country being Muslims.

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Kabul University’s New Chancellor Introduced

Kabul, 14 August 2016, (BNA)— Newly-appointed chancellor of Kabul University was introduced yesterday by minister of higher education to the university lecturers and administrative personnel.

Based on proposal of higher education ministry and approval of presidential office, Hamidullah Farooqi has been recently appointed as chancellor of Kabul University.

In a ceremony held on this occasion in auditorium of the university, minister of higher education Farida Momand said, “Today I am introducing a figure as Kabul University’s chancellor who has spent years of his life to serve as lecturer of the university.”

Minister of higher education also praised Professor Habibullah Habib, former chancellor of the University for his Works, saying that the former chancellor of the university had shown professionalism during his tenure.

Afterwards, Hamidullah Farooqi spoke and pledged that in cooperation with lecturers and leading body of higher education ministry he would make effort towards providing better academic facilities to students and ending problems of the university’s lecturers.

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Kazakhstani, Qatari bodies ink Islamic finance cooperation deal

Astana, 1 Sep 2016, (IINA) – The Astana International Finance Centre has signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Qatar Financial Centre.

The agreement provides for the exchange of experience and information on regulation of markets for the Islamic finance, Kazakh TV news reported.

This direction is of priority for the Astana financial center and interests investors from the Middle East. According to the Qatari delegation, their experience could be useful to the Kazakhstani counterparts in the implementation of the project.

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Kuwaiti Teachers Invited To Arabic Teaching Programme In U.S.

KUWAIT,30 Aug 2016,(NNN-KUNA) – Kuwaiti teachers are invited to be involved in a special US programme, to teach Arabic to American students in a US college, declared the US Embassy’s Cultural Attache, Dr. Zennia Paganini.

Explaining some features of the programme, called the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Programme, Dr. Paganini said, it is a nine-month activity for early career English teachers or professionals, in related fields who will teach Arabic to US students in a US college.

The programme is fully funded by the Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs and it is an integral part of the Fulbright Foreign Student exchange programme.

In an interview with KUNA, the cultural attache shed some light on prospected impact of the programme on Kuwait-US relations, saying the FLTA participants will have an excellent opportunity to extend their knowledge of the society and culture of the United States, while serving as cultural ambassadors of Kuwait.

In addition to being teaching assistants of Arabic to US students, participants will engage in community service activities, learn about US values, and share their Kuwaiti culture with American citizens.

“This year, we are delighted to be working closely with the (Kuwait) Ministry of Education, to publicise the programme to English language teachers,” Dr. Paganini told Kuwait News Agency.

Elaborating on the programme’s benefits, she said, Kuwaiti teachers will have an excellent opportunity to connect with other language teaching professionals and academics.

This year, the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs is expected to fund approximately 100 Arabic Fulbright FLTA participants from the Middle East and North African region.

Those participants will meet in an Arabic FLTA orientation, to prepare for their teaching experience. During the programme, the FLTAs will be in direct communication with American students and faculty members on US campuses, which will help strengthen their foreign language instruction skills, and refine their English language proficiency.

They will also interact with host communities in conversation groups, extracurricular activities, and community outreach projects. As a result, FLTAs also typically gain experience in public speaking and presenting. FLTAs attend a mid-year enrichment conference, and also enrol in two college courses dealing with US Studies per semester, at their host institutions, which affords them a wonderful chance to gain further insight into US culture and society.

After the programme, Fulbright FLTAs return to their home countries and can immediately apply their newly acquired professional skills and experience to directly benefit their own educational institutions.

On application requirement, the cultural attach said, applicants must be Kuwaiti citizens who are English teachers, or recent graduates of American studies, journalism/media studies, or American/English literature.

English language proficiency is mandatory and should be demonstrated with a TOEFL IBT score (79-80 minimum) or ILETS score (6.0 in total). Completed applications should be submitted through the links available on the US Embassy’s social media platforms on twitter and Instagram. The Embassy will only contact short-listed applicants for interviews. Last date to submit applications will be on Sept 3.

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Malindo Air Launches Kl-Medan Daily Service, Expands to Hanoi

SEPANG, 29 Aug 2016, (Bernama) — Malindo Air today launches daily services from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) to Kualanamu International Airport, Medan (KNO) in line with the airline’s international network plan, bringing its route network to 39 destinations in 13 countries.

Malindo Air flight OD 322 will depart every day from KLIA at 8.15 pm and arrive at Kualanamu International Airport at 8.15 pm local time. There is a time difference of one hour between Kuala Lumpur and Medan. The flight will depart Medan at 7.10 am and arrive at KLIA at 9.10 am local time.

Frequent flight connectivity between Kuala Lumpur and Vietnam is expected to boost tourism and strengthen ties between the two countries, said Malaysian Ambassador to Vietnam Zamruni Khalid.

Malindo Air’s new Kuala Lumpur-Hanoi route would result in higher Vietnamese tourists arrivals in Malaysia, he told reporters, here today after welcoming the airline’s inaugural flight to the city.

Hanoi is Malindo Air’s second destination in Vietnam – in January it begun twice daily flights to Ho Chi Minh City.

“In 2015, a total of 229,626 Vietnamese travelled to Malaysia… for this year, we expect 280,000 tourists to visit Malaysia and we believe frequent flights will help,” he said.

Malindo Air is using the Boeing 737-800 aircraft for its daily flight to Hanoi.

Malindo Air Public Relations and Communication director Raja Sa’adi Raja Amrin said the route is part of the airline’s international network expansion, bringing its current route network to 40 destinations in 13 countries.

He said Vietnam’s market had a lot of potential and Malindo Air’s more frequent flights to the country would certainly enable Malaysia to attain its target of attracting 36 million international visitors by 2020.

Raja Sa’adi said the airline would work closely with Tourism Malaysia and Vietnamese travel agents to design promotional and shopping packages.

He said promotional fares for the new route start from RM209 for Economy Class and RM1,109 for Business Class one-way all-inclusive, and include perks such as free baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment and meals.

Malindo Air flight OD571 departs daily from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 9.15am and arrives at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi at 11.25am local time (Hanoi is one hour behind Kuala Lumpur).

The return flight will depart Hanoi at 12.15pm and arrive at KLIA at 4.35pm.

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UNESCO To Help Promote Afghan Access To Information Culture

Kabul, 3 Sep 2016, (BNA) The supervision commission on access to information in cooperation with UNESCO and other civil society entities has launched a one month campaign in Kabul to strengthen and promote the culture of access to information.

Sayed Ekram Afzali, head of the commission stated that in the next one month, to promote the culture of access to information, a throughout campaign will be conducted across the country. Different programs are expected to be done within a month such as, awareness programs in ministries and educational programs for media to mark International Day on Access to Information that is coincided with Sep. 28, he further said. The main message of the programs is that access to information is everyone’s right and the government is responsible to work on it and based on people demand, put the information in their access. The information should be precautionary put in the people access. This is an international standard and the government is responsible to fulfill it.

Exclusion and prohibition are exception, but the regulation is access to information and we hope the concerned organs properly perform their duty in the respect. The commission asks all government institutions to specify their media in-charges in any section and put the necessary information to people access and those don’t will be legally treated. This is not the first time that many of the media as partner showed readiness and have come to take part in the campaign however, they have not been sponsored. The media presence is very important in the campaign, particularly the journalists who are the real owners of information. It is stressed that any citizen should know about the government plans, because the government plans are connected to people lives.

Based on members of the commission, this is the first time that such a day is marked in Afghanistan, as the commission has conducted a campaign to strengthen and promote culture of access to information one month earlier. This is while that according to the commission in-charges, if the access to information situation gets continued as like as it is, the people will face problems, thus, there should not be any distance created between people and the government. Media are one of the important tools in offering transparent information, and in democrat system the governments are obliged to protect them. Therefore, the related officials should pay serious attention in this regard.

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UAE Embassy oversees Spanish Muslim Hajj mission

Madrid, 2 Sep 2016, (IINA) – The UAE Embassy on Thursday oversaw preparations for a mission of Spanish Muslims embarking on Hajj pilgrimage to Makkah, WAM reported.

The effort is part of the generous support extended to Muslims across the world by the Zayed Bin Sultan Al-Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation.

The pilgrims thanked the foundation for this charitable gesture and humanitarian initiatives. They prayed Allah to shower His mercy uponr the founder of UAE the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyanand wished for continued good health and well-being for President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

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Togo: AfDB E-Wallet Scheme Targets Three Million Farmers in Togo

Togo, 4 Sep 2016, Togonews (Lomé)—In line with its agriculture transformation agenda for the continent, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is launching a digital payment project in Togo.

AGRIPME (Agri Porte Monnaie Electronique) will provide subsidies to farmers through electronic wallets provided by mobile network operators MOOV and TOGOCEL.

These operators will bear the cost of buying SIM cards; prefund a communication campaign; and establish call centres for customer support for AGRIPME as part of their corporate social responsibility.

More than 75, 000 farmers out of the 150, 000 small-scale farmers in the country have already been identified and registered for the programme.

Three million farmers who represent 70 per cent of the total population are targeted.

AfDB is working with the Ministries of Agriculture and Digital Economy in Togo in the project that will avail a $1.3 million subsidy for the farmers to buy inputs.

The Togolese Government is aiming to establish a secure database of small-scale farmers; and to digitize input acquisition and selection of input suppliers for the distribution of fertilizers.

Togo is one of the lowest users of farm inputs globally. Prior to the ongoing reforms in the country’s agricultural sector, it is approximated that only six kilograms of fertilizers per acre were used against the recommended 50 kilograms for good agricultural performance.

It is expected that this innovation will result in more than half of Togo’s population being recognized in the financial system, making them more attractive to financial institutions and improving their overall well-being.

AfDB supports a similar successful project in Liberia.

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African Development Bank Appoints Abdoulkader Dileita Mohamed As Executive Secretary

2 September 2016, (African Development Bank)- The African Development Bank is pleased to announce the appointment of Abdoulkader Dileita Mohamed as the Executive Secretary, Head of the Administrative Tribunal, with effect from 1st September 2016.

Abdoulkader Dileita, a national of the Republic of Djibouti, is currently serving as the Secretary to the Bank’s Staff Appeals Committee, a position he has held since 2009. Prior to which he served as a long-term consultant in the Bank’s Legal Department from 2006 to 2008.

Abdoulkader Dileita holds a Master’s degree and an M. Phil (Diplôme d’Etudes Approfondies) in Public Law, from the University of Toulouse. He has also studied Corporate Strategy and Management at the l’Ecole Supérieur de Gestion of the University of Quebec, in Montreal.

Before joining the Bank, Mr. Dileita served as a lawyer in Djibouti. He was also a lecturer in Public Law, Constitutional Law, International Law and Human Rights at the University of Djibouti. In addition, he had a successful career as Technical Adviser to the Minister of Culture, Posts and Telecommunications, before becoming Secretary General of the Ministry. He also held the position of Legal Adviser and Head of Legal Affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Djibouti.

As a senior civil servant, he gathered considerable experience working on national, regional and international legal reforms. At the judicial level, he served as the National Rapporteur of the “Justice Forum” (Etats Généraux de la Justice), which, to date, is the key reform of Djibouti’s judicial system. He also served as a member of the Conseil Supérieur de la Magistrature (Board in charge of the promotions and discipline of magistrate) for five years and was the Chairperson of several Boards of Directors of major public corporations of Djibouti.

Reacting to his appointment, Mr. Dileita said: “We, staff members of the African Development Bank, enjoy the privilege of being endowed with an internal, independent and impartial Administrative Tribunal accessible to all. I am honored to contribute to the African development mission conferred upon our Bank, a mission that the Bank has decided to operationalize through the High 5s defined by President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

“I sincerely thank the President for the trust bestowed on me through this appointment. I will spare no efforts in the discharge of my duties”.

Referring to this appointment, the President of the African Development Bank, Mr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said, “Mr. Dileita is an experienced legal expert who is conversant with the Bank’s recourse mechanisms and the jurisdictions of international organizations. His rich legal experience and leadership will be critical enablers for the smooth running of our Administrative Tribunal, a very important governance organ which serves as the apex body of our internal justice system.”

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Suqya Zamzam launches ”Serving pilgrims is source of pride for us” campaign

Makkah, 1 Sep 2016, (IINA) – Suqya Zamzam launched the fourth edition of “Serving pilgrims is source of pride for us” campaign on Thursday.

The campaign is aimed at providing light meals and snacks for the pilgrims at the east plaza of the Grand Mosque.

The pilgrims expressed their gratitude and appreciation to the government of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman for its excellent services that will facilitate the performance of their rituals.

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Sultan Qaboos University 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).

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Bid to reduce ‘heat stress’ at holy Hajj sites

Jeddah, 31 Aug 2016, (IINA) – A Saudi specialist in climatology, meteorology and air pollution has cautioned against the risk of “heat stress” during the Hajj season, attributing this to the high humidity levels in conjunction with scorching temperatures in the holy sites nowadays. However, the weather forecast indicates that the high temperatures could continue to drop with the beginning of Hajj.

In an exclusive interview with the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), Assistant Professor at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research Dr. Turki Habeebullah revealed that the current temperatures in Makkah and the holy sites range between 30 °C and 45 °C. He pointing out that the coming days will experience a decline in the temperature to below 40 °C as the maximum temperature, while the average temperature will remain in the range of 35 °C.

He stated that the temperatures will fall slightly during the Hajj season, while the humidity levels will be a little bit higher, due to the expected waves of moisture in the coming days, noting that the humidity levels over the past two days ranged between 50 and 60 percent.

“If the humidity increases to a maximum level, with a slight rise in temperatures, this will cause the incidence of heat stress, and will increase the risk of sunstrokes as well,” Dr. Habeebullah warned.

He pointed out that the air pollution levels will be within the globally accepted limits, and that the level of air pollutant concentration in Makkah and the holy places will be within the normal limits, due to wind activity and mountainous nature of Makkah. This will constantly clean the area, besides the continued reduction of the number of vehicles as a result of operating the Mashaer Train and the regular use of shuttle services in Makkah.

Habeebullah said that the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research is in the process of issuing a Heat Index for Makkah, in collaboration with the Saudi Meteorological and Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA), to be concerned with the measurement of humidity levels in Makkah and the holy sites, and reporting on them.

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Recognition For Singapore Malays With Special Awards

SINGAPORE, 1 Sep 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Being a Malay, it feels great to see Malays in Singapore being recognised for their achievements. They have proven that they too could shine in a meritocratic and a highly competitive environment.

The first recognition went to Zuraidah Abdullah, a policewoman with the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner (SAC). She is also the Malay Heritage Foundation Chairperson.

Zuraidah, 54, the first Malay to join the Singapore Police Force through its direct entry programme three decades ago, was presented the Berita Harian Achiever of the Year (Anugerah Jauhari) Award by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday.

The award is for her leadership in serving the nation and her steadfast dedication in helping the underprivileged Muslim community.

The annual awards, organised by Singapore Press Holdings’ Malay daily, Berita Harian, honours Malay/Muslim individuals for their achievements in their chosen field, be it education, business, arts and culture, sports, the professions or social work.

Into its 18th year, the award is also open to organisations.

The qualities that the judging panel looked into included perseverance, determination, integrity and the ability to overcome odds.

Above all, the recipient has to be a role model for the Malay/Muslim community in Singapore.

A trailblazer since young, 30 years ago the Nanyang Technical Institute graduate became the first Malay and sixth woman to join the Singapore Police Force (SPF) through its direct entry programme where university graduates became senior officers.

Since then she rose through the ranks to hold senior positions including the Commander of the Airport Police Division; Commander of Jurong Police Division; Commander, Training Command and Head of Operations of Central Police Division.

In 2013, Zuraidah added another feather to her cap when she was promoted as the first woman to hold the rank of SAC in SPF.

From 2007 to 2009, Zuraidah was seconded to the self-help group for the Malay/Muslim community Yayasan Mendaki.

While there she was convinced that the key strategy to help troubled Malay/Muslim families was to ensure that the children stayed in school and enjoyed the learning process.

She enlisted the help of 80 young professionals from various fields to brainstorm ways to improve students’ grades and address problems in dysfunctional families.

Among other things, Zuraidah also initiated Math workshops and intensive PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) Math sessions to help groups of weaker students.

Zuraidah was the first woman in four decades to be appointed as a member of Singapore Islamic Affairs Council (MUIS), to help oversee the religious affairs of Muslims in Singapore.

She was also presented with the Her World Woman of the Year award in 2015.

Commenting on the award, Zuraidah said: “The job in the police force now is very demanding. You hardly have time of your own. I decided that being seconded to Yayasan Mendaki is my way to contribute to my own community.”

“It opened my eyes to helping the disadvantaged. It was an experience that I never regretted and I’m very happy that I agreed to it. That’s why I agreed to continue, making sure that I still have one leg within the community, to volunteer with the Malay Heritage Foundation.”

Meanwhile, Berita Harian’s Editor Mohd Saat Abdul Rahman said: “Berita Harian celebrates Zuraidah not only because of her achievement as one of the highest-ranking women officers in the SPF but also her many significant contributions to the community despite of her busy schedule.

“She inspires the community to give back and uplift the community as they progress to greater levels. She is also a model career woman in the Malay/Muslim community.”

Prime Minister Lee, who was guest of honour at the event, also presented the 2016 Young Achiever Award (Anugerah Jauhari Harapan) to Sheik Farhan Sheik Alau’ddin, 18-year-old silat world champion.

The award recognises young inspiring Malay/Muslim Singaporeans aged 30 and below.

Sheik Farhan won Singapore’s only gold medal in the 2015 Pencak Silat World Championships in Phuket.

In June 2016, he also won the gold medal in Class J (90-95kg) at the Asian Pencak Silat Championships held in Singapore.

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Multi-Million Dollar Housing Project Inaugurated In Kabul

Kabul, 4 Sep 2016, (BNA)- Afghanistan’s major housing project, Khwajah Rawash, was officially inaugurated by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Urban Development Affairs and Housing Minister Sayed Sadat Mansoor Naderi in capital Kabul on Friday.

Addressing the ceremony, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said that the government has taken major step with inauguration of the project toward sustainable developments, adding that with removing the distrust between the people, government and the private sector, major housing projects would be undertaken to solve the people’s problems. President Ghani said years of hard work and 6.3 billion Afghanis ($94.3 million) had gone into the housing scheme.With the inauguration of the project, the president said, the government had won public confidence in its ability to resolve people’s problems.

The government would have been unable to generate the addition 700 million afs in the absence of a 22 percent increase in the revenue collected by the Ministry of Finance.

“People doesn’t want corruption and force. They want a servant government and I am their first servant,” the president told the gathering, appreciating Minister Naderi for giving deadline to the completion of the project, calling such deadlines as a mean for considering the people’s concerns.

President Ghani vowed to prioritize and provide housing facilities for security forces and families of the martyrs.

“Security forces, families of the martyrs and repatriated Afghan refugees have the right to have housing and accommodation in the country,” the president said. The president also emphasized to fight corruption and bring reforms, adding that if the war is over in the country, Afghanistan’s economy will grow ‘considerably. In the ceremony held on this occasion and was attended by the country’s first lady, cabinet ministers, MPs, presidential advisors and local residents, Minister of Urban Developments and Housing called the project on of the biggest in the country, adding that project was facing challenges at the outset, but fortunately completed with President Ghani’s efforts and supports of the Ministry of Finance.

According to the Minister, the USD 94.3 million project has been implemented over an area of 40 hectares with a period of 4 years. ”Financed by contribution of the people with advance payment scheme and the government, the project includes 78 residential blocks and 2,104 apartments,” he added.

Addressing the ceremony, Minister Naderi highlighted the achievements of his Ministry over the past one year, adding that the Ministry has obtained the commitments of China and UAE to build 10,000 and 1,000 housing units, respectively, in the capital and other provinces of the country. Minister Naderi hopes to launch the construction of these units till end of the year.

“We have also inked MoU with a Qatar organization for the construction of 1,000 housing units,” the minister added. A number of the officials also spoke related to the event, calling inauguration of such projects, a bold step towards sustainable developing and boosting of the housing sector in the country.

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Palestinian pilgrims set out to perform Hajj

Gaza Strip, 31 Aug 2016, (IINA) – The first batch of Palestinian Hajj pilgrims left Gaza Strip on Tuesday through the land border crossing of Rafah heading to Saudi Arabia to perform their pilgrimage, SPA reported.

According to Egyptian security sources, the Rafah border crossing will be open on Tuesday until Thursday to allow the pilgrims to travel to Makkah via Cairo International Airport. The Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs said the pilgrims will leave by an average of three trips a day, each one comprising 266 pilgrims of the total of 2318 pilgrims.

The Palestinian embassy in Cairo allocated modern buses to transport the pilgrims from the Rafah crossing to the airport.

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Nigerians head back to the farm to beat recession

SHOFOLU VILLAGE, Nigeria, 4 Sept 2016, (BSS/AFP)- Too broke to pay for costly imports of rice and palm oil, Nigeria is looking to agriculture to help lift itself out of a recession.

The once-flourishing sector was abandoned during the oil boom but has the potential to grow as Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari pushes to diversify Nigeria’s economy.

In a grim recent report, the National Bureau of Statistics said the country’s economy contracted in the second quarter by 2.1 percent, with the oil sector suffering a double-digit decline.

Crude-addicted Nigeria has been hit hard by the global fall in oil prices, which has reduced government revenues and driven inflation to an 11-year-high of 17.1 percent in July.

Nigeria usually gets 70 percent of its revenue from oil sales but the crash has left the government cash-strapped and struggling to pay civil servant wages.

The dire situation has spurred the Nigerian government to look for ways to encourage sustainable growth.

Agriculture seems a good place to start. With 84 million hectares of arable land spanning the jungles of the south to the Sahara desert in the north, Nigeria can produce a range of food and cash crops for local needs and exports.

Today Nigeria’s food imports are estimated at over 20 billion dollars annually, according to the agriculture ministry.

A 50kg bag of rice, likely imported from Thailand, now sells for 20,000 naira ($63) compared to 8,000 naira at the beginning of the year, prompting the authorities to encourage people to farm.

In the southeastern state of Imo, Governor Rochas Okorocha has asked civil servants to work just two days and devote the rest of the week to farming cassava, corn and yams.

In central Benue and Sokoto states in the north, workers have been directed to close shop early so they can tend to their crops.

  • Be ‘patriotic’ –

Moving Nigeria away from smallholder farming towards commercial agriculture is a priority.

“If we get it well in agriculture, we will get it well in the economy,” Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said last month while launching a policy document on the development of the sector.

Osinbajo urged Nigerians to be patriotic and buy ‘Made in Nigeria’ products.

Decades ago, that wouldn’t have been difficult.

Nigeria used to be world’s number one exporter of palm oil, ahead of Malaysia and Indonesia, central bank data shows.

It was also a leading exporter of cocoa, accounting for 18 percent of global production in the 1960’s, according to the Cocoa Association of Nigeria.

But now, the country imports palm oil from Malaysia and only accounts for a paltry eight percent of global cocoa exports.

“We must return to agriculture and especially cocoa,” Cocoa Association of Nigerian president Sayina Riman said, adding that cocoa sales generate much-needed dollars.

  • Farms to factories –

Farmer Lukman Busari told AFP access to credit is strangling development of the sector.

“Farmers are finding it difficult to obtain loans at reasonable rates,” he said, explaining that the 14 per cent lending rate decimates his profits from his cassava farm in southwest Ogun state.

Farmer Oluranti Adeboye, who entered the business in 2008 after quitting his government job, says unreliable power supply and poor roads drain his energy and limit his company’s growth.

“I have 5,000 hectares of land on which I grow cocoa, cassava, plantain, kolanut and run fish ponds,” he said, showing AFP the large expanse of land at Shofolu village, also in Ogun state.

Days of torrential rains made the road leading to the farm muddy and slippery, and farm assistants donned boots and raincoats as they nurtured fresh cocoa seedlings ahead of the next planting season.

“We want government to provide infrastructure like good roads, electricity, water and finance to support us,” Adeboye said.

“Government has to provide the enabling environment for our business to thrive.”

Nigerians hope to see the country not only growing the produce but processing it too.

“If we really want to diversify from oil and create proper value, agriculture must give birth to industry,” said popular This Day newspaper columnist Simon Kolawole.

Some are already putting those words into practise.

As well as building a tomato paste factory, Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote is investing $1 billion in commercial rice farming with the first harvest expected to hit local markets in December.

That means Nigerians may finally enjoy for the first time in years a steaming plate of jollof rice — a popular tomato-infused dish — made from ingredients grown in their own backyard.

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11th Silk Road Mayors Forum held in Iran’s Qazvin

Qazvin, Sept 3, IRNA – Qazvin province in west of the Iranian capital city of Tehran is hosting the 11th Silk Road Mayors Forum that started work here on Saturday for two days.

At the opening ceremony, Mayor of Qazvin Massoud Nosrati welcomed the domestic and foreign guests.

Then, the message of the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was read out to the participants. 

150 domestic and foreign journalists and reporters as well as over 45 photographers are covering the global event here.

200 cities from 167 world countries are located on the way of the Silk Road.

 The Silk Road or Silk Route is an ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of Asia connecting the West and East.

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Azeri president opens section of Alat-Astara-Iran border highway

Baku, Sept 4, IRNA – Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev opened section of Alat-Astara-Iran border highway.

As part of his visit to the border area of Salyan district, president of the Republic of Azerbaijan attended the opening of a 21.4 km-long section of Alat-Astara-Iran state border highway. 

During the visit, Aliyev was informed about the technical indicators of the highway.

 The new highway whic is 40 kilometers shorter than the old one connects the Azerbaijan capital Baku to Astara on Iranian border. The project is financed by the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the government of Azerbaijan.

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Bank Indonesia to launch national payment gateway

2 September 2016 Manado (ANTARA News) – Bank Indonesia will soon issue a new policy in payment system — “National Payment Gateway” (NPG) — to prevent outflow of fund in the “e-commerce” transactions that will help redress the countrys domestic trade balance .

“Soon we will issue a policy of national payment gateway. All payment systems in the country from various providers will be connected in what we call inter-connectivity and inter-operability. Jut wait and see,” Deputy Governor of the central bank Perry Warjiyo said here on Friday .

Perry said with the NPG all domestic transactions would be wrapped up in the country without the use of foreign payment system service.

“This is important before we start cooperation with other countries that all transactions made in Indonesia could be settled in the country ,” Perry said.

With the NPG we could increase domestic trade balance in each transaction made in Indonesia without relying on financial service of agency, he added.

Perry said NPG also would support payment system in tourism industry, which the government actively develops as a potential foreign exchange earner.

Bank Indonesia encourages the government to develop and modernize the countrys tourism industry to grow to become a new economic growth driver amid the slump that hits the export and mining sector which have lost their most of role as the economic backbone.

Perry said the tourism industry could help accelerate the economic development in mid term.(*)

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Combo card will be tested in 40 cities: Bank Indonesia

3 September 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The combo card that promotes non-cash social assistance will be tested in 40 cities until the end of 2016, Bank Indonesia (BI) has stated.

If the trial goes off well, on January 1, 2017, the entire social assistance from the government can be channeled through the Family Welfare Card (KKS) Red and White combo device, Director of Elektronifikasi Program and Financial Inclusion of Bank Indonesia Pungky Purnomo Wibowo said Friday (September 2) night.

“January 1, 2017, we apply all of the Family Hope Programs and the rice prosperous social assistance (Rastra). Further, the student aid program and the School Operational Assistance (BOS) will be around that time as well,” he said.

The combo card can be used to avail the Rastra, and family expectations (PKH) aid, Pungky explained in the demonstration project or the pilot project.

The combo card used in the “e-waroeng” (electronic shop and gotong royong/mutual help) are also agents of Financial Services Digital (LKD).

The beneficiaries of social grants (bansos) bring the Cards Family Welfare (KKS) issued by the Bank to the new joint four, namely Bank Mandiri, Bank Rakyat Indonesia, Bank Negara, and Bank Tabungan Negara, and exchange it at “e-waroeng”.

With the KKS, the public can receive Rastra basic foodstuffs such as rice, sugar, flour, and oil at subsidized prices.

Furthermore, the combo cards can not only be used to get help in the LKD functions, but can also be used for transactions such as cash withdrawals or transfers, as well as saving money, such as bank function nirkantor (branchless banking), Pungky said.

This combo card can make the distribution of social aid meet the rules of 6T – the right target, the right amount, the right price, right time, right quality, and right administration, Deputy Governor of BI Ronald Waas said on the occasion.

The government budget for social protection in 2017 reached Rp158 trillion, the BI recorded. With that budget, social protection assistance would be effective and appropriate.

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CPEC can’t be undermined due to ownership of 200 mln Pakistanis

GILGIT, Aug 31 (APP): No foreign power can undermine the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project as it has the ownership of 200 million people of the country, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Professor Ahsan Iqbal said Wednesday.

Chairing the first session of two days Seminar titled
 “China Pakistan Economic Corridor Harbinger of Prosperity” here, he said there is absolutely no threat to the country, its system or the CPEC.

He said the enemies could never succeed in their nefarious 
designs to sabotage the game changer project. The country is well conversant with the intentions of CPEC enemies and government knows about its duties in this regard.

CPEC was the project of Pakistan and people of the country 
were its real owners. Political stability, religious harmony among various segments of the society was imperative for the progress of a country.

He said persistent changes in governments and policies
discourage the investors and investments in any country.

Political musical chair system breaks continuity of policies in any country.

The investors of Dasu and Bhasha dam have invested in the
 country for decades.

Lauding Gilgit Baltistan government for organizing such
 conference, he said the country needed to follow the economic route of China.

Gilgit Baltistan Chief Minister Hafiz Hafizur Rehman said the
 CPEC was the project of the nation.

Addressing the seminar, he said progress and prosperity of
 Gilgit Baltistan is linked with China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf MNA Asad Umer said CPEC project would benefit the whole country including Fata, Gilgit Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

No body was against the CPEC project, he said adding that 
opposition parties were favoring the CPEC. Difference of opinion in the country was on setting up of economic zones and route of CPEC.

Former MNA Umer Ayub said former President Ayub Khan had constructed Karakoram Highway and established Heavy Electrical Complex, Heavy Mechanical Industry,etc.

Gwadar would help provide economic routes to China and
fulfilling energy need of China.

He said the Indian spending of $70 billion per annum on defence was against Pakistan. opposition parties have favored the CPEC project.

Deputy Chairman Senate Abdul Ghafor Haideri and Senator Mushahid Hussein Sayed were also present.

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First scout camp devoted to Palestinian child in Tipaza

23 August 2016, TIPAZA, Algerian Press Service – The first scout camp devoted to the Palestinian child under the slogan “Fraternity” opened Monday in Douaouda-marine in Tipaza (50km west of Algiers).

The ambassador of the Palestinian State to Algiers Aissa Louai and the Commander General of the Algerian Muslim Scouts Mohamed Boualleg gave the kick off of this event.

For Boualleg, this scout camp is part of a strategy of continued action which aims at inculcating the Palestinian cause in the hearts and minds of the Algerian children.

Speaking to the young Palestinian scouts, Louai emphasized the wisdom of the Algerian leaders, government and people, underlining the role of Algeria in supporting the Palestinian State through initiatives in favour of the Palestinian cause at all the levels.

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Pakistan grants tax neutrality to sukuk

ISLAMABAD, Sep 3 (APP): In a landmark decision, the federal government, on the recommendations of the Securities and
Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), has accorded tax neutrality to sukuk by allowing certain tax exemptions that were earlier available only to conventional securitization issues.

The amendments to the tax law have been notified through an ordinance.

The difference in the tax treatment of conventional TFCs 
and sukuk rendered the issuance of sukuk unviable, said a statement issued here on Saturday.

The amendments to the tax law now provide the same
tax exemptions bringing the issuance of sukuk at par with their counterparts in terms of the costs entailed.

This measure is a great boost for the Islamic financial industry and its overall growth and development.

Prior to the proposed amendments, provisions were available in the income tax law to exempt the originator (the company) and the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate only issuance of TFCs under Companies (Asset Backed Securitization) Rules, 1999, against receivables.

SPV’s income was completely exempt under section 136 of
the second schedule and specific exemptions from withholding tax under sections 151, 153 and 233 were also available to SPV and the originator.

For the purpose of issuance of sukuk under the Issuance
of Sukuk Regulations, 2015, the baseline assets are fixed assets (depreciable assets) on which these extra taxes were
attracted on the originator as well as SPV: taxable gain on
transfer of assets to SPV in the hands of originator, withholding  tax on sale proceeds by SPV to originator against transfer of assets, withholding tax on payment of rentals by originator to SPV, tax on rental income earned by SPV, tax on gain of transfer back of assets by SPV to originator; withholding tax on payment by originator to SPV at the time of transfer back of assets

Earlier this year, the government had also introduced a
tax concession of 2% for Sharia compliant manufacturing companies through the Finance Act to promote Islamic finance. The tax concession, along with tax neutrality for sukuk, are welcome decisions and it is expected that a good number of companies will opt to become Sharia compliant, which in turn will augment the capital markets and ensure industrialization.

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Indonesia encourages direct trade with Cuba

4 September 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian government will encourage direct trade contact with Cuba to increase the value of the two countries bilateral trade, Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister A.M. Fachir has said.

“Indonesia will encourage direct trade contact with Cuba in order to increase the volume of bilateral trade between the two countries and appreciate the significant economic development in Cuba,” Fachir said here over the weekend.

The deputy foreign minister made the remarks in connection with his meeting earlier with Cuban Director General for Bilateral Relations Affairs of the Foreign Ministry of Cuba, Ambassador Gerardo Penalver Portal.

During the meeting, Fachir discussed various issues of mutual concerns, both, at bilateral and multilateral forums.

“On the bilateral basis, the political relations of the two countries had been closely established. Yet this closeness should be translated into a concrete form of cooperation, among others in the fields of trade, health and agriculture,” he said.

In the multilateral context, Indonesia and Cuba shared similarities in views and cooperation regarding various international issues, the deputy foreign minister said.

“In the bilateral aspect, Cuba pays attention to direct trade contact to increase trade relations by among others planning a Cuban trade mission to Indonesia and that of Indonesia to Cuba,” Fachir said.

Meanwhile, Gerardo Penalver Portal expressed appreciation for the establishment of good cooperation between the two countries at various international forums.

Cuba appreciates Indonesias big contributions to the Non-Aligned Movement so that the movement remains relevant to the present conditions, he said.

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Indonesia hosts convention of 900 Asia-Pacific dentists

Badung, Bali, Sept 2 (Antara) – Indonesian tourism affairs ministry promoted its enchanting destinations to around 900 dentists of the Asia-Pacific region who were here for the Orthodontists conference of the Asia Pacific (APOC), on September 2, 2016.

At a gala dinner held here on Friday evening (Sept. 2), the tourism affairs ministry presented various dances with a background of videos depicting the various sites of tourist interest in Indonesia.

Apart from the dinner party, the Ministry of Tourism also distributed souvenirs to the participants of the conference.

The APOC, according to a written statement issued by the tourism ministry, will help achieve the target of enhancing the number of tourist arrivals to Indonesia to 12 million in 2016 and 20 million in 2019.

The conference was part of the MICE (Meeting, Incentive, Convention, and Exhibition or Meetings) strategy aimed at attracting more foreign tourists.

Earlier, Tourism Minister Arief Yahya stated that MICE holds massive tourism potential, especially in Bali, Jakarta, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Medan, Makassar, Balikpapan and Manado.

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Iran, Russia sign banking cooperation document

Tehran, Sept 1, IRNA – Iran and Russia on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding to boost bilateral banking and financial cooperation.

The Vice Governor of Central Bank of Iran (CBI) Gholamali Kamyab and Vice Governor of Central Bank of Russian Federation Dmitry Skoblekin signed the cooperation document on the sidelines of a meeting between Iran-Russia banking and financial taskforce held in Tehran.

Based on the cooperation document, the two sides have agreed to fight money laundering and financial support of terrorism.

The memorandum of understanding will also facilitate execution of the Bilateral Currency Swap agreements reached between the two countries

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Li Chengwen calls to boost China-Arab cooperation

ALGERIA Press Service, 26 August 2016, ALGIERS- Chinese Ambassador in charge of China-Arab Cooperation Forum underlined Thursday, in Algiers, the need to boost China-Arab cooperation as part of the Forum.

In a statement to the press at the end of a working session with the Secretary General of Foreign Affairs Ministry Hassane Rabehi, Chengwen said that his visit is part of the “consultations and exchange of views with our friends in Algeria on the building of bilateral relations, as part of the Forum on China-Arab cooperation.”

The Chinese ambassador said that he broached, in this meeting, issues of common interest and agreed to “work for the promotion of the friendly bilateral relations between China and Algeria.”

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Conferences, exhibitions to contribute 7% of Indonesian tourism

Badung, 4 September 2016 (ANTARA News) – The Tourism Ministry predicted that Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) would contribute 5 to 7 percent to the total number of foreign tourist arrivals in Indonesia in 2016.

The governments target for the number of foreign tourist arrivals in the country is set at 12 million this year.

Assistant Deputy of Development of Asia Pacific Market of the Tourism Ministry Vinsensius Jemadu said the target is relatively low as the MICE tourism facilities are still not sufficiently available in the country.

“The target is not too high as MICE facilities are found only in certain areas. MICE facilities are available only in Bali, Jakarta and Bandung,” Vinsensius said in this Bali mountain city.

He was in Bali to prepare the 10th Conference of Asia Pacific Orthodontists (APOC) and the 11st annual meeting of the Indonesian Association of Orthodontists in Bali in September 1-3 this year.

He said starting this year, the government would be more aggressive in exploiting the potentials of MICE tourism.

So far the country has not been serious in seeking to tap the MICE tourism potentials, whereas MICE tourists are bigger spenders compared with holiday makers, he said.

MICE tourists are generally well educated people, and stay in more expensive hotels.

In a bid to draw more MICE tourists, the country has to be able to host more international events.

“The tourism Ministry will cooperate with other ministries or agencies in seeking to make Indonesia selected to host of more international events,” Vinsensius said.

He said MICE tourists should be given special treatment such as by giving special lane at airports that they would not need to queue too long at immigration gate.

The government has set target for reign tourist arrivals at 20 million in 2019 and MICE visitors are expected to make up 20 percent of the total number.

The Tourism Ministry gave support for the 10th Conference of Asia Pacific Orthodontists (APOC) and 11st annual meeting of the Indonesian Association of Orthodontists in Bali in the form of dinner party with all participants receiving “udeng”, Bali head band.

At the dinner attended by around 900 dentists from Asia Pacific countries, the Tourism Ministry presented a number of Indonesian tourism objects and destinations with their natural beauty and riches.

According to the Tourism Ministry, Indonesia was ranked only the 42nd MICE destination in the world in 2014 hosting 76 international meetings.

The number was small compared to 142 meetings hosted by Singapore, which was ranked the 29th , and 133 meetings hosted by Malaysia which was ranked the 30th and 118 meetings in Thailand, which was ranked the 33rd.

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Pakistan, Iran banking obstacles to be removed ‘very soon’

Islamabad, Aug 31, IRNA – Commerce Minister of Pakistan said the federal cabinet will give a final approval to the MoU regarding resumption of Iran, Pakistan banking relationship, which means an end to obstacles in banking relations between the two neighbors.

In an interview with IRNA on Wednesday, Khurram Dastgir Khan said, ‘The Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) has already approved the MoU between the two central banks of Iran and Pakistan to establish the relationship on August 29th. Today, the final approval is expected by the cabinet members.

“Once the cabinet gives its approval to the MoU, there would be no longer any hurdle in establishing a banking relationship with Iran,” he said.

He added that under the agreement Pakistan and Iran will create a bilateral mechanism, according to which both countries will pay their traders on their own, he said, adding that it would be a very efficient mechanism and now consignments will directly be shipped to Iran and receive corresponding payment against the shipment without any banking problem.

“Of course it is happening after a long time and initially we will be clearing grounds and by the end of September we will have proper banking relationship. I am very hopeful that it would give an immediate boost to trade between our two countries,” he said. 

He added that Iran and Pakistan have also agreed to materialize the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two sides.

“I will be very happy to host my Iranian counterpart in Islamabad and if he invites me I will be happy to go to Tehran and before we meet we can have a formal announcement that we are going into free trade agreement talks and first step in this regards could be signing of a framework agreement under which the whole negotiation will take place so that can be done early next year and then I think we can take another year to have the agreement,” he said.

He strongly believed that these recent developments would have a very positive impact on the upcoming meeting of the Joint Economic Commission. 

“The FTA and banking relationship is government to government understanding and what they do is to send a signal to the business community in Pakistan and in Iran that the hurdles are going away and now you can trade and have interaction with each other,” said the minister.

The Pakistani minister expressing his views said that his country is very keen to hold a large scale made in Pakistan exhibition in late November or early December in Tehran.

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State media takes lead in projection of soft image of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Sep 4 (APP): To counter negative propaganda against Pakistan, the state media has taken lead in promoting the true soft image of Pakistan as a moderate, democratic and peace loving Islamic state.

The three state media organizations including Radio Pakistan, Pakistan Television and Associated Press of Pakistan are constantly highlighting the successes the country has achieved on the economic and security fronts especially over the last three years through their current affairs programmes and news stories.

Talking to APP Chairman National Assembly Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Pir Muhammad Aslam Bodla said Sunday that the state media has been playing a tremendous role in projecting the positive and soft image of the country.

He said that state media organizations including PTV, PBC and APP were performing their duty with the spirit of patriotism which should be appreciated. He said unfortunately, a section of private media has been highlighting the negative things about Pakistan and its society. Media is considered to be a watchdog in a democratic country and it is performing its duty in this regard but at the same time media should work for the positive and real soft image of Pakistan.

Director News PBC Rao Sadiq Ali said that in the modern world country’s image has becomes a critical factor, and the state media is at the forefront in highlighting the soft image of the country by promoting the immense and abundant picturesque places as well as the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan. This image building exercise cannot be undertaken overnight. It has to be a sustained projection over a prolonged period. The role of media in building a positive and soft image of Pakistan is necessary. The media must be asked to help in building a better, positive Pakistan and to use the power it wields carefully in this regard.

Director News PTV Awais Butt said that the state run television has been playing its role to project the positive image of the country, as some disgruntled elements had been trying to tarnish its image in the eyes of the world.

He said that this year domestic tourism has witnessed a tremendous boost which shows that the people are feeling secure now and PTV has highlighted this activity. Moreover he said that the people of Pakistan celebrated
 the Independence Day with zeal and fervour and they welcomed the Azadi train in all parts of the country. The PTV has projected all such activities which prove that the people no more feel insecure and they come out to celebrate the festivities.

Like Radio Pakistan and PTV, the APP considers countering negative propaganda against the county and projecting the true and soft image of Pakistan as its national responsibility.

APP’s Urdu, English, Arabic, Video News Service, regional services and Photo news service have been highlighting the achievements in Operation Zarb-e-Azb, economic revival, construction of infrastructure projects especially China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Moreover it has been highlighting the unique and picturesque tourist destinations, and archeological sites in the country.

It is a fact that responsible media can protect the national interest by removing misconceptions of the world and the state media has also served as the mouthpiece to highlight the country’s peace credentials especially its desire to have friendly relations with all the countries especially the neighbouring countries.

State media has been also projecting the achievements in the fields of sports; entertainment and fashion are also being highlighted as part of parts to project the soft image of the country in the comity of nations.

Achievements made by the country on the stability of democracy and political process also feature in the programmes and news of the state media organizations in order to offset the impression often created in the western media that the democracy is still fragile in the country.

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Well-known Chilean filmmaker to be honored at Tehran University

Tehran, Aug 29, IRNA – Distinguished Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littin will be honored in a ceremony at Tehran University on Tuesday.

The secretariat of the third round of the international section of the Ammar Popular Film Festival (APFF) has organized the ceremony to commemorate Littin who is the special guest of the festival.

The film ‘Allende in His Labyrinth’ will also be screened in the ceremony. 

Secretariat of the International Section of APFF also said before the ceremony, Littin’s latest film will go on screen for the first time at the Ebne Sina Hall of Tehran University’s Faculty of Medicine. 

Secretary of the APFF Nader Talebzadeh will address the meeting.

Ceremonies to commemorate Miguel Littin and to unveil his film ‘Allende in His Labyrinth’ will be held in the Ebne Sina Hall of Tehran University’s Medicine Faculty at Pour-Sina Street, Quds Street, Enghelab Avenue, on Tuesday, August 30 at 4 p.m.

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Young technologists ready to execute CPEC projects

ISLAMABAD, Sept 3 (APP): The education experts while lauding the efforts of Higher Education Commission (HEC) for recent reforms in technology education, said that the country should be well prepared to take full advantage of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CEPC) by producing technologists.

They were of the view that a sufficient number of local technologists and technicians equipped with modern skills must be available to execute the projects under the program.

The experts were speaking at the passing out ceremony the first batch of Bachelors of Technology (B-Tech) Honors program at School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) of Isra University here.

“A batch of over 40 students have completed their Technology Education, the graduates are trained to meet the current and future needs of skills market especially related to power projects and other CPEC projects,” said Director of SEAS, Mustafa Minhas while addressing the students.

He said these graduates have good opportunity to take full advantage of CPEC projects for their own benefit and for serving the country.

He lauded the efforts of HEC for prioritizing the technology education which he said would take the country to new heights of progress and development.

Speaking on the occasion, Head of the Department of Electronic Department SEAS, Dr. Tanweer Ahmed Cheema expressed the hope that entry of the pioneer students into the market would bring positive changes.

He said that this pioneer batch would lead the technology market with their innovative ideas and skills and serve the nation in a better way.

He congratulated the passing out students of B-Tech on successfully completing their degree program.

He said a degree is not just a piece of paper, rather it is a recognition of hard work and commitment and manifestation of the desire to make the future brighter.

Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Director of SEAS, Tayyab H. Malik said that Isra University is offering the best B-Tech program in the country.

He stressed on the need of competitive and employable workforce that must have both knowledge and skills that are relevant, current and according to the requirements of the employers.

He appreciated the establishment of National Technology Council (NTC) by Government of Pakistan for the improvement of Technology Education.

He expressed the hope that SEAS would soon leave behind the Indian Institute of Technology.

He was of the view that Pakistan was lagging behind in technology education; however with the efforts of government and HEC initiatives and private sector collaboration this sector has witnessed tremendous growth.

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Syrian Culture Minister stresses need to restore Krak des Chevaliers castle

6 February، 2016, Damascus, SANA – The 28th Book Fair held at Al-Assad National Library concluded its activities on Saturday evening.

In a press conference, Culture Minister Mohammad al-Ahmad said the success of the 28th iteration of the Book Fair shows that Syrian culture has managed to shrug off the dust of war and sends a message to the world that life in Syria will continue.

Al-Ahmad noted that more than 70 publishing houses participated in this event, which also included other activities like screening Syrian films, seminars, and exhibitions of rare manuscripts and books.

He stressed that the return of the Book Fair after a four-year hiatus was made possible after the administration of Al-Assad National Library and the Syrian Publishers Union proposed this idea, with the Culture Ministry adopting this initiative and giving it all the support it can offer.

Al-Ahmad hoped that the return of the Book Fair will incentivize Arab and foreign publishing houses to participate next year, adding that the Ministry worked with the Syrian Publishers Union to reduce the high prices of books during the Fair and provide good discounts despite the rising costs of printing and paper prices.

The 28th Book Fair opened on August 24th.

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40 Syrian companies participate in Tehran Textile Expo

4 September، 2016, Damascus, SANA- the Syrian Exporters’ Union and Damascus Chamber of Industry, in cooperation with the Commission of Supporting and Developing the Local Production and Exports, are participating in Tehran International Textile Expo which will open today with the participation of a large number of textile companies from most countries of the world.

Chairman of the Union Mohammad al-Sawwah told SANA that the expo represents an economic event that could support the textile industry in Syria, indicating that 40 Syrian national companies are participating in the expo.

Al-Sawwah added that the door is open before the Syrian textile industry for circulation in Iranian markets with high competitiveness.

He indicated that the clear government support and overcoming all the obstacles hindering the cooperation with the friendly countries would put the Syrian industry in a new stage of commercial and investment cooperation with these countries,
particularly Iran.

Al-Sawwah referred to the efforts exerted by the Exporters Union as an active economic institution in the local economic activity, particularly in the domain of providing services that would support and increase the local exports to the
regional and international markets.

The Syrian Exporters Union has recently opened a center for the Syrian exports in Tehran and put it into the service of the Syrian exporters to help them promote their products at the Iranian markets and to know their needs of the Syrian products.

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Brunei tourists a niche market for Thailand tourism

September 04, 2016 – Borneo Bulletin – THE Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) is one of the many tourism/travel agencies participating at the Brunei Travel Fair 2016 that ends today.

According to the Marketing Manager of TAT for Brunei and Malaysia, Richard Lim Chew Lee, “We have a lot of Bruneians coming into Thailand, but their numbers are considered in the ‘niche’ market.

“Bruneians come to Thailand for a lot of different reasons such as for holidays, medical check-ups and the current ‘in’ thing in Thailand, beauty treatments.

“Aside from shopping, we also have quite a number of Bruneians who come to Thailand specifically for medical check-ups as Thailand has very advanced facilities with competitive pricing.

“We have more than 150 hospitals and have the most number of JCI certified (medical gold standard) hospitals in the region,” he explained.

Although TAT’s office is based in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam is one of their target markets and the travel fair is a good platform for them to provide more options for their Bruneian travellers.

Tourists from Brunei tend to visit Thailand almost every month as the weather is similar to home and Brunei’s strong currency makes shopping worth it. This makes Thailand a favourable destination all-year round.

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Brussels to host Azerbaijan Tourism Forum

Brussels, September 1, AZERTAC — Brussels will host Azerbaijan Tourism Forum on October 20.

The forum will be held under the aegis of the European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS).

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Crimean Tatar singer to perform with Turkish pop star

16.08.2016, ISTANBUL – Eurovision Song Contest winner Jamala will perform a duet with prominent Turkish singer Sertab Erener on Tuesday in Istanbul.

Talking to reporters before a scheduled concert in Istanbul on Wednesday as part of the “Turkcell Yildizli Geceler” (Turkcell Nights Full of Stars) program, Jamala said she felt “completely safe” in Turkey despite last month’s failed coup bid.

“I know very well from Ukraine’s unpleasant experiences that music is an inspiration and a source of hope for people,” Jamala said. “That’s why I came to Turkey,” she added. “I feel completely safe here. I feel no danger at all.”

Jamala won the 61st Eurovision Song Contest in May with her song “1944”, which refers to the deportation of the Crimean Tatars under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

The 2016 Eurovision Song Contest winner went on to say she had invited Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to attend her concert on Wednesday.

Offering her condolences to the families of the victims of the July 15 coup attempt, Jamala said she draws inspiration for her songs from tragedy.

“Any tragic incident can become a source of inspiration,” she said.

“My only wish is to tell history — history that I saw with my own eyes,” the singer added, referring to the often tragic history of the Crimean Tatar people.

On Tuesday night, Jamala will perform a duet with Sertab Erener, a well-known Turkish singer/songwriter and winner of the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Every way that I can”.

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Egypt- Average of 50 ships transit Suez Canal daily

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 04/09/2016 Suez Canal traffic data showed that 351 ships transited the canal, with a total load of 21.306m tonnes, from 26 August to 1 September.

An average of 50 ships transited the canal per day during that period, with an average load of 3m tonnes per day. The average load per ship was about 60,070 tonnes during that period.

Compared to July 2015, before the inauguration of the New Suez Canal, the average daily number of transiting vessels totalled 47 vessels, with an average load of 2.758m tonnes per day.

Five major container ships’ three Danish Marchen Maersk, Marstal Maersk and Majestic Maersk, as well as Parazan and Almuraykj from Malta transited the canal carrying 200,360 tonnes each.

The number of vessels that passed through the new channel coming from the west through the northern entrance was 169 vessels, with a daily average of 24 vessels, and a total load of 9.856m tonnes, recording a daily average of 1.408m tonnes.

Meanwhile, 12 ships transited the canal coming from the south, with a daily average of 26 vessels, and a total load of 11.46m tonnes, recording a daily average of 1.637m tonnes.

Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, chairperson of the Suez Canal Authority, announced during the anniversary of opening the new canal that revenues have increased by 4% since January 2016 until August, recording a total of 3.2bn.

Cargo load is the main measure of shipping traffic in the Suez Canal and the calculated transit fees.

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Amer Group to open Porto Sharm Hotel in December  

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 04/09/2016 – Amer Group will open Porto Sharm Hotel in Sharm El-Sheikh in December once the final touches are complete, according to Riad Refaat, head of the financial sector and director of investor relations at the company.

The hotel is located in the Nabq area on 650,000 sqm. The company recently conducted a trial run at the hotel, which had positive results as the group achieved a good rate of operation in providing luxurious hotel services, Refaat said.

Refaat added that the group will depend on its expertise in managing Porto Sharm during the first phase of operation. Amer will negotiate with international companies specialised in hotel management to later take over the hotel.

Amer Group decided to open the hotel at this time as there are signs of improvement in tourism rates in South Sinai in July, the influx of tourists reached its highest level since the Russian metrojet crash in October 2015.

A report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) stated that 529,200 tourists arrived in July.

Economic analysts consider this a glimmer of hope for the improvement in tourism activity, which represents roughly 10% of Egypt’s GDP and is a major source of foreign exchange inflows to the country.

Amer Grousigned a contract with international company Accor Hotels to manage the group’s hotels in Porto Sokhna. In a press release, Amer Group’s managing director said the group targets to inject large investments to the project, explaining that Accor has ambitious development plans for the group’s hotels in Porto Sokhna.

Refaat explained that Amer Group intends to develop the management level in its hotels and resorts by learning from international companies specialised in hotel management.

Amer Group is working on speeding up the pace of delivery for units in its tourism projects in Port Marina, Porto Marina Residence, Golf Bay Marina, Porto South Beach, Porto Sharm, Porto Matrouh, Golf Porto Marina, and Golf Porto Sokhna.

Refaat said that speeding up the delivery of the units will increase the group’s revenue. Owing to the delivery of the units in the first half of 2016, Amer Group’s revenues increased by 18% to reach EGP 730m compared to EGP 614m in 2015 after delivering 1,456 units.

The group’s total revenues amount to EGP 958.4m in the first half of this year an increase of 14% compared to EGP 840.3m in 2015.

Amer Group achieved a net profit of EGP 86m in the first half of this year compared to EGP 67m in 2015, a 27.5% growth.

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Green technologies saved 1.2 million Tenge in the Akmola

03.09.2016 – Vegetables and fruits are being grown using green technologies in the Akmola region. Cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, cabbages and greens will soon appear on the shelves of the capital’s stores. This is one of the achievements of the Center of knowledge the Folk Academy of Green Technologies, which opened with the support of the UNDP. The center has become a platform for the introduction of many innovative projects in the field of energy saving. The extremely economical pyrolysis furnace, equipment for electromagnetic air purification and solar panels for water heating were invented at the centre.

A number of projects are recommended for the Kazakh pavilion at the Expo. In total, the center runs over 25 projects that helped to save more than 1 million tenge.

Saltanat Rakhimbekova, Head Of Coalition For Green Economy And G-Global Development, said: We saved 40-50% on coal combustion and almost 90% on environmental fines. Then, the cost of water was reduced by 75% by having two greenhouses here. There is a phyto diode greenhouse, underground greenhouse and a sun vegetary. We grow crops here. We harvested about 3 tons over less than one year.

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Casbah now managed by province of Algiers

ALGIERS, 29 August 2016, Algerian Press Service – The issue of restoration and development of the Casbah of Algiers initially under the supervision of the ministry of Culture, will from now on be managed by the services of the province of Algiers announced Monday, in Algiers, the minister of Culture Azzedine Mihoubi.

Speaking in a press briefing dedicated to the presentation of “the Ministry of Culture’s Strategy in Heritage Preservation,” Azzedine Mihoubi said that his department will continue to “ensure the technical support and monitoring” through the Agency for the Implementation of Major Cultural Projects (ARPC).

The province of Algiers will ensure the management of this “important” issue of tangible heritage “in line” with the permanent preservation and development plan adopted by the Government in 2012, he added.

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Kyrgyzstan to host World Snooker Championship in 2017

Bishkek, August 29 / Kabar /. In 2017 Kyrgyzstan plans to conduct the World Snooker Championship, Secretary General of the Kyrgyz Snooker Federation Shairbek Mamatoktorov told during the press conference at Kabar Agency.

He said that currently they hold negotiations on this occasion.

Vice President of the International Billiards & Snooker Federation (IBSF) Maxim Cassis is expecting to arrive in Kyrgyzstan. The Commission will come to Kyrgyzstan to inspect the arena, billiard room and to see the country. It is worth noting that such an event could take place in the country due to the results, which showed our sportsman Kerimberdi uulu Muhamed. Kyrgyzstan has made its debut at this championship, and our player entered the top 32 world snooker players”, he said.

In addition, Shairbek Mamatoktorov added that this year Kyrgyzstan became a full member of the International Billiards & Snooker Federation and Asian Billiards Association.

We have received this certificate after the participation in the world billiards championship. It is also worth noting that recently I passed the exam of the third category to the referee and now I can judge the Asian games. This is very important, because our closest judges – China, India and Russia. Not only the athletes, but also the judges should represent the country,” Mamatoktorov said.

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Kyzylorda region holds agricultural fair in Astana

The agricultural season fair is currently open in the capital. The “Days of Regions” will be held in Astana every week to mark the 25th anniversary of Independence. A caravan of 26 trucks loaded with goods of Kyzylorda businessmen arrived in the capital. They brought about 400 tons of food including fruit and vegetables, rice, meat, fish and dairy products.

Yermaganbet Bulekpayev, Governor Of Almaty District, Astana, said: Fairs will be held every week. There is a schedule of fairs in other regions. Prices are 20% and in some cases even 30% lower. It’s a good price, and a great choice. Everything is fresh from the fish to fruits and vegetables.

The price list is available on special signs located in the center. Next in line are producers from the Almaty region.

Romankul Askarova, Resident Of Astana, said: We are very pleased that each region will come to Astana with their products.

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New deal to facilitate Qatar tourist visa process  

MENAFN – 04/09/2016 – Qatar Airways and Qatar Tourism Authority signed a deal with VFS Global to pave the way for an efficient and transparent tourist visa app system. Moreover, the agreement aims to attract and welcome more visitors to Qatar in line with Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy 200.

Meanwhile, the deal will allow the country to identify and apply the ideal visa solution for its visitors.

Accordingly, the country tourism industry experienced exponential growth and the visa advancements proclaimed today will support Qatar vision to welcome visitors.

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Over 2 million tourists visit Antalya EXPO 2016

Baku, August 29, AZERTAC – Over two million tourists have visited International Gardening EXPO 2016 exhibition in Antalya, Turkey.

Organizers of the exhibition estimated that more than four million tourists will visit the exhibition by the end of October.

Azerbaijan’s pavilion was set up at the EXPO.

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Brunei confident in finding market for local products

September 04, 2016. Borneo Bulletin – THE Federation of Brunei Malay Entrepreneurs (PPPMB) will be joining a delegation of local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and government-linked companies (GLCs) in representing Brunei Darussalam at the upcoming China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO) in Nanning, China, on September 11-14.

The CAEXPO is an annual trade show that brings together enterprises from Asean member countries to explore the international market by showcasing trade in goods and services.

PPPMB’s involvement at this year’s CAEXPO was highlighted in a press conference yesterday, led by Adi Shamsul bin Haji Sabli, the Permanent Secretary (Industry) at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Also in attendance were several senior PPPMB members including Dr Haji Abdul Latif bin Chuchu, the President; Duraman bin Kassim, the Deputy President for Administration; and Haji Aminorashid bin Haji Ghazali, the Deputy President for Trade.

They disclosed that six PPPMB members will be attending the CAEXPO, where they will have three booths to showcase items which include dry food, handicrafts and locally-made goods.

According to Haji Aminorashid, “The products that we will be bringing are 100 per cent made in Brunei.”

On the subject of CAEXPO, he said, “This is exposure which should provide our members with more encouragement and optimism towards doing business.”

As for their hopes at the CAEXPO, he said, “Of course, PPPMB would like to expand, and certainly we would like to see our members’ businesses grow and make a lot of profits. If you look at the current economic climate, I think we shouldn’t be left behind. We have to pick up as much as we can, learn as much as we can, and of course we have to work intelligently.

“Although we are really eager to work on an international scale, we also have to be cautious about certain external factors,” he said, highlighting the importance of being careful when picking overseas partners to work with.

When asked how they felt about finding a market for their products, Dr Haji Abdul Latif answered, “We are very confident,” adding that they would also be looking out for potential investors in the Brunei market.

PPPMB has participated at the trade fair on a number of occasions, but this is its first entry with the support of a government agency.

When asked whether the experience should be different this time around, Dr Haji Abdul Latif said, “It is totally different, because previously, we went there on our own. We had to rent booths from other people in China. Now it’s totally different with the support of DARE (Darussalam Enterprise) and the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EIDPMO). We are very thankful. It’s very encouraging, and the logistics are much easier now.”

Meanwhile, the permanent secretary responded to a question on what the Brunei Government expected from local participation in international trade fairs, saying, “Our objective is simple. It is to see SMEs grow.

“What we are doing, as a facilitating role, is to help in whatever way we can to see SMEs develop and grow in Brunei. One of the ways is through exposure to international markets, and we try to select the right companies to go out. We have criteria that we follow, and we are very transparent about it.

“There are always adverts to welcome any SMEs. I really encourage all SMEs, no matter how large or small you are, to speak to us if you are interested in joining an international event. We will help.

“We’ve been talking to a few young entrepreneurs as well, and have exposed them to this idea about going overseas to help them grow, and they are very keen.

“So the message goes out to all SMEs, particularly if they have a product/service that can be sold within or outside of Brunei: Please join us in helping you to develop your company,” he concluded.

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Azerbaijan President opened “ASAN hayat” complex in Masalli

Masalli, September 3, AZERTAC – President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of “ASAN hayat” complex as part of his visit to Masalli.

The head of state cut the ribbon symbolizing the inauguration of the complex.

The President was informed that the construction of the complex began in 2015 and ended this August. The four-storey complex occupies an area of 4,246 square metres.

“ASAN xidmet” center in the complex will provide 32 services of 10 public organizations for citizens.

President Ilham Aliyev met with staff of the center and representatives of the district`s public.

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Resorts of Kazakhstan becoming more popular

The number of tourists visiting Kazakhstan’s resorts has increased 1.5 times this year. The Altai Alps, Shortandy-Burabay, Zerenda and Almaty resort areas with a 1.5-4.5 times increase in tourist numbers are the fastest developing places.

During the winter 2016 season Kazakhstan resorts received 96,000 tourists. The Altai and Burabay are most popular destinations with 58,000 visitors. The resort zones are located in 8 regions of Kazakhstan and simultaneously can take up to 40,000 tourists.

The accommodation capacity in resorts grew 15% over a year against a 9% gain last year. Akmola region’s resorts turned to be most popular ones, only the Zerenda resorts showed an increase of 14%, the Almaty area’s popularity grew 47% and the East Kazakhstan regions, including Altay Alps with a 14% gain. Last year resorts’ revenue amounted to 7.7 billion tenge.

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Brunei holds Roadshow on Halal certification mark, guidelines

September 04, 2016, Borneo Bulletin – A Roadshow on Halal Certification Mark and Guidelines for the Manufacturing and Handling of Halal Cosmetic Products was yesterday held at the main auditorium of the Design and Technology Building in Anggerek Desa.

The programme was organised by the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EIDPMO) in collaboration with DARE (Darussalam Enterprise), Brunei Islamic Religious Council, Syariah Affairs Department, Ministry of Religious Affairs, and Pharmaceutical Services Department, Ministry of Health.

The roadshow aimed at creating awareness on the Halal Certification Mark and on the Guidelines for the Manufacturing and Handling of Halal Cosmetic Products, which was recently launched by the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office during the opening of the International Seminar on Halalan Tayyiban Products and Services 2016 on August 31.

The roadshow is part of activities under the Brunei Halal Showcase 2016 (BruHAS 2016), and is also part of EIDPMO’s efforts in supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in their business venture to become internationally competitive and a global player in the Halal industry.

In addition, the roadshow hopes to increase regional and global awareness on Brunei’s strategy on the Halal industry and also to increase the Halal industry (food & non-food).

It is also hoped that more foreign direct investment will be attracted to Brunei to invest in the Halal industry as a result of the increase in prominence of the Brunei Halal Certification Mark through the BruHAS 2016 roadshow.

The Brunei Darussalam Guidelines for Manufacturing and Handling of Cosmetic Products covers, among other things, the sourcing of materials, manufacturing, packaging, transportation and storage of Halal cosmetic products as well as the usage and labelling of the term Halal in accordance with Hukum Syara’.

The guidelines also touch on the definition of alcohol as well as its usage according to Hukum Syara’ and all aspects of hygiene and sanitation such as clothing, equipment and the working premises.

The same roadshow was also held yesterday afternoon at Resthouse Hall of the Kuala Belait and Seria Municipal Department in the Belait District.

Eighty participants comprising SMEs and industry players as well as from government agencies attended the events.

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Over 500 hotels coming up in the Middle East

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 04/09/2016 – There are 541 new hotels in the pipeline across the Middle East, with 180 projects due in the UAE alone, the Middle East Hotel Construction Overview report has revealed.

Prepared by Tophotelprojects exclusively for The Hotel Show Dubai 2016, the report forecasts that the majority of new hotel rooms will open before 2020. The busiest year for hotel openings leading up to 2020 is forecast to be 2017, with 189 projects and 58,527 rooms.

Notable hotel openings scheduled for 2017 include the world’s largest hotel in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, with 10,000 rooms, and the world’s first Paramount Hotels & Resorts property – the Paramount Hotel in Dubai.

The report also noted that the 541 hotels in the pipeline will bring an additional 158,950 hotel rooms to the region. Saudi Arabia follows closely behind the UAE as the most active hotel construction hotspot in the region with 134 projects.

“That is a lot of bedrooms, bathrooms, windows, doors, terraces, restaurants, pools, spas, gyms, and much more to be fit out and equipped over the next five years,” said Gary Williams, event director of The Hotel Show Dubai.

Taking place from September 17 to 19 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), the 17th edition of The Hotel Show will run at the same time as the Windows, Doors & Faades Event, and Intersolar Middle East. The events will address all aspects of hotel construction, including external or facade design, as well as sustainability through the use of solar energy. The event will also provide a selection of sourcing, networking and educational forums for professionals interested in hotel construction in the Middle East.

2017 is slated to be an interesting year for the hotel industry as the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is set to open Dubai’s first 100 per cent solar-powered hotel. In addition, Rezidor has announced the signing of three new hotels in the UAE, two of which will open their doors in 2017.

Pascal Gauvin, chief operating officer for the Emea region at IHG, said: “Hotel Indigo Dubai The Sustainable City is a unique project designed to be integrated into an entirely sustainable community, and to meet the highest environmental, social and commercial sustainability standards. As a brand, Hotel Indigo is a direct reflection of its surroundings and in this case, the hotel’s first commitment to its neighbourhood was a net zero energy building where solar power will meet 100 per cent of the hotel’s energy needs. We see this project as a potential future trend, perhaps encouraging more hotels of its kind and more usage of solar energy.”

“The UAE is a key strategic market for us. Dubai, the world’s fourth most-visited city in 2015 with 14.2 million overnight visitors, has been on an unprecedented growth journey for the last decade. The emirate’s ambition is to hit 20 million visitors by 2020, and position the country as both a world-class business and leisure destination. We want to contribute to the ongoing journey and support this fast-growing sector together with our experienced regional partners,” said Wolfgang M. Neumann, president and CEO of Rezidor.

The Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Waterfront will open its doors during Q1 2017; followed by the Park Inn by Radisson Resort Ras Al Khaimah Marjan Island in Q2 2017; while the Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Canal View will welcome guests from Q1 2018.

“With these three new signings, we are adding over 1,000 rooms to our portfolio in the UAE, and further improving our brand awareness in the country, while expanding our offering to guests and further improving the business efficiencies to our investment partners,” said Elie Younes, executive vice-president and chief development officer of The Rezidor Hotel Group.

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Wickerpark Music Festival 2016 in Lebanon, September 10

Beirut, 30 Aug 2016, NNA – Wickerpark Music Festival will be taking place in the Northern coastal village of Batroun on Saturday September 10 at 4:00 p.m.

Wickerpark is a grassroots alternative music festival originating and located in the town of Batroun, Lebanon.

Starting from modest beginnings, Wickerpark has succeeded in becoming a milestone in the independent festival experience in Lebanon. The Festival has accommodated in its 5 years of existence no less than 70 bands, over 100 artists and performers, and an impressive 14,000 attendees.

The location of Wickerpark remains the most unique feature of the festival: it takes place in a massive field next to the founder’s beach house in the coastal town of Batroun (55km North of Beirut).

Wickerpark plays an exceptional role in the dynamics of the alternative culture in modern-day Lebanon. The musical programming of the Festival combines today’s burgeoning Lebanese talents with more established and experienced bands, and often features both local Lebanese artists and foreign guests in the space of one unique, full-blown day of festivities.

For many, Wickerpark is considered to be the most laidback, affordable and rewarding live music experience in the country. As high-quality festivals go, its vision is uniquely singular and utterly accessible. 

Festivities are an essential and integral part of Wickerpark, yet the Festival is aware of its duties towards the environment and community, be they artistic, social or economical.

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