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7 Nov, 2016

Indonesian Univ developing world’s first anti-corruption website

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil & Sana Shamsi

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 07 November 2016 (07 Safar 1438). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.




Chinese travellers can now access Malaysia’s travel and tourism products and services through an e-marketplace in China. This is made possible by the introduction of the Malaysia Tourism Pavilion (MTP) on Alitrip by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group. Alitrip MTP will be managed and operated by Beijing Xinlian Mobile Technology, appointed by Alibaba and endorsed by Tourism Malaysia. The travel products and services that Malaysian tourism merchants promote and offer directly to Chinese travellers via MTP include local tour and hotel packages (with or without flight tickets), shopping and dining mobile vouchers, local attraction and event tickets, and local transportation and communication services. Alitrip MTP provides an excellent platform for Malaysian travel trade players to get a bigger slice of the Chinese outbound market. Last year, tourist arrivals from China to Malaysia increased by 4%, reaching 1.68 million against 1.61 million in 2014. The first six months of 2016 already recorded a 32% growth in arrivals from the Chinese market, with a total of 992,463 tourists. Malaysia is now gearing up to achieve 2 million Chinese arrivals by the end of this year, and 8 million by 2020. Therefore, the Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion couldn’t have come at a better time for the country to achieve this ambitious target.

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


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 Organises First Latin Seminar On Halal Policy In Chile

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 (NNN-Bernama) — The first Latin America Halal Certification Bodies Enhancement Programme to update certification bodies in the American continent on Malaysia’s latest halal policy, programme and procedures is being held in Santiago, Chile’s capital.

It is organised by the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the Malaysian embassy in the Chilean capital.

Malaysian ambassador to Chile, Dr Mohamad Rameez Yahaya in a statement said the three-day seminar from Nov 1 had 30 participants from 10 certification bodies in Latin America, the United States and Canada.

He said the purpose of the programme was also to share knowledge on halal matters with the participants, besides enabling Malaysia to know from them the common issues or problems associated with halal certification.

The seminar programme includes, among others, talks on the use of technology in halal certification, site audit activity, protocol and administration of halal certification, and knowledge of halal ingredients.

“It will also provide and assist Malaysia as the biggest halal repository in the world, with the database of halal information through collaboration with the certification bodies,” the ambassador said.

Mohamad Rameez said when opening the seminar on Tuesday, he spoke on, among others, the importance of halal certification as well as the halal industry in a globalised world, what more with the Muslim population increasing to more than two billion, forming 30 to 32 per cent of the total world population.

He also wished the delegations a success in getting the branded Jakim halal certification, thus providing products with this certification easy access to many countries, including in the Middle East and Europe.

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Malaysia Film Corp To Collaborate With Latin Countries

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (NNN-Bernama) — The Malaysian National Film Development Corporation (FINAS) sees the collaboration with Latin American Embassies through film festivals as a strategic platform to further boost the local film industry.

FINAS Deputy Director General, Khalidah Mohd, said that such a common effort would provide more market access not only to traditional markets but also new markets especially in Latin America.

“It is a good platform for Malaysia’s film industry to grow further and FINAS is looking forward to expand the local film industry growth by penetrating the global market to gain bigger market access, she told Bernama after launching the 15th Latin Anerucab Film Festival (LAFF) here.

She noted that for the first time Malaysia was invited as a guest country to participate in the LAFF from Nov 11 to 18, and that this was a great honour for the country.

She said that FINAS expected the strategic partnership to not only provide tremendous opportunity for Malaysia and Latin America in film production but also in content development.

“Besides benefiting Malaysia’s film industry, it has a multiplier effect on the economy and also in terms of tourism, cultural and educational development,” she added.

Khalidah said that there were also opportunities in the exchange of expertise, technology as well as talent and script development, pointing out that FINAS was working to provide a conducive eco-system for the film industry covering all aspects from script development, talent training, funding, production, technology, commercialisation, distribution and promotion.

“At one (collaboration) go, Malaysia could work with all Latin American countries namely Uruguay, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and Peru,” she added.

Meanwhile Mexico’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Carlos Felix Corona, described the 15th LAFF as as a window for Malaysian audiences to look into Latin America’s cultural and reality.

Peru Ambassador to Malaysia, Guido F Loayza, said it was a great experience to showcase Latin American films to Malaysians as well as foreigners at the 15th LAFF.

Organised by Latin American Embassies and Caribbean Countries in Malaysia, the 15th LAFF will be held at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC), featuring 10 films with a wide array of genres from drama to comedy, thrillers, historical and romance.

This year would be a special edition as a Malaysian film will be shown for the first time under the ‘guest country’ category. The film ‘Redha’, directed by filmmaker Tunku Mona Riza is about autism and is inspired by real-life events. — NNN-BERNAMA

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China-Malaysia ties back to full speed after PM’s Visit

BEIJING, Nov 5 (NNN-Bernama) — Prime Minister Najib Razak left for home Saturday after a highly successful visit which has taken Malaysia-China relations to even greater heights.

The plane carrying Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, left the Beijing Capital International Airport at 10.20am (local time, the same time as in Malaysia.

The high-level visit, at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, is Najib’s third official visit to China since 2009.

Najib had also made a working visit in March last year to attend the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Hainan.

The most prominent achievement of his trip this time around was witnessing the signing of 14 agreements on several iconic and mega projects to the tune of RM144 billion between Malaysian and Chinese companies that will contribute to Malaysia’s socio-economic growth.

Najib also witnessed the signing of 14 Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) related to defence, economy, agriculture, education, finance and the construction sector between the two governments.

The Prime Minister, accompanied by the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy to China Ong Ka Ting and 10 cabinet ministers including Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, had back-to-back meetings and functions.

Besides a delegation meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and bilateral meeting with Li, Najib also met up with 33 of China’s captains of industry.

His meeting with China’s internet tycoon Jack Ma was sealed with the latter’s appointment as Malaysia’s digital economy advisor, to assist Malaysia in spearheading the country’s move towards a digital economy.

China was Malaysia’s largest trading partner in 2015, a position maintained since 2009. Total bilateral trade in 2015 was US$100 billion.

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Malaysia Extends Visa Exemption Programme For Chinese Tourists

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (Bernama) — Malaysia has agreed to extend the visa exemption programme for tourists from China until Dec 31 next year, Parliament was told today.

Tourism and Culture Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said this was because China had been the third largest contributor of tourist arrivals to Malaysia and such a significant improvement could be seen since the programme was introduced in March this year.

“Between January and August this year, Malaysia has received a total of 1,406,417 tourists from China, an increase of 26.3 per cent compared to 1,113,508 tourists recorded in the corresponding period last year.

Mohamed Nazri said the government had also granted visa exemption to tourists from India which was introduced last year. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia Sets up Consulate In Xi’an

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 3 (Bernama) — Malaysia has established a Consulate General in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, People’s Republic of China. The Office is the sixth Consulate General of Malaysia in China. Mr. Tan Li Lung has been appointed as the first Consul General of Malaysia to Xi’an covering the consular districts of Gansu Province and Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Mr Tan Li Lung began his service at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2003. In 2007, he assumed duties as the first secretary at the Embassy of Malaysia in Beijing, People’s Republic of China until 2011. He later served as the Counsellor at the Malaysian High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 2011 to 2014. Mr Tan’s broad experience will benefit efforts to enhance people-to-people contact as well as encouraging exchanges in business and investments opportunities between the two countries.

The opening of the Consulate General of Malaysia in Xi’an reflects the close bilateral relations with the People’s Republic of China and the desire to futher strengthen relations with the three provinces covering all areas of cooperation such as trade, investment, tourism and education.

The contact details of the Consulate General of Malaysia in Xi’an are as follows:

Shangri-La Hotel Xi’an (Room 912)

38B, Keji Road, Xi’an, Shaanxi, 710075

People’s Republic of China.

Office Hours: Monday to Friday (0900 hrs – 1700 hrs)

Telephone no.: (+8629) 8956 8478

Facsimile no. : (+8629) 8956 8478

Email: mwxian@kln.gov.my

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New Airline Links, E-Commerce Platform To Grow Chinese Tourists To Malaysia

BEIJING, Nov 4 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia in a move to attract more Chinese tourists is introducing new airline destinations and routes between China and Malaysia, and an e-commerce platform.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysia Airlines would be flying to eight new destinations in China and introduce 11 new routes beginning January 2017.

“Translating into 35 additional frequencies between Malaysia and China,” he said when launching the Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion which is being developed with China’s Alibaba.com, here Friday.

Present was Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, who is also China’s top internet tycoon.

Najib said among the new connections were Nanjing, Haikou, Wuhan and Fuzhou, were expected to be in MAS’ routes in first half of next year.

Najib said he had been informed that Malaysia Airlines would be upgrading the Kuala Lumpur-Hong Kong service to a widebody Airbus A330 from January 2017, as well as introduce the Kuala Lumpur–Haikou service.

“There will be a second daily service to Shanghai’s Pudong Airport as well as new connections to Nanjing, Wuhan and Fuzhou, which will follow suit in the first half of 2017,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said new services to Chengdu and Chongqing would be introduced from Kuala Lumpur, subject to slot availability.

“And beyond that, Malaysia Airlines will begin to gradually add services from cities such as Penang and Kota Kinabalu to cities across China such as Shanghai and Shenzhen.

“All of these new routes will hopefully spur even more visitors from China to choose Malaysia as their preferred destination; a choice that is made even simpler with the convenience of the Malaysia Pavilion on Alitrip.com,” he added.

Touching on the e-commerce platform, Najib said that he hoped that the upcoming Singles’ Day Sale on Nov 11 would benefit Malaysia Pavilion on Alitrip.

“Last year, on that very same date, Alibaba broke all records with the US$143 billion sales it made in one day.

“I am sure that with the growing presence of Alibaba in the online marketplace today, you will be enjoying another record-breaking achievement this time around. I am glad that the Malaysia Pavilion on Alitrip will be a part of the Singles’ Day Sale craze this year,” he said.

The Alitrip Malaysia Tourism Pavilion is an e-commerce platform to reach to the China market in promoting tourism and place the Malaysian tourism industry prominently with China’s Alibaba.com

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Malaysia-China Deals Using Renminbi To Rise Significantly – HSBC

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (NNN-Bernama) — Business and trade transactions conducted in renminbi between Malaysia and China will significantly increase in the coming years, following the higher usage of the currency last year coupled with the rising positive factors that helped drive demand for the currency.

HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd Managing Director, Alvin Kong, said the transactions in renminbi last year between the two countries using the standard format for Business Identifier Codes, also known as SWIFT CODE, showed a substantial growth of over 50 per cent year-on-year (yoy).

“We expect the trend to increase and the 50 per cent growth yoy can continue,” he said at a press confrence after unveiling the findings of the bank’s Renminbi Internalisation Study 2016 here.

The study, which involved 1,600 decision-makers in 14 countries, showed that 24 per cent of the respondents said their firms were using renminbi for cross-border businesses globally.

In Malaysia, the usage of renminbi for business settlement has risen by six per cent to 20 per cent versus 14 per cent last year.

The study also revealed that 36 per cent of the respondents foresaw that renminbi will rise as international trading currency in the next five years.

Kong said the recognition of renminbi as the fifth global reserve currency by the International Monetary Fund also marked a new level of acceptance of it on the world stage.

He said the opening up of China’s interbank bond market to foreign investors recently, as well as, projects undertaken via the Belt and Road Initiative that encouraged the use of renminbi had also spurred its demand.

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Malaysia Airlines Launches Rapid Expansion Into China

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia Airlines today launched a rapid expansion into China, which will see the flag carrier serving eight new destinations and 11 new routes with 35 additional frequencies between Malaysia and China beginning early 2017.

This was announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is currently in China for a six-day official visit starting Monday. Najib said the new routes were to attract more Chinese tourists.

Following the announcement, Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer, Peter Bellew, in a separate statement, said the airline has huge confidence in China.

“Malaysia Airlines plans to triple our Chinese business over the next five years. I see potential for direct flights to 20 Chinese cities from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching by 2019,” he said.

He said the improved connectivity will foster deeper business links between the two nations.

Malaysians relished the business opportunities and tourism experience in China. “The Chinese tourist market to Malaysia is growing rapidly due to the shared food, language and cultural connections,” he said.

In addition to this initial growth, the airline would promote tourism in Malaysia and China through seasonal or ad-hoc services to key leisure markets such as Langkawi, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

“Six of our new Chinese cities have never been served directly by Malaysian Airlines,” Bellew added.

Malaysia Airlines’ new routes will be KL-Haikou, KL-Nanjing, KL-Fuzhou, KL-Wuhan, KL-Chengdu, KL-Chongqing, Kota Kinabalu-Tianjin, Penang-Shenzhen and Penang-Shanghai.

The airline will also add a second daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai subject to slots in April 2017.

This follows the airline’s recent announcement on the service upgrade to its morning Kuala Lumpur-Hong Kong sector from the Boeing 737 to the Airbus 330, he said.

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Investment Important For Malaysia To Create Job Opportunities

BEIJING, Nov 5 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday foreign direct investment is important for the economic growth of the country.

He said the foreigners who had invested in the country would not be able to bring back to their own country the infrastructure that they had built in Malaysia.

Thus, those who said that the government was selling Malaysia to China were talking “utter rubbish due to jealousy or out of spite”, he told the Malaysian diaspora and students at a dinner here Friday.

“My conscience is clear, and I am doing it for Malaysia and the rakyat in ensuring that the country’s economy is at a high level,” he said.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said he strived to get FDI to create high-paying jobs and better prospects for Malaysians.

If the economy did not grow, then Malaysians would have a problem getting a good jobs, he said.

Najib advised Malaysian students in China not to be inward and insular but to make friends with others and to understand the Chinese culture and civilisation, and learn what made them tick and what made them different from others.

He said that despite the slowdown in the world economy, China’s economy was growing at 6.5 per cent annually.

Najib had a courtesy call from Governor of Hebei Province Zhang Qingwei and attended a briefing by Lim Chee Wah, founder and chairman of Genting Resort Secret Garden, on the investment in Zhangjiakou to develop the mountain top area as a world-famous tourist destination and the venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The company’s Genting Snow Park has been selected as the venue for the Olympic freestyle skiing and snowboarding events.

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Malaysia Targets Rm50 Mln From Fruit Exports To Europe

ROTTERDAM (Netherlands), Nov 4 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia’s fruit exports to Europe are targeted to worth at least RM50 million this year compared with RM43.41 million last year, resulting from promotional activities conducted on the continent.

Agricultural Counselor of the Malaysian Agricultural Representative Office in The Hague (PPP The Hague) Yusmizam Mohd Yahya said the target was based on good response to the campaign carried out at five major supermarkets in four European countries.

The consumers and supermarkets in the four countries were convinced on the quality and marketability of Malaysian agricultural products, he told Bernama here.

He was met at the Malaysian agricultural products promotion, the Malaysia Week, at the Wah Nam Hong Supermarket at Markthal Rotterdam, a port city about 80 kilometers from Amsterdam.

Themed “Taste of Malaysia”, the one-week promotion, which started on Monday, also featured Malaysian dishes prepared by Chef Mellisa van Haarlem and Chef Norman Musa.

Speaking when opening the event, Malaysian Ambassador to the Netherlands Ahmad Nazri Yusof said the programme was aimed at raising awareness on the high quality of Malaysian agricultural products.

Although Malaysian agricultural products are almost similar to that of other Asian countries, he said Malaysian produce were rather unique in characteristics, taste and quality.

Ahmad Nazri said the Malaysia Week also involved the participation of Tourism Malaysia and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation in The Hague in the quest promote bilateral trade and tourism.

Among Malaysian fruits being promoted are frozen durians, jackfruit, mangosteen, rambutan, dragon fruit, sapodilla, ‘dokong’, watery rose apple, and ‘salak’, as well as Agromas agro products like spices, pastes and chips.

The Malaysian agricultural products promotion here is the last of the series organised by PPP The Hague this year after Sweden, Finland and Romania.

“PPP The Hague expects sales of Malaysian agricultural products at the five participating supermarkets is set to increase by at least 20 per cent in 2017 from €270,042 (€1=RM4.64) at present,” he said, adding that the programme was launched in 2014.

He said the programme this year began at a supermarket in Malmo, Sweden, followed by Helsinki, Finland (one supermarket) and Bucharest, Romania (two supermarkets) before moving to the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, PPP The Hague also joined hands with the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia to showcase Malaysian fishery products at the Global Seafood Expo in Brussels, Belgium.

The export value of Malaysian fishery products to Europe rose to RM86.86 million in 2015 from RM62.73 million in 2014. — NNN-BERNAMA

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Malaysia Airlines Launches Rapid Expansion Into China

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (NNN-Bernama) — Malaysia Airlines today launched a rapid expansion into China, which will see the flag carrier serving eight new destinations and 11 new routes with 35 additional frequencies between Malaysia and China beginning early 2017.

This was announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is currently in China for a six-day official visit starting Monday. Najib said the new routes were to attract more Chinese tourists.

Following the announcement, Malaysia Airlines’ Chief Executive Officer, Peter Bellew, in a separate statement, said the airline has huge confidence in China.

“Malaysia Airlines plans to triple our Chinese business over the next five years. I see potential for direct flights to 20 Chinese cities from Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching by 2019,” he said.

He said the improved connectivity will foster deeper business links between the two nations.

Malaysians relished the business opportunities and tourism experience in China. “The Chinese tourist market to Malaysia is growing rapidly due to the shared food, language and cultural connections,” he said.

In addition to this initial growth, the airline would promote tourism in Malaysia and China through seasonal or ad-hoc services to key leisure markets such as Langkawi, Kuching and Kota Kinabalu.

“Six of our new Chinese cities have never been served directly by Malaysian Airlines,” Bellew added.

Malaysia Airlines’ new routes will be KL-Haikou, KL-Nanjing, KL-Fuzhou, KL-Wuhan, KL-Chengdu, KL-Chongqing, Kota Kinabalu-Tianjin, Penang-Shenzhen and Penang-Shanghai.

The airline will also add a second daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Shanghai subject to slots in April 2017.

This follows the airline’s recent announcement on the service upgrade to its morning Kuala Lumpur-Hong Kong sector from the Boeing 737 to the Airbus 330, he said.

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CIMB Foundation Guides Young ASEAN Leaders On Disaster Preparedness

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (Bernama) — CIMB Foundation, in collaboration with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), recently brought together 50 undergraduates from Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam for a three-day workshop on understanding and preparing for disasters. With the theme ‘Disaster Risk Reduction’ (DRR), this workshop is part of CIMB Foundation’s Young ASEAN Leaders (“CIMB YAL”) programme, which is now in its fourth series.

The CIMB YAL programme, which features different themes every year, is aimed at training young ASEAN leaders on social responsibility and inspiring them to initiate programmes to benefit their respective home communities. It is also a platform for these ASEAN youths to exchange ideas, broaden their perspectives, learn from cross cultural experiences and build a network among their ASEAN peers. The themes and activities for the programmes are specially curated to help these youths cultivate a better understanding of current issues, and foster a sense of shared responsibility towards sustainable development and the principle of inclusiveness among ASEAN citizens.

This year’s theme – Disaster Risk Reduction – focuses on mitigating the risks of a disaster through systematic analysis and proper management of the potential causes of disasters. These efforts include finding ways to reduce exposure to hazards, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events to lessen the vulnerability of people and property to such disasters.

Hamidah Naziadin, Chief Executive Officer, CIMB Foundation said, “DRR is a very timely and significant topic given how the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was recently endorsed by the UN General Assembly. ASEAN is exposed to various disasters, both natural as well as human-caused, given its still-developing status. We believe that one can never be over-prepared for disasters, and YAL’s 2016 theme of reducing risks of disasters is important towards preparing ASEAN youths both physically and mentally on managing such adverse events.”

The three-day workshop emphasised on topics such as Disaster Risk Reduction 101, Cross-cutting Issues in Disaster Risk Reduction and Youth Volunteerism through Community-based Disaster Risk Management. There was also a special panel session on topics such as ‘The Roles of Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships in DRR Implementation in ASEAN’, which discussed the duties and responsibilities of the government, NGOs, industry and academia on disaster risk reduction at the ASEAN level.

Key speakers that led the panel session include Gil Francis G. Arevalo, Humanitarian Affairs Analyst of United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), Ong Ai Lin, Senior Director, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC Malaysia), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Sarah Aziz, Chair, Southeast Asia Disaster Prevention Research Initiative (SEADPRI), Institute for Environment & Development, UKM, Vidiana Xareal, Youth Coordinator, Timor-Leste Red Cross Society, Red Cross and Red Crescent (RCRC) Southeast Asia Youth Network and Mohd Ariff Baharom, Deputy Director General (Planning & Policy Division) and National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA).

Since the launch of CIMB YAL Programme in 2012, it has quickly taken shape as a valuable platform not only for bright young minds of ASEAN to collaborate on purposeful projects, but also for CIMB to help develop their leadership qualities and better understand their aspirations as future ASEAN leaders.

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ExIm Bank To Sponsor Isra’s Islamic Economics Textbook

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (Bernama) — The Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (EXIM Bank) had contributed RM100,000.00 to the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA) in support of its initiative to publish a textbook on Islamic Economics.

This publication is expected to provide significant benefits to the Islamic finance industry, particularly in strengthening the knowledge base by providing a source of reference for students, academicians, and industry practitioners. The textbook shall comprise 20 chapters with inputs from academicians and relevant experts in their respective fields. It will also present a combination of thought-provoking case studies, discussion-based questions, and references.

“I would like to congratulate ISRA for continuously fulfilling its role as a knowledge repository body in undertaking this project. I am very confident that the publication of this work would be another prodigious source of information and reference for all who are keen to know and understand Islamic finance,” said EXIM Bank President/Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Norzilah Mohammed.

“EXIM Bank is a Development Financial Institutions that provides cross border financing for Malaysian venturing overseas business. The Bank offers cross-border financing through banking and takaful products , such as overseas project/contract/investment financing, buyer credit, export of services, trade finance, including supplier credit, export credit refinancing, trust receipt, and vendor financing scheme; and guarantee comprising ADB-EXIM trade finance programme bank guarantee, letter of credit, and forward foreign exchange; trade credit takaful and medium long term takaful. Thus, our sponsorship is an extension of our contribution to the Islamic finance industry in the country,” she added.

“Indeed, EXIM Bank financial support is instrumental for ISRA to kick-start its long-awaited project on Islamic economics textbook, which is envisaged to be a comprehensive and main source of reference for the academia, industry practitioners and regulators,” said ISRA’s Executive Director, Prof. Dr. Mohamad Akram Laldin.

ISRA was established to promote applied research in the area of Shariah and Islamic finance. ISRA also acts as a repository of knowledge for Shari’ah views (fatwas) and undertakes studies on contemporary issues in the Islamic finance industry.

About the International Shari’ah Research Academy for Islamic Finance (ISRA)

ISRA was established in May 2008 by the Bank Negara Malaysia as an Islamic finance and Shari’ah-related research institution. ISRA has established its global impact and is recognised as a leading Global Premier Research Academy in Islamic finance industry. A recent study by ICD Thomson Reuters IFDR 2014 – Harmony on Horizon, cited that an estimated 6.2% of global Islamic Finance Research is contributed by ISRA. The wide-ranging contributions by ISRA include over 200 Shari’ah research and a number of publications which includes textbooks, journals, and research papers that are constantly referred to internationally. In addition to its publications, its I-FIKR Portal is also gaining popularity as a one-stop online Shari’ah knowledge repository for Islamic Finance.

About Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (EXIM Bank)

The Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (EXIM Bank) was incorporated on 29 August 1995 and is wholly-owned by the Government of Malaysia. The Bank has assisted a diverse range of Malaysian business in an equally diverse range of sectors in their global ventures. EXIM Bank takes pride in meeting its mandated role in stimulating and enhancing the global competitiveness of industries in Malaysia for exports and investments via the provisioning of internationally and domestically competitive banking and insurance products and advisory services.

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PARC, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (Mdec) Launch Innovation Program

PALTO ALTO, CA, Nov 4 (Bernama) — PARC, a Xerox company, and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), through its United States entity MDeC Americas Inc, on 3 November 2016 announced a new program to offer innovation training, certification and deep dives for Malaysian organizations seeking Silicon Valley-style innovative practices. The joint Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP) is an open innovation program for Malaysian digital companies to accelerate the adoption of innovation practices and launch breakthrough technologies, while catalyzing Malaysia’s transition to a fully developed digital economy.

“MDEC is committed to facilitating the growth of innovative companies bringing digital solutions to market based on technologies such as big data analytics, data centre and cloud, e-commerce and Internet of Things, among many others,” said Dan E. Khoo, President, MDeC Americas, Inc. “From its deep technologically oriented workforce and digitally savvy consumer and business markets, to its advanced broadband and mobile infrastructure, the Malaysian tech ecosystem is poised to take advantage of learning from and deploying Silicon Valley insights and innovation. Working with PARC adds a level of expertise and experience that gives our diverse community the ability to disrupt various industries in our region and the global markets in which they operate.”

SVIP is a multi-tiered innovation and technology development program, giving Malaysian companies the needed insights to accelerate the adoption of Silicon Valley innovation practices. The joint program offers a range of services, from focused innovation training workshops to full innovation journeys designed to solve an organization’s existing business problems while embedding best practices throughout the organization.

“The digital transformation is well under way around the world and it’s touching many industries in profound ways,” said PARC CEO Stephen Hoover. “Existing organizations don’t want to be left behind by massive technology disruption taking place now. Of course, businesses are looking to meet the needs of customers who are becoming more digitally demanding and have digital expectations. We look forward to working with MDeC to help Malaysian companies innovate and offer breakthrough products and services to serve customers in new ways.”

The SVIP gives Malaysian companies a window into PARC’s approach to innovation and the design process, and offers a deep understanding of how the innovation process works within an organization, ultimately helping to offer new products and services to customers.

The collaboration offers Malaysian companies the benefit of MDEC’s ecosystem and local political and cultural experience in enabling a network for collaboration and inspiration, and developing compelling content. PARC offers its deep expertise in key technology research areas, IP, and strategic innovation processes, taking advantage of PARC’s research scientists and executives.

PARC’s User Experience researchers help clients discover end user needs in order to ensure technology solutions are designed to meet them. PARC helps organizations reduce go-to-market risk by validating critical unknowns at early stages of technology exploration. The innovation center’s multi-disciplinary approach offers a broad approach, yet, it has deep expertise in technology areas including machine learning, data analytics, computer vision, deep learning, printed electronics, artificial intelligence, and more, as well as understanding vertical markets including healthcare, transportation, IoT, smart cities, etc. PARC has built its innovation best practices capability in training and consulting, offering clients a way to get started.

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LEAD STORY: Indonesian Univ developing world’s first anti-corruption website

5 November 2016, Yogyakarta (ANTARA News) – Gadjah Mada University (UGM) is developing the first anti-corruption website in the world as part of the efforts to eradicate corruption in every single aspect of public life.

“The website, www.cegahkorupsi.wg.ugm.ac.id, is a real step taken by the academicians to eradicate corruption,” founder of the website, Rimawan Pradiptyo, said here on Friday.

He explained that the website contained important material related to efforts aimed at preventing corruption.

There are facts, news reports and a corruption map that covers all the provinces, cities and districts across the nation.

In addition, there are also publications about ways to understand and prevent corruption as well as concerned regulations.

According to Rimawan, all the information on the website was from an academic point of view and has been reviewed and studied before being uploaded.

“Therefore, the contents are verified and accounted for,” he asserted, adding that no other country has such a website.

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Program to open new rice fields in East Nusa Tenggara to continue

5 November 2016 Kupang (ANTARA News) – Head of the East Nusa Tenggara provincial Agriculture and Plantation Service Yohanes Tay Ruba said the province would continue the program of opening of new rice fields in 2017.

“Currently we are conducting rationalization and preparation of the program for the opening of new rice fields to be implemented in 2017,” Yohanes said here on Saturday.

He said implementation of the program this year could not be carried out as expected over delay in the disbursement of General Allocation Fund (DAU) from the central government.

Until now 1,960 hectares of new rice field had been opened or falling short of the target of 2,709 hectares for this year, he said.

Around 224.22 hectares of the new rice fields have been ready for cultivation, he added.

“We hope the rest could be carried out with work starting early next year, that farmers could increase their rice production,” he said.

Yohanes delay in the implementation of the program was recorded in a number of areas including in the regencies of Kupang, Sumba Timur, and Flores such as regencies of Ende and Manggarai Barat.

The regency of Ende was to have Rp11,538,089,786 in the delayed DAU each month from September to December.

Kupangs delayed share of the DAU in the same periods was Rp25,466,413,828; and the regency of Sumba Timur was to have Rp11,532,251,253 and the regency of Manggarai Barat was to receive a disbursement of Rp18,071,885,782 each month during the four months period.

Yohanes said the opening of new rices fields in NTT so far had been carried out through cooperation with the military with solders sent to the fields together with the government elucidation team to encourage the farmers in expanding their rice fields.

“We appreciate the assistance offered by the military for the farmers to increase their productivity,” he said.

He said he hoped such cooperation would continue that when the budget fund had been available the program to open more new rice fields could be implemented as expected.

Earlier this week President Joko Widodo said the country would not import rice in the rest of this year.

Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman has said there would be no scarcity in rice supply in Indonesia as the country is predicted to have a surplus of 400,000 tons in production this year.

The minister said based on a survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) the countrys rice production rose significantly this year.

The survey said planting areas in July-September, 2016 reached 1 million hectares up significantly from an average of 500,000 hectares in earlier years.

Based on an assumption that a hectare would turn out 6 tons of unhulled rice, the countrys production of unhulled rice would total 6 million tons or equivalent to 3 million tons of milled rice as against a monthly consumption of 2.6 million tons.

Therefore, the country’s rice stock is sufficient despite the extreme weather such as foods that damaged rice crops in the country this year.

“In addition, irrigation systems have been repaired in various areas in Indonesia in cooperation with the Public Works Ministry,” Andi said.

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Oman’s Home Show Kicks off 5th December

Muscat, Nov.5 (ONA) — The 6th edition of the Home Show will kick off at Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre on 5th December. The four-day exhibition will be organized by the Global Exhibitions and Conferences (GEC).

More than 100 leading companies and commercial brands will take part in the show.

The Home Show 2016 provides a consistently successful business opportunity for manufacturers and suppliers of home improvement products and services. They get an opportunity to reach tens of thousands of home builders and homeowners, the vast majority of whom attend in search of solutions and ideas to their home enhancement projects. From kitchens and bathrooms to bedrooms and basements, fixtures and fittings to gardens and gadgets, The Home Show will showcase the latest products, services and innovations in home renovation and new home building.

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Indonesian Muslim fashion brand penetrates British market

02 Nov 2016, Manchester (IINA) – Indonesian Muslim fashion brand Elzatta Dauky by Elhijab successfully penetrated the British market at the “Muslim Lifestyle Expo 2016” in Manchester city over the weekend.

“Elzatta Dauky participated in the exhibition for the second time, having appeared previously at the Indonesian Weekend,” the Company Head of Brand Strategy Ina Binandari said here on Tuesday. In addition to exhibiting Muslim fashion products, Dauky also displayed 10 designs at the fashion show.”

The Muslim Lifestyle Expo, one of the biggest Muslim-focused fairs in the world, saw participation from over a hundred exhibitors from various countries, including the United States, Turkey, Germany, Russia, Austria, and Malaysia, Tempo Indonesian weekly magazine reported.

Elzatta Dauky was the only Indonesian participant. The organizers said more than 10,000 people from across the city had visited the exhibition.

Speaking of the brand’s future plans, Binandari explained that Elzatta Dauky by Elhijab was gearing up to launch an online store in the U.K.

“Hopefully, with the online store, we will be able to meet the fashion demands of the Muslim community here,” Binandari stated.

Reports from Thomson Reuters suggested Muslim consumer spending on food, lifestyle products, and services will reach an estimated 1.9 billion pounds sterling in 2020, up from the 1.3 billion pounds sterling seen in 2014.

Data from the Office for National Statistics, released in late January 2016, show that the number of Muslims in the United Kingdom has, for the first time, exceeded three million, amounting to 3,114,992 people in 2014, equivalent to 5.4 percent of the total population of the country.

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US Muslims register to vote in record numbers

03 Nov 2016, Washington, (IINA) – The US Council of Muslim Organizations’ (USCMO) said Wednesday that it achieved its goal to register 1 million Muslims to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

“Reports from various cities across the US indicate that thousands of new Muslim voters have registered this year, surpassing any previous year in the history of the community,” USCMO Secretary General Oussama Jammal said during a press conference.

Jammal attributed the success of the campaign to the hard work of many Muslim organizations, activists and local Muslim community leaders and the grave concern about a sharp increase of Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims.

He added that the massive outpouring of support and participation in the campaign illustrates the seriousness of this election for the American Muslim community.

The head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) satirically thanked Republican candidate Donald Trump for “energizing” the Muslim community’s civic engagement with his anti-Muslim comments. Approximately 500,000 Muslims registered to vote in the 2012 elections, according to CAIR.

A survey by the group taken about two weeks ago found 86 percent of registered Muslim voters intend to vote in the November 8 poll. The survey found 72 percent of American Muslim voters would vote for Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton and just 4 percent indicated a preference for Trump. Around 3 percent preferred the Green Party’s hopeful Jill Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson polled at 2 percent.

Still, 12 percent of respondents were undecided, and 7 percent refused to respond.

The campaign to register 1 million Muslim voters began last December and as part of the effort, the organization placed booths at more than 2,500 mosques, 500 schools and in many community centers across the US to encourage Muslims to register.

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Diplomats ride Haramain High Speed Train

05 Nov 2016 Jeddah (IINA) – IT was a fantastic experience to ride the Haramain High Speed Train, which would bring about a permanent solution to the problems in the movement of Haj and Umrah pilgrims between the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah, according to Indian Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh.

“The train, expected to be operational during the Haj of 2018, will be much more convenient and comfortable to the pilgrims than any other mode of transportation,” he told Saudi Gazette. Sheikh was among the diplomats who had a recent fabulous ride along the Haramain High Speed Train, arranged by the Makkah branch of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“It was an extremely enjoyable and highly comfortable experience. Fully air-conditioned, high speed, availability of refreshments and facilities for washing, television for entertainment, and what else you want,” he said while noting that pilgrims from all over the world will hugely benefit from the train services. At present, Sheikh said, the major issue in the Haj operation is pertaining to the movement of pilgrims, especially between Makkah and Madinah.

“Once the movement is controlled and eased, everything else will be streamlined. We have plans to take advantage of the train service from the Haj of 2018 onwards. The Haj missions from different countries can sort out almost all the recurring problems involving transportation of pilgrims by bus between the two holy cities, as well as within Makkah once the Haramain train and Makkah Metro start operation,” he said.“During peak season, bus takes six to eight hours to reach Madinah from Makkah and vice versa but instead the train takes only one and a half hours. Apart from this, there are many recurring complaints involving transportation by bus such as breakdowns, faulty air-conditioning, and ban on night travel.”

Sheikh also unveiled a meticulous plan for streamlining pilgrims’ movement to and fro their home countries and the holy land. “The capacity of the Haramain train is 417, and this is almost the capacity of a jumbo flight, which is 415. The Haj missions can prepare, well in advance, the transportation schedule for the pilgrims on board the designated plane in the designated train.”

Referring to the ride, Sheikh said: “We were first taken by road to Rabigh station and traveled about 40 minutes toward Madinah and returned at a speed of 160 -200 km per hour. I was told that 70 percent of the railway work has been completed and the remaining works will be competed by the end of 2017.”

Ambassador Muhammad Ahmed Tayyib, director general of the Makkah branch of the Foreign Ministry, and Ambassador Jamal Balkhour, chief of protocol at the branch, were in command in organizing the Haramain train ride for the diplomats.

The consuls general who joined the trip also included Patrick Nicoloso (France), Sidi Zakaria (Niger), Abdelali Jai (Morocco), A.K.M. Shahidul Karim (Bangladesh), C. Shoayb (South Africa), Haji Sulaini Hj Said (Brunei), Saleh Ali Al Saqabi (Kuwait), Khamis Bin Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Farsi (Oman), Ali Bin Mohammed Al-Ayashi (Yemen), Ghanim Alwan Jawad Al-Jumaily (Iraq) and Hamad Ali Al Bannkhalil (Bahrain).

The Haramain High Speed Train links the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah via Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City of Rabigh. The train will be linked to the Makkah Metro to provide pilgrims with easy and fast transportation to the holy sites.

The 450-km railway, with fully electrified double tracks, is estimated to cost SR37.5 billion. The project includes trains traveling at a speed of 320 km per hour and fitted with the highly advanced equipment and devices. There will be 35 trains and a special train for the elderly people. As many as 12 carriages are being used now in the ongoing test runs between Madinah and Rabigh.

The state-of-the-art railway has five stations — two terminus stations in Makkah and Madinah, and two central stations in Jeddah and King Abdullah Economic City of Rabigh, in addition to a fifth station at King Abdulaziz International Airport that is being built by the General Authority of Civil Aviation. The Jeddah station will be the main station with the central control room. The construction of the stations, featuring aesthetically iconic buildings with Islamic architectural designs, are nearing completion. They will have shops, restaurants, mosques, parking spaces, a helipad and VIP lounges.

The train, which will bring about a dramatic change in the transportation of pilgrims between the two holy cities, is expected to carry three million passengers a year, besides helping to relieve traffic congestion on the expressways. The completion date for the railroad has been put back by a further 14 months from January 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, according to Saudi Railways Organization sources. Opening of the ambitious project had been envisaged for 2014 when a contract was signed in January 2012. However, the project has faced difficulties including delays in the completion of civil works which are being undertaken under separate contracts, windblown sand in the inhospitable climate and such other hurdles and handicaps.

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Indonesia promotes tourism branding at World Travel Market

2 November 2016, London, UK (ANTARA News) – The Tourism Ministry is promoting a tourism brand of Wonderful Indonesia at the global travel fair of World Travel Market (WTM) in London from November 7 to 9, 2016.

By promoting the event, the ministry is featuring the beauty of Banyuwangi (East Java) images on five decker buses from October 31 till the end of November, according to a statement from the Tourism Ministry received by ANTARA here on Wednesday.

Indonesia has signed an agreement as the prime sponsor of the travel fair. Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said the agreement will help in promoting Indonesian tourism.

“WTM is a global travel fair. As in 2015, around 50 thousand tourism professionals from 183 countries participated in the fair,” the minister said.

He added that WTM was an effective and efficient media to promote Indonesia and its tourism brand of Wonderful Indonesia in the global market.

With a visa-free policy and deregulation on yacht or cruise ship travelling to Indonesia, the government expects 20 million foreign tourists by 2019, nearly double the target of 10.4 million set in 2015.

At the fair, the Indonesian delegation will showcase UNESCOs world heritage of Borobudur Temple, Prambanan Temple in Central Java, diving spots in Raja Ampat in Papua, as well as golf, spa and shopping tour in Jakarta and Bandung (West Java).

The UK and European Union are very important markets, as the number of potential tourists is quite great. Each tourist would stay at least for 10 days on average and would spend a huge amount during their trip.

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Business council expects 100,000 Russian tourists to Indonesia

3 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Russia-Indonesia Business Council expects an increase in the number of Indonesian tourists to Russia and vice versa in 2016 and the coming years, in order to strengthen relations and economic cooperation between the two countries.

A statement from the Russia-Indonesia Business Council received by ANTARA here on Thursday said that tourism was a topic of particular concern at the annual Business Forum held on October 31 in Jakarta.

Mikhail Kuritsyn, the CEO of Russia-Indonesia Business Council, expected 100 thousand Russian tourists to visit Indonesia in the coming years, and 18 thousand Indonesian tourists to visit Russia in 2016.

He also called for the diversification of tourism in Indonesia, so that Russian tourists would not only visit Bali Island but also other tourist destinations, which are spread across various islands in the country.

Direct flights from Jakarta to Moscow will be the first step in enhancing the tourism cooperation.

The national flight carrier, Garuda Indonesia, is expected to become the operator for Indonesia – Moscow flight before the second quarter of 2017.

The Russia-Indonesia Business Forum was attended by the Russian Federation Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov; the Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti; the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution; and the Russian Federation Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Indonesia, Mikhail Galuzin.

The forum was participated by 150 delegates from Indonesian companies and 100 representatives from Russian companies, including Russian Railways, United Shipbuilding Corporation, Rosneft, Rusal, Rusnano and Rostech.

The Russia-Indonesia Business Council is a non-governmental organization which was established to bring together Russian and Indonesian businesses.

Its main mission was to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship in order to strengthen and expand economic trade, investment and scientific cooperation between the two countries.

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Indonesia becomes first to invest in Russian aviation company

3 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia became the first foreign country to invest in Rusnano, the Russian nanotechnology developing company, with a value of US$30 million for the initial phase of a total amount of $100 million.

A statement from the Russia-Indonesia Business Council received by ANTARA here on Thursday said that the Russian nanotechnology company and Indonesian infrastructure company, PT Wijaya Infrastructure Indonesia, signed an agreement to establish the International Aerospace Foundation (IASF).

The agreement was made at the annual Indonesia-Russia Business Forum on October 31, 2016, in Jakarta.

The document paper was signed by Rusnanos Investment Director Dmitry Pimkin and President Director of PT Wijaya Infrastructure Indonesia, Didie Soewondho, who is also the Chairman of the Indonesia-Russia Business Council.

“It is important that most Russian companies, which are interested in working in Indonesia, already have local partners or are in the process of selection,” the CEO of Russian-Indonesian Business Council, Mikhail Kuritsyn, said.

After the completion of the investment, the funds will be used within five years for the development of navigation systems and satellite communication systems, the manufacture of new materials and components for satellites, aircraft and production and other related economic sectors.

The Russia-Indonesia Business Forum was attended by the Russian Federation Minister of Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov; the Indonesian Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Susi Pudjiastuti; the Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Darmin Nasution; and the Russian Federation Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Indonesia, Mikhail Galuzin.

The forum was participated by 150 delegates from Indonesian companies and 100 representatives from Russian companies, including Russian Railways, United Shipbuilding Corporation, Rosneft, Rusal, Rusnano and Rostech.

The Russia-Indonesia Business Council is a non-governmental organization which was established to bring together Russian and Indonesian businesses.

Its main mission was to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship in order to strengthen and expand economic trade, investment and scientific cooperation between the two countries.

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World Bank approves loan for Indonesia`s logistics sector

4 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Executive Board of the World Bank has approved a US$400 million Development Policy Loan for the Indonesias Logistics Reform, which will be used to improve the countrys logistics system and connectivity.

“These reforms will help Indonesia in achieving higher inclusive growth,” World Banks Country Director in Indonesia Rodrigo Chaves said in a statement received by ANTARA here on Thursday.

Chaves explained the US$400 million loan will support Indonesia to overcome obstacles in the supply chain, such as dwelling time and trading permits.

The inefficient dwelling time has resulted in Indonesias logistics costs accounting for 25 percent of the total costs, while Thailand is only 15 percent and Malaysia is 13 percent.

Currently, the cost of container shipping of oranges from Shanghai, China to Jakarta is cheaper than the cost of similar items shipping from Jakarta to Padang, West Sumatra.

Though, the distance between the two cities in Indonesia is only a sixth of the distance between Jakarta and Shanghai.

“Logistics efficiency will improve connectivity and provide a significant impact on the competitiveness of the country. Improved logistics can reduce the cost of goods and services flows, especially in remote and underdeveloped regions in Indonesia,” Chaves said.

The Development Policy Loan will support Indonesia over a transition period from the commodity-dependent economy to manufacturing-based economy with high competitiveness.

World Banks Senior Economist Massimiliano Cali added that the high cost and unreliable logistics are obstacles in improving national competitiveness.

“Managing these problems will increase production and export, thus lifting economic growth,” he said.

The three main objectives of this funding is increasing the performance of the ports, improving the competitiveness of logistics services and strengthening trade facilitation.

World Banks support for the logistics reform is an important part of the Partnership Framework of World Bank Group States, which is centered on the governments priority to bring significant changes.

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Brunei’s Baiduri Green Festival 2016 launched

Bandar Seri Begawan, Borneo Bulletin, November 05, 2016, THE three-day Green Festival 2016, hosted by Baiduri Bank, was launched at the Jerudong Park Amphitheatre by the Minister of Education, Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman yesterday.

Also attending the opening ceremony were permanent secretaries and deputy permanent secretaries from various government ministries, CEO of Baiduri Bank Pierre Imhof, senior officials from Baiduri Bank Group as well as representatives of local businesses.

The inaugural Green Festival is a holistic, wellness-themed event which encompasses financial, physical, social and emotional well-being.

“The Baiduri Green Festival 2016 is aimed to promote both healthy lifestyle and financial well-being.

“We want to do it in a way the people can have fun and at the same time, encouraging them to start thinking about the future, starting from financial safety,” Pierre Imhof told the Weekend Bulletin on the sidelines of the ceremony.

“We also want to show support to the local businesses here in Brunei. At the same time we would like to promote the green colour for the public to associate it with both holistic wellness and Baiduri Bank.”

The Minister of Education, Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suyoi bin Haji Osman and CEO of Baiduri Bank, Pierre Imhof, during the event.

The festival will be open to the public for three days and feature booths of various businesses offering food and beverages, fitness and lifestyle programmes.

There will also be family-friendly activities and workshops for all ages, including the ‘flower crown workshops’ by The Collective and a football clinic organised by Brunei DPMM FC.

Baiduri Bank Group staff will be on hand to provide financial tips and advice to the visitors to achieve financial wellness.

The group will also be offering exclusive offers and promotions.

Live performances featuring local artists including Aziz Harun, Eia and Nabeela Fadzil will also take place during the three-day event.

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Being small makes Brunei agile

Bandar Seri Begawan, Borneo Bulletin, November 06, 2016, – BRUNEI Darussalam has the potential to become a fully “Smart Nation” rapidly despite its small size as it has the advantage of being more “agile” due to its access to a vast pool of talent and resources, a senior telco official said.

The ambitious goal to emulate neighbouring countries like Singapore, in creating a future of better living for all through integration of tech-enabled solutions in different aspects of life, is realisable, said Buharie Amath, Senior Manager for Technology and Operations at Telekom Brunei Berhad (TelBru), on the sidelines of the TelBru ICT Forum and launch of the Smart Nation Online Community at The Rizqun International Hotel in Gadong yesterday.

As a senior manager at TelBru, he said he has seen throughout the years a lot of things that have been done which will enable Brunei to get to the goal much faster. “And being a smaller nation makes us a little bit more agile in terms of what we want to do, but I think if we all put all our efforts together we can do it fairly quickly,” he added.

Although factors such as our economies of scale and the size of the country might hinder this ambition, but by being wise with what we want and coming together, it is possible to reach the goal in a short time, he said. “For instance in Malaysia, if you just drop something it can be popular, but it might not be the case here but the advantage for us is that we can be agile… we can be smart about things,” he added.

He also mentioned that opportunities abound for Bruneian ICT and App developers who have wide access to the international market that will further help flourish the ICT industry here. “Whatever that is being developed here can be sold overseas as well, so it is not just for our use but it also provides an industry for Brunei, and it provides some financial justification or incentive to actually invest in that stream.. That is the definite advantage for us… I believe that there are a lot of talented people in Brunei who can actually develop those applications and contribute to the industry,” he added.

Elaborating more on the Smart Nation Online Community launched and developed by TelBru, he said, is hoped to encourage more in-depth discussions on Brunei’s journey towards becoming a Smart Nation. “The whole objective of the community (Smart Nation Online Community) is to continue the discussion of the ICT Forum and take Brunei towards becoming a Smart Nation… so we want to keep the conversation going,” he said.

Different sections in the community such as a blog, forum and challenges page allow people from different levels and backgrounds to contribute their ideas so they can mould the direction of the Smart Nation that the country is trying to create and head in the direction of. “If we want to do a smart nation it is not up to TelBru, but it is up to the nation to do it… that’s why we encourage these ideas and views coming from everybody… we want the ideas come from the people,” he added.

He said that this will allow other telecom operators and relevant agencies here to have a better understanding on the scope of what Brunei needs in its Smart Nation endeavour, in a Bruneian way. “We want our own thing… we want our people to be the voice and mould it the way they want to see it,” he added.

Giving examples, he said the online community may help identify the core focus of Brunei’s Smart Nation vision. “Maybe we want to focus more on living instead of working… or maybe we want to focus more on health… we want to find that focus and mould the way the operators and agencies do this… this is going to be on their watch,” he added, while highlighting that only by voicing these ideas out it will eventuate into something productive and feasible for the nation.

The online platform which can be accessed through www.smartnation.com.bn is the brainchild of TelBru, and is part of a management project steered by its senior managers with the help of their young and talented management trainees.

Users are able to sign up and log in and create themselves an identity in order to use the platform’s tools.

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Brunei going all-out to create a “Smart Nation”

Bandar Seri Begawan, Borneo Bulletin, November 06, 2016, IN LINE with the national vision to ensure a high quality of life for all by 2035, the Ministry of Communications (MinCom), through the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry of Brunei Darussalam (AITI) and the national telecom firms, is making all-out efforts to meet the requirements of realising Brunei’s Smart Nation goal.

The ministry is striving to achieve this goal through technological advancement, human capacity development, investment and creating a conducive environment in terms of infrastructure, accessibility and affordability for all, said Haji Azhar bin Haji Ahmad, the Permanent Secretary at the MinCom.

Speaking at the opening of the one-day Telekom Brunei Berhad (TelBru) ICT Forum at The Rizqun International Hotel yesterday, he said, “While capitalising on the rapid changes in technology, we should aspire to not only become the end users of technology but venture aggressively into providing solutions through dedicated research, innovation as well as institutionalisation of intellectual property rights for ICT products.

“The Ministry of Communications and AITI will continue to evaluate the effectiveness of existing regulatory policies relevant to the current sophisticated ICT eco-system. This is where the close cooperation between the government and telecom operators will play a critical and mutually-beneficial role in various areas such as local content development and other aspects of creative industry in the name of Brunei-made products,” Haji Azhar added.

“Advancements in technology specifically related to telecommunications, are already included in the existing national policy which is aimed at realising sustainable development to address 21st Century challenges. I believe that this forum can provide us with another avenue to ensure effective implementation of these initiatives. This will help us achieve the goal towards narrowing the digital divide, enabling us to create a dynamic and knowledge-based society.

“This knowledge-based society will become the springboard for us to venture into a variety of telecommunication services, improve efficiency in services, grow the private sector and strengthen the overall economic climate for continuous development, the permanent secretary said.

This year’s TelBru ICT Forum highlighted a theme specifically chosen to raise public consciousness on the possibilities presented by the Smart Nation vision.

The event provided insights into the possibilities of realising the Smart Nation concept, which primarily utilises the ‘Internet of Things’ (loT), improving day-to-day living conditions while also addressing the pressing issues related to globalisation.

The sidelines of the forum saw the launching of the Smart Nation Online Community developed by TelBru. The community was created to encourage further Smart Nation discussions among the population, to provide the people with a voice of what it means to live with Smart Nation, to better understand their needs and how the current and future ICT tools can meet their expectations.

Over 300 participants from across the nation including corporate entities, government officials, ICT developers and students were present at the forum which aimed to inspire potential and young leaders to seriously consider the role they can play in realising Brunei’s Smart Nation ambition.

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Royal Jordanian announces sponsorship of C.D. Leganés football club

Amman Nov. 5, (Petra) – Royal Jordanian (RJ) announced that it is now the main sponsor and the “Official Airline Partner” of Club Deportivo Leganés for the remainder of the 2016/2017 La Liga football season that will end on May 21, 2017.

The partnership was announced at a press conference held in Madrid on Nov. 4 with the participation of officials from RJ and C.D. Leganés. Also present was the president of La Liga Javier Tebas.

C.D. Leganés will play against Real Madrid on Nov. 6, 2016, at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. RJ will be the front shirt sponsor of C.D. Leganés club.

RJ President/CEO captain Suleiman Obeidat said the national carrier’s sponsorship of the Spanish football team will boost its visibility in the European and international markets. It has already established itself as a carrier that offers top notch services in the air transport industry.

He added that RJ is now sponsoring a team that is playing in “La Liga” alongside giant names in the Spanish football league.

“Our sponsorship will draw the global attention to Jordan and RJ that is leading the air transportation in the Levant region. RJ has endeavored, at national level, to promote tourism to Jordan,” said Obeidat.

He added that Spain, in particular, and Europe used to be the source of inbound tourism, but this traffic witnessed a steep decline in the last few years.

Captain Obeidat stressed that the airline has always projected tourism to Jordan and introduced the country’s culture and identity to the world.

This has been an integral part of RJ’s mission being the national carrier and Jordan’s ambassador of goodwill to the world’s countries. RJ plays this important role devotedly, befitting Jordan’s worldwide position.

Obeidat said that RJ, the third Middle Eastern airline to sponsor a “La Liga” club, operates direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona and to many other European capitals and cities.

This sponsorship move is bound to boost the Spanish tourism to Jordan and increase the transit traffic traveling from the European continent to the eastern part of the world via Queen Alia International Airport.

In the press conference Gisle Dueland, RJ’s Head of Sales, Marketing & Product Design, said that besides sponsoring the front shirts of C. D. Leganés players, the partnership also contains a number of advertising and hospitality rights. The airline logo will be present on targeted LED boards, flash boards and interview backdrops.

He added that the logo will also appear on the screens in stadiums, in addition to the airline’s TV commercial that will be displayed in C.D. Leganés home stadium before matches start.

Royal Jordanian can use images of the team players, whom RJ is willing to receive in Jordan to give Jordanian football fans a chance to meet the team and develop relations with them.

The airline logo will be present on the team bus and the team’s publications addressed to members and fans. At the same time, the airline’s link will be placed on the club’s social media channels and official website.

C.D. Leganés was founded in 1928 in Leganés, on the outskirts of Madrid.

It will play six matches in Round 1 and 22 matches in Round 2 during “La Liga” season, starting November 6, 2016, until the end of the season on May 21, 2017, the period during which RJ sponsors the club.

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Chabahar Best Spot To Connect Asia, Europe And Africa

CHABAHAR, Nov 6 (NNN-IRNA) – The Chairman of the board of directors at Chabahar Free Zone Organization Abdolrahim Kordi said that due to its geographical position, Chabahar is the best hub to connect Asia, Europe and Africa.

Kordi told IRNA on Saturday that Chabahar is one of the best strategic and regional hubs for investment of world countries and it would be useful for the Indian Ocean rim states as well.

He added that all Indian Ocean rim states will be able to establish trade, transit and services ties with Central Asian Countries and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

After finalizing the railway, Chabahar Free Zone will become the transit hub for freight and services to Eastern Asia, he noted.

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Iran, Germany To Launch Joint Research Projects

TEHRAN, Nov 6, (NNN-IRNA) – Iran’s Research Center for Conservation of Buildings & Fabrics (RCCBF) and Germany’s University of Potsdam reached initial agreement to launch joint executive and research projects.

According to RCCBF, in a meeting which was held in the presence of professors, researchers and students of University of Potsdam in partnership with RCCBF, professors and experts of the university presented their experiences regarding conservation and restoration of historic monuments.

The two scientific bodies also negotiated on joint cooperation and on signing MoU.

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President Of Turkmenistan To Visit Malaysia 7-8 November 2016

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 5 (NNN-Bernama) — The President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, will undertake an official visit to Malaysia from 7 to 8 November 2016.

He will be accompanied by Deputy Prime Ministers, senior ministers and officials.

During the course of the visit, Berdimuhamedov is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

The meeting will allow both leaders to take stock of bilateral relations including cooperation in the oil and gas sector, which Petronas is actively involved in Turkmenistan, as well as explore other possible areas of collaboration. It will also be an opportunity for both leaders to exchange views on a range of global and regional issues of common concern.

Both leaders are also scheduled to sign a Joint Statement and witness the signing of the Protocol Amending the Agreement on Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation as well as the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Sports aimed at further promoting cooperation between the two countries.

This will be the second visit by Berdimuhamedov . His first visit to Malaysia was in 2011.

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Bank Sepah Ready To Help Foreign Investors Enter Iran Market

TEHRAN, Nov 6, (NNN-IRNA) – Iranian bank, Sepah, has expressed readiness to help foreign entities, that following the removal of West’s sanctions on the country, are interested in investing in Iran’s stock market.

The Sepah Bank is ready to absorb foreign companies interested in investing in Iran’s commodities, energy and bonds stock market, Ebrahim Enayat Managing Director of the bank’s Brokerage Company told The Islamic Republic News Agency on the sidelines of an exhibition on the Persian Gulf Island of Kish.

‘Bank Sepah as an internationally well-known bank maintains its subsidiaries in a number of major cities across Europe, Including Rome, Paris, Frankfurt and London,’ Enayat said.

‘The Bank is ready to offer foreign companies and investors services they need to open Letter of Credits, make payments, and buy shares in Iran’s stock markets,’ he said.

‘The bank is also ready to invest in foreign projects as a partner,’ he added.

The Bank Sepah official also said that before the removal of sanctions, it was very risky for foreign investors to engage in Iran’s financial markets.

But now, by thanks to operation of free trade zones, like the one on the Kish Island, and the visa and tax exemptions foreign companies enjoy in these areas, they can transfer money and make investments more easily, Enayat said.

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Morocco Climate Conference To Design Ways To Implement Paris Agreement

RABAT, Nov 6 (NNN-AGENCIES) — The world climate conference in Morocco from Monday Nov 7 will focus on the ways to implement the Paris Agreement.

“The agreement is undoubtedly a turning point in the history of common human endeavor, capturing the combined political, economic and social will of governments, cities, regions, citizens, businesses and investors to overcome the existential threat of unchecked climate change,” UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa and President of COP22 Salaheddine Mezouar said in a joint statement.

The foundations of the Paris Agreement are solid and other key features of humanity’s new home are starting to rise, they said, stressing that “we cannot and we must not rest until the roof is in place. This November in Marrakesh we will make sure it will be in place, sooner rather than later.”

While this unprecedented achievement shows a clear commitment from countries across the globe to tackle climate change, there is much more work to be done in Morocco to translate this commitment into action.

The main goals set by the Paris Agreement are very critical and pressing.

The ambitious goal to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid dangerous tipping points in the climate system means that global emissions must be driven down rapidly from the current near-peak.

Another key pledge in the agreement is that developed countries will continue to allocate 100 billion U.S. dollars per year from 2020 to 2025 in support of climate action by developing ones.

According to UN estimates, sustainable development will require 5-7 trillion dollars annually to fund the global transition to a low-carbon resilient economy.

To this end, creative funding options must be encouraged in both public and private sectors.

In addition to national determined contributions, COP22 also aims to include non-state actors into the Global Climate Action Agenda.

“COP22 will be a COP of action with a special focus on the important contributions of civil society. The Moroccan presidency will work together with civil society during the Marrakesh climate change conference and chart a common agenda under the presidency,” said Mezouar at a Pre-COP22 ministerial meeting in Marrakesh in October. — NNN-AGENCIES

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Iter, Iran’s Aeoi Ink Coop Deal

TEHRAN, Nov 6 (NNN-KUNA) — Director-General of ITER International Fusion Energy Organization Bernard Bigot said Saturday Iran’s joining of his organization will result in a win-win outcome.

Speaking to reporters, Bigot welcomed the agreement signed by his organization and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) on energy research cooperation.

ITER, one of the world’s most ambitious energy projects, plays a crucial role in advancing the fusion science and preparing the way for the fusion power plants in the future, he said.

Bigot regretted that 80 percent of the world’s energy is derived from fossil fuels which are depleting.

To the contrary, ITER will be the first fusion device to maintain fusion for long periods of time and the first to test the integrated technologies, materials, and physics regimes necessary for the commercial production of fusion-based electricity, he noted.

ITER has provided a platform for thousands of nuclear engineers and scientists to network since the idea for an international joint experiment in fusion was first launched in 1985.

Bigot welcomed the Iranian nuclear scientists’ joining of the ITER and sharing experience with their peers from the seven ITER members, namely China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

ITER Director-General, who met with Head of AEOI Ali-Akbar Salehi earlier today Saturday, hailed as positive and significant the synchronization of his visit to Iran with the enforcement of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Based in Saint-Paul-les-Durance, south France, ITER aims to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers our Sun and stars.

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Islamic Bank Doubles Housing Loans For Jerusalem Borrowers

AMMAN, Nov. 6 (NNN-WAFA) – The Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and the Palestinian Housing Council (PHC) signed on Saturday in Amman, Jordan, a new agreement that would almost double housing loans for borrowers from East Jerusalem.

The agreement, signed between IDB private funds director, al-Mansour bin Fata, and PHC chairman of the board, Hisham Omari, increases value of housing loans East Jerusalem residents can borrow from $80,000 to $150,000. It also increases the loan repayment period from the current 14 years to 20 years.

Commenting on the agreement, Omari said the deal will help East Jerusalem residents to buy, build or complete construction on a home without having to search for other financial sources.

It will also help Palestinians in East Jerusalem to remain steadfast in their city in light of the high housing and living costs.

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SPECIAL FEATURE: Albania, The Muslim European Balkan Country

TIRANA, Nov.6 (NNN-Petra) — This month Albania starts new negotiations for its accession to the European Union (EU), but in fact the Albanians do not expect too much from this new round, since all what they have benefited from the union until now was no more than freedom of movement and rise in the cost of living compared to their income.

The Republic of Albania (Shqiperise in the official language) is a European country located in the Balkan peninsula with Tirana as its capital. Located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, with Montenegro and Serbia to the north, Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south, Albania has a total area of 29, 000 square kilometers and a population of around 5.3 million people.

In general, Albania is a poor country despite its agricultural capabilities and oil production, which covers most of its needs as it is the only oil producing state in the Balkan region.

The First Impression

The first thing that astonishes visitors of Albania is Tirana Airport, which is the only airport in the country (a new one located outside Tirana is under construction). The airport is a small building with one runway, which receives no more than twenty flights per day.

Tirana is a beautiful and charming city surrounded by a chain of mountains with a circular shape, the main streets are lovely, but most of the bystreets need either maintenance, paving or re-opening. Although it was the fastest-urbanized country in the Balkans after the end of communist rule in the nineties, houses of Tirana are a mixture of modern and all previous times, mainly the communist era. The capital’s population does not exceed 700,000 people.

Islamic Country ?

Muslims in Tirana constitute more than two-thirds of the Albanian citizens, while Christians make up 30% (18% of which Orthodox, 12% Catholic).

There are four mosques and four churches (two for the Orthodox and two for the Catholics) in the capital, but rarely anybody go to these holy places, since Albanians are largely non-religious.

Despite that, Turkey is currently constructing the biggest mosque in Tirana, which is considered the biggest in the Balkan countries that will be inaugurated next year by Turkish President Recep Tayyep Erdogan.

The question is, why this grand mosque is being built ? And why Turkey grants Tirana such a grand gift as long as the current four mosques are more than enough? Is Albania moving to adopt political Islam?

An Albanian official (who preferred anonymity) said the issue of building the Turkish mosque is more personal rather than political or Islamic. It seems that the Turkish president’s relations with one of the country’s officials is behind this “donation”, he said adding that, but it will not make a significant difference.

“I understand that you want to ask about possibilities of bringing the Albanian Muslims closer to Islam, but this is impossible as the people here had paid heavy price over the past centuries starting from the ottoman rule and until the communist autocratic rule, which had completely isolated Albania from the rest of the world.

Islam here, is different from the one you have, around 97 percent of marriages do not take place in churches or mosques and those planning to get married are not asked about their religion,” the official explained.

Realistic hopes

Albanians pin hopes on their future but without specific identification of that. Diversity exists in this small country which qualifies its people to be true competitors at the tourism and economic levels in the Balkans.

Albania overlooks two seas: The Adriatic Sea (260) kilometers and the Ionian Sea (110) kilometers. However, until today, there are no major tourism investments along the beach that attract tourists.

In addition to that, the Albania does not have a national fishing company to make it a fish and seafood exporting country.

In addition to its beaches on the Adriatic and Ionian seas, there is Lake Ohrid on the Macedonia-Albania border, southeastern Europe, which is one of the deepest and cleanest lakes in the world.

Albania’s coastline of the lake reaches 31 kilometers, but the city of Pogradec in that area does not have mega tourism projects like the one on the other bank of the lake in Macedonia. The budget of this tourist city does not exceed 5 million euros annually and the tourism investments there are still modest.

All are losers from oil

Ironically speaking, Albania is an oil producing country, but all parties taking part in extracting and consuming oil are losers.

For example, American oil producing companies in Albania claim they incur losses although they don’t pay taxes to the government, who also incurs losses as a result of that.

In fact, the Albanian citizens are the real biggest losers, as the prices of oil derivatives in their country are higher than those of Balkan states.

There are no strong industries in Albania that depend on oil and most of its uses are for daily life.

For example, there are 400,000 vehicles in Albania, but most of them are not modern which reflects the economic situation of its citizens.

Where are the Albanians?

More than double the Albanian population live outside their country, but they obtained other nationalities and did not return to their country.

Semi-official estimates show that 3 million of them live in Turkey (Turks), more than 1.5 million in Kosovo, about 1 million in Macedonia in addition to hundreds of thousands in different world countries.

Therefore, population growth in Albania in not high compared to its neighbors. For example, while we were on the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid bank, a trip companion told me stories about people who crossed the lake between Albania and Macedonia by swimming.

When I asked him if some of them were Macedonian, he laughed saying they don’t have any reason to come here.

The current population live in their country, but around 1 million work outside Albanian, 700,000 in Greece, 200,000 in Italy and most of them work in the agricultural sector where they get wages in return.

Although their country has major agricultural potentials, but they are not economically feasible.

Albanians are paying the price

Last century, Albania had passed through long and hard times, which forced citizens almost to live in isolation and the country was only opened for changing alliances, mainly with the Communist bloc.

To the north, there was Communist Yugoslavia and to the east there were countries allied to the Soviet Union, but the communist rule in the country stayed out these alliances.

Communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, had ruled the country with an iron fist from 1941 until 1985 , imposed full closure of Albania and maintained troubled relations with neighboring countries and either killed or send his opponents to exile.

In Romania for example, citizens still remember their dictator president Nicolae Ceausescu, whom they executed along with his wife without trial or mercy.

Today and with sorrow, Romanians still remember his accomplishments for their country despite his cruelty. In Albania, no one wants to talk about Enver Hoxha and his reign, as people believe that all the calamities that befell Albania resulted from his reckless internal and external policies although he passed away about 30 years ago.

Political stability

Nowadays, Albania is preparing for new general elections amid a remarkable political stability, true democratic process, and a peaceful transition of power.

It is weird that the communists in Albania did not win any seat in the country’s 140-member Parliament despite their continued participation in the elections.

Today, Albanians are proud that they enjoy positive relations with all the world’s countries and that they don’t have tense relations with any state in the East or the West unlike the past century, when their country had tense relations, or no relations at all either with neighbors or any other country.

Questions concerning the future of Albania

Albania needs major investments in infrastructure, mainly roads, transportation, and mega tourism projects in order to become a competitive country not only at the level of the Balkan countries, but also at the European level.

Albanians struggle to live like their counterparts in neighboring countries. They work outside their country, despite its big capabilities including diversity of nature, fertile lands, water resources, long beaches in addition to the availability of oil but with modest quantities.

Albanians feel bitter, not only against their neighbors, but also nearly against the whole world. The country is clearly far away from EU membership and conditions in the Balkan countries are not much better in this regard.

As for the Islamic world, it has not a system or a tool to support its own member countries, and the Arab world is also busy with its wars and conflicts.

Neither Turkey, nor Greece are close to Albania politically. Regarding tourism (although it is modest) most tourists who visit Albania come from Poland, Finland, Sweden, and Kosovo as some areas in the country enjoy sunny weather over 300 days a year.

At the hotel, where we stayed, a conference was held with the participation of people from many nationalities. The event which was attended by people from Europe and the Islamic world, focused on the role of the “Imam in the contemporary society”.

I asked my companion: Does this event make any change in the state’s policy?. His answer was that the issue for them is merely cultural in the first place. Some of them understand the whole matter in a wrong way, since Albania is completely a secular state.

Jordan and Albania

King Abdullah II visited Albania in May, 2015 during which he discussed with President Bujar Nishani means of developing relations between the two countries.

Talks also dealt with coordinating stances among Arab and Islamic countries on current issues, top of which are the fight against terrorism, opening horizons for new economic ties between the two countries in addition to a number of other files.

Nishani visited Jordan last October, where he held talks with His Majesty that focused on the importance of boosting economic, trade and cultural ties.

Talks between the two leaders also touched on the latest political developments in the region as well as the fight against terrorism.

Albanians view Jordan as a friendly and stable country in a turbulent region, with which cooperation could be established mainly in the economic, tourism and cultural fields.

However, the most significant factor, is that they view the Kingdom as an open and tolerant country in a region where hatred, extremism and sedition are being witnessed.

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EU Agrees To €200m In Loans To Jordan

AMMAN, Nov. 5 (NNN-Petra) — The European Union (EU) on Friday approved a decision to provide €200 million ($222 million) loans to Jordan, according to a statement of the council of the EU.

The loans will be disbursed in two instalments, to support the Kingdom’s economic stabilization and a substantive reform agenda.

The loan will be available for two and a half years and have a maximum average maturity of 15 years, the council said.

The Council added that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed by Jordan and the EU Commission in this regard.

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Dubai Leisure Parks Await More Chinese Tourists

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov 4 (NNN-WAM) – With the number of big family fun parks rising in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), operators are hoping for a growing influx of visitors from China.

The beginning of Nov saw three major leisure parks, the Global Village, IMG World of Adventure and Dubai Parks and Resorts open, jumping on the bandwagon of rising tourist numbers from China to the Gulf Arab Emirates.

Siegfried Boerst, the general manager of Dubai’s newest leisure park, Legoland, a part of Dubai Parks and Resorts, said, they are working with local partners in China to promote Legoland through different media outlets.

Global Village, featuring 70 countries worldwide, with dozens of country pavilions, attracted 5.3 million visitors last season, 75 percent were UAE residents, the village’s manager said, hoping for a rise in number of visits in the coming season.

IMG Worlds of Adventure, the biggest indoor leisure theme park in the world, features fun indoor attractions, based on global comic brands, with a total area of 140,000 square metres.

The park is extensively promoting their new family hot spot in China, through online channels and Dubai’s tourism offices in major Chinese cities, like Beijing and Shanghai, said its CEO, Lennard Otto.

Global Village CEO, Ahmed Hussein Bin Essa, said, they regard other leisure parks in Dubai as partners rather than rivals, “to create the sheikhdom as a unique destination for family pleasure.”

Figure shows that in 2015, over 450,000 Chinese tourists flocked to “fly-buy-Dubai,” an increase of 29 percent year on year, the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), said.

The UAE has granted visa-free travel, to Chinese passport holders since Nov 1, which DTCM said, will boost Chinese tourism to the Gulf state.

In 2015, Dubai welcomed 14.2 million tourists, representing a 7.5 percent increase year on year, according to DTCM.

Dubai aims to welcome up to 25 million visitors in 2020, when the sheikhdom hosts the six-month-long World Expo.– NNN-WAM

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GCC News Agencies Launch Smartphone Application

DOHA, Qatar, Nov 3 (NNN-WAM) – The official news agencies of the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries, GCC, launched a unified news mobile phone application Wed, in the Qatari capital here.

The application, which was designed by the Qatar News Agency, QNA, will compile news from GCC states, in a unified site to facilitate access to official information and news.

The application is available under “GCC News” on all smart devices in both Arabic and English.

The launch was attended by senior directors, board chairmen, and representatives of the region’s six news agencies, including the UAE.– NNN-WAM

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Qatar-China Year Of Culture Celebrates Shared Values

DOHA, Qatar, Nov 3 (NNN-QNA) – The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), along with the 21st Century Education Research Institute in China, will jointly host the WISE-LIFE China Education Forum in Beijing, on Nov 5, 2016.

The LIFE Forum (Learners Innovation Forum on Education) will address the theme of ‘Innovating for Equity and Empowerment’ and will explore and encourage innovative practices and ideas, to promote equitable education as an empowering force. The forum is expected to attract 1,000 education innovators, leaders and decision makers from China and worldwide.

The Beijing engagement, which takes place during the Qatar-China Year of Culture, is a timely opportunity to further explore collaborations between the two countries. It aims to deepen mutual understanding and celebrate common values between the two cultures, removing barriers and opening minds.

Global innovators, including 2012 WISE Prize for Education Laureate, Dr. Madhav Chavan, founder of the influential Indian learning organisation ‘Pratham’ and Shannon May, co-founder of Bridge International Academy, will be among the speakers. The 2016 WISE Awards winning projects will be introduced and celebrated during the forum; representatives of the projects will participate in workshops and panel discussions. WISE and the 21st Century Education Research Institute will present their latest research and policy publications.

WISE, the leading global initiative driving innovation and collaboration in education, is also very pleased to announce that the Chinese editions of the WISE Books will be launched during the engagement in Beijing. Authors and contributors to the three books will be present for a special signing session, a photo exhibition, and will also take part in panel discussions during the forum.

UNESCO’s Incheon Declaration for Education 2030, identified equitable and inclusive education as the primary goal for education systems around the world. Some 60 million of the 700 million primary-school-age children globally, do not have access to education due to poverty or war. Some 100 million drop out before finishing their primary school studies, and an estimated 250 million, despite their schooling, still do not have basic literacy and numeracy skills. These figures indicate that nearly half of primary-school-age children in the world effectively do not receive a meaningful education.

WISE, a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), believes that providing a quality, equitable education to citizens, is the most effective investment a nation can make for lasting stability and economic prosperity. As a key global priority, education equity particularly concerns developing countries, including China, that strive to reach the goal of education for all. Creative approaches in teaching, in education systems leadership, and in providing relevant opportunities for diverse communities can bridge the divide between rich and poor, rural and urban areas, men and women.– NNN-QNA

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Gulf Air Increases Direct Flights To Meet Demand In Pakistan

MANAMA, Bahrain, Nov 3 (NNN-BNA) – Gulf Air, the national carrier of Bahrain, is set to increase its direct Sialkot service from two to four weekly flights, starting from Dec 1, to meet high passenger demand.

According to Gulf Air Chief Commercial Officer, Ahmed Janahi, Gulf Air’s increased Sialkot frequency, will enhance the existing Gulf Air service, to one of the national carrier’s seven destinations in Pakistan.

With additional flights between Bahrain and Sialkot, the airline will be offering enhanced schedule flexibility for its valued travellers, while also creating improved connections for those passengers travelling to and from Gulf

Air’s network of onward destinations across the globe.

Catering to over 3.5 million Pakistani nationals residing in the Gulf region, Gulf Air has provided direct air services between Pakistan and Bahrain since 1960.

Last year, Bahrain’s national carrier introduced direct services to the cities of Multan and Faisalabad, taking the airline’s total Pakistan destinations up to seven cities: Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Peshawar, Sialkot, Multan and Faisalabad.

With one of the largest Middle East networks, Bahrain’s national carrier is well positioned to link regional travellers to Sialkot, while allowing seamless movement from the Pakistani city to several key regional and European

destinations, with excellent connectivity via Bahrain International Airport.– NNN-BNA

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AirAsia Introduces Two New Routes To Indonesia

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (NNN-Bernama) — Airasia continues to expand its Johor Bahru hub by introducing two new routes — connecting Johor Bahru to Jakarta and reviving the Kuala Lumpur-Solo flights.

Its Head of Commercial, Spencer Lee said the flights from Johor Baharu to Jakarta would be three times a week beginning Jan 10, 2017, while flights to Solo would start from Jan 17, 2017.

“The promotional fares for the Johor Bahru-Jakarta flights are as low as RM99 one way, while the Kuala Lumpur-Solo flights are from RM149 one way.

“These fares can be booked online via AirAsia website from now until Nov 13, 2016,” he said in a statement.

Lee said over the years, AirAsia had worked hard to strengthen its connectivity with other hubs in Malaysia.

“We are delighted to announce another international route connecting not only Johoreans but also the Southern community directly to Jakarta and also providing more links for Indonesians to come to Malaysia,” he said.

Lee said with a population of about 23 million, it made Jakarta, the largest Indonesian city, a very lucrative route, while Solo, 65 kilometres from Jakarta, embodied the refined and sophisticated ideals of Javanese culture.

The AirAsia Group (Malaysia AirAsia and Indonesia AirAsia) currently operates 125 weekly flights into the Senai International Airport, Johor Bahru, inclusive of both domestic and international flights.

As the son of the first leader in the region to recognise the People’s Republic of China and open diplomatic relations, Najib said he was delighted that the two countries had never been closer.

Najib was referring to his father, Malaysia’s second prime minister Abdul Razak Hussein, who established diplomatic ties with China in 1974.

The prime minister said he had the privilege of meeting some of the finest leaders in China from all sectors during his groundbreaking visit to the country.

“We have much to learn from them and even more from working in partnership with them. We will follow up, for example, by cooperating with some of China’s biggest digital industry leaders to further develop Malaysia’s digital economy,” he said.

He said China-Malaysia relations were special, based on a shared culture yet with mutual respect for their differences.

“It’s a matter of great personal pride that ties between our two countries and our people have grown significantly since I became prime minister in 2009,” he said.

Najib expressed confidence that relations between the countries would continue to go from strength to strength as both nations assumed their rightful role in driving progress and development together in the Asian Century.

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Qatar Prime Minister Opens Milipol Qatar 2016

DOHA, Qatar, Nov 1 (NNN-QNA) – Under the patronage of the Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani, opened the 11th edition of the International Exhibition of Homeland Security (Milipol Qatar 2016), at Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The opening ceremony was attended by a number of Ministers and high-ranking officials in the State, and the country’s guests of ministers and police chiefs, from a number of friendly countries, and Ambassadors accredited to the state and representatives of the exhibiting companies.

Following the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister and Interior Minister toured the various pavilions and sections of the exhibition, where he was briefed about the latest equipment and devices, and innovative services in the field of homeland security and civil defence. The Premier listened to an explanation about their functions and sophisticated technologies, and the integration of security systems, to strengthening internal security, prevention and protection of crimes before they occur.

The Prime Minister and Interior Minister said in statements that, Milipol Qatar was the fruit of collaboration between Qatar’s Ministry of Interior and Milipol France.

The Premier noted that, the size and the high quality of participation in the current edition of Milipol Qatar, reflects the success of Qatar, in attracting major international companies, specialised in homeland security and civil defence services and systems, for the Milipol to become one of the most prominent exhibitions at the regional and international level.

He explained that, the participants are presenting their latest products in the field of homeland security, to meet the needs and requirements of security, hoping to achieve more success in the coming sessions.

More than 230 companies from 35 countries around the world are taking part in the three-day exhibition, spread over 7,700 square metres. It also includes five international pavilions from France, Germany, the United States, China and Britain, along with new participating countries, namely Algeria, Uganda, Lithuania, Cyprus, Belize, Pakistan, Luxembourg and Jordan, as well as, active and large presence of local companies.

Milipol Qatar is the leading international exhibition, dedicated to homeland security in the Middle East. It takes place every two years in Doha. Milipol Qatar provides access to security markets in the entire region and enables key international industry players, to meet in a fast-developing environment with medium- to long-term economic and strategic projects.

The event is known for showcasing the latest innovative products and services and for covering all fields of public and industrial security.– NNN-QNA

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Qatar Airways Announces Code-Share Partnership With Air Botswana

DOHA, Qatar, Nov 3 (NNN-QNA) – Qatar Airways announced Wednesday, a code-share partnership with Air Botswana, offering Qatar Airways travellers enhanced access to three key destinations in Botswana, Africa.

The partnership with Air Botswana, the national airline of Botswana, will provide Qatar Airways passengers with connections to the Botswana cities of Gaborone, Francistown and Maun, via Qatar Airways South Africa gateway, Johannesburg.

Qatar Airways operates double-daily flights between Johannesburg and its state-of-the-art hub, Hamad International Airport in Doha, with onward flights to more than 150 destinations worldwide.

The new code-share agreement allows business and leisure traveller’s fast and convenient access to the home of Botswana’s rich mineral industry, abundant game reserves, and luxury safari lodges.

Botswana’s luxurious tourism experiences are complemented by Qatar Airways ultra-modern fleet of aircraft, featuring the world’s best Business Class on services to South Africa.

The Southern African region is an important market for Qatar Airways, with three destinations in South Africa, including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and on the east Maputo in Mozambique.

Expansion in this region is a key focus for Qatar Airways, having launched services to the Namibian capital Windhoek on Sept 28, with Lusaka in Zambia to follow, and the resumption of services to the Seychelles in Dec, 2016.– NNN-QNA

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Dubai Airports Aim For 146 Million Passengers Yearly By 2025

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Nov 2 (NNN-WAM) – Dubai’s two international airports are set to serve 146 million passengers yearly by 2025, under a proposed three-billion-dollar finance deal, announced by the government, Dubai media office said.

Dubai International Airport, known as DXB, in the north-east of the sheikhdom, is the world’s largest international airport, with 78 million passengers in 2015, with a 23 percent average compound annual growth rate, since 2000.

The new Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC), in the south-west of Dubai, which opened in June 2010, is planned to become the primary airport for Dubai, as well as, home to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) first carrier, Emirates Airline, owned by the Dubai government, from 2025.

By the end of 2016, DXB is poised to have hosted 85 million passengers over this year, Dubai Airports CEO, Paul Griffiths, said.

The target figure of 146 million passengers is lower than the 160 million passengers the Dubai government announced earlier.

“Dubai remains firmly committed to the development of Al Maktoum International Airport and to the growth of the global aviation sector,” chairman of Dubai’s Supreme Fiscal Committee, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, also Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline, said.

The aviation sector contributed over 27 percent to Dubai’s gross domestic product last year, and this share is poised to rise to 35 percent by 2020, he said.– NNN-WAM

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Kyrgyzstan and Sierra Leone establish diplomatic relations

Bishkek, November 2 / Kabar /. Diplomatic relations has been established between Kyrgyzstan and the Republic of Sierra Leone on November 1, 2016, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

Joint Communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations was signed in New York City by Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN Mirgul Moldoisaeva and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Sierra Leone to the United Nations A. F. Suma.

The text of the Joint Communiqué states that the parties have established diplomatic relations, guided by the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and international law, in particular the respect and promotion of international peace and security, equality among the countries, with due respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, independence, respect for international contracts and non-interference in the internal affairs of the states.

After the signing ceremony of the Joint Communiqué the sides expressed mutual intention to develop relations of friendship and cooperation between the states within the framework of the UN and other international organizations, as well as support the candidates of each other in international bodies under UN auspices.

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Bishkek to host literary festival Kitepfest

Bishkek, November 4 / Kabar /. On November 7 the Literary Festival Kitepfest (Kitepfest) will be held in Bishkek, the organizers report.

The festival is dedicated to the promotion of reading culture and promote literature among young people. Kitepfest will become a platform for discussion of current topics related to literature and culture.

Participants of the festival together with the invited speakers will discuss the role of literature in human personal growth and its impact on society, the organizers said.

Besides, open mic poetry will be organized, where anyone can read their poems. In addition, participants of the festival will be able to exchange books in the course of large-scale book exchange – Bookcrossing. To this end, the participants will need to bring previously read book.

At the book fair a wide range of literature will be sold for lovers of reading. In addition the will be master classes on calligraphy, origami and painting.

The event is held within the framework of Youth Week, which will take place from 7 to 17 November 2016 in all regions of Kyrgyzstan.

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Bishkek hosts a festival of Israeli cinema

Bishkek, November 3 / Kabar /. Official opening of the festival of Israeli cinema is held in Bishkek on November 2, the press service of the Embassy of Israel in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan reports.

On 2 November a private screening of the comedy film “Size matters,” which received three awards from the Israeli Film Academy in 2009, is held.

“The event is held with the participation of Israeli Ambassador Michael Brodsky, and representatives of state bodies and figures of culture and art of Kyrgyzstan,” the press service said.

On November 3-6, four films of different genres, which became winners of international cinema competitions will be presented for the public.

All the films will be screened in their original language (Hebrew), with Russian subtitles.

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Improvement of Tourism Industry In Herat

Wednesday, November 02, 2016 – Kabul (BNA) Due to its historical attractions and monuments, Herat has always hosted foreign tourists since long.

Unfortunately, due to recent wars in the country, the tourism industry has faded in some provinces, particularly Herat, but fortunately, as a result of efforts made by the province’s officials, this industry has been revived. Herat is one of the provinces where is the home of 850 historical sites, director of Herat information and culture department, Aria Raufian said.

Besides cultural sites, natural attractions including parks and beautiful hillsides have made Herat more attractive since long, Raufian further said, adding the province also enjoys arranged transportation system, international airports and other necessary facilities to domestic and foreign tourists.

According to Raufian, the domestic tourists are gradually increasing, as every year, thousands of people visit sacred places and historical sites of the province. Last year, we had hosted almost 10,000 domestic tourists in the province, and this year, we have had 10,000 domestic and foreign tourists so far, 500 of whom have been from different countries of the world, he went on to say.

He added that the information and culture directorate of Herat has held different programs including international exhibition of Herat’s handicrafts, hotel management and World Tourism Day, as well as the department has published a guidance book of Herat in two languages of English and Persian for the very first time.

The department has planned to start tourism services in the province to help the tourists visiting Herat, he continued.

Touching to the revenues of tourism Rofyan added that tourism industry is generating huge amount of revenues, holy places and historical sites don’t charge any money, tickets are only charged for Qalai Ekhtyaruddin and National Museum, 500 afs for foreign tourists, 100 afs for domestic ones, 50 afs for locals and 20 afs for students and these monies are delivered to the ministry of finance annually.

Despite holy sites and ancient monuments with different religions background, church of Jews, historical structures had been built before and after Islam are also existed in the province, he continued. Furthermore, Herat attracts huge number of Muslim tourists for having ancient Islamic history and structures such as the holy Gazargah, Herat Masjid— the fifth largest Masjid in the world, tomb of Khwaja Abdullah Ansar, Maulana, jame Herawe, Ghulam Hussain Kashifi, etc., he added.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan is one of those countries where have always been a better destination for domestic and international tourists, through which it earns huge amount of revenues annually, he conclude.

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‘Bamyan-Borobudur’ Photo Exhibition Opened At National Museum

Saturday, November 05, 2016 – Kabul (BNA) Acting Minister of Information and Culture and Deputy Minister on Youth Affairs, Dr. Kamal Sadat, Indonesian ambassador to Kabul and head of UNESCO in Kabul opened the exhibition ‘Bamyan- Borobudur’ here on Wednesday afternoon, BNA reported, adding Borobudur is a century old famous Buddhist temple in Indonesia.

Addressing the ceremony held on the occasion, Dr. Kamal Sadat hinted on importance of the exhibition in revealing the history and civilization of ancient Bamyan province, adding Bamyan has been a focal point of tourists for its reach historical places since centuries, Bakhtar News Agency added.

Meanwhile Ambassador to Indonesia to Kabul called holding of exhibition important for boosting the mutual cultural cooperation and introducing of the two country’s old civilization.

According to Fahim Rahimi, the National Museum director, the exhibition includes 40 photos from the relics and historical sites of Bamyan Province, adding it will be opened from 12 Aqrab to 10 Jadi (2 November to 30 December 2016).

The exhibition has been initiated in close cooperation with Indonesian embassy in Kabul, as the country has recently carried out research on Bamyan’s different aspects of historical and cultural life.

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Afghanistan’s Salma Dam: A Proper Place For Fish Breeding

Saturday November 5, 2016 – Kabul (BNA) The Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) is making efforts to increase the fish production by releasing of young fishes into the dams and rivers and also establishing of fish farms in the country. Lutfullah Rashed, spokesman for the MAIL in the connection told that Salma Dam by having of special climate condition and environment is a proper place for keeping of fingerlings and the fish checks which have been nourished in Qargha farm is going be moved to Salma Dam. Rashid added that this ministry has some development programs in hand for keeping fishes, also the ministry has decided to build an augmentation farm in Chesht Sharif district of Herat province in the near future. Rashed further went on to say that forecasts shows that next year the baby fishes to grows up and will be ready for laying eggs and also the production of fish generation would be increased as will annually 1000 tons of fish meat would be offered in Afghanistan‘s markets. The MAIL is supporting the establishment of farms by private sectors for keeping of fishes, added that this year 750 farms has been established in the country where most of the farms are located in Kandahar and Nangarhar provinces, because these two provinces have proper weather for keeping of fishes.

Regarding the distribution of fishes for those who wants to nourish fishes Rashed said that this ministry is ready to distribute fish checks for needy peoples and for those ones who wants to make farms for keeping fishes”.

Responding to a query Rashed stated that MAIL are keeping two kinds of fishes and similarly 20000 fish checks which were kept in Qargha farm are now ready to released them in different waters of the country till to grow up. Ahmad Seyar, student in Agriculture faculty in Kabul in regard said that fish breeding is a positive step in Afghanistan to prevent export of expired and poor quality fishes, because fish is sold per kilo 300 Afghani and it is hoped that by production of our own fishes the price would be decreased. Zarmina, a Kabul citizen in the connection said that Afghanistan fish is very delicious, so the action which has been taken by the MAIL is positive and valuable as well fish meat is good for health.

This is at a time, while Afghanistan by having of lots of dams, but due to unprofessional use and throwing of hand grenade to the rivers and giving of electric shocks as well as use of chemical materials has decreased the population of fishes in the country.

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Marathon Second International Match Held In Bamyan

Sunday November 6, 2016 – Kabul (BNA) Marathon second international match was held with participation of 300 internal and external athletes including 120 girls in central Bamyan province.

According to BNA correspondent from Bamyan, the match was launched by Free Running International Organization and Marathon Organization with cooperation of information and culture department of Bamyan.

U.S.A, England, Canada, Australia, Holland and Finland athletes were participated in this match.

Afghanistan obtained first position, England second and U.S.A won the third position of the competition.

Mohammad Taher Zaher Bamyan governor while distributing medals of the match appreciated information and culture department, Free Running International Organization, Marathon Organization and Rah Abreshm Tourism Company to manage and held the match in this province.

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French Ambassador launches Francophone Book Fair 2016 in Lebanon

Thu 27 Oct 2016 — NNA – French Ambassador to Lebanon, Emmanuel Bonne, deemed Francophone Book Fair as an important opportunity for the exchange of viewpoints and dialogue over many issues related to education, literature and arts, as well as in the field of political and social debate.

Ambassador Bonne’s words on Thursday came during a press conference to announce the launch of the 23rd Francophone Book Fair 2016 in Beirut, entitled “We read together”, at the invitation of the French Embassy, the French Institute in Lebanon and Books Importers Union at the Mediterranean Bank (Bank Med).

Attending the press conference have been Belgium Ambassador Alex Lennart, Swiss Charge D’Affaire Shaspeare Saro, Director of the Francophone University Agency, Erveh Saboran, Books’ Importers Dean George Tabet and Bank Med Board member Maroun Asmar.

“The Fair received last year 75 thousand visitors, and we expect this number to rise this year to about 80 thousand,” Ambassador Bonne said, adding that the Fair shall host this year around 90 French authors.

Bonne also revealed that Canada, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy, shall participate this year in this Fair, along with the French-Lebanese internationally renowned Poet Salah Steitieh as a guest of honor.

Steitieh shall deliver a lecture entitled “Arabic and French Inevitable Dialogue.”

Ambassador Lennart, for his part, spoke about Belgium’s participation this year in the Fair, branding Francophone as highly important to Lebanon and an openness on France.

“We shall be present at the Fair through stories, children books and educational and university publications,” Ambassador Lennart said, adding that books are gateway to knowledge, dream and discovery.

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American Univ of Beirut hosts Makhlouf Haddadin scientific symposium

Beirut, 26 Oct 2016, NNA – In an unprecedented academic event bringing together seven world-renowned scientists in the field of chemistry, the 2016 Makhlouf Haddadin Symposium was held as part of the American University of Beirut (AUB) celebration of its 150th anniversary.

The two-day symposium offered an opportunity for prominent researchers and scholars, as well as faculty and students from different universities in the region, to engage in discussions on reinventing chemistry, non-linear optics, nanotechnology, solar energy, hybrid responsive materials, cystic fibrosis, new reactions, and career paths in the field.

The scholars participating at the symposium were Professor George M. Whitesides from Harvard University; Professor Samir Z. Zard from L’Ecole Polytechnique-Paris; Professor Gerald J. Meyer from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Professor Seth R. Marder from the Georgia Institute of Technology; Professor Mark J. Kurth from the University of California at Davis; Professor Luisa De Cola from the University of Strasbourg; and Professor Paul S. Weiss from the University of California, Los Angeles.

AUB President Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri spoke at the event opening about the importance of symposia of this caliber to the sustainability and development of AUB which has increased its research budget by 60% in the past year alone.

“This symposium is something that a great research university must have if it is to be taken seriously, to be competitive for funded grants, and to really make an impact in knowledge,” he said. “A great institution can afford to find both great scholars and great leaders and the two are not in opposition. Our administration believes that to make a difference in the realm of science, we must select, mentor, and nurture great scientists.”

President Khuri added that the interaction of the seven preeminent scholars with AUB researchers, faculty, and students, not only brought mentorship but also collaboration, collegiality, and enlightenment that together create ‘teams of excellence’. In a gala dinner held as the symposium concluded, President Khuri honored the scientists with special plaques in recognition of their contributions to science.

“At a historic juncture for AUB and considering the momentous events that have been engulfing our region, we believe that AUB has to live up to its extraordinary history by playing a predominant role in shaping the future of Lebanon and the region,” said Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Nadia El Cheikh. “Building bridges regionally and internationally are an essential step in this mission. I hope that this symposium will create new opportunities for our faculty and students to initiate new productive research collaborations.”

Organized by Dr. Bilal Kaafarani from the Department of Chemistry and the students of the AUB Organic Chemistry Club, the symposium was held as the 150th anniversary element of the newly established Makhlouf Haddadin lectureship. The lectureship was established on Dr. Haddadin’s 80th birthday in 2015, using the Makhlouf Haddadin Endowment, which was founded in 2011 to grant awards to distinguished graduating chemistry undergraduates.

“I am overwhelmingly honored to have these internationally renowned chemists present their groundbreaking research at this symposium,” Dr. Makhlouf Haddadin – who has served AUB for over 52 years as Professor of Chemistry; Chair of the department; Acting Dean, Acting Provost, and Acting President; and now Senior Advisor to AUB President Khuri – told us.

“I am very grateful to President Fadlo Khuri for his presence and his remarkable speech. I am indebted to Dean Nadia El-Cheikh for her kind words. And how can I thank enough the originator of this idea who worked very hard for its realization, my colleague, Professor Bilal Kaafarani. Long live AUB. Long live Lebanon.”

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US Welcomes 60 New USAID Scholarship Recipients at AUB

19 Oct 2016, NNA – Today, USAID/Lebanon Mission Director Dr. Anne Patterson visited the American University of Beirut (AUB) to welcome 60 new students under the University Scholarship Program (USP).

Through USP, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provides full undergraduate scholarships to promising public high school students from all six governorates of Lebanon. USP scholars are selected based on merit, academic performance, and financial need.

They benefit from full four-year scholarship support including tuition fees, housing expenses, medical insurance, textbooks, and a monthly stipend.

The student beneficiaries, through USP, will experience rigorous academic standards and a campus environment that promotes social equality and critical thinking. All scholars will engage in civic engagement activities, job readiness workshops and community service projects.

In addition to Patterson and the Embassy delegation, the ceremony was attended by AUB President Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, Interim Provost Dr. Muhamad Harajli, Interim Associate Provost Dr. Hala Muhtasib, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dr. Nadia El Cheikh, Director of USAID-USP Dr. Malek Tabbal, Associate Director of USAID-USP Dr. Samar Harkouss in addition to AUB Faculty, Staff and students.

During the reception, Dr. Patterson had the chance to hear testimonials from current USP scholars about the impact of the scholarships on their lives. She highlighted that it is a great pleasure to celebrate the achievement of these young scholars, made possible through continued American investment in University Scholarship Program, and the 150th anniversary of this outstanding university serving as a beacon of light and knowledge in the Middle East� she said: we believe that education is a powerful means to alleviate poverty and advance economy� and this is why the U.S. Government has invested more than 228 million dollars since 2006 in education program and since 2010 more than 130 million dollars in scholarships in Lebanon through programs such as USP�

In his turn, AUB President Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri congratulated the scholars saying: USP is among our proudest and most impactful undertakings at a University that is well-known for dealing in superlatives. It shows our commitment at the highest level to providing opportunities for young people who are academically promising who have great potential for leadership and a commitment to changing their communities� We can only do this through the amazing support of institutions such as United States Agency for International Development, which channels the generosity of the American people and realizes their desire to make real positive changes in the world beyond their borders.

He continued: I am very proud that in the last academic year, Interim Provost Harajli and his team of Associate Provost Dr. Hala Muhtasib, with USP’s Dr. Malek Tabbal and Dr. Samar Harkouss, who also directs the indispensable University Preparatory Program, along with other directors of institutional scholarship programs and our award-winning Center for Civil Engagement and Community Service have started working together to further support and empower these institutional programs. They have started to unify, standardize and consolidate the various administrative, academic and pastoral responsibilities which they share in their different sectors�

Since 2011, nearly 220 students have been provided with access to top quality education at AUB through $42 million in USAID investment provided through USP. This is part of the overall $288 USAID contribution to education in Lebanon since 2006.

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12th Iran CONMIN 2016 Kicks off in Tehran

Tehran, Nov 5, IRNA – The 12th International Trade Fair for Construction Machinery, Mining, Building Materials and Natural Stone Industry started work here on Saturday.

The event was held in the presence of some 130 domestic and 198 foreign firms.

Speaking in the opening ceremony of the event, the Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade Mohammad Reza Nematzadeh noted that having 5000-6000 mines in Iran.

He said not the number of mines the country owns but ratehr the amount of production and exports is of importance.

Germany, Austria, Spain, UAE, Italy, Turkey, Russia, China, Finland, Poland, Netherlands, India and South Korea participated in the event.

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German Bank says initiated business with 20 Iranian banks, financial institutes

London, Nov 5, IRNA – Thomas Junge, director of the EIH-BANK of Germany says that the German bank initiated business with Iranian banks and financial institutes and the prospect for improving EU trade relations is positive.

German Bank says initiated business with 20 Iranian banks, financial institutes

Speaking to IRNA, Junge said: We are EIHBANK of Germany, the hub presently for payments from Iran to Europe.

‘We have rebuilt our business relations with Iranian financial institute and cooperate with more than 20 banks. We are also advising letters of Credit to customers all over Europe and not only Germany.

Asked about the future trade relations between Iran and the West, Junge said that situation is improving since the implementation day. A lot of companies are eager to do business in Iran. I see a very good prospect for companies retuning to normalization of relationship with Iran.

He said that the European banks have started cooperation with Iranian banks.

Junge said that Iranian banks have been away from western financing system for roughly ten years but they are now restarting their business.

‘They have done their homework, they are working based on all regulations and are getting to international standards to cooperate with major European banks.’

In response to a question about the future of major banks dealing with Iran, he said, ‘I am sure that the situation will ease but it will take time and some patience.

‘As you can see the big banks in Europe are quite reluctant to do business with Iran at the moment because they are afraid of the primary US sanctions. But more and more banks are coming back to Iran and accepting money for the clients.’

He said that in Europe there are hundreds of smaller banks which are already open minded towards Iran business.

Q. ‘What sort of timeframe are we looking at for normalization of major banks doing business with Iran?

A. he said: It is a steady process and will continue improving over the next few months.

‘Everybody are waiting to see what will happen after the election in the US, but, I think that will pave the way to get back to normality.’

Junge said: ‘Whether it is Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton, I don’t think the politics will change.’

‘I think both sides know that they depend on each other economic wise and political wise. I think also the US is interested to do business with Iran.’

He said: There is no doubt that US signed the JCPOA because they have their own interest to do business with Iran. They did not want to leave the business for the European companies and banks.

Junge cited Boeing sales of Airplane to Iran and said: As you have seen Boeing has started doing business, a big business with Iran and there are several American companies which already have started business with the OFAC license of the US Department of Treasury.

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EU, Palestinian Authority inaugurate first batch of social infrastructure projects in Area C

JERUSALEM, November 3, 2016 (WAFA) – European Union (EU) Representative Ralph Tarraf and Palestinian Minister of Local Government Hussein Al Araj inaugurated Wednesday the first batch of EU-funded social infrastructure projects in Area C, according to an EU press release.

These projects will address the needs of more than 300 Palestinian families living in three villages in Qalqiliya governorate north of the West Bank. The projects were implemented by the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF) under the EU-funded Area C development program.

In Izbit al-Tabib, a road and a public hall were inaugurated. The road connects the community with the surrounding villages and towns, while the public hall was furnished and supplied with electronic equipment to serve the community and particularly the youth.

In Dabaá, the water network was expanded and rehabilitated to provide clean water for the residents and enhance the efficiency of the system through minimizing the water losses.

In Ras Tira, a kindergarten and playground were constructed to serve the village and surrounding communities.

“A year ago we witnessed the signature of the grants’ implementation agreements of the social infrastructure projects in Area C and here are we today celebrating the inauguration of the first batch of completed projects,” said Tarraf.

“Such projects have a direct impact on the daily lives of the Palestinians living in Area C. They ensure and enhance their access to basic human rights such as education and water,” he said at the ceremony in Habla.

“The EU works with the Palestinian Authority to develop Area C and support the Palestinian presence there. The EU supports projects promoting economic development and improving the quality of life of Palestinian communities in Area C in the areas of private sector development, the environment and agriculture. Area C is part of the occupied Palestinian territory and will be part of any viable future Palestinian state,” he added.

In the past few years, the EU and EU Member States have supported planning in Area C initiated and promoted by the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government. In total an amount of EUR 9.5 million is committed for social infrastructure in Area C. A first grant contract was signed with MDLF in December 2014 with for an amount of EUR 2 million. The contract foresees the construction of 14 social infrastructures in nine localities and all to be completed before the end of 2016.

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LuLu Group launches US operations

MENAFN – Gulf Times – 06/11/2016 – LuLu Group International, the Abu Dhabi-headquartered retail and hospitality behemoth further expanded the operations by inaugurating its food processing and logistics bases in the US.

Y International, a wholly owned subsidiary of the group, launched its operation in Lyndhurst, New Jersey yesterday.

The ‘world-class” export centre will purchase, process, re-label and export food, non-food, chilled and frozen products made in the US. In the first phase, there are 75 employees, eventually growing up to 250 within a year.

The facility was formally inaugurated jointly by mayor Robert B Giangeruso, mayor Michael J McPartland and Vinai Thummalapally, executive director, ‘Select USA’ in the presence of Yusuffali MA, chairman; Saifee Rupawala, CEO; Ashraf Ali MA, executive director and Mohamed Althaf, director of the LuLu Group.

Attendees at the ribbon cutting ceremony, including local and foreign officials as well as members of the Indian-American business community from across the country, were thrilled by the impact the company can have throughout the state.

Yusuffali thanked the officials of Select USA, ‘Choose New Jersey’ as well as state and county officials for their support in helping LuLu launch their maiden venture in the US.

‘Our group has been importing US products for a long time to cater to more than 700,000 shoppers who come to our 131 hypermarkets daily,” Yusuffali said highlighting the longsanding relationships between LuLu and farmers and manufacturers in the US, with a special emphasis on California. ‘There has been growing demand for US products throughout our retail chain stores, across the GCC, India and Far East” he added.

Speaking to media during the ceremony, Choose New Jersey CEO and president Michele Brown said, ‘In addition to bringing new jobs to our state, Y International’s export centre will give New Jersey and the US manufacturers the opportunity to reach new markets in the Middle East and beyond.”

‘Y International USA’s decision to establish their first export distribution centre in the United States offers the company exciting new opportunities in the world’s largest consumer market, as well as enhanced access to hundreds of millions of global consumers,” said Thummalapally. ‘We look forward to working closely with all parties as the investment progresses and extend our warmest congratulations to LuLu Group International, Choose New Jersey, and the community of Lyndhurst.”

The 6.6bn-turnover LuLu Group operates hypermarkets, supermarkets and shopping malls, in addition to wholesale distribution, food processing and hospitality with operations in some 37 countries, including the GCC, India and Far East. The company has a 32% market share in the Middle East.

As per the latest report by Deloitte International, LuLu is ranked among the ‘Top 10 fastest-growing retailers in the world.”

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Morocco- Ouarzazate-Noor, Far-Reaching Project in Renewable Energy

MENAFN – Morocco World News – 06/11/2016 – Ouarzazate-Noor is a far-reaching project in terms of renewable energy and energy supply bringing together technological innovation and sustainable development, said, on Friday in Ouarzazate, vice president of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Romn Escolano.

The funding of this solar complex is a real pride for the EU bank which, along with Morocco, made climate action a top priority, said Escolano in a speech on the sidelines of a press visit to the Ouarzazate-Noor complex, noting that the Kingdom is a key partner of the EIB in the Mediterranean region.

On his participation in the COP22, Escolano said that, as a privileged partner of Morocco for many years, the EIB will ink during this event a new financing agreement with the office of electricity and drinking water (ONEE) for the extension and the modernization of the purification network in small Moroccan cities.

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Dubai World Trade Centre has a packed November

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 06/11/2016 – The diverse line-up of over 20 events covers sectors as varied as construction, healthcare and entertainment The Dubai World Trade Centre’s (DWTC) November calendar of events is poised to attract more than 250,000 visitors, out of which more than 50 per cent are expected to be international visitors and exhibitors. The diverse line-up of over 20 events covers sectors as varied as construction, healthcare and entertainment. With over 7,000 exhibitors, out of which 72 per cent are projected to be international companies, DWTC’s events continue to drive major international business and trade through Dubai.

Ahmed Alkhaja, senior vice-president – venues of DWTC, said: “DWTC provides a platform for businesses from around the world to unite in Dubai. With DWTC’s diversified venue calendar and with key mega events across strategic industries being added to our outlook, we can continue to expect year-on-year growth in visitor footfall, particularly in international participation from key source markets.”

The Global South-South Development Expo 2016 kickstarted the action in November by assembling one of the largest gatherings of government ministers, business leaders, developmental experts and specialists, who will spotlight South-South cooperation and present broad frameworks for enhanced collaboration among countries of the South.

Taking place from November 7 to 9, Gulfood Manufacturing offers visitors an opportunity to gain insight into the region’s processing, packaging and manufacturing sectors.

November has a lot in store for those in the communication and media industry. The Big Entertainment Show, which will be held from November 14 to 15, is a networking platform for regional and global industry players to explore business opportunities in the fields of TV, film, video games, interactive entertainment, animation, mobile and creative art.

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Business Forum to boost GCC trade, investment with Latin America

DUBAI, 5th November, 2016 (WAM) — Experts attending the Global Business Forum, GBF, on Latin America will look at opportunities where the Gulf Co-operation Council, GCC, may act as a facilitator of economic co-operation and investment between the Middle East and Latin America.

Organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the event will be held here on 9th and 10th November.

The countries of Latin America are some of the most promising emerging markets in the world and the GBF offers an opportunity to exchange ideas and find sustainable solutions for the challenges facing these countries when it comes to opening up their economies to the world, the organisers said.

In sync with this year’s theme called Shifting Synergies, the GBF will focus on different aspects of local and regional economies, as well as the economies of Latin American countries. The forum will also highlight Dubai’s position as a gateway to and from the region, and point out the shift in capital hubs around the world.

“Hosting the Global Business Forum on Latin America here in Dubai resonates with the Chamber’s strategy to hold international events that serve to cement Dubai’s status as a global business centre and a magnet for experts and creatives who can create solutions for future challenges, attracting capital and investments in the process,” said Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The forum catalyses co-operation between the UAE and the countries of Latin America. It serves to identify investment opportunities, revitalise existing trade routes and create new markets that bring profits to key strategic sectors in both regions.

Top decision makers from these countries are set to participate in the forum, alongside international experts and etrepreneurs seeking insight into the investment culture and demand in the UAE and the region,” he added.

The list of speakers at the event includes heads of state from Latin America, as well as ministers of trade, economy, and foreign affairs, academics, professionals and decision makers.

The event will start with a panel discussion titled Winds of Change – New Directions in Latin America, bringing together the UAE Minister of Economy Sultan Al Mansouri; Leonel Antonio Fernandez, former president of the Dominican Republic, and from Argentina, Juan Manuel Vaquer, President for Latin America at DuPont.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Chairman of DP World, will speak at the second session, titled New Models – Facilitating the Global Economy’s Infrastructure. Session three, called Innovating to Get the Foundations Right, will see Jaana Remes, Partner at McKinsey Global Institute, the USA, look at new approaches to developing and financing urban infrastructure, and outline Latin America’s potential.

An interview with Reem Al Hashimy, the UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation, and Director-General of the Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau, will detail the importance of Latin America within the UAE’s international focus and the potential for collaboration around the expo and beyond.

The Global Business Forum on Latin America 2016 is one of a series of global business forums organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry since 2012 in an effort to explore new investment opportunities in a number of emerging economies around the world, including Africa, Latin America, and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The forum provides an ideal platform to support the projects of the future by consolidating efforts and ideas, and investing in serious measures to develop business.

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Meet the female Emirati student of the UAE space program

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 06/11/2016 – Reem Almehisni, a University of Sharjah graduate from the first batch of nuclear engineering, is currently a thermal systems engineer in the mechanical systems section at the MBRSC.

Almehisni who joined earlier this year, designs, implements and tests the thermal systems of satellites.

“I joined to support my country in the space field as it is considered a new field that the UAE is currently exploring.”

The UAE Space Programme, she added, is an encouraging place for young engineers since it combines engineers from different disciplines, making it a fruitful learning environment.

“I like that here, my knowledge is widened, and I am not restricted to a certain field,” said Almehisni.

At the same time, however, having engineers from different disciplines working on a space programme may pose a challenge.

“I try to allocate effectively my nuclear engineering background in the space field to provide the productivity the centre is looking for,” noted Almehisni.

Given that the centre’s work is highly dependent on innovation, its focus is providing an working environment that would encourage innovation.

“We face difficulties in getting into a new field, but the centre helps me out by providing good working environment that encourages engineers to work harder and innovative.”

According to Almehisni, the centre provides training programmes for engineers to fill knowledge gaps animproves performance.

“As young engineers, we need trust and faith in our abilities. Finding that support in the environment surely pushes you to main a high level of performance,” she said.

Her main goal within the centre is to achieve a high level of engineering productivity and have achievements in the space science and engineering world.

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Dubai is the place for luxury-seeking holidaymakers

MENAFN – Khaleej Times – 06/11/2016 – UAE has nine out of 10 most expensive hotels in Middle East; Burj Al Arab No.1 Deep-pocketed luxury-seeking holidaymakers, this one’s definitely for you.

The UAE’s poshest hotels are among the most expensive in the Middle East – nine out of 10, as a matter of fact – according to a new survey.

Dubai’s Burj Al Arab took first honours, and will cost travellers more than anywhere else in the region this late autumn, a study from Luxury-Hotels.com revealed.

The hotels were ranked on their price for the cheapest available double room in November; the month was selected for comparative purposes because it typically represents the month during which the majority of Middle East destinations reach their highest average hotel rates.

Of the nine UAE hotels on the list, eight are from Dubai and one from Abu Dhabi.

The iconic Burj Al Arab will set you back US$1,928 (around Dh7,100) per night. Joining it in the top three is another Dubai hotel, Al Maha, and Oman’s Six Senses Zighy Bay, having rates of 1,776 and 1,330, respectively.

Rounding out the top 10 are Jannah Place Hotel (US$1,271), One & Only The Palm (US$1,024), Zaya Nurai Island Resort in Abu Dhabi (US$919), Jumeirah Mina A’Salam (US$914), Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf (US$883), Four Seasons Resort Dubai (US$849) and Jumeirah Al Qasr (US$751).

Qatar, meanwhile, reveals itself to be a bargain compared to some of its neighbours: its most expensive hotel, The Banana Island Resort in Doha, will set overnight guests back a more affordable 331 this November.

The survey was conducted in October 2016, and only two- and three-night stays were considered, excluding Sundays and Mndays. Therefore, for stays of five nights or more, more affordable rates may be available.

Meanwhile, Luxury-Hotels.com’s study showed that Utah’s Amangiri hotel in Canyon Point is the most expensive hotel in the world. The average price tag for a standard double room during the peak summer travel period of June through August served as the basis of comparison.

The Amangiri had an average overnight price tag of US$1,889 for the least expensive double room, followed by the Hotel Cala di Volpe in Sardinia, Italy with US$1,789.

Explora Rapa Nui on Chile’s Easter Island was third with US$1,733.

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Oman – Haya Water part of Tree Day festivities

MENAFN – Muscat Daily – 05/11/2016 – Muscat- Haya Water participated in the celebration of the Tree Day, which falls on October 31 every year.

The celebration was recently organised by Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) at the Exhibition Centre under the auspices of Dr Ali bin Saud al Bimani, president of SQU.

Eng Hussain bin Hassan AbdulHussain, CEO of Haya Water, stated that the company’s participation in this celebration is in compliance with the directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to allocate this day to celebrate trees.

This is a clear indication of the importance of trees and a gesture from His Majesty the Sultan to the society to sustain plant resources and preserve the Omani environment.

The CEO added that Haya Water takes utmost care of trees and the Omani environment, in geneal. The company, while implementing wastewater projects, is also treating wastewater and utilising it in several areas, most notably is the irrigation of trees and crops.

Haya Water, through wastewater treatment, aims to protect groundwater from pollution caused by leakage of sewage, preserve fresh water and utilise it in an optimal way, whether for drinking or for the irrigation of trees and crops as well as to increase green areas. The company is also processing the sludge resulting from sewage treatment and converting it into an organic fertiliser that is used as manure for trees and vegetables.

It is worth mentioning that Haya Water, as part of its responsibility towards the environment and society, has constructed Al Ansab Wetlands to take advantage of the treated wastewater.

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Pakistan sets stage to achieve higher economic growth: IMF

ISLAMABAD, Nov 5 (APP): IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said that over the last three years Pakistan has set the stage for a deeper structural transformation to achieve higher and more inclusive economic growth.

By restoring macroeconomic stability and strengthening the economy’s resilience Pakistan has achieved a great deal over the past three years in the context of its IMF supported programme, she said in a letter written to Minister for Finance Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief congratulated the Finance Minister for his accomplishments and appreciated the opportunity accored to her to visit Pakistan for holding engaging discussions on the government’s ongoing economic reform programme.

Ms Lagarde visited Pakistan from October 24 26, during which she held a range of meetings, including a call on the Prime Minister, official talks with the Finance Minister and the government’s economic team.

Ms Lagarde, in her letter dated November 2, reiterated the IMF’s support to Pakistan in completing its transformation to a full fledged emerging market, according to a Finance Ministry press release issued Saturday.

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Pakistan joining OECD Convention to bring transparency in governance

ISLAMABAD, Nov 5 (APP): Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar Saturday said Pakistan’s fiscal regime stood strengthened by joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Multilateral Convention which would bring further transparency and openness in governance.

Chairing a meeting here to review the steps being taken by the government to ensure good governance, improve transparency and to curb the menace of corruption, the minister said Pakistan had recently become a signatory to the OECD Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters.

He directed that inter ministerial consultation should be undertaken to determine Pakistan’s readiness for accession to other international conventions and protocols which create transparency and openness in governance.

He said the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and the Open Government Partnership (OGP), an initiative of the UK Government, should both be reviewed and recommendations should be made on Pakistan’s preparedness for joining these multilateral fora.

He said accession to the multilateral agreements would augment Pakistan’s efforts to combat fiscal crime and further strengthen its compliance framework on anti corruption.

The minister directed that all necessary steps for joining both for a should be undertaken expeditiously.

The meeting was attended by Secretary Finance Dr Waqar Massod, Special Assistant to Finance Minister Tariq Pasha and other senior officials of the Finance Ministry.

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Pakistan Govt releases Rs 98.215 bn for development projects

ISLAMABAD, Nov 5 (APP): The Planning Commission of Pakistan has so far released Rs 98.215 billion under its Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) for various projects against the total allocations of Rs 540 billion for the fiscal year 2013-14.

According to latest data of Planning Commission of Pakistan, out of these allocations, Rs 19,863 million have been released for various projects of Pakistan Energy Commission, out of its total allocations of Rs 52300 million earmarked under PSDP for FY 2013-14.

Similarly, a sum of Rs 9753.422 million has been released to National Highway Authority out of total allocation of Rs 63038.619 million for the current fiscal year.

Out of the total funds of Rs 25,739.199 million allocated for the National Health Service Regulations and Coordination Division for the current year, the Planning commission released Rs 10469.269 million so far.

The Commission also released Rs 111,29.870 million for Railway Division out of its total allocations of Rs 30,964.894 million whereas Rs 160 million have been released for National food Security and Research Division out of its total allocations of Rs 750 million for the year.

Rs 3698 million have been released for Higher Education Commission out of its total allocation of Rs 18,490 million for the year 2013-14 whereas out of total allocations of Rs 2363.974 million earmarked for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Division, Rs 489.401 million have been released so far.

According to the data, the commission released Rs 13,096.957 million for WAPDA (Power) out of its total allocations of Rs 51543.425 million where as Rs.6069.273 million have been provided to WAPDA (Water Sector) out of its total allocations of Rs.57840.211 million. Rs 2562.419 million have been released for Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA) out of its total allocations of Rs.10000 million for the current year.

The commission also released Rs 614.993 million for cabinet division, Rs 17.263 for Climate Change Division and Rs 158.200 million for Commerce Division.

In addition, Rs 89.763 have been released for Education and Training Division, Rs 2075.797 for Finance Division, Rs 160.954 million for Industries Division, Rs 1197.812 for Interior Division and Rs 34.347 for Narcotics Control Division.

The Commission, released Rs 20 million for Petroleum and Natural Resources Division, Rs 103.996 for Planning and Development Division, Rs 413.347 million for Science and Technology Research Division, Rs 77.864 for SUPARCO and Rs 63 million for Textile Industry Division. Rs 4754.699 have been released for AJK (Block and other projects), Rs 4050 million for Gilgit Baltistan (Block and other projects) where as Rs 5162.687 million have been released for SAFRON/FATA.

The Planning Commission of Pakistan has been following a proper mechanism for the release of funds and accordingly funds are released as per given mechanism. The commission releases 20% of funds in first quarter (July-September), 20% in second quarter (October-December), 30% third quarter(January-March) and 30% in fourth quarter (April-June).

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Zara sees chance for Pakistan films, dramas to flourish

LAHORE, Nov 5 (APP): Prominent TV and film artist, Zara Akbar on Saturday urged the government to continue ban on Indian films and TV dramas at least for four years to provide an opportunity to Pakistani films and dramas to flourish.

Talking to APP, she said that after the imposition of a ban on Indian films and TV dramas, the Pakistani entertainment industry is developing rapidly.

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Producers should learn from old super hits: Nisho Begum

ISLAMABAD, Nov 1 (APP): Renowned film actress Nisho Begum said that those who are producing films now a days should watch old films for the purpose of learning.

Talking to APP here at Lok Virsa Mandwa Film Club during screening of her film “Baazi”, she said that “I am really happy that my first-ever film was screened and am glad that old films are still an attraction for audiences.

“I was lucky enough to work with the legendary actors of my time,” she said.

Nisho was very talented and glamorous actress. Film ‘Baazi’ was her first film released in 1970. She was also worked in Punjabi films but she got good response in Urdu films.

Her real name is Bilquis Begum. She gain fame, name and respect in Pakistani film Industry.

Around that time, Bilquis changed her name to Nisho and achieved name, fame and respect in times due course.

She has more than 60 films to her credit, including Yeh Aman, Kubra Aashiq, Dulhan Rani, Bazaar, Angary, Namak Haram, Rangeela and Dharkan, amongst others.

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Pak US ‘Green Energy Initiative’ to add 3500 MW to national grid: Ambassador

WASHINGTON, Nov 5 (APP): Pakistan and the United States have agreed on “Green Energy Initiative” which will add 3,500 megawatts of energy to the national grid, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Jalil Abbas Jilani said here.

Speaking to a group of Pakistani media persons who are here to cover the US presidential elections, Ambassador Jilani said Dassu Hydro Project, which was of crucial importance for Pakistan, also involved US cooperation.

Welcoming the media people, the Ambassador lauded the interest of Pakistani media in the upcoming elections and said it was a sure sign of progress media is making in Pakistan.

Giving a broader perspective of Pakistan US relations, the Ambassador said that these ties were very important and had improved significantly over the years.

The revival of the Strategic Dialogue in 2013 has laid down a strong foundation of the fresh start to further strengthen between the two countries, Ambassador Jilani said while drawing the attention towards six working groups between Pakistan and the US.

These working groups, he said, were working for advancing interests of both the countries in different fields namely Economic, Finance & Trade, Energy Sector cooperation, Counter Terrorism and Law Enforcement Cooperation, Defence Cooperation, Nuclear Cooperation and Cooperation in the fields of Education, Science and Technology. Since Pakistan was the largest recipient of the Full Bright Scholarship Programme, under the ambit of the US Pakistan Knowledge Corridor Project, Pakistan was working closely with the various American universities to forge new possibilities for our students, the Ambassador said.

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Islamabad Food Bazaar starts at Fatima Jinnah Park

ISLAMABAD, Nov 5 (APP): Islamabad Food Bazaar 2016 started here on Saturday (Nov 5) at Fatima Jinnah Park.

Food Bazaar is a celebration of Islamabad’s local food outlets, offering a variety of interesting and imperssive experiences along with family entertainment.

The mangement of Food Bazaar has invited various restaurants, bakeries, caterers, home-made food suppliers and numerous other food-related companies to create an unforgettable food tasting experience.

“Our invitations to food providers are based on quality, variety, reputation, professionalism, creative cuisine, respect for our guidelines, and just plain good food,” said an official on Saturday.

He said that this platform helped each restaurant to showcase its unique items in a creative manner.

This was effective way to achieve a quality driven and unique style of international and cultural cuisine, gourmet, home-style, sweet treats, comfort foods, and creative cuisine, he added.

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4th Arab-American Frontiers of Science symposium opens

ABU DHBAI, 5th November, 2016 (WAM) — Dr. Ahmad bin Abdulla Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Higher Education, today inaugurated the Fourth Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s campus in Abu Dhabi.

The symposium runs until 7th of November and is hosted by Masdar Institute and the US National Academies of Sciences (NAS) in partnership with Petroleum Institute, Khalifa University of Science Technology and Research, and New York University Abu Dhabi. The event’s US sponsors include the National Science Foundation and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Nearly 100 scientists, engineers, and medical professionals from the US and 21 countries in the Arab League are taking part in the symposium. This is the first time that Arab-American Frontiers Symposium has technical sessions dedicated to space technology and brain science.

Dr. Belhoul said, “There is immense opportunity to advance research and development through greater scientific exchange and exploration. As Minister of State for Higher Education, I am personally committed to fostering an environment where the private sector, public sector and academic institutions can work together with the aim of contributing towards a knowledge economy. The Annual Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium is an important platform to achieve this goal facilitating global partnerships and collaborations, amplifying collective efforts and creating a brighter future for all of us.”

Dr. Dalal Najib, Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Sciences, welcomed the gathering following the opening. Dr. Steve Griffiths, Vice President for Research and Interim Associate Provost, Masdar Institute, followed with an overview of the region-relevant research activities being undertaken by Masdar Institute. Dr. John Boright, Executive Director of International Affairs, National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, was also present at the event.

Dr. Dalal Najib said, “This symposium provides a rare platform for a high level scientific exchange across disciplines. It is also an opportunity for US and Arab researchers to connect at an early stage of their career, learn from one another and explore how they can work together to develop innovative solutions to pressing global issues. In addition, this symposium is particularly unique since we are partnering with four outstanding Abu-Dhabi based institutions, each one of them contributing to the technical program through the participation of their respective faculty members as organizers, speakers and/or general participants.”

Dr. Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost, Masdar Institute, said, “This Fourth Arab-American Frontiers of Science, Engineering and Medicine Symposium has brought together the most innovative minds in various science and technology sectors. The discussions at the symposium reflect the stature of scientific research-related events that are hosted in the UAE, especially by Masdar Institute and its partners. We believe this event will pave way for collaborations, resulting in new discoveries in these areas.”

Dr. Tod Laursen, Khalifa University’s President, “Khalifa University is proud to be involved with this symposium and the opportunity it provides to young Arab and American scientists and researchers. We were also pleased to welcome these innovative researchers to our campus, and show them some of the facilities at our disposal and the atmosphere of creativity our campus has. This symposium is a great opportunity for young scientists because it encourages one to one conversations and informal group discussions, the symposium is creating an environment that encourages the sharing of ideas about key areas of science and engineering, which can lead to further innovation and even useful collaborations. These young researchers will undoubtedly benefit from these conversations for years to come, and join a global conversation about the future of science and technology.”

NYU Abu Dhabi Provost Fabio Piano said, “By combining our collective expertise and bringing together some of the world’s leading scientific minds, we are opening new pathways of discovery and pushing the boundaries of exploration. This partnership supports our shared vision of advancing the development of new knowledge and harnessing the potential to improve lives, while deepening our connections and understanding of science, engineering, and medicine on a local and global level.”

This years’ Arab-American Frontiers symposium is centered on five critical themes including solar energy and water for sustainable living; nanotechnology for next generation electronics and photonics; exploring the brain; advances in petroleum geosciences, oil and gas exploration; and new spacecraft technologies for earth and space exploration.

The Arab-American Frontiers Program is based on the long-standing Frontiers of Science and Engineering Programs managed by the US National Academies over the past 20 years. The Arab-American Frontiers program is designed to enhance the scientific exchange and dialogue among young researchers in Arab countries and the US.

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Second Azerbaijan Science Festival kicks off

Baku, October 31, AZERTAC – Second Azerbaijan Science Festival has today opened at Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS).

The event is organized by ANAS in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Communications and High Technologies, Baku City Executive Authority, Knowledge Fund under the Azerbaijani President, Science Development Fund under the President, US Embassy and Moscow State University.

Addressing the opening ceremony, president of ANAS, academician Akif Alizade emphasized the importance of the event to the country. He said it would contribute to the promotion of scientific achievements.

The festival demonstrates achievements of Azerbaijani scientists. It will hear speeches from young scientists from different fields. The festival will also feature workshops and interactive exhibitions, excursions, competitions, reports on new scientific advances, science shows, educational films.

The event will also promote new scientific technologies and innovative achievements.

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Head of Caucasian Muslims` Board to visit Spain

Baku, November 4, AZERTAC – Head of the Caucasian Muslims` Board Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade will embark on a visit to Spain by the invitation of Catholic University of Murcia on November 7.

The Head of the Caucasian Muslims` Board will attend the conference entitled “Contribution of interfaith dialogue to peace and multicultural life”.

The conference will gather state and government officials, as well as religious figures.

State Adviser on Multinational, Multicultural and Religious Affairs, Academician Kamal Abdulla and Rector of Baku State University Abel Maharramov, Archbishop of Baku and Azerbaijan Eparchy Alexander Ishein, Chairman of the Religious Community of Mountain Jews in Baku Milikh Yevdayev, Head of the Catholic community in Azerbaijan Ordinary Vladimir Fekete will also take part in the conferences.

Head of the Caucasian Muslims` Board Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazade will deliver a speech at the event.

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Khojaly Park opens in Izmir

Baku, November 4, AZERTAC – A park commemorating victims of the Khojaly Genocide has been inaugurated in Salih Omurtak quarter, Karabağlar district, Izmir, Turkey.

Representatives of Karabağlar municipality, heads of Azerbaijani and other Turkic diaspora organizations, members of local NGOs and public figures attended the opening of Azerbaijan Karabakh Khojaly Park, whose establishment was initiated by the Federation of Azerbaijani Turks and Friendly Associations.

In his remarks at the inauguration ceremony, chair of the Federation of Azerbaijani Turks and Friendly Associations Isa Ambarci said work to construct the park started a year ago.

He hailed the contribution of members of the Federation as well as Azerbaijan`s Consul General in Istanbul Masim Hajiev and Mayor of Karabağlar municipality Muhittin Selvitopu to the project.

A Khojaly monument will be unveiled in the park on February 26, 2017.

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Baku to host 4th International Theatre Conference

Baku, November 4, AZERTAC – The 4th International Theatre Conference titled “Multiculturalism and the Theatre” will be held in Baku on November 6-10. Organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the conference will take place as part of the State Program “Azerbaijani theatre in 2009-2019 years”. It will bring together 150 theatre experts from 38 countries, as well as representatives of international organizations, including International Puppetry Association, International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People and International Association of Theatre Critics.

The conference will feature an international expert workshop and training sessions.

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