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3 Oct, 2016

First British ambassador performs Hajj with Syrian wife

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 03 October 2016 (02 Muharram 1438). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




This annual festival is a celebration of the fascinating cultures and heritage of the world’s aborigine tribes. The unique art and culture of aboriginal and indigenous people from within and outside the country will be showcased through various activities and stage performances, exhibitions, demonstrations, sales, contests and interactive programmes. This festival helps to promote Malaysia as an international culture tourism destination by featuring the arts and culture of aboriginal and indigenous people as well as the local ethnics and customs. Date: 28 Oct – 30 Oct 2016. Venue: Titiwangsa Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur. Organiser: National Department for Culture and Arts. Contact: +603 2614 8200. Website: www.jkkn.gov.my

In this month of October, enjoy an array of sports, art and culture events and new tourism products that reflect the Malaysia Truly Asia brand. If you’re a sports fan to the core, enjoy these much-anticipated sporting events, the 30th Mount Kinabalu International Climbathon, Moto GP and CIMB Classic 2016. A few events highlight modern and traditional art and culture such as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, International Aborigines Arts Festival and Light and Motion Putrajaya (LAMPU) 2016. New attractions to explore are the KL Sky Tour and Kampung Morten Cultural & Heritage Guided Walk. For a full list of all activities this month, pls click here: http://www.tourism.gov.my/media/view/experience-malaysia-october-1

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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



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

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


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



Brunei Boasts The Safest Air Quality On Earth

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brueni Sept. 30 (NNN-Xinhua) — Brunei’s air quality is among the cleanest and safest on the planet, according to a new model developed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The findings, quoted by local media on Friday, analysed 2012 data from 154 countries and showed the sultanate only accounted for one death linked to air pollution.

Brunei had the lowest number of deaths from air pollution in the world, followed by Fiji and Vanuatu with two deaths each. However, no deaths were recorded in the Pacific states of Kiribati, Micronesia and Solomon Islands, said the findings released recently.

The new model was based on data gathered from 3,000 locations, using pollution monitors on the ground, modelling and satellite readings.

Brunei’s air quality was also the best among ASEAN nations, while Indonesia was rated the deadliest with 61,792 deaths related to polluted air. When ranked per capita, Myanmar had the worst air quality in the region with 43 deaths for every 100,000 people.

It was also found that 92 percent of the world’s population live in places where the air quality exceeded WHO limits. Globally, three million deaths are linked to exposure to outdoor air pollution.

“Air pollution continues to take a toll on the health of the most vulnerable populations — women, children and the older adults. For people to be healthy, they must breathe clean air from their first breath to their last,” said WHO Assistant Director General Flavia Bustreo.

Scientists from eight international institutions worked with the UN agency to analyse exposure to tiny particulates 2.5 microns in size, known as PM2.5, which penetrate deep into the lungs and in the cardiovascular system.

WHO said PM2.5 poses the greatest risks to human health and included air pollutants such as sulphate, nitrates and black carbon. — NNN-XINHUA

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Malaysia’s Rafiq Wins Asian Men’s Bowling Masters Title

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s Muhammad Rafiq Ismail was in a class of his own to win the Men’s Masters title of the 24th Asian Bowling Championship held at the SCAA Bowling Centre in Hong Kong Wednesday.

The junior kegler beat Hong Kong’s Michael Mak in the step-ladder finals, knocking down 197 pins against Mak’s 159 pins in the first frame, and 214 pins against 203 pins in the final frame. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Success Of Athletes An Inspiration To All Malaysians – PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 30 (NNN-Bernama) — The Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak wants the success stories of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes in Rio, to be an inspiration to all Malaysians to seek success in their endeavours.

He said the commitment, dedication and quality demonstrated by the national heroes and heroines could be a boost to the people to achieve their dreams.

“Sports unites people and it can also give the spirit of Malaysians a huge lift.

“I know as each time as I tweet about sports, I get an avalanche of response, but if it (tweet) is about politics, the response is less,” he said at

an appreciation ceremony for Malaysian Rio Olympic and Paralympic heroes and heroines organised by UMNO at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) here today.

Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

At the ceremony, the Prime Minister presented UMNO’s contributions to 12athletes who won medals at the Olympics and Paralympics in Rio.

The gold medallists received RM30,000 each; RM20,000 for the silver medal winners and RM10,000 for bronze medalists.

Najib, who is also UMNO president, said the party also wanted to show its appreciation to national athletes who are paving the way for policies including sports development in the country. (UMNO is a component party of ruling Barisan Nasional)

“Whoever succeeds under the patronage of policies pioneered by UMNO and Barisan Nasional (BN) is also a success of the policies formulated by UMNO and BN,” he said.

He also told all parties to continue giving appreciation to national athletes for their outstanding achievements. — NNN-BERNAMA

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First World Muslim Women Summit Held in Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Sept 25, IRNA – Iranian world-famous neurologist Professor Majid Samiei grabbed the award of First World Muslim Women Summit in Malaysia.

The award was conferred on Professor Samiei by the First World Muslim Women Summit and First World Muslim Women Cultural Festival.

Iran’s Ambassador to Malaysia Marzieh Afkham received the award on behalf of Samiei who won it as the head of International Institute for Brain and Nervous System Studies.

Iran’s Ambassador to Venezuela Mostafa Alaei attended the three-day event.

He discussed the role of non-governmental organizations in the establishment of world order and peace in Muslim states in separate meetings with Tunisian, Pakistani, Turkish and Indonesian representatives.

Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain was the special guest of the summit attended by 200 experts from Muslim and non-Muslim states.

The event brought together distinguished Muslim women form around the world to help empower women and strengthen unity among them and promote women’s role to help restore peace in the world.

Meanwhile, the second World Muslim Women Summit is slated to be held in Turkey next year.

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Malaysia’s Sunway Opens Regional Sales Office In Shanghai

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 29 (NNN-Bernama) — Sunway Hotels & Resorts has opened a regional sales office in Shanghai, China, representing its 11 hotels and resorts in Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam, in partnership with China’s Century Holiday International Travel Group.

In a statement, the hospitality division of the Malaysian conglomerate Sunway Group said it aims to achieve double-digit revenue growth for its hotels arising from the burgeoning and affluent outbound Chinese travel market.

“As the Chinese outbound travellers continue to accelerate demand for new experiences, each of our hotels in recent months has completed numerous upgrades and renovations.

“Working alongside Century Holiday will provide Sunway the platform to capture a significant share of the growing number of Chinese outbound travelers across all segments of the market,” said its Chief Executive Officer, Albert Cheong. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Legacy Of Great Silk Road Beckons Malaysian Tourists To Tajikistan

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 29 (NNN-Bernama) — One of the tasks which newly appointed Tajikistan’s ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Muhammadi Muzaffar Munavvarzod, will be looking forward to during his stint here is to promote the beauty of the central Asian country to Malaysians and vice versa.

According to the ambassador, who presented his credentials to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Malaysia’s King) on June 18, both Tajikistan and Malaysia have great potential in the tourism sector, largely based on the historical legacy of the Great Silk Road.

“It is safe to say that Tajikistan can become one of the most attractive places for Malaysian tourists by organising trips to such gems of the ‘Silk Road’ such as Gisar, Kulyab, Panjakent, Istaravshan and Khujand,” he said in a statement issued by the embassy in conjunction with Tajikistan’s 25th anniversary of its indepedence on Sept 9.

The places mentioned by the ambassador house various ancient cities as well as ancient monuments.

The envoy emphasised that cooperation in tourism and the cultural sphere were important factors in strengthening bilateral ties, apart from direct contacts between the educational institutions of both countries, and trade.

According to the embassy’s statement, every year a large number of students from Tajikistan entered various Malaysian universities under public and private scholarship programmes, adding that over 150 students were now enrolled in Malaysian universities.

Touching on bilateral relations, the ambassador believed that the current friendly relations between Tajikistan and Malaysia as well as the mutual trust and respect, would continue to develop in the interests of the two peoples and states.

He mentioned the first working visit of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon to Malaysia in October 2003 during which the main areas of cooperation were identified and the president’s second state visit in June, 2014 which provided a powerful impetus to the further development of bilateral ties.

Tajikistan, a country in Central Asia surrounded by Afghanistan, China, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, is renowned for rugged mountains, popular for hiking and climbing.

Tajikistan, with a population of over eight million people, and Malaysia established diplomatic relations in 1992.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Gambia Seeks Malaysian Expertise To Boost Tourism

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia Sept 30 (NNN-Bernama) — Gambia is seeking Malaysian talent and expertise to develop infrastructure to boost the country’s tourism industry and for other fields of development.

Gambian Ambassador to Malaysia Abubacarr Jah said his country was impressed with the facilities in Malaysia, especially the KL International Airport, and urged Malaysian companies to explore the Gambian market which he said offered huge opportunities.

“We have plans to hold talks soon with a few Malaysian companies. We are interested to cooperate in the area of airports, and information and communication technology, which will help to enhance our bilateral relations,” he said.

Jah spoke to Bernama on the 22nd anniversary celebration of the 22nd July Revolution of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia, here.

Gambians annually celebrate July 22, which marks a political evolution in the history of the Islamic Republic of The Gambia through the Armed Forces Provisional Ruling Council of The Gambia Armed Forces.

Jah, in his speech at the event earlier, said The Gambia had undergone a transformative journey that was underpinned by a collective optimism and desire to achieve the aspirations of the Gambian people.

“As a consequence, in the health, agriculture, education, tourism, telecommunication and finance sectors, efforts are being continuously made to ensure that The Gambia and its people realise the destiny that is being craved by its leadership.

“This aspiration and the appreciation of the achievements that are registered have prompted the desire to celebrate this momentous event as a further recognition of the promise that it beholds for the present and future generation of the Gambian people,” he added.

The West African country has a domestic market of 1.7 million people and The Gambia’s membership of the Economic Community of West African States trade bloc ensures easy market access to over 300 million people. — NNN-BERNAMA

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16th OIC Trade Fair in Baghdad, April 2017

In pursuance of resolutions of the 31st Ministerial Session of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), held from 23rd to 26th November 2015 in Istanbul – Republic of Turkey, which welcomed the offer of the Republic of Iraq to host the 16th edition of the Trade Fair of the OIC Member States, the ICDT organize with the Ministry of Trade of the Republic of Iraq and in collaboration with the State Company for Iraqi Fairs & Commercial Services, the 16th edition of the trade Fair of OIC Member States, to be held from 2 to 7 April 2017 at the Baghdad International Exhibition Centre – Republic of Iraq.

The first coordination meeting was held between ICDT and the State Company for Iraqi Fairs& Commercial Services, on the 7th and 8th March 2016 at ICDT’s headquarters, and was devoted to the review the various articles of the MOU concerning the organization of the Fair.

In accordance with the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the organization of the Fair, the price per square meter of the equipped space has been fixed as follows:

▪ The fitted square meter (shell scheme): US$ 150.

▪ The unequipped square meter (indoor bare space): US$ 100.

For any information or booking, please contact: Mr Siddeq OBAID, State Company for Iraqi Fairs & Commercial Services E-mail: iraqifairs@gmail.com ; interior.fairs@yahoo.com Website: www.fairs.mot.gov.iq

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3rd OIC Tourism fair to be held in Cairo, October 2017

In accordance with recommendations of the 9th Session of the Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers, held from 21 to 23 December 2015 in Niamey – Republic of Niger, which welcomed the proposal of the Arab Republic of Egypt to host the 3rd Tourism Fair of the OIC Member States in 2017, the ICDT and the Egyptian Authority for Tourism Promotion organized in collaboration with the Egypt Expo and Convention Authority (EECA), the 3rd Tourism Fair of the OIC Member States, from 18th to 21st October 2017 in Cairo under the theme “OIC-TOURISM: Message of peace between peoples”.

The aim of this Fair is to strengthen cooperation among the OIC Member States within the tourism sector, to promote tourist attractions and historical monuments of the Member States and to encourage investment in this sector.

And to surround this Fair with all the conditions of success, the organizers held two coordination meetings respectively in Cairo and Casablanca on the 22 December 2015 and the 27 January 2016. These two meetings focused on the organizational arrangements, participation and the promotion of this Fair among the Member States. The 2nd coordination meeting was crowned by the signature of the MOU concerning the organization of this Fair in the presence of H.E. the Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt accredited to Morocco.

In accordance with the provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the organization of the Fair, the price per square meter equipped (shell scheme) is $ 300 US.

For any information or reservation, please contact: Mrs Laila Elmolla, General Manager of Reservation & Contract Egyt Expo & Convention Authority Tel: 00 202 22 62 17 16 /22 60 78 28

Fax: 00 202 24 05 57 82 / 22 60 78 45- 48 E-mail: reservation@cairofair.com Website: www.cairofair.com

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Halal Expo Australia to be held February 2017

SYDNEY, Australia, February 11 & 12, 2017 / HEA2017 / — The third annual HALAL EXPO AUSTRALIA 2017 (HEA 2017), an exciting and exclusive event that showcases Halal food, products, and services as well as the Halal healthy lifestyle in Australia will be held on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th of February 2017 at Rosehill Gardens, Sydney.

Building on the success and popularity of our past HEA events – coupled with growing interest nationally and internationally – we proudly present HEA 2017 on a grander scale with top-class indoor facilities and amenities for our international & national Halal industry players, those who embrace the Halal lifestyle, as well as those who are curious about all things Halal and want to learn more.

Key features of the 2-Day event include:

• The International Exhibition of Halal food, products and services

• The International Halal Conference (IHC) 2017

• Islamic Entertainment by Islamic artists

• Appearances of Islamic celebrities

• Participation of Islamic scholars, intellectuals, scientists, and other key figureheads from the Halal Industry

• Competitions, animal shows, rides & amusements

The prime aim of the event is to:

• Create awareness of all things Halal: food, products, services and a Halal healthy lifestyle

• Establish a network of Australian and International Halal industry players

• Build a B2B network of Halal industry players, investors, financers, entrepreneurs, industrialists and professionals

• Expand B2C relationships between Halal businesses & consumers in an entertaining and informative setting

• Develop social harmony and understanding between diverse people of Islamic and non-Islamic backgrounds

“As the one and only International Halal event in Australia, HEA 2017 represents a fantastic opportunity for international and national Halal industry players to promote their products and services in the Australian and International Markets,” says Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Director of the HEA 2017, “HEA 2017 will be a one-stop event that will reach thousands of people who are interested in Halal products and services.”

“Australia is one of the largest halal meat suppliers to the Islamic countries including largest Muslim nation and next door neighbour – Indonesia and a popular halal destination – Malaysia. Today, where the Worldwide Halal market is valued at $2.1 trillion, in Australia, it is worth about $8.5 billion, $1.5 billion of which is only in the Halal meat industry.”

“The theme of the 2-Day International Halal Conference will be ‘Halal as a Culture, Economy and Trade’ where internationally known scholars, philosophers, academics, political leaders, orators, Halal industry experts, government officials and researchers will participate.” Mr. Hassan continues, “It is to be noted that the 1st International Halal Conference was held on 9th of April 2016 at the Novatel Hotel in Sydney, where 12 top Halal speakers discussed the theme: ‘Islam, Halal Industry and Australia’.”

ABOUT HEA: HEA 2017 is the only international Halal exposition in the entire of Australia. In addition to focusing on the Halal products and the Halal Lifestyle, HEA 2017 also aims to increase awareness of Islamic culture by inviting everyone – regardless of background – to attend this two-day event that provides education, food, entertainment, and thought-provoking discussions of all things Halal. The Halal Expo Australia 2016 was held in Melbourne and Sydney in April 2016, with both events bringing the attention of national and international audiences, while proving highly successful in reaching several thousand people.

Halal Expo Australia is a registered independent organisation. It is not a part of or associated with any political or religious party or group or halal certification body or any other organisation in Australia or abroad.

MEDIA: Media outlets and their associates who would like to attend and cover the Halal Expo Australia (HEA) 2017 will be required to submit an online application for accreditation available on www.halalexpo.com.au by 31st of October 2016.

WEBSITE: www.halalexpos.com.au

CONTACT: For further information, please contact Sarwat Hassan, Event & Media Manager for Halal Expo Australia 2017 by email at info@halalexpo.com.au or phone 1300 786 124.

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Australian minister to reopen trade office during Tehran visit

Tehran, Sept 27, IRNA – Australian Minister of Trade Steven Ciobo will lead a delegation to Tehran September 27.

The major aim of Ciobo’s Tehran travel is to reopen the country’s trade office in the Iranian capital. The office has been closed since 2010.

Ciobo’s visit to Tehran will be the first of the kind in about 15 years.

‘There are significant trade opportunities as Iran re-engages with the world following the easing of sanctions,’ he has told ABC News.

Iran is a ‘potential source of future economic growth,’ he added.

‘In that respect, we’ve seen the easing of sanctions and it’s really through the easing of those sanctions now that Australia and other countries are looking to Iran, a country of some 80 million people, as a good potential source of future economic growth.’

Ciobo said the country (Iran) was moving in the right direction.

In line with the July 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the six world powers, which led to lifting of the anti-Iran sanctions on January, 2016, Australia eased sanctions against Iran in early March.

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Conference on Employment of Persons with Disabilities in OIC Countries

SESRIC will organise a conference on “Employment Conference of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation: Employment of Persons with Disabilities” in collaboration with the Ministry of Family and Social Policies in Istanbul, Turkey on 26-28 October 2016.

The purpose of the conference is to raise awareness and share knowledge and best practices in the area of employment of persons with disabilities. The two day conference will be the arena of the employment scope of the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the process of creation of employment indicators, the current situation and challenges of persons with disabilities in the labour market of OIC Member Countries and activities regarding vocational training and rehabilitation.

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Workshop on ‘The Future of Tourism Development in Konya’

SESRIC and ICDT will jointly organise a two days long workshop on “The Future of Tourism Development in Konya” in Konya, Republic of Turkey on 15-16 November 2016. With respect to the rich cultural and touristic resources of Konya, this event would be a good opportunity for the participants from different national and international organisations to discuss and debate on different aspects and dimensions concerning the tourism development and its future ahead in this city.

The objective of the workshop is to provide the participants an opportunity to deliberate and to exchange views, knowledge and expertise with a view to determining ways and modalities for future development of tourism in Konya.

The workshop is expected to generate concrete and implementable recommendations and project proposals for developing sustainable tourism in Konya City that can be presented to the 10th session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) to be hosted by Bangladesh in 2017.

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Workshop on Role of Women in Development of OIC Countries

SESRIC will organise a Workshop on “The Role of Women in the Development Of OIC Member States” in Ankara, Turkey on 03-04 October 2016, where senior officials from related ministries and OIC Institutions will discuss the issues related to the empowerment of women to enable them efficient participation in the development of Muslim Societies.

The workshop will aim to provide the representatives of the relevant ministries in the OIC Member States and those of relevant OIC and international institutions a distinct opportunity to discuss and deliberate on the recent developments in the domain of gender and women in OIC Member States. In this regard, the workshop through discussing possible contribution of women, will try to identify the major and common challenges and obstacles facing women and will further exchange views, knowledge and expertise to come up with concrete recommendations especially on the OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women (OPAAW) document and its implementation matrix to be submitted to the 6th Ministerial Conference on the Role of Women in the Development of OIC Member States, which will take place on 1-2 November 2016 in Istanbul, Republic of Turkey.

Furthermore, to achieve the goals determined by the workshop and in order to ensure effective work, delegates of OIC Member States will be requested to deliver presentations on their national experiences and best practices in the empowerment of women in OIC Member States.

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Iran welcomes Japan-India co-op in Chabahar development: Minister

New Delhi, Oct 1, IRNA – Iran’s Minister of Roads and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said Tehran welcomes Tokyo’s cooperation with New Delhi in development plan on Chabahar port in southeast of Iran.

In an exclusive interview with IRNA, Akhoundi said such cooperation would accelerate the process of development of the Iranian port city which is located on the Gulf of Oman.

At the end of his three-day visit to India, Akhoundi described the implementation process of Chabahar development plan as good and appropriate, saying the program is going with the schedule.

After removal of anti-Iran sanctions in January, the ground is prepared for activating the North-South Corridor, the Minister said.

North–South Transport Corridor is a sea, rail, and road route for exchange of goods between India, Russia, Iran which also connects Europe and Central Asia.

He further referred to sanctions as an important problem on promotion of Tehran-New Delhi relations.

During his stay in India that ended on September 30, Akhoundi noted, he held talks with the Indian officials on various issues including railroad, oil and investment.

Akhoundi said the issue of following up implementation of the trilateral agreement on Chabahar port that was signed between Iran, Afghanistan and India in late May in Tehran was at the heart of his talks with the Indian officials.

Commenting on oil cooperation between Tehran and New Delhi, Akhoundi said the fact that India intends to increase the volume of its purchased oil from Iran indicates its willingness to widen ties with the country.

Akhoundi left Bombay for Tehran on Friday.

While in India, he conferred with ministers of rail road, shipping, high ways and road transportations on ways of expanding railway cooperation and joint investment at Chabahar port and signing of trilateral transit MoU.

He also attended a trilateral meeting between Iran, India and Afghanistan transportation ministers and discussed Chabahar trilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them.

The ministers called for expansion of cooperation and increase in volume of trade exchanges between the parties.

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Xinjiang Islamic institute seeks expansion to accommodate more students

Xinjiang, China (IINA), 27 Sep 2016 – The Islamic Institute in Urumqi, which is the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China, is seeking expansion so as to increase its number of Islamic theology students. The students have expressed their happiness over the facilities and services being made available for them at the institute.

The institute in the northwestern part of China is one of 10 Islamic faculties of theology in the country and the only one that teaches in the Uighur language. The institute was built in 1987 and currently serves as an important teaching facility for the Islamic religion in China with a total of 280 students.

Speaking to Daily Sabah in Urumqi, Dean of the institute Abudurehep Turmniaz said construction for the new campus is ongoing in the university district on the outskirts of Urumqi on 10 hectares. He added that they would like to increase the number of students up to 1,000 when they move to their new campus in coming years.

Giving detailed information about the education system Turmniaz said about 70 percent of the courses at the institute are related to Islam, including recitation and interpretation of the Qur’an and Arabic, and the remaining 30 percent teaches students on Uighur literature, Mandarin, geography and computer skills. “Mandarin is the official language of China and Uygur is our mother tongue, thus we have a duty to master both languages both in spoken and written form to have better communication skills with Muslims both in Xinjiang and other parts of China” he said.

“We accept Muslim students aged between 18 to 22 from all over Xinjiang. Since we were established in 1987 we saw hundreds of young people graduate and most of them went back to their hometowns to become imams or teachers at local Qur’anic schools,” Turmniaz added.

“Our institute also helps Muslims from the region prepare for pilgrimage. So far more than 10,000 people in Xinjiang made pilgrimage through our institute. I was also at Makkah and Madinah for my Hajj duty last week,” he noted. The institute has also sent more than 70 of its graduates to study overseas.

According to official statistics, there are 30 million Muslims in China and almost half of them live in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous region. The Uighurs are the biggest ethnic Muslim group with about 10 million people who live mainly in Xinjiang, but can be found in many Chinese cities.

The second biggest group is the Kazakhs. About 2 million of them live mainly in Xinjiang. The Hui are another main Muslim ethnic group that lives throughout all of China.

In Xinjiang, there are about 24,000 mosques with 29,000 religious officials serving Muslim people. Officials stated that there are also mosques with a tradition of having Iftar during the holy month of Ramadan, and a number of religious believers provide free Iftar to those fasting. Answering questions on the ban on prayer and fasting targeting the Muslim population, Turmniaz denied these allegations and said they are free to pray and fast as they wished.

In fact Muslim people in Xinjiang have no problem fulfilling their religious duties, unless you are a student under the age of 18, a government official or a teacher.

According to Chinese rules students cannot choose and practice any religion until they reach the age of 18. Likewise, government officials are also banned from practicing any religion while on their duty.

A book called “Freedom of Religious Belief in Xinjiang,” published by The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China, explains the logic behind this ban as follows. “No state organ, public organization or individual may compel citizens to believe in, or not believe in, any religion; nor may they discriminate against citizens who believe in, or do not believe in, any religion. The state protects normal religious activities. No one may make use of religion to engage in activities that disrupt public order, impair the health of citizens or interfere with the educational system of the state.”

The students at the institution start the day with the Morning Prayer before sunrise, and all the students perform the five daily prayers required by the Muslim faith at the mosque, which is located next to the Institute.

“We study here without paying any money and also we get some pocket money. I’m glad to study in here,” student Memed Selim, age 20, said. “I’m learning how to recite and interpret the Qur’an properly from our teachers.

“I’ll be back in my town as an imam when I graduate,” another student, Abdul Mutalip, 19, said.

After the completion of their education, the students will be awarded bachelor’s degrees and then return to their hometowns, where they will serve as imams and religious officials.

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California passes law protecting Muslim, Sikh students from harassment

28 Sep 2016, San Diego, California (IINA) – The California chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CA) on Tuesday applauded Governor Jerry Brown for signing a historic bill, introduced by Assembly member Das Williams (AB) 2845, which will protect vulnerable Muslim and Sikh students who are facing bullying in school.

The statutes prescribed by AB 2845 will take effect starting January 1, 2017. The bill will require the California Department of Education (CDE), as part of its compliance monitoring, to assess whether local educational agencies have provided information to staff on school site and community resources for students who are subject to discrimination and bullying based on actual or perceived religious affiliation.

It also requires the Superintendent of Public Instruction to post anti-bullying resources related to affiliation or perceived affiliation with any religion, nationality, race, or ethnicity on its website.

“This is a good first step in the right direction,” said Hanif Mohebi, executive director of CAIR-San Diego. “It will be much easier now to work with school districts to provide a safe place for all students to learn.”

“Having school site and community resources available to students experiencing bullying is a big step forward to ensuring a safer environment for our kids,” said Sameena Usman, government relations Coordinator for CAIR-San Francisco Bay Area. “We welcome the support from our governor and legislators in addressing this serious issue.”

Recently, a spike in hate crimes aimed at Muslims and Sikhs has occurred across the nation, including physical assaults and the defacement of religious sites in California. The Cal State San Bernardino Center on Hate & Extremism has reported that Anti-Muslim hate crimes have increased 122 percent in California between 2014 and 2015.

AB 2845 aims to address potential spikes in bullying and discrimination in our public education system as a result of increased Islamophobia.

“AB 2845 will ensure that students who are faced with Islamophobia are provided the assistance and support they need when faced with school bullying and discrimination,” said Andrew Medina, California policy manager of Advancing Justice – CA. “These resources are essential to ensure student academic success because it is often difficult for children to learn in a fearful environment.“

In a recent study, CAIR-CA reported that 55 percent of American Muslim students attending California public schools experience some form of bullying based on their religious identity. That is twice as high as the national statistic for students who report being bullied at school.

CAIR-CA also found that American Muslim youth continue to identify student-teacher relations as needing improvement in addressing such bullying. Similarly, the Sikh Coalition has reported that 50 percent of Sikh students have encountered school bullying. This number increases significantly for turbaned Sikh students, 67 percent of whom have encountered bullying. In Fresno, 51 percent of the students surveyed by the Sikh Coalition reported that they felt school officials did not respond adequately to bullying incidents.

“Every child has the right to a safe and nurturing learning environment. This bill provides educators, students and parents with resources to help ensure that right,” said Harjit Kaur, community development manager for The Sikh Coalition.

AB 2845 is co-sponsored by Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California (Advancing Justice-CA), Council on American-Islamic Relations, California Chapter (CAIR – CA), Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF), and the Sikh Coalition.

In addition, AB 2845 is the first and only bill directly addressing the issue of Islamophobia in California.

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Japanese Muslims to counter linking Islam with terrorism

Chiba, Japan (IINA), 27 Sep 2016 – Muslims in Chiba of Japan embarked on a big mission to counter linking Islam with terrorism and protect communities at the same time by setting up a crime prevention patrol group.

Chiba Mosque started the patrol unit to promote exchanges with local residents and, as a result, eradicate prejudices and misunderstandings about Islam amid the frequent occurrence of terrorist attacks by radical Muslims around the world. Neighborhood patrol groups are usually set up voluntarily by local residents, but it is rare for a mosque in Japan to set up such a unit, according to the Chiba prefectural police and the Japan Muslim Association (JMA), based in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward, The Asahi Shimbun Japanese newspaper reported.

About 50 members of the group are Muslims who travel from within Chiba and other prefectures to attend the mosque for worship. On the unit’s launch day on Sunday, 19 members walked in residential areas and parks in Inage Ward wearing a uniform of caps and sashes.

Residents of a local neighborhood association and police officers also participated in the patrol. “I hope that they will also participate in local events to deepen friendly relations with residents,” said Masatoshi Saito, age 74, chairman of the local neighborhood association, speaking of his Muslim neighbors.

From his side, Director of JMA Mimasaka Higuchi, said: “I want the patrol watch to become a good example to establish relations of trust with local residents. I hope that similar activities will spread to other areas.”

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German Muslim organizations warn against increasing violence against mosques

Berlin (IINA), 29 Sep 2016 – German Muslim organizations have warned against increasing violence against mosques, fueled by anti-Islam rhetoric of far-right parties.

The Muslim organizations also urged authorities to ensure greater security for their institutions after a mosque in Dresden was attacked by a homemade explosive on Monday.

Chairman of the Islamic Council in Germany (ICG) Ali Kizilkaya, which received more than 1 million migrants in 2015, said the growing number of attacks targeting Muslim institutions in recent months has reached a “very worrisome point”. “These attacks against mosques and religious institutions are worrisome developments with respect to freedoms, religious freedoms and democracy in Germany. Urgent measures should be taken to address this problem,” he told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday.

The imam, his wife and two children were at the mosque at the time of the attack, but they survived unharmed. On the other side, the largest union of Turkish community in Germany, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (DITIB), has warned of a growing threat of violence, galvanized by the anti-Islam rhetoric of far-right and populist parties.

DITIB’s External Relations Director, Zakariya Altug, said recent attacks have shown a new dangerous trend, as perpetrators’ actions could lead to people getting killed.

“In Dresden, the attack could cause loss of lives. Thank God, this did not happen,” he told AA. It was the third attack within a week that targeted a mosque run by DITIB.

On Sunday, DITIB’s mosque in Bebra, a small town in central Germany, was attacked with Molotov cocktails.

Unknown suspects vandalized another mosque of DITIB in Schwabisch Gmünd, a small town in southern Germany, on the same day, who wrote insulting comments on the walls of the mosque.

Altug said politicians who exploit fears of the refugee crisis and terrorist attacks in Europe fuel the new wave of violence targeting Muslim institutions.

“Some politicians have begun to adopt an anti-Muslim propaganda with the hope of not losing votes to the far-right AfD. But this further encourages far-right extremists,” he said.

Last year, there were 99 attacks on mosques across Germany, according to the DITIB. Most of them were incidents such as writing neo-Nazi slogans on the walls of the mosques, leaving pig’s head at the mosque complex, or arson attacks with Molotov cocktails.

Altug said the number of attacks has more than tripled since 2012, and would likely continue to increase this year, due to a rise in anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Germany has witnessed growing Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiments in recent years, triggered by the propaganda of far-right and populist parties.

Most of the 1 million refugees accepted by Europe’s largest economy in 2015 were from war-ravaged Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

With a population of 81.8 million, Germany has the second-largest Muslim population in Western Europe after France. Among the 4 million Muslims in the country, 3 million are of Turkish origin.

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Janadriyah Festival to be held in February 2017

27 Sep 2016 Riyadh, (IINA) – The 31st Saudi National Festival for Heritage and Culture (Janadriyah Festival) will begin on 1 February 2017, it was announced on Monday.

The festival will see the participation of the governorates of the regions, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), governmental and private bodies from Arab states, as well as the Arab Republic of Egypt, which will be the state guest of honor of the coming festival.

On this occasion, the Ministry of National Guard, main organizers of the festival, expressed its honor to organize the festival, which will be held under the aegis of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.

The ministry pointed out in its statement that it has been preparing for the festival early. Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, mnister of the National Guard and chairman of the Supreme Committee for the Festival, has directed to start preparations for the festival, with forming various committees and conducting workshops.

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LEAD STORY: First British ambassador performs Hajj with Syrian wife

Riyadh, (IINA), 23 Sep 2016 – The British ambassador to Saudi Arabia has performed the Hajj pilgrimage this year with his Syrian wife.

The report stated that Simon Collis made the holy trip with his wife Huda Mujarkech, and he was the first British ambassador to perform Hajj.

The ambassador converted to Islam in 2011 “after spending 30 years in Muslim societies” and shortly before his marriage to Huda, according to media reports. Collis has been in Riyadh since last year. He previously served in a number of Middle Eastern countries, including Syria, Iraq, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, as well as in India and Tunisia.

Collis was pictured wearing the white robes, or ihram. The photograph was posted on the twitter account of Saudi Arabian writer and university professor, Fawziah Albakr, who wrote in Arabic, “First British ambassador to the Kingdom undertakes the Hajj following his conversion to Islam. Simon Collis with his wife Huda in Makkah, praise be to God.”

On Twitter, Collis thanked well-wishers and revealed that he had converted to Islam shortly before marrying his wife. Collis wrote, “In short, I converted to Islam after spending 30 years in Muslim societies and before getting married to Huda.”

An estimated 1.8 million Muslim pilgrims completed the Hajj this year at holy sites in Saudi Arabia. The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam, and able-bodied Muslims are expected to make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime.

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ITFC and WTO Discuss the Future of Trade

September 29, 2016, Geneva, Switzerland – On the sidelines of the WTO Public Forum, a meeting was held between Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC and the World Trade Organization (WTO), represented by Roberto Azevêdo, Director General, WTO to discuss latest outlook of the future of trade, and further areas of cooperation.

These areas of cooperation include SMEs’ development, emphasizing on ITFC’s leading role in the implementation of regional integration programs (AfTIAS) and inter-regional trade development (Arab Africa Trade Bridge Program and Special Program for Central Asia – SPCA); and ITFC Trade Development programs that contribute to the achievement of the trade related SDGs in IDB Member Countries.

In addition to the potential future cooperation in ITFC/IDBG Trade data and contribution in WTO reports and databases, sharing views on SME’s development, and partnering in initiatives for SMEs promotion in member countries.

Concluding on the meeting, Eng. Hani Sonbol, CEO, ITFC said, “I can confidently say that this has been a very fruitful meeting that resulted in shaping many promising future joint projects between our two entities.

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ITFC Presents Innovation Through Islamic Trade Finance

September 29, 2016, Geneva, Switzerland – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, participated in the WTO Public Forum on 29 September 2016 in Geneva. Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO ITFC presented IDB Group’s role in general and ITFC role in specific to the global trade finance during the Panel on “Trade Finance for SMEs: Policy, Instruments and Innovation”.

“It is very important to convey the ITFC story, and the trade-finance solutions we provide for the development of our member countries, specifically during this critical time and all the economic challenges we are facing today”, commented Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol. The discussion focused on ITFC unique positioning as South-South Multilateral Institution has allowed the Corporation to shape tailor-made financing solutions supporting trade flows; in addition to ITFC special programs that are being developed to tackle SMEs needs through a mix of dedicated financing structures (like two-steps Murabaha) and capacity building modules.

“As of today, the IDB Group has financed more than US$60 billion of trade transactions all over the world. Since inception in 2008, ITFC has on its own extended more than US$33 billion of trade-finance.”

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Myanmar to review demolition of mosques, Islamic schools deemed illegal buildings

Arakan (IINA), 29 Sep 2016 – Myanmar’s authorities in restive Arakan State said they are planning to review the legality of the buildings, which the government said it will begin to demolish, including mosques and religious schools in the Muslim-majority city of Maungdaw.

State Minister of Security and Border Affairs Col. Htein Lin told a news conference that the buildings slated for demolition in the city of Maungdaw, will be subjected to scrutiny to determine whether they were legally constructed or not. He pointed out that the demolition has not started yet, although rumors spread in social media networks.

“If we find any buildings constructed illegally, will file a lawsuit and follow the court’s decision,” Lin said, pointing out that there are more than 3,000 illegal structures in Maungdaw, whose owners will face a fine or two years’ imprisonment, in case the lawsuit is proved against them.

Haji Maung Bar, a Muslim community leader from Maungdaw, was quoted by Myanmar Times as saying that he can’t figure out why the government want to demolish the existing mosques and Islamic schools. He added that the government has to find alternative sites in the event of their demolition, so that people can pray and attend school.

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OIC symposium in Ramallah urges more tourism to Jerusalem

Ramallah (IINA), 29 Sep 2016 – The Representative Office of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the State of Palestine organized a symposium under the title of “Advancing Religious Tourism to Palestine, particularly Jerusalem”, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs, to discuss strategies on drawing tourism to Jerusalem.

The Symposium has recommended the activation of cooperation between the Palestinian official agencies, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities on one hand and the OIC General Secretariat on the other, to open the road for Islamic tourism that would increase the number of Muslim tourist arrivals in Jerusalem.

The recommendations also included promoting tourism to Palestine, especially Jerusalem, at the Islamic level through literature, promotional materials, exhibitions and conferences to be held by tourism offices in the Muslim world.

The workshop recommended the dissemination of the fatwas (religious edicts) issued by the OIC International Islamic Fiqh Academy (IIFA) in 2015, Palestine’s Dar al-Ifta and by the meeting of Muslim scholars held in Jordan under the theme of “The Road to Jerusalem”.

The speakers recommended that implementable strategies should be developed to encourage tourism from Islamic countries to Jerusalem. Participants in the workshop included Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Rola Ma’aiya; Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Adnan Al-Husseini; Mufti of Al-Quds and Palestine Sheikh Muhammad Hussein; Shariah Chief Judge Dr. Mahmoud Al-Habash; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Taysir Jaradat, and Archbishop Attallah Hana. Other participants were the ambassadors of Jordan and Morocco, Representative of OIC in Palestine Ambassador Ahmad Ruwaidhi, and several representatives of Palestinian tourism institutions in Jerusalem.

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Azerbaijan’s president criticizes rising Islamophobia, anti-Muslim discrimination

30 Sep 2016, Baku (IINA) – Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev criticized some European countries on Thursday for not accepting Muslim refugees, saying, “refusing to take them based on their religion constitutes religious segregation.”

Aliyev’s remarks came in his speech during the inauguration of the 5th Baku International Humanitarian Forum, in which he focused on the issues of the Islamic world as well as criticized the upsurge in Islamophobia and discrimination against Muslims and hatred towards Islam, particularly in Europe.

The president added: “The world today is in dire need for dialogue,” calling on developing the discussions between the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Council of Europe. He said that his country will support such dialogue as it is a member of both the OIC and the Council of Europe.

The invitation by the Azeri President came in conjunction with previous calls for the need of better converse between religions, most notably, the invitation of the late Saudi King Abdullah, who launched an initiative to establish a center for dialogue among followers of different faiths and cultures, which was then adopted by the Extraordinary Islamic Summit in Makkah in 2005.

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Korea-Central Asia forum to be held in Tashkent

Bishkek, November 14 / Kabar /. The V session of the Republic of Korea-Central Asia cooperation forum will start its work in Tashkent on November 15, Kazinform reports.

Delegations from Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will share their opinions on a wide range of cooperation issues.

The two-day forum program includes also the IV investment forum and I session of the heads of the hydro-meteorological services of the member states.

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Kazakhstan unveils first subway line in Almaty

The first ever subway line was officially opened by Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Thursday in Almaty after almost 20 years of construction.

“Today is an exciting historic day for our country. This is the first such facility in Kazakhstan and it will go down in the history of our country,” Nazarbayev said at the opening ceremony.

Construction began in 1988, but was stalled several times over the lack of financing. The Almaty subway line, which has seven stations, is 8.5 kilometers (5.3 miles) long and stretches across the central part of the city.

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International Islamic Charitable Organization to build a boarding school in Bishkek

Bishkek, September 30 / Kabar /. Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic in the State of Kuwait Zhusupbek Sharipov held a meeting with advisor of Emir of Kuwait, Chairman of the International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO), special envoy of UN Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, Dr. Abdullah Al Matouq on September 28 this year, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

During the meeting Sharipov and Abdullah Al Matouq discussed the implementation of the agreements reached at the meeting between the President Atambayev and the President IICO Abdullah Al Matouq in 2015, in particular for the construction of a boarding school in Bishkek. The sides agreed to start the construction of the school in the near future.

The two sides also discussed a wide range of issues of cooperation between Kyrgyzstan and IICO, including the prospects for its development and implementation of social projects issues in the Kyrgyz Republic through the International Islamic Charitable Organization.

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Kyrgyzstan hosts ARCHI FEST – 2016

Bishkek, September 26 / Kabar /. A festival of young wine ARCHI FEST – 2016 is held in Kyrgyzstan’s picturesque vineyards village on Sunday. The main purpose of the festival was the revival of this industry. The meeting was attended by experts, winemakers, importers, distributors, sommeliers, restaurateurs, hoteliers, wine critics and representatives of government agencies and non-profit organizations, the stars of Russian show business, heads of largest companies, photographers, and foreign guests.

Chief agronomist of Kyrgyzstan Noman Hasanov said that during the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan was famous for its wines.

“Today, we want to revive this story, because our domestic production is much more better than in other countries. Due to the grapes, our wine can compete with foreign manufacturers,” he said.

Director of Vinotdel LLC Bahtyiar Avazkanov noted that the holiday was intended to raise the culture of wine drinking, and show everyone that Kyrgyzstan can compete with other countries.

“Kyrgyzstan has its own vineyards and we produce environmentally friendly products from our own grapes,” said Avazkanov.

He also noted that such activities have long appreciated all over the world, and this festival will become an annual event and one of the most memorable. It will contribute to the development of the industry, the revival of the former glory of wine, promotion of the country’s export orientation.

A special food-zone of the festival opened shops with meat delicacies, cheeses, and fruits.

The festival ended with a concert.

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Kyrgyz dancers take 3rd place at the tournament in Estonia

Bishkek, September 27/ Kabar /. Kyrgyz dancers took the third place at the tournament in Estonia, head of the dance club “Alexis” Tatiana Kibkalo told Kabar Agency.

She said that they took part in the annual international tournament in ballroom dancing International Open – 2016 in Tallinn (Estonia) on September 24-25.

“Dancing couple Aleksey Kibkalo and Tatiana Kogadey represented Kyrgyzstan in the tournament in the adult category Latin American program, where 38 couples from all over the world took part. The Kyrgyz dancers ranked third in the finals,” said Tatiana Kibkalo.

The head of the dance club also added that at the moment the guys train in Moscow. “On October 8-9 the next International Open tournament will be held in Almaty, where they again represent Kyrgyzstan,” she added.

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Bangladesh leaders hail International Day of Older Persons

DHAKA, Sept 30, 2016 (BSS)- President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today wished sound health for all older persons across the world on the eve of International Day of Older Persons.

This year’s theme of the day is “Take a Stand Against Ageism”.

In a message, the President said older persons are respectable citizens in a society as the civilization is going ahead following the way of their lives and works and their merit and wisdom.

“It is our moral responsibility to ensure their physical and mental comfort,” he said.

Abdul Hamid said life expectancy of human being has increased in the world because of remarkable successes of medical science.

“The number of older persons is increasing day by day in all countries around the world,” the President said.

In a separate message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said older persons or senior citizen are inseparable part of total population in every country as they are working with much enthusiasm and sincerity to build the society.

She said the Awami League government has been implementing various initiatives for the welfare of older persons.

“Our different steps for the safety of older persons have already been praised in the international arena,” she added.

The President and the Prime Minister wished all-out success of all programmes of the day.

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Bangladesh to observe National Sanitation Month

DHAKA, Oct 1, 2016 (BSS) – President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday expressed the hope that the observance of ‘National Sanitation Month-October 2016’ will help create awareness and improve sanitation system in the country.

In separate messages, they wished all programmes of the sanitation month a success. The ministry for local government and rural development observes the month and the day to create awareness about sanitation and hygiene among the people.

The President said, in his message, said the main objective of observing national sanitation month is to create awareness among the people about sanitation and health.

He said Bangladesh has achieved a remarkable success in attaining Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which has also been praised in the international arena.

The president said different government and non-government institutions, development partner countries and agencies, mass media and cultural and social organizations has played important role in achieving the success.

He stressed the need for making sincere efforts to attain the sustainable development goals (SDG) in consistence with achieving the MDGs.

In her message, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said since the Awami League government assumed the state power in 2009; it has been working relentlessly for the development of the public health.

“Sanitation is not alone a fundamental right rather almost all basic rights including public health, education and treatment are related with it,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina said realizing its importance; the government has taken and implemented multifarious activities to ensure sanitation for all. She said realistic strategy papers and policies have been prepared to make sanitation programmes completely successful.

“The issue of sanitation has turned into a social movement in the country because of timely steps taken by the government,” she added.

She called upon all concerned, including non-government organizations, donor agencies and media to come forward spontaneously to expedite this movement.

The breakout of diseases due to unsafe water drinking and weak sanitation has declined in remarkably because of the government’s continuous awareness building activities, she added.

The prime minister wished all-out success of all programmes of the month.

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Two-day business fest held at Notre Dame College, Dhaka

DHAKA, Sept 30, 2016 (BSS)- A two-day ‘Business Fest Bangladesh -2016’ started at Notre Dame College in the city today. Notre Dame College Business Club has organized the event with the participation of students from 40 colleges.

State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid inaugurated the business fest at a function on the college premises.

Presided over by Notre Dame College Business Club President Rafat Mostafa, the function was also addressed by Business Club Moderator and teacher Farzana Hossain, Student Managing Council Chief FatherAntani Sushanta Gomez and Business Council Chief Dr. Father Liton Seubart Gomez.

The business fest includes seminars, symposiums, workshops and discussion meetings.

Through the fest, the students of business studies would be able to know about their future opportunities and responsibilities, said a press release.

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Bangladeshi students to get internship in Malaysian university

CHITTAGONG, Sept 30, 2016 (BSS) – Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) students will get opportunity to do internship in different fields in a Malaysian University.

Students of the Faculty of Fisheries and Faculty of Food Science and Technology of CVASU will avail this internship opportunity for a month from University Malaysia Terengganu every year.

Similarly, the students of the Malaysian university will also get opportunity to do internship at CVASU.

CVASU vice-chancellor (VC) Professor Dr Goutam Buddha Das disclosed this in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing function with University Malaysia Terengganu at Chittagong Press Club VIP lounge this morning.

In November next, students of the first batch of the Faculty of Fisheries will go to Malaysia for internship, said the VC.

CVASU VC Professor Dr Goutam Buddha Das and University Malaysia Terengganu VC Dr Nur Ayeni Haji Mukhtar inked the MoU on behalf of from their respective universities.

Dean of Faculty of Fisheries Professor Dr Mohammad Nurul Absar Khan, dean of the Faculty of Food Science and Technology Professor Dr Khandakar Nurul Islam, registrar Mirza Faruk Azam, proctor Professor Goutam Kumar Debnath of CVASU, dean of School of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences Professor Dr. Mazlan Abd. Ghaffar, dean of School of Food Science and Technology Dr Amiza Mat Amin and Dr Md Abdul Kader of University Malaysia Terengganu, among others, were present at the programme.

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Bangladesh industries minister visits Iran

DHAKA, Oct 1, 2016 (BSS) – Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu will leave here today on a four- day official visit to Iran, said an official release yesterday.

Amu will make the visit following an invitation by Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The minister will lead the four-member Bangladesh delegation during the visit.

The other members of the delegation are Chairman of Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) Mohammad Iqbal, Director of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) Mohammad Nizam Uddin and Assistant Personal Secretary (APS) to the Industries Minister FM Mahmud.

One of the main objectives of the visit is to identify the area of exchange experience and technical expertise with Iran for development of the Industries sector of the country, the release added.

During the four day visit, the Industries Minister will hold bilateral meeting with Deputy President of Iran, Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade, Agriculture Minister and the Governor General of Isfahan Province. Besides this, the Industries Minister will also exchange his views with the President of Iran Chamber of Commerce, businessmen and local Industry entrepreneurs of Isfahan.

Historically , there was commercial and strong cultural ties between Bangladesh and Iran and that’s why the Iranian government has invited the Industries Minister of Bangladesh for strengthening bilateral economic and commercial cooperation in both the countries.

The visit is expected to pave the way for exchanging technical knowledge, technology transfer and management expertise of the industrial sector of the two countries, the release added.

The Industries Minister will back home on October 5.

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Weekly book bazaar starts at Pakistan Academy

ISLAMABAD, Sep 30 (APP):A two-day weekly book bazaar was started here at the premises of Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) Friday. The publishers and book sellers of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi have set-up their stalls at weekly book bazaar.

The bazaar will be opened at 9 am and conclude on 7 pm in evening for two-days.

Books on various subjects are available at the bazaar on discounts rates.

The Academy is making efforts to promote book reading culture in the country.

The Academy invited students and general public to get books on discounted rates from the bazaar.

An official of PAL told APP that reading books provided new ideas, introduce to the reader new things and enable them to embellish writings and speech.

“There is need that awareness campaigns for advantages of book readings should be continued,” he added.

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Pakistan’s Lok Virsa to start Pottery-making classes

ISLAMABAD, Sep 30 (APP): Lok Virsa would hold training classes for children (7-14 years of age) in “Traditional Pottery Making” starting from October 3-9.

The program would be arranged under Lok Virsa’s ongoing Craft of the Month popular programme series in collaboration with Federal Directorate of Education, a press release said.

The programme aims at promoting indigenous folk crafts, reviving dying traditional skills and inculcating knowledge among the younger generation, particularly children about the rich craft heritage of Pakistan.

Master artisans in pottery making (including blue pottery) from different parts of the country will demonstrate their skills and teach craft making techniques to children for a week daily from 10 am to 5 pm at Lok Virsa Heritage Museum.

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Pakistan approves six mega-development projects

ISLAMABAD, Sep 30 (APP): The Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC) here on Friday approved six mega development projects in the country costing billions of rupees.

The ECNEC met here under the chairmanship of Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar and approved the 7th Secondary Transmission Line Grid Station project worth Rs 19,989.114 million.

It also approved Golan Gol Hydropower project (106) MW at a cost of Rs 29.077.173 million.

The ECNEC approved Southern Punjab Poverty Alleviation Project (SPPAP) costing Rs 4,657.957 million.

Procurement of 58 Nos (29 Nos 3000 H. P & 29 Nos 2000H.P) Diesel Electric Locomotive at a cost of Rs 16,300.000 million was also approved by the ECNEC.

It also approved construction of 100 Small Dams in Balochistan – package 3(20 Dams) at a cost of Rs 7,829.874 million while Gwadar-Nawabshah LNG Terminal and pipeline project (GNP) costing Rs 203,314.08 million was also approved by the ECNEC.

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Pakistan approves funding for Lahore Metro Rail Line

ISLAMABAD, Sept 30 (APP): The federal cabinet Friday approved a 28-item agenda including inter-government framework agreement signed between governments of China and Pakistan for financing of Metro Rail Transit System on Orange Line Lahore, agreements with different states for cooperation in multiple fields and ban on import of sheesha and related substance.

The federal cabinet met here with Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in chair which took up a heavy agenda with prevailing situation in Kashmir and Line of Control at the top.

According to a PM House statement, the cabinet approved a ban on import of flavored and non-flavored Sheesha (tobacco and tobacco free) and related substance in compliance with Supreme Court’s order.

The federal cabinet approved Prime Minister’s Global Sustainable Development Goals Achievement Programme and proposed legislation for regulation of the Benami transactions.

It nodded to the exemption from levy of (Central Value Tax).

CVT on immovable property transferred to and from the Third Pakistan International Sukuk Company Limited.

The cabinet approved memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and agreements between the educational institutions of Pakistan and Belarus, establishment of Urdu and Belarusian Language Centers between the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad and Minsk State Linguistic University.

The agreement between Pakistan and Belarus on mutual recognition of educational certificates, and MoU for cooperation in the field of vocational education between both countries were approved.

Besides it gave ex-post facto approval for initiation of negotiations and for signing of agreement on air services and sphere of postal services were also approved.

The federal body also nodded to the initiation of negotiations for signing of MoU between the central banks of Pakistan and Belarus, memorandum of cooperation between Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and National Centre of Marketing and Price Study of Belarus besides granting in principle approval to amend the convention between two countries for the avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income.

The cabinet granted approval to an MoU between the Financial Monitoring Unit of Pakistan and the Financial Intelligence Unit of Japan in the field of anti money laundering and combating financing of terrorism.

The MoUs between Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) and PT KOPELINDO of Indonesia; Office of the Auditor General of Pakistan and the Turkish Court of Accounts on Auditing in Public Sector and between Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority of Industries and Production Division of Pakistan and Small and Medium Enterprise Development Organization of Turkey were also approved by the cabinet.

The meeting approved to commence negotiations on Protocol on Bilateral Consultations between the foreign ministries of Pakistan and Romania, and constituency agreement for Board of Directors of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The cabinet approved the signing of exchange of notes/loan agreement of Polio Eradication Project (Phase-II) between governments of Pakistan and Japan and signing of agreement on economic cooperation between Pakistan and Hungary.

The meeting granted ex-post facto approval to signing of Warsak Rehabilitation Project Financing Agreement between governments of Pakistan and Germany and MoU on cooperation in the field of small and medium enterprises development between Pakistan and Bulgaria.

Besides the federal cabinet also took note of the measures taken by the Finance Division to curb terrorism financing under the National Action Plan.

Moreover, the cabinet meeting confirmed the decisions taken by the Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet on September 23 and 26, 2016; by Cabinet Committee on Energy on August 30, and September 9, this year.

It also confirmed the decisions by the Cabinet Committee for Disposal of Legislative Cases on August 31, this year and those by the Cabinet Committee on Privatization in its meetings on September 15, November 5 and November 11, 2014.

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Indonesia sends first contingent to Asian winter games

29 September 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia will send a contingent of sportsmen for the first time to the Asian Winter Games slated for February 2017 in Sapporo, Japan.

“This will be a first in the history of Indonesia to send a team to the winter sports championships. The contingent will include not just administrators but also athletes. This is in line with the Olympic Charter,” said Chairman of the Indonesian Olympic Committee (KOI) Erick Thohir while introducing the Indonesia Winter Sports Team in South Tangerang on Thursday.

Erick added that Indonesia would participate in three sporting events in the Asian Winter Games in Japan, namely ice hockey, figure skating and short track speed.

“Asian Winter Games will be an opportunity for Indonesian athletes even though we are not a country that experiences much wintry conditions,” noted Erick.

Erick informed that the contingent for the winter sports is being sent to Sapporo under a community self-funding pattern.

“We appreciate as they raise funds along with their community. There is no help from the government. They will also participate in other winter sports championships, apart from Sapporo, Japan, namely the Winter Olympics and SEA Games 2017 in Malaysia,” stated Erick.

The KOI, he pointed out, also appreciates the cooperation extended by the private sector which has been providing training arena for Indonesian athletes wishing to participate in winter sports.

Meanwhile, Indonesia Ice Hockey Team Captain, Jonathan Sudharta, reminded that winter sports athletes had tried to ensure that the Red-White flag of the country flies high in the international ice hockey championship.

“We have not been able to set a target of medal collection because this is our first participation in the international championship on behalf of the state,” said Jonathan, who is also coordinator of the Indonesian team in the Asian Winter Games 2017.

Jonatan said Indonesia’s decision to participate in the winter sports championships was motivated by the achievements of Indonesian athletes at the World Ice Hockey Championship, held in Singapore from March 2-5, 2016.

“We have chalked certain achievements in the last two years. We were invited by the organizing committee to participate in the Asian Winter Games after they saw our achievements,” observed Jonathan.(*)

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Padang launches disabled-friendly public zone

Padang, W. Java, Sept 30 (Antara) – The administration of Padang city, West Java province, has set up a disabled-friendly public zone where people with disabilities can feel comfortable and have access to safe facilities.

“We have built a four meter-wide sidewalk that stretches for 334 meters along the Permindo Street. More such sidewalks will be built,” Padang Mayor Mahyeldi Ansharullah said here on Friday.

The sidewalk has patterned-tiles with straight-striped motif in the middle of the pavement and round motives on the ramp to guide the visually challenged.

The ramp is built to facilitate wheelchair users to move up and down the sidewalk.

“Later, the sidewalk will also be equipped with various other facilities such as chairs and lighting,” he added.

The administration has also developed the Permindo Street as a shopping center and a tourist site. This will help in the growth of the local economy.

“The vendors working on the street must make sure that they keep in mind the comfort and safety of this disabled-friendly zone. It will attract more people to visit,” Mahyeldi stated.

Meanwhile, the representative of UNESCO in Jakarta, Irakli Khodeli, appreciated the care and concern that the Padang administration displayed in providing facilities for the disabled.

He hoped that other regions in Indonesia would also emulate the example set by the Padang administration in this regard.

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Indonesia-Iran plan cooperation in development of aircraft

1 Oktober 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia and the Islamic Republic of Iran are studying possibility of cooperation in the development of civil aircraft industry as currently Iran needs to renew a large number of its aircraft for civil aviation service.

The Policy Study and Development Body (BPPK) of the Foreign Ministry said here on Friday, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI) could study cooperation with the Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company (HESA).

The cooperation possibility was an important point in the economic discussion during the visit of an Iranian government delegation to the state-owned aircraft factory PTDI in Bandung on Thursday.

The visit by the Iranian delegation is part of the activities of 5th “Policy Research Consultation” (PRC) of Indonesia-Iran, between BPPK and the Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), a think tank of the Iranian Foreign Ministry held by Asia Africa Museum in Bandung.

The Iranian delegates included Iranian Ambassador to Indonesia Valiollah Mohammadi and Vice President of IPIS Dr Sayed Rasoul Mousavi.

PRC is an annual activity of BPPK and IPIS to exchange views and information about position and foreign policy of the two countries – bilaterally, regionally and internationally.

BPPK said after the implementation of “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” (JCPOA) on 16 January 2016, followed with the lifting of international economic sanction on Iran, that country needs many units of aircraft for civil aviation.

The lifting of the economic on Iran opened an opportunity for Indonesia to develop closer cooperation with Iran, an oil rich country with a population of 80 million.

Large purchase of aircraft by Iran has been widely reported by international mass media. Iran was reported signing a contract for the purchase of 100 units of Boeing air craft at a price of US$17 billion in Sept 2016, and 118 units of Airbus aircraft valued at US$25 billion in January, 2016.

The U.S. finance ministry allowed the purchases by phases.

Iran also is studying purchase of aircraft from the Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer.

Technology and Development Director of PTDI, Andi Alisjahbana, said PTDI, which already has international reputation as an aircraft maker has a big opportunity to sell aircraft to Iran.

Propeller aircraft products of PTDI are suitable for domestic flights, Andi said.

So far, PTDI has exported aircraft to various countries including Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, Pakistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Venezuela.(*)

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15 New Generation Indonesia SMEs To Attend Manila FAME

1 Oktober 2016, Jakarta (Antara News) – In support of local handcraft ateliers under the Design for Exports Program, the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) has recently enjoined 15 local manufacturers in a product development program.

The program focuses on new generation weaves, basketwork, and related wares.

These product collections will be presented during the Manila FAME: The Design and Lifestyle Event on October from 20 to 22 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City, the Philippines embassy said in a statement, here Saturday.

“The appeal of Philippines crafts lies in our raw materials and the unparalleled skill of our artisans. Through the DTI-CITEM efforts, we can further enhance this advantage and capitalize on it to help maintain – or even raise our position in the global handicrafts export industry,” CITEM Executive Director Rosvi C. Gaetos said.

In recent years, when the global demand for basketwork has been steadily increasing, and eco-friendly designs are also gaining popularity among international buyers as these are considered sustainable, the Philippines remains the 4th largest exporter of basketwork and other related wares in the world.

CITEM will provide the 15 companies full design and product development assistance to maximize their business opportunities in the global houseware industry through material and product development, market intelligence, and buyer matching. CITEM envisions the local manufacturers will enter niche markets as the current target market in weaves and related crafts is already dense.

“We just cannot continue making only products. We need to create products full of soul, and that are unique, meaningful, and useful,” ED Gaetos was quoted as saying in the statement.

The 15 handcraft ateliers currently undergoing product development using locally-sourced natural materials are from craft communities of Bicol, Pampanga, Cavite, Negros, Davao, Cebu, and Metro Manila. Companies that are making use of Philippine fibers (Abaca, Banana, Buntal, Cotton, Pineapple, Raffia), leaves (i.e. Pandan and Water Hyacinth), reeds, vines, bamboo, rattan, and wicker are Calfurn, Catalina Embroideries, Inc., Larone Crafts, Inc., Hacienda Crafts Company, Inc., Maria Vinecraft, Inc., Obra Cebuana, Inc., Shelmed Cottage Treasures, That One Piece Enterprise, and Tagum Agricultural Development Corporation (TADECO).

The companies that make use of wood and metal are Basket and Weaves Handicrafts Mftg., Chanalli and Native Crafts and Arts Industries Inc., and Masa Ecological Development, Inc. (MASAECO) makes use of paper, fiber, and mulberry bark, while Asia Ceramics Corporation and Kilus Foundation are making products made of ceramics and synthetic materials.

As part of the program, CITEM organized a presentation on the market and product directions consistent with global design and trends in basketry to a group of Manila FAME exhibitors, designers, and students. Attendees were introduced to the lifestyle and color forecast for 2017 and beyond, that largely embarks on elements of, light, natural, earthly colors and turquoise accents.

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Earth Wire — Some 48.8 million population of Indonesia are forest-dwellers

30 September 2016 Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) – A total of 48.8 million Indonesians live in forest areas, and 10.2 percent of them are classified as residing in poor communities, according to forestry observer Imam Suramenggala of Gajah Mada University (UGM).

“In addition, six million of them make their livelihood directly from the forest and about 3.4 million others work in the private forestry sector,” Suramenggala remarked here on Friday.

Further, he noted, that forestry sectors development policies carried out by the government are unable to improve the economy and welfare of communities around the forest areas.

This happens because of the mutual distrust between the government and the public regarding the management of forest areas.

“The failure in forestry development is due to a lack of trust. There is a suspicion that the community has destroyed the forests,” he said.

According to Suramenggala, with the continued degradation of forests timber productivity declines, and high poverty rates increase among those people living in and around forests, along with the emergence of conflicts in the use of forest resources, which illustrates the governments failure to achieve the goal of forestry development.

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Foreign guests of star rated hotels in Manado stay longer

30 September 2016 Foreign tourists enjoy views of the afternoon on the dock of the three colors Lake Linow at Tomohon (32 km from the city of Manado), North Sulawesi, on Thursday (March 10, 2016). (ANTARA/Adwit B. Pramono/P003)

Manado (ANTARA News) – Foreign guests of star-rated hotels stayed longer in Manado, North Sulawesi, the provincial office of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) said on Friday.

In July, 2016, the length of stay of foreign guests of star rated hotels averaged 3.81 days , up from 3.25 days in the previous month, head of the provincial BPS Moh Edy Mahmud said here.

Edy said the steady increase in the length of stay from month to month indicated growing number of foreign visitors to the province.

“The more foreign visitors to the province the better for us,” he said, adding, the trend is expected to continue as the impact would be positive for the economy of the province.

Spokeswoman of the Sintesa Peninsula Hotel Julita Wowor said the number of foreign visitors to Manado was growing especially from China.

The number of foreign guests in the city center in Manado remained low but the length of stay is higher, she said.

Most visitors chose to stay in suburban areas where they enjoy the natural beauty, she added.

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Indonesia to send 11 start-ups to Turkey

Jakarta, Sept 30 (Antara) – The Creative Economy Agency (Bekraf) will send 11 start-ups to the Start-up Competition and Conference Eurasia (Europe and Asia) in Istanbul, Turkey, to be held from 6 to 10 October 2016, bringing together 428 start-ups from 135 countries.

“From the 11 start-ups, 6 start-ups will participate in the competition and five start-ups will join the conference,” said Deputy Access Capital of Bekraf Fadjar Hutomo, during a press conference here on Friday.

Previously, the start-ups passed the selection process for the competition that was held by Bekraf, and then passed a second selection by the organizers of the start-up competition in Istanbul.

The six start-ups that will participate in the competition include Urbanhire (job search sites), Kostoom (platform to create custom clothing), KlikTukang (an application that connects consumers with repair and maintenance providers), Kitabis.com (fundraising sites), Cubeacon (application to help the promotion of businesses) and Hangout.deals (e-commerce selling discounted items). Six start-ups have been listed among the top 100 start-ups in the world.

While 5 other start-ups are to be participants at the conference in Istanbul, such as AppSKEP (applications in the field of care), Ur-Farm (e-commerce selling organic products), Pictalogi (platform photo printing), TARRASmart (directory of online radio Indonesia), BlumbangReksa (platform for helping shrimp farmers).

“In Turkey, they will meet with investors from throughout the world,” he said.

He noted that Bekfraf will continue to encourage start-up to sell their products throughout the world.

Meanwhile, KlikTukang CEO Astrid Wibisono said KlikTukang is ready to participate and compete in the event.

“We hope to win. But certainly, this event allows us to add insights, experience, and lessons learned. In fact, we will meet with investors from abroad,” he said.

In 2015, iGrow, a start-up from Indonesia, reached 2nd place in the competition in Turkey.4

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Indonesian coffee potential grows unlimited: Australian Ambassador

30 September 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Australian Ambassador to Indonesia, Paul Grigson, who is also a coffee connoisseur, said the potential in unlimited for the Indonesian coffee agriculture and industry.

In a press release from the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, received by Antara here on Friday, the ambassador said the Australians and Indonesians enjoy drinking coffee, often in cozy cafes.

“As the third largest coffee producer and exporter in the world, Indonesia is a haven for coffee addicts,” he said.

He added the Australian Rural Development Program (PRISMA), which is part of the Australia Indonesia Partnership For Rural Economic Development (AIP-Rural), has helped more than 2,200 farmers and is expected to reach 10,000 coffee producers in 2018.

“I was amazed by the incredible coffee culture, where coffee can be cold fusion, pour-over or tubruk. And there’s also some inspiring latte foam art,” Grigson said.

“Tubruk” coffee is Indonesian-style coffee, in which coarse coffee grounds are boiled, along with solid sugar, resulting in a thick drink.

According to Grigson, during his stay in Indonesia, almost all coffee grown in the country was enjoyed by him, including Gayo coffee from Aceh, Toraja coffee from South Sulawesi, and Bajawa Flores coffee from East Nusa Tengggara.

“Jakarta’s thriving coffee culture not only makes it easier for me to get my coffee, but it opens up more opportunities for young people to enter the business. With many Indonesian baristas learning their art in Australia, this is a fusion of cultures we can all enjoy,” the ambassador said.

Along with the increase in coffee consumption worldwide, Indonesia, as the third largest coffee producer after Brazil and Vietnam, has a great opportunity to improve the quality and volume of coffee production, in order to meet the international demand for specialty coffee.

East Java province is estimated to have 54,300 coffee farmers, and a coffee production land area equivalent to 8.1 percent of the nation’s production area.

Meanwhile, East Nusa Tenggara province has about 51,752 coffee farmers and its area for coffee production reaches 57 percent of the nation’s production area.

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GCC States, New Zealand to enhance trade ties

MENAFN – 29/09/2016 – New Zealand and the GCC States will work to get a free trade pact back on track after trade ministers from the Pacific nation and Saudi Arabia confirmed to enhance trade ties.Two-way trade between both sides, which includes Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain worth almost USD2.19bn annually.Moreover, New Zealand’s major exports to the region include dairy, sheep meat and wood, key components in the Pacific nation’s export basket.

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Mediterranean tourism forum held in Turkey

30.09.2016, MERSIN, Turkey – The countries of the Mediterranean must bet on diversification to compete globally, the World Tourism Organization’s top official for management of destinations said Friday.

Speaking at the 7th Mediterranean Tourism Forum (MEDITOUR 2016) in the Mediterranean coastal city of Mersin, Esencan Terzibasoglu touted the power of the cruise/maritime sector, saying that it has generated over 3 million jobs.

The three-day MEDITOUR 2016 was organized by the Association of the Mediterranean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCAME) and the Mersin Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MTSO) and more than 400 participants, including businesspeople and representatives of sectoral and government associations and international organizations

Tourism is the most important source of new jobs, especially for the unemployed young people of the region, said Serafettin Asut of the Chamber of Commerce of Mersin.

ASCAME said in a statement that all the participants at the forum embraced the idea that the tourism industry is crucial for tackling the region’s socioeconomic challenges, while generating jobs and being an industry multiplier.

“Some imminent challenges for the industry have been indicated, as the importance of developing sustainable tourism with the private sector, or the need to improve the quality of infrastructure, and to adapt tourist regional offers to different tourist profiles,” according to the statement.

The number of international tourist arrivals worldwide rose 4.4 percent in 2015 to reach a total of 1.18 million. The Mediterranean attracted more than 30 percent of this total, according to long-term forecasts of the World Tourism Organization.

According to ASCAME, tourist arrivals in the region will reach 500 million by 2030.

“This regional upward trend in the sector is contributing notably to economic growth and development in the Mediterranean. It is therefore necessary to further endorse this industry, in an innovative, sustainable, and cooperative manner,” an ASCAME statement said.

Mediterranean tourism is projected to rise 2-5 percent this year, according to the group.

“These figures demonstrate the region’s strong ability to adapt to changes in the global competitive market. In Turkey, the importance of tourism is evident, making the country the sixth-most-visited in the world,” it said.

A wide range of opportunities for the sector was touted by attendees, from the high number of Chinese tourists visiting the region every year, to the increasingly important role that third age tourism will play, to the need to create a Mediterranean travel agency.

“It is necessary to emphasize that betting on sustainable development should allow us to continue the path of regional growth, besides a tourist joint offering for all the countries of the Mediterranean, which takes so much from its cultural diversity and historical legacy,” said closing remarks at the forum.

The creation of a tourist brand for the whole region would allow Mediterranean countries to collaborate and compete together.

“Tourism is the best instrument of promotion that the Mediterranean region has and, for this reason, countries of the region must cooperate and compete together so as to generate income, create jobs for the youngest, and contribute to peace and stability on both shores of the Mediterranean,” said Jerónimo Pérez Casero, head of the ASCAME Tourism Commission.

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Egypt- Parliament’s Tourism Committee concludes 1st term

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 28/09/2016 – The House of Representatives’ Tourism Committee has concluded its first legislative term, which began in January, after holding the first session in the council. Those working in the tourism sector have disagreed over the achievements of the committee and the lack of accomplishments.

Member of parliament Amr Sedky, deputy head of the committee, said that the committee addressed a number of issues during its first legislative term, even though it did not have enough time.

He added that the committee reviewed the Accountability State Authority’s (ASA) financial reports about the ministries of tourism and civil aviation for fiscal year (FY) 2015/2016. It also submitted a briefing request for the Minister of Tourism on the ‘Egypt in Our Hearts’ initiative.

Sedky pointed out that the committee helped solve the ‘pilgrimage crisis’ this year, as well as addressing investors’ issues in the Red Sea area, as this region suffers from many problems.

He noted that the committee managed to exclude the tourism sector from the value-added taxation (VAT) for two years, due to its current circumstances. Sedky added that ‘recommendation 12’ was submitted in the final report demanding that parliamentary speaker Ali Abdul Aal exclude the sector from that tax for two years.

He added tat the committee will work in the next phase to amend the VAT law because the verbal agreement to exclude the sector is not sufficient.

Karim Mohsen, vice president of the Egyptian Federation of Tourism, said that he cannot assess the committee’s performance, because they have not finished their main task yet.

He added that the committee should postpone the application of VAT on the tourism sector for at least a year so that companies can eventually abide by the law, noting that the sector cannot pay the VAT at 13%, as it stands now.

Mohsen pointed out that the federation will hold a meeting with the Minister of Finance in the coming days to discuss postponing the application of VAT on the tourism sector until it recovers. If not, all tourism companies would face the threat of closure, he asserted.

Egypt would not be a competitive tourist destination if the tourism sector raised its prices by 13%.

Mohsen warned against the immediate application of VAT, because companies would either close or manipulate their invoices, which would reduce the government’s tax revenue.

Kamel Abu Ali, head of the Red Sea Tourism Investment Association, said that the parliamentary Tourism Committee could not provide any services to the sector, as the state of tourism is worsening every day.

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UAE Ambassador attends 6th Business Conference South East Europe Tourism – SEET2016

BELGRADE, 28th September, 2016 (WAM) — Juma Rashid Saif Al Dhaheri, UAE Ambassador to the Republic of Serbia, today attended the 6th Business Conference “South East Europe Tourism” (SEET2016).

The event is being taking place under the patronage of Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Telecommunications of Republic of Serbia from 28th September 2016. in Sava Centre, Belgrade.

The event aims to improve competitiveness and the increase of revenue from tourism in South East Europe, strengthen regional cooperation, growth in tourists’ turnover between the countries within the region, as well as attracting tourists from other distant emissive markets. Designed as a synergy of three coordinated segments with a range of multidisciplinary activities, th Business Conference “SEET 2016” provides the environment for all relevant industry stakeholders to employ their knowledge, experience and resources in order to efficiently articulate their mutual business interests.

6th Business Conference “SEET 2016” hosts representatives of relevant organisations and industry associations, as well as tour operators from EU, Russia, China, USA, India, UAE and Turkey, leading experts for sustainable development and business in tourist industry, decision makers from leading companies in tourism, air and road transport, travel agencies, representatives of state and local governments, industry associations, educational and public institutions, as well as representatives of financial institutions and leading regional media.

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Morocco signs deal with Boeing to attract suppliers

29/09/2016 (MENAFN) Morocco signed a deal with Boeing Co. in order to attract its suppliers to enhance the kingdom’s aeronautics industry.In addition, the Boeing ecosystem project plans to bring almost 120 suppliers of the firm to help raise Morocco’s aeronautics exports by USD1bn and make 8.700 jobs.Furthermore, the country managed to avoid a decline in foreign investment since the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011.Morocco has exported USD590mn of aircraft parts in the Jan-August period this year, which represent almost 3.5 percent of Moroccan exports.

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Egypt plans EGP 30m archaeological replicas factory

MENAFN – Daily News Egypt – 29/09/2016 – The Archaeological Replicas Unit, affiliated to the Ministry of Antiquities, plans to conclude a study on establishing a production factory of Egyptian monument replicas and goods with investments worth EGP 30m.

Amr El-Tibi, executive director of the unit, told Daily News Egypt that the factory would be funded by the ministry, with the possibility of putting it up for partnership with an investor in case of lack of funding.

El-Tibi added that the cost of technical preparations and the machines that produce the replicas would reach EGP 13m, in addition to the costs of the building that will be established in Fustat next to the Museum of Civilisation, as decided by the ministry.

The Archaeological Replicas Unit was established in October 2010 with the amendments made to the Antiquities Protection Law. They allowed the establishment of production units of special nature, especially in the fields of archaeological replicas, publishing and printing, and documentary and cinematic films.

The ministry began the establishment of these units with the archaeological replicas unit, which took six months to prepare, coinciding with the events of 25 January 2011.

What is the unit’s plan for foreign exhibits to be held throughout the upcoming period?

In cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the unit is preparing for the archaeological replicas sale exhibit in Latin America starting 2017.

The exhibit will take place in Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina; however, its duration is not yet decided. Moreover, there are ongoing negotiations about the number of pieces to be produced for the exhibit.

On the other hand, the unit is preparing for its exhibit in Japan to be held in December. It will last for 18 days, with nine days in Tokyo, and nine days in Osaka.

The unit aims to achieve revenues worth EGP 20m through taking part in the Japan exhibit, with produced replicas worth EGP 1m.

The Japan exhibit comes within the framework of the cooperation protocol between the Antiquities Ministry and Al-Ahram National Press Foundation. According to the protocol, Al-Ahram is responsible for organising the exhibit and covering the costs of packaging and transporting the replicas.

Al-Ahram will also cover the insurance cost, estimated at EGP 3.7m, in addition to the repayment of EGP 100,000 for the right to utilise replicas.

What is the unit’s plan over the upcoming period to increase the production of replicas?

The unit aims to establish at least five production lines in the main Egyptian touristic governorates in order to cover the local market’s needs of archaeological replicas, such as Alexandria, Matrouh, Middle Egypt (Fayoum, Beni Suef, Assiut), and the South Sinai region.

Each governorate will need replicas that mimic their historical and archaeological eras, like Alexandria. It is most characterised by the antiquities of the Greco-Roman period, while Sinai is rich of its own heritage, whereas Aswan, Luxor, and Qena are full of Pharaonic antiquities.

If the Antiquities Ministry manages to launch the Holding Company for the Management of Archaeological Sites soon, the latter will be responsible for the establishment of different branches all over the country, while the Archaeological Replicas Unit will be the core of the company and have several branches all over Egypt.

The ministry has been working on preparing the final structure of the holding company planned to be established in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning. The company will include four separate companies that contribute to increasing income for antiquities.

The four companies include one to produce museum display windows, one to manage services in archaeological sites, one to produce replicas and clone monuments, and one to produce publications.

Will local products be able to compete with Chinese products after the decision to stop importing?

The unit seeks to expand in the industry of archaeological replicas. It considers it an industry with large revenues, as proven by the great attention it receives from the Chinese market. It is an export-heavy industry due to the large demand on the pieces that reflect the Egyptian civilisation.

Currently, the industry of archaeological replicas depends on a technical, manual aspect and a mechanical one. Right now, the first aspect is available. The second will be available once studies for the factory establishment and operation are concluded.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade decided to stop importing Egyptian archaeological replicas and goods from China in April 2015.

The decision stipulated halting imports of folk art products, especially drawings with lines and colours, carving, sculptures, ceramic, clay, wood or metal products, jewellery, textiles, carpets, clothes, musical instruments, and pictures of archaeological pieces and sites.

The decision requires the local production of enough archaeological replicas in order to meet the needs of the domestic market after the Chinese imported product disappears. The Archaeological Replicas Unit is still covering only 1% of the total domestic market needs.

When the merchants are out of stock of Chinese pieces, they will resort to demanding them from the Archaeological Replicas Unit or the local workshops.

The unit aims to continue producing archaeological replicas at the same quality as when it was established, as well as to generate profit for the Ministry of Antiquities through producing and exporting archaeological replicas.

What is the size of the unit’s production and revenues since its establishment?

The archaeological replicas unit has achieved total revenues of EGP 6m since its establishment in 2011 until this year. The volume of production is subject to demand, whether from customers or external and internal exhibitions.

The replicas units started its actual production in 2011 through contracting on producing about 150 replicas of King Tutankhamun’s collection for a client in Sharm El-Sheikh. That collection achieved total revenues of EGP 2.8m. It was a good start that pushed the unit to produce more replicas. The reason behind starting with the King Tutankhamun collection was his international fame, in addition to the client’s specific request for those replicas.

The unit contracted with the Egyptian Academy in Rome, affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, in 2014 to produce 50 archaeological replicas; they were sold for EGP 1.2m.

Moreover, replicas were exported to Spain, Germany, and Japan on the occasion of holding some art, archaeological, and cultural exhibitions and festivals.

The unit’s most recent work is the one-month replicas exhibition that was held in the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir. It achieved revenues exceeding EGP 225,000 in three weeks.

He said that the time during which the replicas exhibition had been held is considered a period of recession for tourism due to the low number of foreign tourists visiting Egypt in the summer season. In the summer, the visitors are usually limited to Egyptians and Arabs. Nevertheless, the exhibition has achieved good revenues.

The Egyptian Museum in Tahrir used to achieve daily revenues of approximately EGP 1m compared to no more than EGP 50,000 now.

The replicas exhibition is one of 20 gift outlets managed by the Ministry of Antiquities nationwide. Those exhibitions are distributed among the most important archaeological places, such as Giza, Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan.

How do you manufacture the archaeological models?

Models and artefacts manufacturing passes through stages linked to each other. It starts with carving pieces if they are made out of wood, or casting them with alabaster in the case of statues. After that, it enters the finishing stage, which could be followed by grafting pieces with precious stones, and finally colouring if needed.

80% of archaeological models components are produced from local raw materials, while a small amount of raw materials are imported, such as alabaster. Local materials vary between woods, gemstones, and copper.

The unit has five sections for archaeological models production, namely woodworks, ceramics, casting, ornaments, and colouring.

How many labourers are working in the unit?

The amount of workers is not that large; it reaches roughly 60 workers. However, they are experienced and highly qualified technicians and craftsmen. The workshop does not solely rely on people with advanced educational degrees.

The unit requires experience and efficiency, not educational certificates. Workers are chosen according to their technical competence in producing models and pieces.

Workers and technicians receive training on the academic aspect of models production.

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Iran signs MOUs with Australia on trade, water management

MENAFN – 29/09/2016 – Australia and Iran signed three memorandum of understanding (MOU) on trade and water management, and that follows the arrival of Australian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment in Tehran, Iran.

One of the MOUs signeby the Iranian Trade Minister and his Australian counterpart was on cooperation in the field of trade and investment.

Whereas the other MOU was on cooperation in water resources management and water consumption optimization.

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Qatar to reach top green buildings in Mena by 2030

MENAFN – 29/09/2016 – Qatar aims to reduce carbon footprints and achieve sustainable development in order to have the highest number of green buildings across the MENA region by 2030.

Accordingly, Qatar has recently 220 LEED recorded projects and many more are in the process of registration, while the figure is increasing at a positive rate.

Additionally, efforts towards development and green buildings are accelerating with the highest pace compared to other nations in the region.

The green building specifications recently been adopted by many organizations in the country as a mandatory need.

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Omani academic delegation in Thailand to explore research ties

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 29/09/2016 – A delegation from the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), headed by H H Sayyida Dr Muna bint Fahad al Said, assistant vice chancellor for international cooperation, is currently visiting several universities in Thailand.

The visit which aims to explore academic and research ties in tourism, hospitality studies and medical education is based on an invitation from the Thai government, stated a press release. The delegation includes officials from the Thai Embassy in Muscat, H E Jesda Katavetin, Ambassador of Thailand to Oman, Dr Masooma al Balushi, assistant professor at the Tourism Department, College of Arts and Social Sciences, SQU, Mahmood al Kindi, head of international cooperation division, and Nattasuda Mettaprasert from the Thai Embassy.

The delegation’s schedule includes a visit to the Prince of Songkla University (PSU), Rangsit University, Kasem Bundit University, and Songklanagarind Hospital. The visit is also aimed at exploring research collaboration in fields of mutual interest. PSU is one of the most prestigious public universities in Thailand, which offers 80 per cent of its academic programmes in English and it has five branches in different cities of Thailand.

During the delegation’s visit to PSU, based on a prior agreement, the two sides signed a letter of cooperation, to promote student and academic exchange programmes, research cooperation, prepare joint programmes and exchange of academic visits to present lectures in disciplines of tourism, Arabic, Islamic Sciences, medicine, nursing and agricultural and marine sciences. PSU reflects its cooperation in providing opportunities to train students in several disciplines, agricultural and marine sciences, medicine, nursing and tourism.

The agreement includes the possibility of training doctors and medical staff on latest techniques used in surgery and life support systems. As per the letter of cooperation, SQU would receive students and researchers from PSU for exchange programme in different specialisations. The visit concludes on Friday.

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Omani, Iranian firms sign three business pacts at OPEX

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 29/09/2016 – Three business agreements were signed on Wednesday at Omani Products Expo (OPEX), which is being held at Tehran International Exhibition Centre in Iran. A cooperation agreement was signed between Al Sulaimi Group Holding and MAS International – Iran.

Abdullah al Sulaimi, business development director at Al Sulaimi Group Holding said that the agreement will strengthen relations between the two companies in the oil and gas sector. An agreement was also signed between Areej Vegetable Oils and Derivatives and Iranian Golbahar Sepahan Company.

‘This agreement aims at distributing oil produced by our company in Iran and the neighbouring markets,’ said Eng Salem al Bortmany, executive director of Areej Vegetable Oils and Derivatives. The third agreement was signed between Webware Company, which falls under the umbrella of Al Ghalbi International, and an Iranian Company in the field of IT.

‘The agreement was signed between the two companies in the field of information technology with the aim to promote Webware’s products in the Iranian market and explore cutting-edge technical solutions. Webware is the first Omani company to offer enterprise resource management software through cloud computing,’ said Mubar al Busaidi, deputy administration manager at Al Ghalbi International Engineering and Contracting.

Speaking on the occasion, Eng Basim bin Ali al Nassri, director general of marketing and media at the Public Establishment for Industrial Estates (PEIE) and a member of the OPEX Organising Committee, said that the marketing campaign that preceded the exhibition has played a major role in attracting Iranian businessmen and investors.

On the participation of PEIE at the event, Eng Nassri said that PEIE’s stall at the event has received a great turnout from Iranian traders and industrialists. Omani firms from various industries including natural resources, minerals, wood products, manufacturing products, furniture, food, medical and pharmaceuticals, fertilisers, plastic and metal equipment, perfume, leather, and logistics in addition to several government bodies, and small and medium enterprises, which are participating under the umbrella of Riyada.

Sultan al Maawali, administrative affairs researcher at Riyada said that Riyada’s participation in OPEX Iran is aimed at supporting entrepreneurs to introduce their products to visitors and boost trade ties with Iran. The exhibition will conclude on Friday.

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Satellite Alcomsat1, devoted to telecommunications, to be launched before June 2017

ALGIERS, Wednesday, 28 September 2016, Algeria Press Service – The satellite Alcomsat1, devoted to telecommunications, will be launched before the end of June 2017, announced Wednesday, in Algiers, Director General of the Algerian Space Agency (ASAL) Azzedine Oussedik, underlining that it will allow strengthening the national sovereignty in the fields of telecommunications and broadcasting.

“The satellite Alcomsat1 will be launched before the end of June 2017 with the aim of strengthening the national sovereignty in the fields of telecommunications and broadcasting, of telephony and internet,” stressed Oussedik in a press conference after the successful launch, on Monday, of three Algerian observation satellites.

He underlined that it was a major programme which has been established, as part of this project, equipped with a terrestrial station in Bouchaoui, with redundancies in the heights of High Plateaus, adding that its running is entrusted to Algerian experts, who are under training.

Oussedik said that this project is carried out in partnership with the Chinese, with whom Algeria has an “important” training programme.

Three Algerian satellites (Alsat-1B, Alsat-2B et Alsat-1N) were successfully launched Monday by the Indian launcher PSLV C-35 from the site of Sriharikota of the Spatial Centre of Satich Dhawan (southeast of India).

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4th national one-man-show Festival in Setif

SETIF (Algeria), Thursday, 29 September 2016 (Algeria Press Service) – More than fifty (50) monologues of amateur artists will compete in the 4th edition of the national one-man show festival “El Fouara Show,” which will take place from 2 to 6 October at the Houari Boumediene Cultural Center in Setif said Thursday, the director of the local office for culture and tourism Khaled Mehnaoui.

The festival will be hosted by comedian Hakim Dekkar, said the director of the festival’s organizing committee who underlined that seven (7) monologues of professional artists will be proposed out-of-competition to music fans by Tunisian Yahiaoui whose show will open the festival.

A tribute will be paid on the sidelines of the festival to relatives of the deceased writer, poet and man of theatre Omar Mokhtar Chaalal who died in May.

Chaalal is the author of several works including “Kateb Yacine, The Free Man,” (Kateb Yacine, l’homme libre).

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New Cairo Airport Terminal launched

CAIRO, Egypt, Sept 28 (NNN-MENA) – Kuwait Airways will be the first aviation firm, to operate Cairo International Airport’s new terminal, a senior company official said.

In a statement to KUNA, a day before Cairo International Airport’s Terminal 2 opens, for a test period, Director of Kuwait Airways’ Middle East and North Africa Department, Abdullah Al-Huwaila, said that, the fact that Kuwait Airways will be the first aviation company to use the terminal, is a testament to its “repute and credibility.”

Moreover, Egypt’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, announced that, all airlines using Terminal 1 will begin operating the new terminal on Sept 28 (today).

However, Terminal 2 will officially be opened on Oct 6.

The new terminal is expected to ratchet up Cairo International Airport’s passenger capacity to about 30 million commuters yearly.– NNN-MENA

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Indonesia Takes Part In Russia International Tourism Forum

JAKARTA, Sept 28 (NNN-ANTARA) — The Tourism Ministry, in cooperation with the Indonesian embassy in Moscow, is taking part in 22nd “Otdykh” Russian International Tourism Forum in the Expo Center, Moscow, to welcome the winter holiday.

The Tourism Ministry has invited seven Indonesian tourism companies to take part in the international forum, the Indonesian embassy said in a statement received here.

Indonesian Ambassador to Russia Wahid Supriyadi when visiting the stand of “Wonderful Indonesia” welcomed the Indonesian participation in the international tourism forum.

The ambassador said he was optimistic that more Russians would visit Indonesia in the winter this year.

“In the first half of 2016 , the number of Russian visitors to Indonesia rose 14 percent. Hopefully by the end of the year the number would shoot up,” he said.

In order to support promotion of the Indonesian tourism objects, the embassy held a meeting at the Indonesian stand with three Russian leaders of tourism industry — Yury Barzykin, Vice President of the Russian Association of Tourism Industry; Andrey Gavrilov, President of the Russian Alliance of Travel Agencies and Vladimir Sharov, President of the Russian Domestic Tourism .

The ambassador said the meeting was to discuss strategies to increase the number of Russian tourists to Indonesia and vice versa.

The Indonesian government has granted visa free travel for 169 countries including Russia in a bid to increase the number of foreign visitors to the country.

“Indonesia has granted visa free visits for Russians . This would make it easier for Russians to visit Indonesia especially in winter,” Executive Director of the Russia-Indonesia Business Council Mikhail Kuritsyn said .

“We also support negotiations between the Indonesian embassy and Russian authorities on visa free travel for at least 14 days for Indonesians in Russia,” Kuritsyn said.

At the meeting Indonesia and Russia agreed to open direct flights between the two countries .

In addition, Russian businessmen hoped that the Indonesian government could intensify tourism promotions including promotion of cultural wealth of regions other than Bali to Russian visitors.

The tourism Expo “Otdykh” is held every year since 1995. Around 700 tourism companies form 70 countries took part in the 22nd “Otdykh”.

The participation of Indonesia in the expo is expected to draw more Russian tourists to Indonesia. In 2015, more than 66,000 Russians visited Indonesia, and in 29016, the number is expected to rise to at least 75,000 .

Indonesia has been more aggressive in promoting its tourism wealth hoping to draw at least 20 million foreign tourists to the country in 2019.

This year the government sets target for the number of foreign visitors to the country at 12 million up from around 10 million in 2015.

Meanwhile, the number of European tourists arriving in Bali in this summer season increased 59.4 percent from 76,822 in June to 122,455 in July 2016.

“The increase of European tourist arrivals is the fruit of the efforts made by the government and tourism industries in promoting Indonesia, especially Bali, in Europe and Asia,” tourism observer Dewa Nyoman Putra said.

Besides the impact of the intensive promotions and expanded security, the increase in European tourist arrivals is also triggered by the visa-free facility the Indonesian government provides for a number of countries.

The tourism service of Bali recorded the average European tourist arrivals in Bali at some 76,000 per month.

However, it rose to 122,455 in July, so that in the January-July 2016 period, the number of foreign tourist arrivals from Europe reached 583,463.

Thus, European tourist arrivals in Bali account for 21.17 percent of the total foreign tourists arriving in Bali in the same period, in which 2.7 million foreign tourists visited Bali. — NNN-ANTARA

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Qatar Airways Launches Flight To Windhoek, Namibia

WINDHOEK, Namibia, Sept 29 (NNN-QNA) – The capital of Namibia, Windhoek, Thursday, welcomed the first Qatar Airways flight to arrive, at its international airport from Doha, Qatar.

Windhoek is the first city in Namibia, to be served by Qatar Airways, which will fly to and from that destination four times a week, with a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The new route will connect passengers flying from Namibia, to more than 150 global destinations, via Qatar Airways state-of-the-art hub and home, Hamad International Airport in Doha.

Windhoek will be the 23rd destination in Africa, served by the award-winning airline.

“We are delighted to extend our network within Africa, by adding the premium leisure and business destination of Windhoek to our route map. Africa remains one of our key target areas for growth, and we have identified Namibia as an important African nation, to include in our expansion plans,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker.

The route not only improves connections with mature destinations, but allows Namibia to tap into new markets that are also served by the airline.

Export businesses in Namibia will also benefit from the launch of the new route, as Qatar Airways Cargo will offer 92 tonnes of belly-hold capacity per week on board the aircraft. This will offer Namibian businesses, a prime opportunity to distribute goods across the airlines network of more than 150 destinations.– NNN-QNA

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Qatar Airways, British Airways Announce Joint Business Agreement

DOHA, Qatar, Sept 29 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Airways and British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), Thursday, announced a joint business agreement, that will come into effect on Oct 30.

The joint business will benefit customers by offering a wider choice of flights, an enhanced network, greater choice of fares and superior benefits for members of their frequent flyer programmes.

The partnership between Qatar Airways and British Airways, will allow the carriers to provide passengers with better links and an even more seamless travel experience, between the UK, Asia, Middle East and Africa.

The joint business will see the two airlines code-sharing on all non-stop flights between the UK and Doha, to offer customers a combined route network that will serve more than 70 destinations. Between the airlines’ hubs of London and Doha, the new partnership will offer seven daily non-stop services in both directions.

“This announcement reinforces our already established relationship with IAG and we look forward to welcoming British Airways direct flights to our hub, Hamad International Airport, where we can provide passengers with seamless access to our global network of more than 150 destinations,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker.

IAG Chief Executive, Willie Walsh, meanwhile said that, the agreement will benefit customers by providing easier journeys with better aligned schedules, more frequencies and improved flight transfers.

This partnership follows the commercial agreement with IAG Cargo, signed two years ago and enhances IAG’s relationship with Qatar Airways further.– NNN-QNA

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Algeria launches 48-page biometric passport

ALGIERS, Wednesday, 28 September 2016 (Algeria Press Service) – The Ministry of Interior and Local Authorities announced Wednesday the launch of biometric passport consisting of 48 pages.

The launch of this passport “will facilitate the travelling of a large number of citizens who make frequent trips,” said the ministry, inviting the people wishing to acquire this document to contact the commune’s services.

The 48-page biometric passport will spare its holder the trouble of renewing this document which contains currently only 24 pages.

The ministry said that the launch of this passport is part of modernizing the local administration and bringing it closer to the citizens.

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Indonesia Can Become Southeast Asia’s Largest Digital Economy – President

JAKARTA, Sept 28 (NNN-ANTARA) — President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) believes that Indonesia will become the largest digital economy in Southeast Asia because of its strong foundation and availability of capital.

“We must not let go of the huge market potential. I believe the market potential can make Indonesia the largest digital economy in Southeast Asia,” he told a limited meeting at the Presidential Office here, called to discuss ways to enhance Indonesia’s image in the eyes of the global community.

He called for making immediate efforts to realize the potential that Indonesia has. Otherwise, it will lag behind neighbouring countries.

As the first step to achieve the goal, Indonesia must build a world-class logistic platform, capitalizing on products that rural areas have to offer, he stressed.

“At the same time, we must also make breakthroughs to strengthen our digital economic players. As I observe, our younger generations have the potential to engage with this world on strong terms,” he observed.

The president further asked business players to accord priority to startup businesses and ensure that they have access to capital.

“Let us carry out massive deregulation in the field of e-commerce. We must not forget training human resources to develop this capacity. This is important for e-commerce startups to compete in the business world,” he added.

He noted that almost all countries have begun to think of digital economy.

“We must not lag behind them. We must play a role in this transition. As I see, we have a huge potential to develop as a digital economy. We have a population of 250 million, with 93.4 million of them being internet users,” he explained.

He reminded that e-commerce sales in Indonesia reached US$2.6 billion in 2014.

In fact, e-commerce can help 56 million micro, small and medium business undertakings in Indonesia to contribute 55 percent of the national gross domestic product. — NNN-ANTARA

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Malaysian Wins 17Th Moscow International Quran Reciting Competition

SEPANG, Malaysia Sept 27 (NNN-Bernama) — Kolej Islam Antarabangsa Sultan Ismail Petra (KIAS) lecturer Abdullah Fahmi Che Nor Shukri did the country proud when he emerged champion of the 17th Moscow International Quran Reciting Competition in Russia.

Yusuf Abdullah of Yemen was in second place, while the participant from Bahrain, Solah Ali Umar grabbed the third spot.

The competition, held from Sept 22 to 25, was attended by representatives from 30 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Bahrain and Indonesia.

When met by reporters at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) today, Abdullah Fahmi said the victory was beyond his expectation.

“For me the competition was very close, especially the participants from Yemen, Bahrain, Iran, Iraq and Turkey, as they recited very well,” he said.

Abdullah Fahmi, who had also finished fifth in the 2016 National-level Al-Quran Reciters Assembly, took home a cash prize of USD5,000, as well as a plaque and certificate of participation. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Melaka Eyes Rm30 Bln Investments From China

MELAKA, Malaysia Sept 30 (NNN-Bernama) — Melaka is targeting to draw RM30 billion in investments from China over the next 15 years, supported by a charter flight service from Guangdong to the state, said Chief Minister Idris Haron.

“The investments are expected to flow into various sectors, particularly deep-sea fishing port development, reclamation land utilisation, as well as accommodation, hotels and a regional trade centre development projects,” he told reporters here yesterday.

Earlier, he welcomed the arrival of an inaugural direct flight carrying 129 passengers from Guangdong to Melaka.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Wee Ka Siong and Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

Idris said currently, a 300-room hotel is being built with an investment of RM300 million from China.

He also said Melaka was expected to receive three million visitors from the republic within a one-year period, beginning yesterday.

“For the first six months of this year, we have received 653,363 tourists from China who arrived via land roads from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

“On top of that, all tickets for the next 24 chartered flights scheduled until Jan 3, 2017, have been booked,” said Idris.

He said the state government is currently negotiating with relevant parties to make the charter flight service as a regular scheduled flight service.

“We have been talking about making it a daily scheduled flight over the past six months,” he said.

Idris said the charter flight service was a stepping stone to establish Melaka as a regional hub for domestic and international routes.–NNN-BERNAMA

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Jordan To Host First Regional Adventure Travel Trade Conference

AMMAN, Sept 30 (NNN-Petra) — Jordan will host the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s (ATTA) Conference (Adventure NEXT Near East (ANNE) in early 2017.

This first-ever adventure travel conference supporting eco-tourism and active travel development in the Middle East and North Africa region will be held on the shore of the Dead Sea with the support of the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and the Jordan Tourism Board.

The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said the announcement of the new event was made during the ATTA’s Adventure Travel World Summit in Anchorage, Alaska, last week.

ANNE will be the first conference of its kind in a region where stories of travel and adventure date back thousands of years. This new conference for the adventure market will bridge the East with the West and foster the growth of sustainable, environmental, cultural and adventure tourism in the region, according to the ATTA. — NNN-PETRA

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9th International Comics Festival Held in Algiers

ALGIERS- Comic artists from 40 countries will participate in the 9th International Comics Festival of Algiers (FIBDA) which will take place from 4 to 8 October with Italy as a guest of honor.

Under the theme “the 9th bubble for Comics,” the 9th FIBDA will be marked by activities spread over five days at the Riyadh Al Feth and will include the participation of nine Algerian publishing houses.

The visitors of the 9th FIBDA who must pay, this year, a nominal fee at the entrance, will have the opportunity to discover “the fabulous history of the Italian comic strip,” through the “FUMETTI for everyone” exhibition, the presentation of several authors and a series of conferences.

The “Cuba-Brussels-Algiers” triangle, an exhibition that goes back on the collaborative work between comic artists of the three countries since the creation of FIBDA, will focus on the creativity of artists who put their talent in synergy.

The 9th FIBDA, whose poster is made by press cartoonist “L’Andalou,” also scheduled activities and entertainment in public schools and hospitals in Algiers.

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International Arabic Calligraphy Festival concludes

ALGIERS-Many artists were awarded at the International Arabic Calligraphy and Miniature Festival that wrapped up Tuesday in Algiers.

The first prize in Arabic calligraphy was awarded to Iranian Sibzeh Mejtebi for his work written in “Nastaliq Arabic” while the second and third prized were handed over to Algerians Djamel Eddine Kara and Benbouabdallah Mohamed Belkacem for their works in “Naskh” and “Tuluth” categories. The third Algerian artist Daoudi Abdelkader won an encouragement prize.

As regards miniature, Iranian Ishaq Rohallah received the first prize while the second one was awarded to Turkish Aiché Ouissal for his work on the history and culture of his country. Indian Sisoudia Mahandra Singh won the third prize for his work on rural and religious in India while Algerian Selma Anfif received an encouragement prize.

On this occasion, Culture Minister Azzedine Mihoubi hailed the “quality” and artistic level of works participating in this festival, particularly Algerian works, adding that his ministry intends to create a national Arabic calligraphy and miniature school.

The event was marked by the organization of a collective exhibition of participants’ works. Algerian prize-winner calligraphers at the 10th contest of the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) held in Istanbul in last May.

Algerian calligrapher Mohamed Cherifi, holder of many international prizes, was honoured on this occasion.

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Turkey, Saudi Arabia Sign Cultural Agreements

ANKARA, Turkey, Oct 1 (NNN-SPA) – Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed an applied protocol programme on cultural cooperation, on Friday.

The protocol was signed by Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism, Nabi Avci and Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, Adel Al-Turaifi.

The protocol aims at enhancing cultural ties between the two countries, in the years 2017 and 2018.

It will include exchange of expertise in various facets of culture: music, literature, art and heritage. It will also encourage the holding of cultural exhibitions in the two countries.

The Turkish and Saudi parts also signed a memorandum of understanding between the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, also known as TRT, and the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation, (SBC).

The two agreements were signed on the sideline of an official visit paid by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and First Deputy Prime Minister, Muhammad bin Nayef, to Ankara.

The Saudi Prince arrived in Turkey yesterday, to hold official talks with Turkey’s Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim.

The visit focuses on highlighting “key role” of Turkey and Saudi Arabia’s cooperation, in regard to regional peace and security.– NNN-SPA

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