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24 Oct, 2016

IDB launches multiple initiatives to invest in young people

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 24 October 2016 (23 Muharram 1438). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Malaysia added another feather in its cap when it was voted as the “Best Eco-Vacation” at the 5th National Geographic Traveler Awards – Top Travel Destinations of 2015 – at a ceremony held in Moscow last November. A total of 29 countries were nominated for this category and Malaysia was one of the countries in the top three positions. The Awards are organised by the Russian branch of the National Geographic Traveler magazine to recognise top travel destinations annually. The prestigious award allows nominees to highlight new trends based on the preferences of Russian tourists. Readers were asked to cast their votes online at National Geographic Russia website (http://www.nat-geo.ru). More than 240,000 online votes were cast for 12 categories, namely Beach Vacation, Family Vacation, Mountain-skiing Vacation, Sightseeing Vacation, Agrotourism, Wellness Vacation, Eco-Vacation, Adventure Tourism, Russian Tourism, Discovery of the Year, Gastronomic Tourism and Exotic Tourism. During the voting process, they also elected the Best Foreign Airline, Best Russian Airline, Best Hotel Chain, Best Beach Hotel, and Best Travel Program on TV.

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.tourism.gov.my/ or http://www.tourismmalaysia.gov.my

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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




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

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


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



Malaysia PM Unveils Pro-Business Budget To Bolster Economy

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 (NNN-Bernama) — The government provided a major boost to private investments and small and medium scale enterprises through pro-business strategies in the 2017 budget that clearly is set to instil greater investor confidence and propel the economy to greater heights amid external headwinds.

In measures which encourage domestic demand, Prime Minister Najib Razak said private investment would expand 8.1 per cent to RM230 billion in 2017, arising from several infrastructure projects that would lead to continued brisk construction activity much to the glee of contractors.

In tabling the budget at the Parliament, he also handed out incentives to heighten Malaysia’s position as an Islamic financial centre, empower Bumiputera entrepreneurship and further develop the country’s five economic corridors.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, allocated RM50 million for scientific research to raise the quality of palm oil products and RM30 million for replanting, reflecting the golden crop’s position as major export commodity.

In pushing for a business-friendly environment, the Prime Minister also announced that fixed line broadband service providers will offer higher broadband speed at the same price which will facilitate international commerce and invigorate internet-based innovation.

In keeping the economic momentum moving forward and stimulate private investment, Najib proposed multi-billion ringgit infrastructure projects covering all states including Sabah and Sarawak.

He also announced that the Goods and Services tax (GST), which was a saviour to government in view of the plunge in crude oil prices, managed to rake in a collection of RM30 billion as of Oct 19, 2016.

Najib also said a sum of RM2.1 billion will be allocated for infrastructure and socioeconomic development in the five economic corridors, namely, Iskandar Malaysia, Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), East Coast Economic Region (ECER), Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) and Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) will be allocated RM522 million with emphasis given to chemicals, electric and electronics, and R&D activities.

The budget, themed “Ensuring Unity and Economic Growth, Inclusive Prudent Spending, Wellbeing of the Rakyat,” was valued at RM260.8 billion, up 3.4 per cent from the 2016 recalibrated budget.

It is the eighth national budget presented by Najib at the Parliament since becoming Prime Minister in 2009.

Of the total allocation, RM46 billion would for development expenditure which does not include contingencies that amounts to RM2 billion.

“The revenue collection in 2017 is expected to expand at around three per cent to RM219.7 billion. The government is expected to achieve the fiscal deficit target of three per cent of gross domestic products (GDP) in 2017, compared with 3.1 per cent this year,” he said.

The budget also focused on prudent financial management to reduce the fiscal deficit and sustain Malaysia’s global standing among international credit rating agencies.

“Fitch had rated Malaysia with ‘A-‘ compared with the Philippines (BBB-), Thailand (BBB ) and Viet Nam (BB-). Our rating is similar to that of advanced and larger economies such as South Korea (AA-), China (A ), Taiwan (A ), Japan (A),” Najib said.

Najib also dished out sufficient funds to further strengthen the nation’s economic resilience and measures to cushion the impact of external vulnerabilities.

The government, he said, will also upgrade infrastructure in rural areas through various measures which include the implementation of the new East Coast Rail Line project connecting Klang Valley to the East Coast, in phases.

The 600-km rail will connect townships such as Port Klang, ITT Gombak, Bentong, Mentakab, Kuantan, Kemaman, Kerteh, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu and ends in Tumpat, with an estimated cost of RM55 billion.

The government will also accelerate the implementation of Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah and Sarawak, which will not only help communication but also open up economic opportunities and activities.

A sum of RM100 million was allocated to restore the East Coast railway line along Gua Musang – Tumpat that was destroyed during the floods last year.

In order to increase the trip frequency of the Electric Train Service (ETS) for the Johor Bahru – Padang Besar route, an allocation of RM1.1 billion was proposed.

To invigorate the domestic capital market, government-linked investment companies will allocate a special fund up to RM3 billion to fund managers licensed under the Securities Commission to invest in potential small and mid-cap companies.

In addition, a Capital Market Research Institute will be established with initial funding of RM75 million, provided through Capital Market Development Fund.

For export promotion programmes to local SMEs by MATRADE, MIDA and SME Corp, a sum of RM130 million is provided through National Export Promotion Funds.

Loan financing totalling RM200 million and insurance credit facilities with coverage valued up to RM1 billion will be provided by EXIM Bank to SMEs.

A sum of RM286 million was also provided to increase exports of palm oil, rubber, cocoa and pepper.

While emphasising the importance of the roles of SMEs, Najib said the government had declared next year to be the Startup and SME Promotion Year in line with the role of SMEs in significantly contributing to the nation’s growth and labour market.

“To promote the development of SMEs, the government will allocate a total of RM75 million to implement programmes under the SME Master Plan. A guarantee of up to RM15 billion is provided under the various schemes of Syarikat Jaminan Pembiayaan Perniagaan (SJPP) to be extended till 2025,” Najib said.

To invigorate startups, a total of RM200 million from the Working Capital Guarantee Scheme (WCGS) Fund will be specifically allocated to startups.

To empower the Bumiputera agenda, the Prime Minister said the government will allocate RM100 million to SME Bank to increase opportunities to Bumiputera entrepreneurs.

He said RM200 million was allocated to Perbadanan Usahawan Nasional Bhd to implement the Entrepreneurship and Business Premises Financing Programme, RM120 million to MARA for various entrepreneurship programmes, halal industry enterprises, youth entrepreneur development and integrated entrepreneurship training programme.

He also proposed the Facilitation Fund amounting to RM500 million to the government’s Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit or TERAJU to assist Bumiputera companies to expand their businesses or to start a new business.

A total of RM100 million for Export Fund under TERAJU was set aside for Bumiputera companies to penetrate into international markets.

“The agenda of empowering Malays and Bumiputeras will continuously be upheld,” Najib said.

Turning to online connectivity, Najib said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will provide RM1 billion to ensure the coverage and quality of broadband nationwide reaches up to 20 megabytes per second in efforts to enhance digital connectivity.

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Malaysia To Create New Tax Scheme For Companies In 2017, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 (NNN-Bernama) — The government will create a new tax scheme for companies from next year with the aim of reducing the income tax rate in stages.

The scheme will be implemented specifically for the years of assessment 2017 and 2018, Prime Minister Najib Razak said when tabling the Budget 2017 in Parliament.

He said under the new scheme, companies will see a reduction of one percentage point for an increase of between five and 10 per cent.

“Two percentage points for an increase in chargeable income of between 10 per cent to below 15 per cent, three percentage points for increase in chargeable income of between 15 per cent to below 20 per cent and four percentage points for an increase in chargeable income of 20 per cent,” he added.

The scheme was created to assist in reducing the business costs and encourage businesses to work harder to increase their taxable income, particularly in the current global challenging economic environment.

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3 Latin Countries Seek Malaysia’s Help To Enter Halal Industry

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 (NNN-Bernama) — Three countries from Latin America are seeking assistant and expertise from Malaysia’s Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) to develop their Halal industry.

HDC’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jamil Bidin said officials from Brazil, Chile and Mexico have expressed their confident in Malaysia’s Halal ecosystem and they plan to emulate the success in their countries.

“To date over 70 countries are seeking HDC’s assistance, after been established in 2006. Our standards are globally recognised as a body to manage Halal products and services,” he told Bernama.

Jamil pointed out that HDC had recently secured ‘Halal Industry Development Award’ during the Global Islamic Finance Awards Gala 2016 held in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept 29.

The award, which was introduced for the first time, has acknowledged HDC’s contribution in the industry that provided an ecosystem including helping the industry players, promote exports, create employment, creating infrastructure and training services.

The award will further boost the corporation aspirations towards expanding its presence globally, complementing the Halal market that today stood at US$2.4 trillion, the CEO said.

Under its key performance indicator, HDC targets the Halal exports to reach RM50 billion by 2020 from the current RM40 billion.

It also forecasts the sector to create 330,000 jobs from 285,000 and generate total investment of RM15 billion from RM13 billion.

He said the halal industry is also expected to contribute 10 per cent to the nation’s GDP by 2020 from the current 7.5 per cent, with a major portion coming from the food and beverages sector.

Last year China import Malaysian halal products worth RM4 billion and this number will likely improve with the number of initiative conducted by the government, the CEO concluded.

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Malaysia’s Halal Technical Competent Person Scheme Seeks Global Reach

SERI KEMBANGAN, Selangor, Oct 20 (Bernama) — Central Spectrum (M) Sdn Bhd (CSSB) through its subsidiary Halal International Selangor (HIS) has embarked on one of their ten (10) Halalan Toyyiban Eco-System which is Halal Technical Competent Person (HTCP) under the Human Capital Development Program.

The exchange of MoUs is to announce the collaboration towards developing a Single Community Global Market where government agencies, halal enterprises and regulatories will conduct their business transaction in a seamless fashion globally.

The event also mark the Introduction of Halal International Selangor‘s global programs developed under its Global Halalan Toyyiban Trade and Industry or known as GHTTI – Halal Ecosystem Platform Solution. Amongst the focus projects with the collaborative partners are Halal Technical Competent Person (HTCP), Halal Information Repositories e-Commerce (HIREC) and Halal Trade Procurement Nexus (HTPN).

Halal International Selangor (HIS)

Halal International Selangor a subsidiary of Central Spectrum (M) Sdn Bhd with its distinctive Global Halalan Toyyiban Trade and Industry platform solution has developed 10 key programs which are Real Estate, Delivery Assurance, Distribution chain, Market Development, Capacity Development, Industry development, Human Capital development, Licensing & Royalties, Funding & Financing, Lifestyle as the comprehensive solution to meet the need of halal consumers globally. The main strategic pillar in driving this halal global platform solution is by providing the Halal assurance and integrity along the supply value chain. The state of art technology to fulfil the need for assurance and integrity is the Halal Technical Competent Person (HTCP).

HIS’s halal delivery assurance encompasses the complete flow and major checkpoint across the value chain from farm to fork. The value chain frame includes additional processes if compared to market best practice value chain framework with respect to Halal traceability along every step of the value chain ensuring manufactures, key international ports and logistics players to be Halal compliant to further benefits downstream stakeholders.

HTCP is a training program that will attributes the 24/7 halal assurance with the aim of widening access to training and validating that will facilitate economic and social cross culture in the network of countries as a “Single Community Global Markets”. A trained qualified HTCP Officers is responsible for the assurance of Halal; mobilised globally and also has multiple roles apart from assurance. These HTCP Officers also represents the fundamental drivers of the whole “Single Community Global Markets”.

To achieve this goal, HTCP collaborates with the local and international universities together with the Certification Bodies and authorities to venture into this program. Today, HIS has signed MOUs to collaborate with several universities from United Kingdom, China and Taiwan under the HTCP program. These MOUs are to establish and expand training collaboration in HTCP, which will strengthen the competency in the technical and competent methodologies in the broad field of Halal industries. This will also provides universities new avenues to diversify educational offerings and the same time building the knowledge towards global halal assurance.

HIS is committed towards developing human capital with expertise and knowledge in the Halalan Toyyiban business through HTCP international programme which are recognised worldwide. This program will enable businesses that are in the process of getting Halal approval to access the Halalan Toyyiban trade and industry faster and more easily. By having their owned HTCP certified officer / personnel, it will ensure the Halalan Toyyiban continuously being practices in their business field of trade, industry and services which will eventually achieved the 24/7 halal assurance practise.

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Malaysians Share Expertise on Consumer Protection And Competition Law And Policy

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 21 (Bernama) — Two Members of the Malaysia Competition Commission (MyCC) namely Prof Dato’ Dr. Sothi Rachagan and Dato’ Ahmad Hisham Kamaruddin are now in Geneva, Switzerland representing MyCC at the First Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) Meetings on Consumer Protection Law and Policy and 15th Session of the IGE on and Competition Law and Policy of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) held from 17 to 21 October 2016.

Prof Dato’ Dr. Sothi chaired two Round Table Sessions at both IGE meetings. He also presented the Malaysia country paper titled “Affordable Medication with a Dose of Competition”. His presentation dealt with the rights of patent holders of medication and the problems posed by the ‘off-label’ use of medications.

This is the first meeting of the IGE on Consumer Protection, Law and Policy a standing body established by the UN General Assembly when it adopted the revised set of UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection in December 2015.

The IGE on Competition Law and Policy is a standing body established under the United Nations Set of Multilaterally Agreed Equitable Principles and Rules for the Control of Restrictive Business Practices (UN Set). It meets annually to discuss ways of improving worldwide cooperation on competition policy implementation and enhancing convergence through dialogue. This is the Fifteenth Annual Session of the IGE on Competition Law and Policy.

The paper entitled “Affordable Medication with a Dose of Competition” may be accessed at


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Malindo Air Introduces KL-Phuket Flights

PETALING JAYA, Oct 19 (Bernama) — As part of its expanding international network, Malindo Air will launch a four times weekly service between Kuala Lumpur and Phuket, Thailand, on 10 November 2016.

Malindo Air flight OD 540 will depart Kuala Lumpur at 2.45 pm and arrival at Phuket is at 3.10 pm local time. The return flight will depart Phuket at 3.55 pm and will arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6.25 pm. All of which is referring to local time wherein Kuala Lumpur is one hour ahead of Phuket.

The route will be operated with Boeing 737-800 aircraft with scheduled flights on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Boeing 737-800 aircraft has a seat capacity of 162, with 12 Business Class and 150 Economy Class seats.

Bookings are now open for this new service, and the introductory promotional fares for the new route are: Kuala Lumpur-Phuket starts from RM139 for Economy Class and RM599 for Business Class one-way fare all inclusive

The promotional fares include perks such as free baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment and light refreshments.

CEO of Malindo Air, Mr Chandran Rama Muthy said, “Malindo Air is very excited to continue with our expansion plan by introducing Phuket as our latest destination. Phuket is a popular holiday spot for tourists from all over the world, and a favourite amongst Malaysians. With a frequency of four weekly flights between Kuala Lumpur and Phuket, we are pleased to offer our guests the option to visit Phuket via Malindo Air. KLIA will remain as an important gateway for connectivity to other destinations.”

Chandran also said, “This is another milestone for us. Mutual economic, social and cultural benefits can be expected as our fares are very competitive. In 2016, Malaysia received 1.17 million visitors from Thailand, whereas about 1.5 million Malaysians were recorded as visitors to Thailand. Our innovative services will only stimulate the tourism sector further for both inbound and outbound between these two tourist destinations.”

Phuket, a 49-km long island and branded as the ‘pearl of the Andaman’, is Thailand’s original flavour of tailor-made fun in the sun. With deep-sea diving, high-end dining, luxury shopping, fabulous white beaches and some of Thailand’s swankiest hotels.

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

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Malaysian Geospatial Data Centre Earns Global Recognition

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 19 (Bernama) — The Malaysian Centre for Geospatial Data Infrastructure (MaCGDI) has won the prestigious Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) award for their MyGOS application, a mission-critical decision-making tool used by government agencies nationwide to support public services.

The highly-regarded global tech award was presented yesterday by Leslie Wong, Managing Director of Esri South Asia, during the annual Esri Malaysia User Conference in Putrajaya.

MaCGDI was selected from a pool of more than 350,000 commercial and public sector organisations worldwide to receive the honour, which recognises the innovative use of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology to solve real-world challenges.

MyGOS (Malaysia Geospatial Online Services) is a collaborative platform that facilitates geospatial information sharing and use among government agencies and the private sector.

Since its development, agencies such as the Public Works Department have used MyGOS to monitor potholes and efficiently facilitate the required road repair and maintenance.

It also supported flood relief operations in Cameron Highlands and Kelantan in 2014 by making it easier and faster to collect and share information on the affected areas. Data collected by damage assessment teams onsite was shared via MyGOS with the command and operations centre in real-time. This provided teams with greater situational awareness enabling them to respond and mobilise resources in the most efficient way possible.

The platform has also enabled the National Hydrography Centre to share and disseminate maritime SDI and charts to the Navy community without having to develop their own mapping tools.

“Geospatial information has been recognised by the government of Malaysia as an essential resource that supports the economic, social, and environmental interests of the nation, and this is evident in the increasing use of GIS technology within the nation to address the needs of various industries and communities. Through MyGOS, MaCGDI has demonstrated its prowess in using GIS and the recognition of their extraordinary achievement is well-deserved,” said Esri South Asia Managing Director Leslie Wong.

Last year, JUPEM received the SAG award for their Geospatial Data Acquisition System (GDAS), a sophisticated smart mapping system that aims to improve the efficiency of the government’s mapping processes.

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Qatar Airways Hosts FC Barcelona And Al-Ahli Saudi FC In Doha

DOHA, Qatar – Qatar Airways, the national carrier of the State of Qatar, is pleased to unite two football giants – Europe’s FC Barcelona and Al-Ahli Saudi FC – for a friendly match in Doha.

The football giants, both sponsored by Qatar Airways, will play a friendly match in Thani Bin Jassim Stadium (Al-Gharrafa Stadium) on Tuesday, 13 December, 2016. The announcement is certain to draw legions of fans from both clubs, especially from nearby Kingdom of Saudi Arabia-based Al-Ahli club, who are eager to witness this unique match of champions as east and west come together in a celebration of football.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “We are proud to bring together two champions of football to play in Doha, to showcase not only their athletic excellence but also Doha’s extraordinary sports infrastructure. Qatar Airways recognises the unifying power of sport, bringing people from around the world together in common purpose. Through our continued sponsorship of FC Barcelona and Al-Ahli Saudi FC we are proud to be a part of their great success stories.

“Our relationship with FC Barcelona began in 2013, and since then we have doubled the frequency of our flights to Barcelona and Madrid. During our Al-Ahli sponsorship, we have increased our services to Jeddah and Madinah. Fans of both teams can travel to Doha for the match in December, or travel directly to the clubs’ home ground for matches, with more flight options making their journeys easier.”

Qatar Airways encourages football fans to stay tuned to its social media channels for information on how to buy tickets.

This year, Al-Ahli won the Saudi Professional League – the first time in 32 years. The club won the Saudi Super Cup and the King Cup, and came runner-up in the Crown Prince Cup. Meanwhile, FC Barcelona won their 23rd La Liga title this year, the Copa del Rey and they are the reigning champions of the Fifa Club World Cup. The club won the treble in the 2014/2015 season – La Liga, Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League titles.

In October 2014, Qatar Airways announced a sponsorship agreement for three seasons with Al-Ahli. Earlier this year, Qatar Airways extended its FC Barcelona sponsorship for another season, with the deal running until July 2017.

Qatar Airways operates 14 weekly non-stop flights from Barcelona to Doha, with connections to points across the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa.

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Etihad supports Indian school for underprivileged children

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has donated school supplies to underprivileged children studying at Noshera Mewat Public Middle School near New Delhi, India.

The donation was presented at the official re-opening of the school, which has been fully rebuilt with funds raised by the Abu Dhabi-based airline. Students received over 1,000 school bags, stationery, meals, uniforms, shoes and other garments.

A senior delegation from Etihad Airways presented the donation which was funded through charitable initiatives from staff, including ‘Walk for a Cause’, garage sales and a football tournament held during the Holy month of Ramadan.

The delegation, headed by Khaled Al Mehairbi, Senior Vice President of Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Hub, welcomed the participation of His Excellency Dr Ahmed Albanna, the UAE Ambassador to India and, Kavita Joshi, Jet Airways’ Head of Sales, Northern India. Also present were Adil Al Mulla, Vice President Procurement and Supply Management, Neerja Bhatia, Vice President Indian Sub-Continent and four UAE national cadet pilots from Etihad Airways.

Al Mehairbi, who also serves as Chairman of Etihad Airways’ Sports and Social Committee, said: “We are delighted to launch this initiative just before Diwali and sincerely hope we were able to make a positive impact in these young children’s lives. As the UAE’s national carrier, we are pleased to once again reaffirm our commitment to Indian society and give back to those in need. Etihad’s family is proud to play a part in helping these students pursue their studies and in raising global awareness of the importance of education to the less fortunate.

The delegation was met by Indian representatives from Mewat district who accompanied Etihad Airways’ team in distributing 1,000 of the airline’s new kids kit to a nursery previously renovated by Etihad Airways. Furthermore, the Abu Dhabi based airline announced a new school library project, to be completed by December. The new educational facility will target 1,000 students ranging in age from 6 to 14 years.

The library project is underway in cooperation with the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), a non-profit organisation that works closely with the International Board on Books for Young People.

Dr Ahmed Albanna said,” The rich history of friendship between India and the UAE is deep rooted. This donation represents the kindness and generosity of Etihad Airways’ staff and partners, as well as the wider Abu Dhabi community who selflessly partook in the initiative. Collectively, through our efforts, we shined a light of glimmering hope to our brothers and sisters in India, allowing them the chance of a better future.”

Al Mehairbi concluded: “Our special thanks and warmest appreciation goes to all parties who supported the success of this trip, notably the UAE Embassy in India and SMART, an Indian NGO.”

The trip reflects the historical ties between Abu Dhabi and India, and highlights Etihad Aviation Group’s commitment to its strategic airline partners.

The 2.6 million-strong Indian community, the largest expatriate community in the UAE, comprises 30 per cent of the total UAE population.

Etihad Airways currently flies to 11 Indian cities: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Kochi, Kozhikode, Mumbai, New Delhi and Trivandrum.

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Etihad upgrades Tokyo flights to 787 Dreamliner

19 Oct 2016 — From 1 December 2016, guests flying between Abu Dhabi and Tokyo Narita will enjoy the luxury and comfort of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner when Etihad Airways upgrades its service on the route.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner offers Etihad Airways’ luxurious First Suites, Business Studios and Economy Smart Seats on the Abu Dhabi-Tokyo Narita route for the first time.

An onboard Chef, Food and Beverage Manager and Flying Nanny offer innovative hospitality services inflight.

The state-of-the-art aircraft, configured in three classes, features the airline’s ground-breaking First Suites, Business Studios and Economy Smart Seats. It will replace the Airbus A340 which currently operates the non-stop service.

Kevin Knight, Etihad Aviation Group Chief Strategy and Planning Officer, said the upgrade to the B787 Dreamliner reflected the importance of the Japan route and the airline’s commitment to the market.

“The B787 Dreamliner is an exceptional aircraft from an operational and guest experience perspective. Its unique design and our innovative and stylish cabins offer a guest experience that’s superior in terms of luxury and comfort. These product attributes and the Etihad inflight service and hospitality – on board Chefs, Food & Beverage Managers and Flying Nannies – make ours a winning proposition.”

Etihad Airways’ three-class B787 Dreamliner has 235 seats with eight First Suites, 28 Business Studios and 199 Economy Smart Seats.

The ultra-luxurious First Suites are private living spaces with a Poltrona Frau leather-upholstered seat that coverts to a fully flat six-foot-eight-inch bed. The centre suites can be opened up to create a double bed for guests who are travelling together. A unique curved aisle offers more personal space inside each suite. The First Suite also has a 24” LCD TV monitor, a personal wardrobe and a chilled refreshments cabinet. A professional on board Chef, exclusive to First Class, offers guests a bespoke, made-to-order dining experience with dishes prepared inflight from a larder of fresh produce.

In Business Class, the Business Studio offers direct aisle access from every seat, a fully flat bed of up to 80.5 inches long, and an increase in personal space of 20 per cent over the aircraft it replaces. Upholstered in the finest Poltrona Frau leather, the Business Studio is equipped with an in-seat massage and pneumatic cushion control system which enables guests to adjust the firmness and comfort of their seat. Each Business Studio has an 18-inch personal touch-screen TV with noise-cancelling headsets.

For inflight dining, Business Class guests are offered a choice of three main course items, with a dine-on-demand option for guests to choose when they would like to eat. A specialist Food and Beverage Manager, dedicated to service in the Business Class cabin, is on hand to offer guests expert advice on the menu and to make recommendations on wine pairing.

Business Class guests also receive comfortable loungewear and slippers and a limited-edition Etihad Airways LUXE amenity kit which includes a range of personal care items.

In Economy Class, the Economy Smart Seat provides superior comfort with a unique ‘fixed wing’ headrest on each seat, adjustable lumbar support, an innovative multi-purpose pillow, a seat width of approximately 19 inches, and an 11.1” personal TV monitor.

Etihad Airways’ Dreamliner fleet is equipped with the latest Panasonic eX3 entertainment system which provides more than 750 hours of on-demand entertainment including seven live TV channels, improved gaming and high definition screens across all cabins. The aircraft has full mobile and Wi-Fi service, with USB and power points at every seat.

These features are complemented by the airline’s world-renowned hospitality which includes multinational and Japanese-speaking cabin crew and innovative services such as the Flying Nanny. A Flying Nanny, trained by the world-renowned Norland College in the UK, is on board every B787 Dreamliner flight to provide assistance to families travelling with young children.

Etihad Airways commenced service to Japan on 1 February 2010 with five weekly flights between Abu Dhabi and Nagoya, via Beijing. This increased to daily on 30 March 2014. Tokyo Narita was added to the Japan route on 27 March 2010 with five weekly non-stop flights, going daily on 31 March 2013.

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Etihad sponsors six Fashion Weeks globally

19 Oct 2016 – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has successfully completed the sponsorship of its first six Fashion Weeks, in partnership with WME | IMG.

Etihad Airways’ support of global fashion began with Fashion Weeks in Sydney, Berlin and Mumbai, culminating with the three major Fashion Weeks in New York, London and Milan.

Patrick Pierce, Etihad Airways Vice President Sponsorship, said: “Our custom partnerships with global Fashion Weeks began in style, with inspirational activations taking place across Europe, Asia and Australia, coupled with unique designer collaborations in each location.

“This alignment is a natural one for our commercial business, but also presents significant brand visibility and advocacy opportunities. It also gives us valuable access to influencers, opinion leaders, media and other stakeholders within the industry, in a manner previously not possible.”

The long-term sponsorship represents an ideal fit for the airline, building a strong link between the quality of the Etihad Airways brand and the ever-evolving fashion industry. The partnership allows the airline to boost its reputation as a provider of world-leading service, hospitality, design and style through the unique association, by promoting passenger and cargo services to the industry in markets which are strategically important to Etihad Airways and the Etihad Airways Partner airlines.

Over the past five months, Etihad Airways has worked with fashion designers and influencers including Oscar de la Renta in Sydney, Manish Malhotra, a favourite designer of Bollywood stars at Lakmé Fashion Week in Mumbai, Jimmy Choo for its 20th anniversary celebrations in both New York and London, and more recently with Richard Mortimer, the editor of Rollacoaster magazine, who curated a photo exhibition for the airline on display at the Press and Buyers lounge at London Fashion Week. At Milan Fashion Week, Etihad Airways and its partner Alitalia collaborated with fashion illustrator Megan Hess by hosting a dedicated space at the Unicredit Pavilion, where she personally sketched over 200 of Etihad Airways’ VIPs and special guests.

To celebrate the opening of New York Fashion Week, Etihad Airways flew a NYFW-branded Airbus A380 from Abu Dhabi to New York’s JFK International Airport on 8 September 2016. Upon the aircraft’s arrival, the airline staged a photo shoot in the Etihad Airways First and Business Class Lounge with supermodel Amber Valetta, who features prominently in Jimmy Choo’s 20th anniversary campaign.

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Qatar Airways to start daily flights to Seychelles

18 Oct 2016, DOHA, Qatar – Qatar Airways will provide travellers with greater access to the idyllic white sand beaches and turquoise waters of the Seychelles with daily flights from Doha starting on 12 December 2016.

Travellers wishing to explore the beauty of the Seychelles – one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations in the Indian Ocean – will enjoy convenient flights and award-winning service when travelling with Qatar Airways.

Residents of the Seychelles will also benefit from the opportunity to connect to the airline’s network of more than 150 business and leisure destinations around the world via the airline’s hub in Doha. The airline’s expanding global reach and modern fleet will take travellers to exciting places across the globe including the airline’s latest destinations launched in 2016: Adelaide, Atlanta, Birmingham, Boston, Helsinki, Los Angeles, Marrakech, Pisa, Ras Al Khaimah, Sydney, Windhoek and Yerevan.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “Over recent years Qatar Airways has seen significant growth, expanding its worldwide footprint to provide more opportunities for global leisure travellers to premium destinations such as the Seychelles. When travelling with Qatar Airways we ensure that our passengers’ dream holiday starts with an extraordinary journey on board, where they truly experience the warmth of Middle Eastern hospitality, world-class service, award-winning cuisine and in-flight entertainment.”

Seychelles Minister of Tourism and Culture, Mr. Alain St. Ange, said: “It gives me great pleasure to see Qatar Airways serving the Seychelles. Our partnership has always been a very positive one. I know that the airline is very popular with the local community and we all look forward to many more years of fruitful cooperation and increased tourism business to our shores.”

Seychelles Tourism Board, Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Sherin Naiken, added: “The Seychelles Tourism Board is very happy to welcome Qatar Airways. We are looking forward to building a partnership with the airline that will foster the development of tourism and growth of local business.”

Passengers flying to the Seychelles from any of Qatar Airways’ more than 150 destinations around the world will enjoy a quick and convenient transfer at the airline’s state-of-the-art hub Hamad International Airport. Offering more than 100 retail and dining options and unique services such as a 25-metre swimming pool, hotel and spa, designed exclusively for those in transit, the airport is sure to further enhance the passengers’ overall travel experience.

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Madaba, Jordan, Named World Craft City for Stone Mosaics

September 26, 2016 – Beijing, China, Madaba, Jordan received the honorary title of World Craft City for Stone Mosaics in 2016 after an evaluation from the World Crafts Council (WCC). The application for the title was submitted to the WCC earlier in 2016. The request was first authorized by Secretariat of the WCC before being passed on to the Executive Board.

Madaba, also donned as “The City of Mosaics” is a city with an archaic history of mosaic culture. It is most popular for its churches, which date back to the 6th and 7th century, that are adorned with colorful and rich mosaic floors. Furthermore, local government has expended a large number of resources into mosaics education. The Madaba Mosaic School was created in order to train local craftsmen in the methods and techniques of mosaic conservation, as well how to produce original mosaics. This effort guarantees a strong development of continued mosaics craftsmanship.

The designation of World Craft City will expect Madaba to fulfill its commitment to its title. This will include an expansion of international exchanges, working and communicating with other Crafts Cities to provide a higher and more efficient platform for the world of craftspeople.

The World Crafts Council has five regional branches (Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe. It is an international, non-governmental, non-profit organization recognized by UNESCO, founded in 1964. Its general objectives are to strengthen the status of crafts as a vital part of cultural and economic life, to promote a sense of fellowship among the craftspeople of the world and to offer them encouragement, help and advice.

The first mosaics were discovered purely by chance during the building of the new permanent dwellings using squared-up stones from the old monuments. The new inhabitants of Madaba, made conscious of the importance of the mosaics by their priests, made sure that they took care of and preserved all the mosaics that came to light. The Map of Madaba mosaic was discovered in 1896 and the findings were published a year later. This discovery drew the attention of scholars worldwide. It also positively influenced the inhabitants, who shared the contagious passion of F. Giuseppe Manfredi, to whom the rediscovery of most of the city’s mosaics are owed.

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Giant pages of ancient copy of Qur’an on display in Washington DC

23 Oct 2016 Washington (IINA) – Two consecutive giant pages of the Holy Qur’an are being displayed at the show “The Art of the Qur’an: Treasures from the Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts,” which opened Saturday at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington.

The sprawling pages, each measuring 5 feet by 7 feet, have rows of calligraphy standing 8 to 9 inches high. They date from about 1400 and have been on long-term loan to the Smithsonian museum. The passage on display is from a chapter explaining that “signs of God and evidence of His goodness are all around,” according to Simon Rettig, assistant curator of Islamic Art.

The show brings together manuscripts and folios from the museum in Istanbul with manuscripts from the collection of the Sackler and Freer Gallery of Art, which together form the Smithsonian’s Asian art museum.

Though the Arabic text of the Qur’an was fixed as early as the late 7th century, the exhibit showcases the variety of styles of calligraphy and illumination employed over the centuries. The works span nearly a millennium, dating from the late 7th or early 8th centuries (not long after the time of Muhammad) to the 17th century.

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LEAD STORY: IDB launches multiple initiatives to invest in young people

20 Oct 2016, Jeddah (IINA) – New President of the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group Dr. Bandar Hajjar said young people are the backbone of creativity, which is the fuel of development, stressing that investment in creative and pioneering young people is a necessity for achieving sustainable development goals.

“Young people are the spirit and vibrant heart of nations, as they enjoy a positive force to leading the present and future of their countries,” he added.

Speaking to the International Islamic News Agency (IINA), Dr. Hajjar said that the IDB Group, in this regard, has launched a number of initiatives to drive kinetic creativity, make excellence and raise the sense of entrepreneurship among young people, in addition to embracing and developing young people’s ideas and providing the opportunity for implementing these ideas. He affirmed that “these initiatives also aimed at supporting youth entrepreneurial projects and accelerating their growth for the benefit of our Ummah.”

Hajjar explained that among the initiatives launched by the Bank is developing an online course in innovation and entrepreneurship, in partnership with Gazi University in Turkey. This course aims to provide an opportunity for young people from the member states to learn and share the latest advances in the fields of innovation and entrepreneurship. The course will end up with a youth project, to be considered for possible financing by the IDB.

The initiatives include STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) project, which is a partnership between the IDB and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), where students from selected universities are invited to compete to create innovative solutions to address specific challenges.

Also among the initiatives launched by the Bank is a training seminar on innovation, to be held on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the IDB Board of Governors, where young people from the host countries meet for the whole day, to learn from experts and technologists the newest tools and technologies in the field of innovation through workshops and forums.

Hajjar further noted to an initiative on the establishment of an exhibition showcasing innovations, to be organized annually by the IDB, where young people can display their ideas and innovations. He considered these exhibitions an opportunity for the participants and the IDB Board of Governors to exchange experiences and solutions, and to examine the possibility of their recurrence in various member countries.

“Given the magnitude and complexity of the challenges facing Muslim youth, especially the high rate of unemployment and lack of an environment favorable to entrepreneurial opportunities, it is imperative to make concerted efforts, develop multilateral partnerships and mobilize necessary resources to address these challenges, and implement the important initiatives to support young people,” the IDB president said.

He pointed out that these important initiatives include the establishment of a Youth Development Bank, under the umbrella of a Youth Innovation Fund of the OIC countries. This Fund will contribute to financing and helping young entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to apply their creative ideas and turn them into productive projects, through the provision of necessary training, services and facilities for starting and managing these projects.

As part of these initiatives, Hajjar noted to the creation of an electronic platform for the exchange of young people’s economic, financial and social creative ideas. He disclosed that the IDB Group is currently studying the mechanism of implementing this platform which is aimed at linking these innovations with the funding, needed by young people.

The IDB president said that the initiatives launched by the Bank, further include stimulating the spirit of volunteerism among young people, particularly in the development sectors such as health, education, agriculture and environment. This can be carried out through holding training and educational sessions on the importance of voluntary work and its role in achieving sustainable and comprehensive development.

IDB’s initiatives further include the launch of an Award for Young People, with a view to encouraging innovation and creativity among them in the areas of human development. He explained that it is possible to cooperate with the concerned institutions in the member states to design the Award, in order to promote competition among young people to create innovative thoughts.

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Bahrain to host World Islamic Banking Conference in December

18 Oct 2016, Manama, (IINA) – The upcoming 23rd edition of the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) in Bahrain will see a global participation with leaders from different regions across the world, Trade Arabia reported.

The conference held in strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain will take place in Manama, Bahrain from December 5 to 6 and will feature a groundbreaking lineup of speakers.

The World Islamic Banking Conference is the longest running Islamic finance conference with 23 years of heritage. This year, WIBC will engage its audience in discussions on the challenges brought by the uncertainties in the global economic environment and highlight the need for Islamic finance to stay vigilant in order to maintain the current growth rates.

For 22 years, WIBC has been welcoming high profile delegations including regulators and government officials from various regions to discuss the future direction of this rapidly growing industry. This year, WIBC 2016 will welcome three high-profile keynote speakers from leading emerging markets.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most active and influential markets in the Islamic finance space today as it is home to a number of dedicated Islamic Banks, as well as Islamic window operations offered through conventional banks. A great demand for Islamic finance products in this region, makes it one of the biggest markets in the GCC.

Russia, being the latest entrant into this booming structure, is looking to use Islamic finance to further its efforts of exploring new ways of financing and develop its economy by welcoming international investors from emerging markets.

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Oman Air commences flights to Najaf, Iraq from November

Oman Air can announce that as part of its ambitious and dynamic programme of network expansion, it will be commencing its four times weekly service from Muscat to Najaf, in Iraq from November.

It is expected that the flights will further strengthen political, economic and cultural ties between Oman and Iraq.

Paul Gregorowitsch, Chief Executive Officer at Oman Air, said: “Following a temporary delay of our service to Najaf as the Operational teams were assessing and scheduling all fleet types for safe deployment on the route, Oman Air is delighted to start this service as our first destination in Iraq. The holy city of Najaf offers excellent potential for business travellers, those visiting friends and family, and for pilgrims. We anticipate a high demand.”

The addition of this route demonstrates Oman Air’s continuing commitment to growth and expanding the network. This has seen the company take delivery of outstanding new aircraft, introduce a range of exciting new destinations and launch new products and services which contribute to a seamless passenger experience.

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OIC to plan strategy to tackle Islamophobia in media

23 Oct 2016, Jeddah (IINA) – The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) will hold here on Monday a meeting of the OIC member states and relevant institutions at the level of experts to review the media strategy for countering Islamophobia.

The meeting will discuss the OIC media strategy and ways to counter Islamophobia in light of the recent developments and hate campaigns in different parts of the world, especially with regard to the increasing number of Muslim refugees in Western countries and the mounting hate discourse in a manner that causes serious concern.

The meeting aims to come up with clear and practical mechanisms for a counter-Islamophobia media campaign that highlights the true image and noble values of Islam, and contributes to halting the ongoing deliberate defamatory campaigns being waged by different Western fora.

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Iran Predicts $68B For Non-Oil Exports This Year

TEHRAN, Oct 21, (NNN-IRNA) – Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh said that the country’s non-oil exports should reach 68 billion dollars to experience a 10 billion dollar growth in the amount.

Nematzadeh made the remark addressing a ceremony held Thursday on the National Exports Day in the country with the presence of President Hassan Rouhani.

Iran’s 6th five-year development plan (2016-2021) has forecast 15 percent growth in the exports of non-oil products, the minister said.

He further noted that the country has exported 28.5 billion dollars’ worth of its non-oil products and services during the first half of the Iranian calendar year started on March 20, 2016. –NNN-IRNA

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Algerian President Inaugurates Chinese-funded Opera House

ALGIERS, Oct 21 (NNN-APS) — Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has officially inaugurated the Algiers opera house, located in the Ouled Fayet suburb here.

The opera house is named after late Boualem Bessaih, a former diplomat, minister of State, special adviser and personal representative of the Republic, who passed away on July 28 this year.

China donated the Opera House, built at a cost 30 million euros to Algeria on the occasion of Bouteflika’s visit to that country in 2006. The foundation stone of the opera house was laid in 2012.

Covering an area of 35,000 square metres, the opera house includes a 1,400-seat auditorium, rehearsal rooms, stage and audiovisual equipment, technical workshops and various reception areas.

Thursday’s inauguration ceremony was also attended by the President of the Council of the Nation (Upper House of Parliament) Abdelkader Bensalah, the President of the People’s National Assembly (Lower House), Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, members of the Government, artistes and Bessaih’s family members.

Former Indonesian president Megawati Sukarnoputri, who is on a private visit to Algeria, was also present at the inauguration ceremony. — NNN-APS

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Palestinian President Makes Personal Donation For Restoration Of Holy Sepulchre

RAMALLAH, Oct 21 (NNN-WAFA) — Palestinian Pres Mahmoud Abbas has offered to make a “personal contribution” in support of the restoration work on the Edicule of the Holy Sepulchre.

The news was reported by official Palestinian media and Fides news agency, after representatives of the Churches that administer the Holy Sepulchre, paid a visit to President Abbas.

Among the members of the delegation received at the presidential palace in Ramallah, was the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Theophilos III, the Apostolic Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Nourhan Manougian and Fr. Francis Patton, Custodian of the Holy Land.

“The Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre,” Abbas said during his meeting with the delegation of Christian Churches, “is a national and religious symbol for the Palestinian people. We have the duty to look after it, protect it and contribute to its restoration.”

“We have therefore decided to make a personal contribution for the restoration work being carried out on the Tomb of Christ”.

The restoration work on the Holy Sepulchre Edicule began on May 8 this year. The cost of the restoration project – which amounts to 3.3 million dollars – is being covered by the Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox Churches.

In April, King of Jordan Abdullah II made a substantial personal donation to the project, in the form of a Royal Benefaction (makruma). — NNN-WAFA

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Introducing Pulau Indah Industrial Park And Selangor Bio Bay Malaysia

SERI KEMBANGAN, Selangor, Oct 20 (Bernama) — At the span of 3,500 acres, Pulau Indah Industrial Park – or PIIP – Phase 1 and Phase 2 are today occupied by more than 500 companies with the core business activities that include manufacturing, logistics and warehousing. The development plan for the 793 acres of land dubbed as the Pulau Indah Industrial Park Phase 3 was initiated in 2012. The first of three sectors, Phase 3A, was launched in October 2013 and successfully sold out its entire 185 acres of industrial area with an overall gross development value (GDV) at RM299.29 million.

“Phase 3C industrial land is now open for sale for all industrialist out there with a passion for novelty and uniqueness,” said Mahmud Abbas, Chief Executive Officer of Central Spectrum Sdn. Bhd. With a strategic location, an easy accessibility to major highways, top-notch security, quality amenities offering a comfortable lifestyle complementing the fast growing business industries, 213.28 acres of PIIP Phase 3C has been up on the market for sale since its launching. To date, 60% of Phase 3C sold at the value of RM160 million are owned by credible investors as well as business owners of the light and medium industries. Standing at the current value of RM60 psf, the remaining 40% of industrial land in Phase 3C is still available for purchase.


Selangor Bio Bay (SBB) is established as a bio valley that spans over large acres of land hosting bioscience pursuits that include research institutes, laboratories and biotech-related manufacturing activities. Central Spectrum Sdn. Bhd. (CSSB) embarked on the project to elevate Selangor’s biotechnology industry as well as to promote it as a catalyst for high quality property development in Pulau Indah.

The blueprint of SBB features the flagship Biotechnology Accelerator Centre (BTC) that is built to spur creativity and innovation by design. BTC is located at the heart of research and development precinct, incorporating a shared facility concept with a modular approach. This premier biotech hub is balanced in its nature by its aim to provide a conducive environment, ideal for residential, commercial and industrial needs.

With the full support of the Selangor state government, the project involving 1,070 acres of land will be developed in phases – Precinct 1, 2 and 3 – expanding over a 15-year development period. The residential component of SBB will debut a selection of modern terrace homes expected to drive the growth of population in Pulau Indah. SBB presents its residents with a unique proposition of living a life close to nature while remaining relevant in a fast-growing world. Population of this bio valley is estimated at 40,000 upon its completion and the gross development value is projected at RM4.3 billion.

SBB is currently awaiting the approval on its land zoning and the finalization of its masterplan composition.

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Abu Dhabi Airport Welcomes 2.1M Passengers In September

ABU DHABI, Oct.20 (NNN-WAM) — Abu Dhabi International Airport, AUH, welcomed 2.1 million passengers throughout September, an increase of 5 percent over September 2015.

Since the beginning of the year, passenger traffic at AUH has grown 6 percent over the same period last year, with 18,528,723 passengers between January 1st and September 30th.

There were 352,067 departures in total, a 10.1 percent increase over September 2015.

According to the TradeArabia News Service website, passenger traffic to India grew by 10 percent, maintaining that country’s position as top destination, with 355,328 passengers carried throughout September.

Passengers to Qatar increased by 18.4 percent compared to September 2015, while Saudi Arabia rose to become the third busiest destination, with traffic to and from the country increasing by 19 percent.

Traffic to and from Egypt rose by 37.9 percent to 57,885 passengers.

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Syrian Billionaire Invest Millions In Australia’s Tourism

BRISBANE, Oct 18 (NNN-Xinhua) — A Syrian-born billionaire developer, who has already ploughed in millions of dollars into two tourism-related investments in Australia, is currently on the outlook for his third purchase, News Corp reported.

Ghassan Aboud, a Dubai-based Syrian billionaire, who bought the Rydges Tradewinds hotel for 34 million Australian dollars (26 million U.S. dollars) through his company GA Group Australia in March, expects to turn the property into a five-star accommodation by mid-2018.

Cairns-based Prime Group company director Andy Taylor said that he has met with reps from GA Group including its owner Aboud to discuss on how the Tradewinds hotel development would look like in two years time and expects to start working on the project in February.

The existing hotel is set to undergo a major overhaul while a 12-storey apartment building being built on an adjoining site, to be known as 141 Esplanade.

Taylor said the new construction phase could generate up to 250 new jobs in Cairns.

In the meantime, the GA Group purchased a 4,000-square metre vacant block at the corner of Aplin and Lake Streets in Cairns for an undisclosed amount, which will be turned into a 200-room hotel with preliminary designs already underway and the purchase contract expected to be settled in coming days.

It was also reported that the colourful billionaire was on the lookout for his third purchase in Cairns, media reports said without elaborating further.

Aboud, 49, had earlier told News Corp on Monday that the weather, the rain forest and the Great Barrier Reef was what attracted him to the city in the first place.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland chief executive Alex de Waal had told News Corp that the investments by GA Group Australia would help the city meet growing demand for luxury hotel rooms.

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Syria launches 5-Day Polio Vaccination Campaign

DAMASCUS, Oct. 17 (NNN-SANA) – A new polio vaccination campaign was launched on Sunday by the Ministry of Health targeting all children under five.

Scheduled to run through next Thursday, the campaign is conducted at the health centers and makeshift centers hosting displaced people and through mobile teams.

The vaccination campaign is carried out in cooperation between the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

Health Minister Nizar Yazigi visited two health centers at which vaccines were being administered in al-Qadmous area and Banias in Tartous province. He affirmed in statements to reporters that the vaccines are given free of charge and that they have been subject to strict health conditions.

He said all technical and logistic measures have been taken to launch the massive immunization drive, noting that 3 million vaccine doses have been distributed in preparation for it.

4486 health workers, 1560 qualified volunteers, 3891 mobile teams and 864 cars have been employed to carry out the vaccination campaign, according to Yazigi.

He pointed out that the campaign aims to reach around 2.8 million children in the provinces, noting that areas most in need are targeted in the campaign.

The vaccination campaign aims at targeting 298,000 children in Damascus, 328, 000 in Damascus Countryside, 127,000 in Tartous, 170,000 in Lattakia, 301,480 in Aleppo, 307947 in Hama, 200,000 in Homs, 52,200 in Sweida, 230,000 in Hasaka, 15,000 in Deir Ezzor and 54,000 in Quneitra.

With this new one included, the number of vaccination campaigns carried out nationwide by the Health Ministry since 2013 reaches 20. The campaigns were prompted by the detection of polio cases in the country after it had been polio-free since 1995.

The series of campaigns have proved successful as no new polio cases have been reported since early 2014.

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Bangladesh draws Saudi investment for cement, paper plants

DHAKA, Oct 21, 2016 (BSS) – Leading Saudi enterprise Al Rajhi Company for Industry and Trade yesterday inked a deal with state-run Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC) for installing cement, paper and power plants.

“A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed today between the BCIC and the Al Rajhi Group at the Industries Ministry,” an official statement said.

It said according to the deal the Saudi enterprise would set up a cement plant with 15 lakh tonnes annual production capacity near Chhatak Cement Plant alongside a 330-mw power plant under a joint venture with BCIC.

Simultaneously, the statement said, the Al Rajhi Group would install a modern paper mill with annual 3 lakh tonnes production capacity and a 360 mw power plant at the Karnaphuli Paper Mills Limited complex in Chittagong.

Officials familiar with the process said the two proposed power plants would provide electricity to the cement and the paper mills and the excess power would be channeled to the National Power Grid.

The development came four months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina sought Saudi investments in Bangladesh during a meeting with Jeddah Chamber of Commerce while she was on an official visit there on June 4-6, this year.

BCIC’s secretary Hasnath Ahmed Choudhury and Al Rajhi’s managing director Yousif Al Rajhi signed the MoU at a function witnessed by Idustries Minister Amir Hossen Amu.

Senior officials of the industries and foreign ministries including Senior Secretary of the Industries Ministry Mohammad Mosharraf Hossen Bhuiyan and Bangladesh Envoy in Saudi Arabia Golam Moshi, among others, were present.

Amu earlier in March this year visited Saudi Arabia and held a long meeting with Saudi Commerce and Industries Minister Dr Tawfig Fawzan Alrabiah and Saudi investors.

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NOVOAIR becomes airline Partner of Rajshahi Kings

DHAKA, Oct 20, 2016 (BSS) – Private carrier NOVOAIR became airline Partner of Rajshahi Kings in the Bangladesh Premiere League (BPL)-2016.

To this end, the airline and Rajshahi kings signed agreement today in city’s Banani. NOVOAIR’s Head of Marketing and Sales Sohail Majid and Tahmeed Azizul Huq, CEO, Rajshahi Kings, put pen on the agreement papers on behalf of their respective companies, said a press release.

NOVOAIR ensured international standard passenger services and aviation safety while conducting flights for last three years.

NOVOAIR has been patronizing all kinds of games besides social activities. In this way NOVOAIR organizing the vigorous and colorful event of our cricket plays.

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Pakistan’s ambidextrous cricket bowler pushes boundaries

LAHORE, Pakistan, Oct 20, 2016 (BSS/AFP) – A green-grocer’s son who can bowl at pace with either arm is causing excitement in Pakistan as he targets a spot on the national team.

Yasir Jan, 21, can generate around 145 kilometres (90 miles) per hour with his right arm and 135 kph with his left, making him a unique talent.

Even in a country with a history of cricket innovations, such as the reverse sweep and reverse swing, Jan has set tongues wagging.

“Yasir has been an amazing talent,” said his coach Muhammad Salman, tipping him as a definite prospect for the Pakistan Super League’s Lahore Qalandars team which has snapped him up on a 10-year-contract.

By swapping arms, a bowler can vary more greatly the angle of his delivery and adapt tactics depending on whether he is facing a right or left-handed batsman.

“It is an advantage. As a captain when you have right-handed and left-handed batsmen batting then you have a luxury to have a bowler who can bowl with both,” said Salman, a former Pakistan batsman. “There are no restrictions that a bowler can bowl with two hands in an over.”

Jan’s talent was uncovered in a Rawalpindi U19s match, when the batting side was running away with the game and his captain turned to him and made an unusual request.

“We’re already going down. Why don’t you bowl left-handed?” Jan, now 21, recalls his captain saying. After a barren opening spell as a right-armer, he made the switch and shocked the opposition en route to his first four-for.

“The coaches were also shocked. They said, ‘What’s this kid doing?!” he recalls.

His special skill then hit the headlines during a talent hunt for the Lahore Qalandars conducted by former Pakistan fast bowler Aaqib Javed.


Jan’s chest-on action emulates his current idol, South Africa’s Dale Steyn, but he said he was inspired by Pakistan’s former right-arm, left-arm pace attack of Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram.

“I’ve been bowling with both arms since I was a kid,” he told AFP at a training session in Lahore.

“Waqar bhai (brother) and Wasim bhai were bowling in 2003 when I saw my first World Cup.

“I really liked watching them… I’d copy them. And I kept working and working at it and I got good. And it’s helped me get picked.”

Jan is the latest in a proud line of Pakistani innovators — from Hanif Mohammad, the original ‘Little Master’ who invented the reverse-sweep, to Imran Khan and Sarfraz Nawaz who were the first to unveil the dark arts of ‘reverse swing’, later popularised by Wasim and Waqar before being exported globally.

His first break came in 2012 when he was picked for the Rawalpindi U16s, and in 2013 he was selected for the National Cricket Academy in Lahore, where Pakistan’s top youth talent is honed.

Money is now being poured into developing and bulking up the wiry Jan, whose family moved to the capital Islamabad from the militancy-wracked northwest when he was a child.

“He came from a very poor background, we all know that. And the coaches around here, the people who own him now are going to spend a lot of money on his physical fitness and nutrition and all that,” said Salman.

“And obviously it will take time, minimum six months to a year.”

It is a challenge for Jan, but he says he will work hard to bring his right-arm, left-arm combinations to the sport’s biggest stages.

“Now I’ve got a good platform so with hard work I hope to achieve my goal of playing for Pakistan, my country. To go to the biggest grounds around the world and the best players. This is my goal and my dream.”

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Outdoor school offers hope for Islamabad’s poor

ISLAMABAD, Oct 21, 2016 (BSS/AFP) – In the corner of a pristine park in an upmarket district of Islamabad, an open-air classroom run by an aging rescue- worker offers a beacon of hope to the city’s poorest.

For the past 30 years, “Master” Muhammad Ayub, whose day job includes defusing bombs and putting out fires, has cycled from his office to the makeshift school to teach children from surrounding slums for free.

There are no walls, no roof and no chairs — and students dutifully rise to move en masse as the sun makes its way across the sky — it is their only source of lighting so they must follow it.

In a country where education is underfunded and 24 million children remain out of school, grey-haired Ayub, 58, is hailed as a hero for providing his charges with hope for a better future.

“I was rescued from the darkness of illiteracy by an angel in the shape of Master Ayub when I was nine and collecting firewood,” Farhat Abbas, now 20, said.

Abbas now assists Ayub with classes while he studies for a bachelors degree at a local university.

Such testimonies are common among the thousands of children who attended the school, many of whom have taken up jobs in the government and businesses that would have been otherwise been out of reach.


The story of Master Ayub’s school began in 1986 when he moved to the recently-built capital from the sleepy agricultural town of Mandi Bahauddin.

With its wide boulevards arranged in a grid, stunning views of the Margalla hills and impressive monuments, Islamabad was a world away from the young man’s hometown.

But, he recalls, “when I arrived, I was puzzled to see small children working in the streets, begging or cleaning cars or selling flowers and I wondered how come they have to do this in a posh capital city”.

One day he came across a boy washing cars in at the market place and asked him why he wasn’t in school.

“I asked him if wanted to study and he said ‘yes’. Right there I gave him a notebook, a book, a pencil and an eraser and started teaching him,” said Ayub, a high school graduate himself who left college before finishing his degree.

“The next day the boy brought another with him, and within a week there were 50 children in my class.”

He began by teaching them in a corner of the marketplace, but was shooed away by the shopkeepers.

From there he moved to outside a government school but authorities asked him to pack up after influential people living nearby complained they were causing a nuisance.

He finally shifted to his current location in the park, which is adjacent to some of the most expensive houses in the city valued at over $1 million — but also near a slum where minority Christian families reside.


Founded in 1960, Islamabad was envisaged as a city for the country’s political and bureaucratic elite but has been criticised for lacking public housing for the poor, who work in menial jobs and as domestic servants for the wealthy.

As a consequence, numerous slum areas cropped up throughout the city, but because their domiciles are not legally recognised, many find it hard to get their children enrolled in registered schools.

Hina Shahbaz, 17, said she moved with her parents to Islamabad two years ago, “but because of the paperwork needed I couldn’t get admitted into a school right away”.

She started attending Ayub’s classes, while he used his contacts among local officials built over the years to get her enrolled at a formal school.

She continues to come and help out by teaching younger students, while receiving maths tuition from her old teacher. “I like science and I want to become an engineer,” she said.

The early years were hard, he says, and even came under the scanner from authorities suspicious as to why he was teaching so many Christians, believing he may be a missionary (Ayub however is a Muslim).

The suspicion and surveillance gave way to belated recognition including awards by the ministry of education in 2012 and a presidential award last year.

Ayub however, says he isn’t in it for the accolades.

“I started this work because if these children do not get education, they will fall into wrong hands, become criminals or terrorists. I want them to get education and join police, army, become doctors and engineers.”

As he approaches 60, he says the time has come to build a lasting legacy so that his work can be carried forward.

“Now I feel the need for building, because I want to teach computer systems to these children. I have bought some space here and built two rooms… I want to leave a facility behind after my death where these children continue to get the light of education.”

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Turkish Airlines to fly to Tanzania’s Zanzibar

21.10.2016 ANKARA – Turkish Airlines will begin operating flights from Istanbul to the Tanzanian tourist destination of Zanzibar by the end of this year, the company said in a written statement on Friday.

The airline stated that Zanzibar would be the company’s 293rd destination worldwide and the 50th in 31 African countries.

The company added that flights between Istanbul and Zanzibar would operate three days a week to and fro on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, with costs starting as low as $636 all-inclusive. They will start on Dec. 12

Turkish Airlines already offers flights to the Tanzanian capital Dar es Salaam and to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Turkey’s flag carrier flies to 116 countries around the world, more than any other airline, according to the company.

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Region’s largest ancient mosaic unveiled in occupied West Bank

20.10.2016, JERICHO, Palestine, Anadolu News Agency – The Palestinian Tourism and Antiquities Ministry on Thursday unveiled the Middle East’s largest ancient mosaic in the Palace of Umayyad Caliph Hisham bin Abdul Malik, located in the West Bank city of Jericho.

On the sidelines of the unveiling ceremony, Tourism and Antiquities Minister Rula Maayah explained that the 827-square-meter mosaic consisted of 38 different artistic themes linked to each other with thousands of stones of 21 distinct natural colors.

“It is a work of great precision and beauty,” she told Anadolu Agency.

According to the ministry, the mosaic — located in the palace’s open-air audience hall — dates back some 1,400 years to the first era of the Umayyad Caliphate.

“This mosaic portrays the history of the Palestinian people,” Maayah said. “It is of great historical value.”

Iyad Hamdan, ministry director-general, for his part, told Anadolu Agency that some 200,000 tourists — local and foreign — visited the site every year.

“After the unveiling of this mosaic, however, we hope to see double this number,” he said.

Hamdan went on to note that Thursday’s unveiling was only the first phase of a larger project.

“Soon we will begin renovating damaged parts of the mosaic, above which we will build a roof to protect it from the elements,” he said.

Funded by the Japanese International Development Agency, the renovation project is slated for completion by 2018.

Built during the Ummayad era, Hisham’s Palace stands on 150 acres of land in the West Bank’s Khirbat al-Mafjar area, roughly two kilometers from the city of Jericho.

Discovered in 1873, the two-story palace is considered one of Palestine’s best examples of early Islamic architecture.

The site includes royal courts and a bath complex (replete with steam room), along with agricultural and residential areas and a mosque.

The caliph’s “winter palace”, the site is commonly believed to have been built during the reign of Hisham bin Abd al-Malik, the 10th Ummayad caliph, between 724 and 743 AD.

Some experts, however, believe the palace was built by Hisham’s successor, Al-Walid II.

Although the site was badly damaged by an earthquake in 747 AD, archaeologists believe it was inhabited during the subsequent Abbasid and Ayyubid periods.

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Indonesian herbal medicine to be marketed abroad

19 October 2016, Semarang, Central Java (ANTARA News) – An original Indonesian herbal medicine, Jamu, will be marketed abroad in the Middle Eastern and ASEAN regions, the chairman of the Jamu Association of Central Java, Nyoto Wardoyo, said here on Wednesday.

Jamu is made from natural materials, such as roots, bark, flowers, seeds, leaves and fruits.

“Indonesias ambassadors in various countries have started to introduce Jamu to other countries, such as Arab nations and Hongkong,” he informed.

According to him, Jamu is in demand in many countries because they have realized that its health benefits.

“Jamu is well known for its nutritional value. Demand for the product is rising and the exports have increased,” he reiterated.

He also appreciated the fact that the government is encouraging the herbal medicine industry to progress.

“Entrepreneurs expect expeditious grant of a license. Once we complete all the requirements, we want the government to immediately issue a permit,” he stressed.

He hoped for better synergy between farmers, entrepreneurs and university researchers to develop Jamu products.

He also hoped that Jamu products could be a part of the BPJS health program.

“When people suffer mild colds, coughs or flu, the doctors can treat them with Jamu,” he underlined.

Thanks to these efforts, the usage of Jamu is expected to rise at home as well as abroad.

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Indonesia gets new airport in Miangas

19 October 2016 Miangas (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on Wednesday inaugurated Miangas airport, which is located on North Sulawesis outermost island Miangas, as well as two airport terminals in Central Sulawesi.

Widodo headed to Miangas in Talaud district from Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province, on air force helicopter CN-295.

“We wish to build (all of) Indonesia, including the outlying and border regions, not only Java and Sumatra. We wish to make the outer regions Indonesias verandahs, not backyards,” he said.

Outlying islands such as Miangas will receive attention and continue to be developed, he said. “We will no longer see Miangas as one small island among the 17,000 islands owned by the country, but as Indonesia’s strategic outermost region,” the president said.

“The term strategic means it is strategic for defence and security as well as an entry gate for domestic and overseas arrivals,” he said.

An island on the northernmost Indonesian territory, Miangas is only 48 sea miles from the Philippines, though it is 129 sea miles from Meonguange, the capital of Talaud district, and 227 sea miles from Manado.

“Miangas is very close to our neighbour, the Philippines. We will show them that we care for and build Indonesias verandah well and are proud of it,” Jokowi said.

The president also inaugurated the passenger terminal at Tanjung Api airport in Tojo Una-Una and the passenger terminal at Kasiguncu Poso airport in Central Sulawesi.

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Hotel occupancy rates increase in Bali

19 October 2016, Denpasar (ANTARA News) – The occupancy rates of star rated hotels in Bali averaged 72.40 percent in August or an increase of 1.76 percentage points from 70.62 percent in the previous month.

“The occupancy rate was quite encouraging when visits by foreign tourists shrank 9.52 percent in Bali compared with the previous month,” head of the Bali branch of the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) Adi Nugroho said here on Wednesday.

Adi said the occupancy rates would boost hotel operators as an occupancy rate of 50 percent is enough to cover operating cost including salaries of employees.

In August, 2016, Bali recorded 438,135 visits by foreign tourists including 437,929 arrivals recorded by the Ngurah Rai airport and 206 arrivals at seaport.

The number of arrivals dropped 9.52 percent in August from July but an increase of 44.3 percent year-on-year, Adi said.

Adi said most foreign tourists stayed at star rate hotels in six of nine regencies in the province.

The highest occupancy rate was recorded by hotels in the regency of Badung averaging 75.38 percent or up from July, followed by hotels in the city of Denpasar averaging 66.34 percent though declining from the previous month.

Hotels in the regency of Gianyar followed in the third place with occupancy rate averaging 60.01 percent, down from 66.84 percent in July, the regency of Buleleng recorded an occupancy rate of 57.69 percent up from 52.23 percent and the regency of Karangasem 47.45 percent, down from 50.92 percent.

Three other regencies – Jembrana, Bangli and Klungkung – have no star rated hotels. They have only inns or non standard hotels.

Four star hotels recorded the highest occupancy rate averaging 78.16 percent, followed by five start hotels averaging 77.31 percent, one start hotels 64.96 percent, three start hotels 58.55 percent and two star hotels with occupancy rates averaging 56.31 percent.

Adi Nugroho said despite the significant increase in the occupancy rate. the increase was recorded only in the regencies of Badung and Buleleng.

In three other regencies, hotel occupancy rates declined including in the city of Denpasar, regencies of Gianyar and Karangasem, Adi Nugroho said.

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Draft of Pakistan’s ‘National Food Security Policy finalized

October 21, 2016, ISLAMABAD, Oct 21 (APP): Minister for National Food Security and Research, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan here on Friday said that draft of National Food Security Policy had been finalized in order to achieve zero hunger targets in the country.

Addressing an event organized to commemorate the World Food Day, he said that the document was presented to law makers and members of civil society for their input to make it a vibrant document to ensure food safety and security in the country.

The event was organized by the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) to highlight the significance of the day and to create awareness about climate change and its after effects in agriculture sector of the country.

It may be mentioned here that every year World Food Day commemorated on October 16 to mark existence of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

The theme of the day for this year was “Climate is changing, food and agriculture must too.”

The minister said that in food security policy document ample focus had been given to crop diversification, climate change, natural disasters and zero hunger programme.

He said there was an immense pressure on natural resources and environment due to intensification of crop and livestock sectors in order to feed ever growing population in the country.

As a result, he said it was experiencing rapid ground water depletion, watersheds degradation, desertification, deforestation and rangelands deterioration, he added.

Sikandar Bosan said that agri-sector was the most vulnerable due to the adverse impact of climate changes, which was effecting the struggle to ensure food security for over 180 million people in the country.

Pakistan, he said has an agrarian economy and a majority of the agro-based population was living in rural areas, which was contributing meagerly in green house gas emission.

But, he said that they were on the adverse risk of floods, droughts, storms, heat and cold waves which were badly effecting their crops and livelihoods.

The minister informed that government was taking measures to minimize the use of fossil fuel and introducing solar pumping system, besides shifting into climate smart crops cultivation and processing techniques.

Speaking on the occasion, FAO Representative in Pakistan, Patrick T. Evans stressed the need for mitigating the damage to climate by adapting echo-friendly food and agriculture production system.

He urged the need for working together to make the achievement of sustainable development goals a reality in Pakistan and to meet the food demand which would be up by 60 percent by 2050.

He also asked for taking appropriate measures in order to educate over 450 million small farmers across the glob about the climate change.

He informed that despite the abundant production of food and food products, 160 million children age of 5 years were stunted, where as over 800 million men, women and children across the glob were male nourished.

Speaking the event, World Food Programme Country Representative stressed the need for taking measures to improve the accessibility of to food by focusing the small holders.

In the event seven farmers including four women farmers were given cash awards of Rs.50,000 each for adopting climate smart agricultural practices.

An exhibition was also arranged that showcased the research that is being done in Pakistan in the agriculture sector.

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Pakistan infrastructure projects to build pro-business environment

ISLAMABAD, Oct 19 (APP): Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar Wednesday said the government was laying foundations of a strong pro-business environment through national infrastructure projects which would further stimulate economic growth.

He was talking to a delegation of senior officials of Bank of China (BoC) led by its BoC Chairman Tian Guoli, which called on him here.

The minister appreciated the bank’s interest in business opportunities in Pakistan adding that being one of world’s five largest banks, the BoC was well positioned to bring investment to Pakistan.

He said that the government was laying the foundations of a strong pro-business environment through national infrastructure projects which would stimulate further growth of the economy.

The minister apprised the delegation about the incentives being provided through Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

He welcomed the initiative of opening a Bank of China branch in Pakistan and assured government’s full support in this regard. He expressed the hope that the initiative would likely to motivate more Chinese companies to invest in Pakistan directly.

On the occasion, the BoC Chairman apprised the Finance Minister that he had witnessed the potential of Pakistan’s economy during his three-day visit and commended the government on the difficult steps taken to improve the country’s economic outlook on both the domestic and international fora.

He said the reforms undertaken by the government were deep rooted and expressed full support from Bank of China to collaborate with the Government of Pakistan to achieve further success and milestones in its economic reform agenda.

He added that various Chinese companies were exploring opportunities to move their manufacturing to Pakistan.

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Nadeem advises Pakistani artists to bolster local films

LAHORE, Oct 18 (APP): Veteran film star Nadeem on Tuesday advised Pakistani film artists ousted from Indian films to busy themselves in Pakistani films with spirit and devotion.

Talking to APP, he said Pakistani nation had always paid great respect to foreign artists and never showed hatred towards Indian artists.

But Pakistani artists were never extended respect in return, he added. The Pakistani artists should not feel any fear and disgrace while performing in local film industry.

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Drama festival attracts huge crowds

LAHORE, Oct 20 (APP): Fun-loving Lahorites thronged the Alhamra Cultural Complex Qaddafi Stadium to amuse themselves with drama performances and fun as the 2-day Unique drama festival started here on Thursday.

Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Tahir Khalil Sindhu inaugurated the festival who believed the conduct of such events would improve Pakistan’s image as a peace loving country and help to restore tolerance in society.

The minister lauded the Punjab government and the educational institution which had taken this initiative and shown to the world that Pakistanis are peace-loving nation and believe in basic human rights.

The minister urged the need to hold more of such activities to break the monotony and send a message of peace and love across the world.

Aiming to highlight a soft image of the country and increase interfaith harmony, peace and tolerance in society, Human Rights and Minorities Affairs department, Punjab government in collaboration with Unique group of institutions presented 12 plays on the first day while Sufi Music Night was held at the amphitheatre (Open Air).

The presence of a large number of families at the Alhamra Cultural Complex arena created a festive atmosphere where they feasted on the drama performances besides the puppet-show and drum-beat.

The feature presentation of the evening was a play by Imtiaz Ali Taj “Qurtaba ka Qazi” which presented a qazi who upheld the Islamic principles of justice, tolerance and equality when the Qazi sentenced his son to death for murder of a foreigner and later himself hanged his son for the crime although the whole city of Crodova (Spain) had turned against him.

The festival would continue till 22nd October (Saturday) while 12 more plays will be performed at the Alhmara Halls on the second day of the festival (Friday).

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UN Information Centre to organize photo exhibition on Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Oct 19 (APP): United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Islamabad will organize a photo exhibition “Pakistan Sustaining development – Human Stories through Photography” on October 24 here at Lok Virsa.

An outstanding collection of 102 professional photographs documenting the work of the United Nations System and its partner in Pakistan would be displayed in the exhibition.

With reference to photography as a powerful communications tool, an official of United Nations Information Centre, in a statement, said, “A single photo can tell a thousand words without the need for translation.

“We are confident that these images will motivate young people to engage with the exciting and challenging world of international development.” he said.

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Chinese delegation visits Pakistan historical sites

LAHORE, Oct 18 (APP): A 51-member Chinese delegation from Pak-China Friendship Car Rally on Tuesday visited the historical sites in the provincial metropolis and appreciated rich heritage of the country.

First the delegation visited Mazar-e-Iqbal and paid homage to great poet of the East Allama Muhammad Iqbal.

The delegation then visited the Badshahi Mosque,as well as Lahore Fort and lauded the architectural finesse of Mughal era buildings.The administration of Badshahi Mosque briefed the delegates about the architectural features of these sites.

During the visit,the delegates were chanting slogans such as “Pak-China Dosti Zindabad”.The rally aims to highlight the significance of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Talking to APP,some delegation members said that mutual exchange of delegation would be beneficial as it would further strengthen and promote cooperation and relations between the two countries.

They said China-Pak friendship was based on mutual trust and shared interests,adding China-Pak Economic Corridor (CPEC) would bring benefits to all the people of Pakistan.

It may be mentioned here that Pak-China Friendship Car Rally, originating from China‘s Xinjiang region,entered the city on Monday while travelling on Motorway.

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Joint exhibition of Pakistani, Chinese artists on Oct 21

ISLAMABAD, Oct 18 (APP): A joint painting exhibition of Pakistani and Chinese artists would be held here at National Art Gallery on October 21.

This event is being organized in connection with the celebrations of the 67th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s of Republic of China.

The exhibition aimed to highlight the art and culture exchanges between the two friendly countries.

The event is being organized by Embassy of the People’s Republic of China and Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage in collaboration with China Cultural Center in Pakistan, Directorate of Electronic, Media and Publications, Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and Cultural Department of Hunan Province, China.

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Braille books provided to Pakistani visually impaired peoples

ISLAMABAD, Oct 18 (APP): Braille Press National Book Foundation (NBF) is supplying braille books to the visually impaired peoples (VIPs) almost free of cost through its outlet at country level.

An official of NBF told APP that these books are provided with support of Pakistan Association of the Blind and various NGO’s.

He said that modernization of Braille Press is part of NBF future plans, adding that more variety of publications both textbooks and general reading interest would be published in future for the visually impaired students.

He said that a separate website would be launched for the braille press.

He said that Braille books for children (Stories, Poems and Milli songs would be published.

He said that Braille Book Library and Talking Books Library would also be established to facilitate visually impaired students across the country.

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President Jokowi ianugurates N. Kayong grand mosque

15 October 2016, North Kayong (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) inaugurated the North Kayong Grand Mosque on Saturday during his visit to West Kalimantan to attend the peak event of Sail Karimata.

Jokowi inaugurated the Oesman Al Khair grand mosque by signing an inscription.

After signing the inscription, President Jokowi stepped into the mosque along with his entourage. The mosque has been built with Rp38 billion worth of funds.

“This is a beautiful floating mosque with the sea in the background,” Jokowi remarked after a tour of the mosque.

Also present during the inauguration ceremony were Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, Vice Chairman of the Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) Oesman Sapta, Vice Chairman of the MPRF Hidayat Nur Wahid, Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI) Commander Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Agung.

The inauguration of the Grand Mosque was on Jokowi’s agenda during his North Kayong visit. He will also inaugurate the peak event of Sail Karimata 2016. The Sail Karimata event will feature a number of activities including planting seeds in the coastal areas of West Kalimantan.

On the occasion, President Jokowi also planted a Pontianak orange tree, one of West Kalimantans superior commodity trees, in North Kayong District, in Sutera Vilage, Sukadana Subdistrict, Datok Islands, West Kalimtan province.

A number of officials also planted other trees.

Oesman Sapta planted a Sukadana durian tree, which was the mascot of the North Koyang District.

Before the tree planting, President Jokowi witnessed various activities highlighting Sail Karimata 2016. These included a Medevac (Medical Evacuation Air) airshow put up by the Navy and a yacht sailing pass by nine countries.

There was also a skydiving demonstration, Helicopter Bolco maneuver flying the Karimata Sail 2016 banner, and a colorful dance that brought together thousands of students from the District of North Kayong.

The Deputy for Human Resources, Science and Culture of the Maritime Affairs Ministry, Safri Burhanuddin, hoped that Sail Karimata 2016 would speed up development in the region around the Karimata Strait, especially North Kayong.

“We want to work together, involving the central and the local governments, as we promote travel and the excellent products. We hope that the four provinces involved in Sail Karimata Strait activities could be further developed,” he remarked.

The Sail Karimata 2016 activities involved the provinces of Riau Islands, Jambi, Bangka Belitung and West Kalimantan.

Other related activities included an exhibition of products from the coastal areas, Nusantara Jaya sailing, culinary festivals, dragon boat competition, development of a fishermen information center and a weave design contest.

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Govt boosts national aviation industry through innovations

21 October 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Transportation Ministry is boosting national aviation industry through innovations that can improve national competitiveness, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said here on Thursday.

“In aviation industry, the margin is very tight and product diversification plays an important role,” the minister said at the Indonesian National Air Carriers Association (Inaca) general meeting.

Therefore, he added, the government keeps encouraging the airlines to create innovations that would make aviation industry safer, more environmentally friendly and more competitive with efficient infrastructure operation.

The Inaca general meeting which was held under a theme of Enhancing the Agility of Airline Industry is participated in by management representatives of Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier.

Inaca Chairman M Arif Wibowo said national transportation industry currently plays a significant role in increasing local economic sector as it provides transportation, including for goods, people and services, and has a multiplier effect.

“Indonesian aviation industry is rapidly growing, indicated by the increasing number of passengers over time,” Budi Karya said.

Data from Air Transportation Directorate at the Ministry of Transportation shows in 2011-2015 the number of domestic passengers increased by 8.43 percent and international passengers rose by 8.39 percent.

In 2015 the total number of domestic passengers recorded at 76.63 million and 9.5 million foreign passengers.

Inaca has 33 national airline members consisting of 11 serving scheduled flights, 20 non-scheduled/chartered and two cargo flights.(*)

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Emirates Literature Foundation holds inaugural translation conference

17 Oct 2016 Dubai, (IINA) – The Emirates Literature Foundation, in partnership with the Executive Council of Dubai, will host the Dubai Translation Conference on Thursday through Saturday, WAM reported.

The event celebrates the ideals of the National Reading Policy, launched in the UAE in 2016, and is another step towards enriching the body of literature in the Arabic Language, promoting the creative content of Arab writers to non-Arabic speakers and promoting a reading culture within the Arab world.

It is also an effort to create a new generation of literate and open-minded readers both culturally and intellectually within an inclusive and cohesive society. “Reading opens minds promotes tolerance, openness, and communication, and prepares an educated, informed, and open-minded people. Our goal is to establish the UAE as a world cultural capital with distinction,” said Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, announcing 2016 as a ‘Year of Reading’.

The conference will deliver a wide-ranging program covering all aspects of translation, with a focus on the evolution of translation in the UAE, presented in an entertaining and informative manner. Executive Council of Dubai’s Assistant Secretary General for Strategy Management and Governance, Aisha Miran, said: “The National Reading Policy is a cornerstone in the development of the UAE. It re-emphasizes the prominent place of the individual and the society in the development process. Both are in the heart of the Dubai Plan 2021 aims and objectives, and the driver behind its programs.”

She added: “Translation is a two-way process that builds bridges among nations and cultures. Today Dubai is making a first move, and we anticipate that others would do the same as well. There is no better time to spread this message than these days.”

Isobel Abulhoul, CEO of the Emirates Literature Foundation, and Director of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature said: “We have put together a lively program that is fresh, relevant, engaging, and informative – and hopefully fun.”

“Too often the field of translation is seen as dull, but we hope this conference will highlight its value and importance. Reading literature in translation opens up new worlds and broadens minds, subtly educating the reader on different cultures and points of view.”

Young people who read regularly develop greater degrees of empathy and tolerance; reading really is food for the soul. Translators are a vital part of the process,” she explained.

“Currently the Arabic Speaking World, made up of 22 countries, is lagging behind other languages in the numbers of books published and translated annually,” she noted.

“We aim to create a generation of book lovers and consolidate the country’s position as a global capital for knowledge and culture. Improving the quality and range of literature in the Arabic language will lead to more readers, in turn resulting in a better-educated population,” she added.

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First Turkish school opens in Doha

Doha, (IINA), 17 Oct 2016 – The first Turkish school opened its doors in Qatar on Sunday, Anadolu Agency reported.

School Director Mehmet Karatosun said that the school will offer the Turkish curriculum to children of Turks living in Qatar, adding that the teaching will be in the Turkish language as well.

Karatosun said the non-existence of Turkish schools in Qatar has prevented many Turkish families from residing in the Gulf state. He said that the school — whose cornerstone was laid by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan three years ago — has the capacity of 350 students, and will be supervised by the Turkish embassy in Doha.

Karatosun said the fees of the Turkish school are moderate compared to “the high fees of private schools in Qatar.” “We hope our school will attract many Turkish families residing in Qatar and encourage other Turkish families to stay in the country,” he said.

The Turkish community living in Qatar is estimated to be around 7,000. In December, the Turkish Cultural Center Yunus Emre opened in Doha, in a move seen as bolstering ties between Turkey and Qatar.

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IDB, multilateral development banks back UN’s New Urban Agenda

Quito, Ecuador (IINA), 20 Oct 2016 – In support of the ‘New Urban Agenda’ adopted this week during the UN-sponsored global Habitat III conference, eight Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) are putting the Agenda’s words into action by issuing a joint statement expressing their commitment to promote equitable, sustainable, and productive urbanization and urban communities.

The banks are the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), and the World Bank (WB).

The banks presented their plans to working “together to ensure that the programs we support promote a model of urban development that encourages equitable, sustainable, inclusive, and productive settlements, including small rural communities, villages, market towns, intermediate cities, and metropolises.”

The IDB said that it pays significant attention to urban development, with its new 10 years-strategic framework that puts high emphasis on developing social and economic infrastructure, including urban development. Over the years, IDB has provided affordable housing to millions of people, and has been very active in providing funding to investments targeting liveability, inclusiveness, and sustainable development of cities.

In the next 10 years, the Bank envisages to support the Urban and Housing Sector with about $5 billion additional financing. “This will go a long way in supporting UN’s New Urban Agenda,” said IDB Vice President for Sector Operations Dr. Mansur Muhtar.

“As an MDB that provides alternative modes of financing, we have additional means of providing resources to support urban development. For instance, through its endowment funds (e.g. Awqaf), IDB has made significant investments in the housing sector,” Muhtar added.

In line with their respective institutional mandates and governance structures, the organizations committed to foster coordination between urban, regional, and national development plans, strengthening planning institutions capabilities, and access to finance at all levels of government and in the private sector.

In their Joint Statement, guided by their institutional mandates and their member states’ own development goals, they committed to supporting the implementation of the UN ‘New Urban Agenda’ through direct financing, catalyzing other resources, as well as domestic resource mobilization.

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IDB extends $56 million to strengthen Guinea’s health sector

Jeddah (IINA), 20 Oct 2016 – The Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group signed a financing agreement worth $56 million with Guinea for the development and improvement of health care services rendered to the people of the West African nation.

The agreement was signed by IDB President Dr. Bandar Hajjar and Guinea’s Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Kanny Diallo, at the IDB Group headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Monday.

The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development (ISFD), IDB’s poverty alleviation arm, contributed $10 million out of the $56 million approved for the project. The financing is expected to meet urgent health-care requirements and respond to heath emergencies arising from epidemics.

The document contributes to supporting the Guinea’s health sector in the post-Ebola period and covers construction, upgrading and equipping 30 state-of –the-art health centers as well as providing the required training to the staff. It also includes the launching and equipping of a national maternity center, providing the fundamental maternity equipment for 174 health centers, and equipping 15 hospitals across the nation with the required comprehensive medical equipment.

“The IDB Group will do whatever within its capacity to support the development efforts by the government of Guinea through cooperation with development partners in international development institutions, particularly in the development funds and member institutions of the Arab Coordination Group.” Dr. Hajjar said.

He further touched on the IDB funded projects underway in Guinea, stressing the Bank’s resolve to increase cooperation between IDB and Guinea in order to serve the aspirations and ambitions of the people of the country for development and prosperity.

For her part, Diallo conveyed the congratulations of Guinean President Alpha Conde to Dr. Hajjar, on his assumption of office as the new president of the IDB Group. She also expressed Conde’s appreciation of the IDB Group for its contributions to promoting development in Guinea, in accordance with the economic development programs of the country.

It is noteworthy that since 1974, the IDB Group has contributed nearly $657 million to 75 development projects covering various socio-economic development sectors in Guinea, which is a founding member of the Group.

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Bahrain to host World Islamic Banking Conference in December

Manama, (IINA), 18 Oct 2016 – The upcoming 23rd edition of the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC) in Bahrain will see a global participation with leaders from different regions across the world, Trade Arabia reported.

The conference held in strategic partnership with the Central Bank of Bahrain will take place in Manama, Bahrain from December 5 to 6 and will feature a groundbreaking lineup of speakers.

The World Islamic Banking Conference is the longest running Islamic finance conference with 23 years of heritage. This year, WIBC will engage its audience in discussions on the challenges brought by the uncertainties in the global economic environment and highlight the need for Islamic finance to stay vigilant in order to maintain the current growth rates.

For 22 years, WIBC has been welcoming high profile delegations including regulators and government officials from various regions to discuss the future direction of this rapidly growing industry. This year, WIBC 2016 will welcome three high-profile keynote speakers from leading emerging markets.

Saudi Arabia is one of the most active and influential markets in the Islamic finance space today as it is home to a number of dedicated Islamic Banks, as well as Islamic window operations offered through conventional banks. A great demand for Islamic finance products in this region, makes it one of the biggest markets in the GCC.

Russia, being the latest entrant into this booming structure, is looking to use Islamic finance to further its efforts of exploring new ways of financing and develop its economy by welcoming international investors from emerging markets.

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Morocco hosts conference on ‘Financial Education in Arab World’

18 Oct 2016, Rabat, (IINA) – The Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) and Bank Al-Maghrib are co-organizing a high-level conference on “Financial Education in the Arab World: Strategies, Implementation, and Impact” in Morocco on Thursday and Friday, WAM reported.

The conference will bring together high-level government authorities, including representatives from ministries of finance and education, central banks, Financial Market authorities, senior staff from regional and international financial institutions, researchers, and private sector practitioners.

During the conference, emphasis will be placed on assessing efficiency and impact of financial education programs and on ways to develop a regional framework for practical action to move forward.

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IDB to support Uzbekistan through the Special Program for Central Asia

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 19 October, 2016 – The President of Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, Dr. Bandar Hajjar has told the Interim President of Uzbekistan, H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev that the bank will consider the implementation of the Special Program for Central Asia in the country.

Dr. Hajjar stated this on Wednesday during a discussion with the Interim President of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, the capital city. The IDB Group President was in Uzbekistan to attend the 43rd Session of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM).. Dr. Hajjar added that Uzbekistan can also benefit from the Lives and Livelihoods Fund, which is managed by IDB and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Other member countries of the IDB also contribute to the Fund.

“A high level technical team from the IDB Group will be formed to visit Tashkent soon in order to implement the signed strategic partnership agreement between the Bank and Uzbekistan and to work out a joint action plan for the next 3 to 5 years,” Dr. Bandar Hajjar added.

In his remarks, the Interim President of the Uzbekistan congratulated Dr. Hajjar on his assumption of office as President of the IDB Group. He then underlined the important economic role IDB plays ,as well as the extent of assistance it provides to Uzbekistan and other IDB member countries.

H.E. Shavkat Mirziyoyev then called on the IDB to contribute in financing several strategic economic projects in the country, especially in education, health, infrastructure, and rural development, which the government pays special attention to.

The Interim President further stated that his country looks forward to seeing greater contribution from IDB in supporting Uzbekistan’s priority areas, expressing hope that the ongoing cooperation between the Bank and the country reaches the highest possible level.

The IDB Group President, Dr. Bandar Hajjar, for his part, expressed his appreciation to the Hon. Interim President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, for extending an invitation to the IDB Group to attend the 43rd Session of the OIC CFM as well as the high level of confidence accorded by Uzbekistan to the IDB Group and its management.

While in Tashkent, the IDB Group President also met with Uzbekistan’s First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, H.E. Rustam Asimov. The meeting, also attended by H.E. Elyor Ganiev, Minister of foreign Economic Relations, Investments and Trade and IDB Governor for Uzbekistan, focused on reviewing the best means of promoting public and private sectors in the country. H.E. Rustam Asimov, further elaborated that Uzbekistan is ready to work with the Islamic Corporation for the Development

of the Private Sector (ICD), while performing feasibility studies to join the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), both members of the IDB Group.

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Denmark’s Maersk shipping line to resume trade with Iran

Tehran, Oct 20, IRNA – Danish international marine transportation company Maersk will resume transportation of goods to Iran.

Denmark’s Maersk that had cut its trade relations with Iran five years ago due to the sanctions imposed by the West on Iran will resume its activities soon.

Maersk announced on Thursday that its customers can send their cargo to Iran via sea by Maersk cargo ships.

A major portion of imports, including foodstuff and consumer goods such as cars, to Iran take place via sea.

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Ambassador: Iran’s brilliant culture needs to go global

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 20, IRNA – Iranian Ambassador to Malaysia Marzieh Afkham underlined that culture is one of the important pivots in nation-to-nation communication in international relations.

‘Culture is one of important fields in the relations of nations with each other and it is necessary that Iran as a country with brilliant cultural background to introduce different aspects and dimensions of its culture to the world,’ Afkham told IRNA on Thursday.

She pointed to the new efforts made by the Iranian embassy in Malaysia to introduce the country’s cultural and artistic diversity to the Malaysian society and nation.

‘Our efforts are aimed at introducing variety of the country’s important cultural domains to the Malaysian society and on the other hand we are looking for establishing bilateral ties in some areas where exchanges can take place to see further popular communications and exchanges in cultural and artistic fields,’ Afkham added.

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Iran offers Afghanistan to use its experiences in urban developments

Tehran, Oct 19, IRNA – Iran is ready to share its experiences in urban developments with Afghanistan, says Abbas Akhundi Iran’s Minister of Road and Urban Development.

By organizing training courses, the Islamic Republic can share its experiences in urban developments with Afghan experts, Akhundi told Minister of Urban Development of Afghanistan Seyed Sa’adat Mansur Naderi on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Ecuadorian capital Quito.

Akhundi then referred to Iran’s experiences in the fields of urban planning, devising the national building code, establishment of new towns and financing housing projects, and said that Iran is ready to enhance cooperation with Afghanistan in the area of housing and urban developments.

The Afghan minister, on his part, expressed his country’s interest to boost cooperation in this field with Iran.

Mansur Naderi said that there is high potential for Iran and Afghanistan to expand their cooperation.

The two neighboring nations should exploit the high potential for furthering cooperation, he said.

He also called on Iranian companies to feel free to bid to participate in urban projects and construction in Afghanistan.

Akhundi expressed hope to visit Afghanistan soon to consider the issue of establishing a railway connection between Iran and the Afghan city of Herat and collaboration in the field of urban developments.

Habitat III kicked off on October 17 in Quito and will last until October 20.

All participating countries should present their national report on housing and urban development.

The conference will end by approving a document concerning strategies and approaches of the countries for next 20 years.

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Orumiyeh Lake may be introduced as reference for revival

Tehran, Oct 17, IRNA – Orumiyeh Lake will be introduced as international reference for revival if consensus made by member states of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Director for Planning in Orumiyeh Lake Revival Masoud Tajrishi said on Monday.

Tajrishi said that IIASA is Vienna-based international research institute and Iran is a member of the institute.

He said that a delegation from IIASA visited the lake and raised the possibility to introduce Orumiyeh Lake as an international reference for revival in their annual meeting in Vienna in next two months.

He said that areas for cooperation were introduced to IIASA and they welcomed the proposal for cooperation.

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UN-Iran historical photos exhibition to be held in Anzali

Anzali, Gilan prov., Oct 16, IRNA – UN-Iran historical photos exhibition will be held in partnership with Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) on October 20-21 in Anzali Free Zone.

The photos which reflect 70 years of cooperation between Iran and the United Nations were selected by United Nations Information Centre in Tehran, The Diplomatic Archives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

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23 Russian university delegations due in Tehran

Tehran, Oct 15, IRNA – At least 23 Russian university delegations are scheduled to travel to Tehran this week, an Iranian official said here on Saturday.

Advisor to the Tehran University dean Seyed Ahmadreza Khezri said the visit of the Russian academia delegations is aimed at fostering international scientific exchanges between the two countries.

Khezri said the Russian delegations will attend the second Summit of Iran-Russia University Deans to be held in Tehran on Oct 20.

He added the gathering is a best venue to become acquainted with the academic capabilities of the two countries.

Khezri said the Russian delegations will start arriving in Tehran as of Oct 19.

He added the ways for fostering scientific cooperation would be discussed during the day-long gathering.

Some 20 Russian and 13 Iranian university deans would attend the meeting.

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