Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

14 Nov, 2016

New Islamic Cultural Centre to be built in Croatia

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islamfor the week ending 14 November 2016 (14 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.




Malaysians must envision agenda of becoming a class one nation

PENAMPANG, Malaysia, 12 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Najib Tun Razak urged Malaysians to look forward and envision the bigger picture so as to fulfill the agenda ofbecoming a class one nation.

The Prime Minister said Malaysians must not be trapped and embroiled in minor issues because such action would only result in the population losing the race to other countries that are ready to move forward.

“We have a big agenda. We do not want to be a second rate country, no. We don’t want to be a mediocre country. We want Malaysia to be among the best,among the best nations on this earth.

“That is why I had proposed the 2050 National Transformation (TN50) agenda.TN50 is a dialogue process from the grassroots. What is the objective?

“The objective is to determine the road map to place Malaysia at the peak of success and become a ‘first rate nation’ that all of us can be proud of,” said Najib when opening the Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Bersatu Party’s (Upko) Convention at Pusat Kebudayaan Sabah, here today.

Also present were Sabah state Chief Minister Musa Aman, Upko actingpresident Madius Tangau, Upko honorary president and Malaysian ambassador to Vatican City, Bernard Dompok and leaders of BN component parties.

According to Najib who is also the Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman, Malaysians must always look forward and as for him as the Prime Minister, he would continue to be open minded and humble when handling grievances andrequests of the people to ensure the bigger agenda is achieved.

“For example, I am open in the issue of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) as enshrined in the Federal Constitution and if there are differences in opinion, the door is always open for discussion.

“I do not want to take away the rights of the people of Sabah. I want to defend the rights of the people of Sabah instead. But do not say we want to leave Malaysia.

“No..no..no. we are in a family, we will always be together in Malaysia,” he said to a loud applause from the 1,750 Upko delegates.

Back to top

Malaysia’s Terengganu-Born Lecturer Completes World Solo Cycling Tour

KUALA TERENGGANU, Terengganu State, Malaysia, 13 November 2016, (NNN-BERNAMA) – A Terengganu State-born lecturer, today ended his world solo cycling tour, after he completed his 22,000km journey, within 16 months.

Sofian Mohd, 55, who is also a lecturer and General Studies Department head, at Kuching Polytechnic, Sarawak, East Malaysia, arrived at SMK Tengku Bariah, at about 11 am.

He was greeted on arrival by State Youth, Sports and Human Resource Committee chairman, Rozi Mamat, Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency development officer, Mohd Sabri Alwi and over 500 students and alumni of the school.

The father of two children, who hails from Kampung Telaga Daing, Seberang Takir, near here, began his journey on July 29 last year (2015).

Recounting his experience, Sofian said, he was grateful to be able to complete his mission, which was also aimed at promoting Malaysia and the Terengganu State, in conjunction with the Visit Terengganu Year 2017.

“When I arrived at Pengkalan Kubor, Kelantan State on Thursday, I felt very relieved as I no longer need to worry about my safety. when I was in other countries, I was always thinking about my safety, as I was all alone.

“Alhamdulillah (praise to Allah), my mission, in which I was only accompanied by a bicycle, carrying a load of more than 80 kg, had run smoothly…I brought along all the equipment needed, including a pot for cooking and bike repair tools.”

Sofian said, solo cycling was not easy because he had to deal with the four-season weather and different terrains, including mountains and deserts.

“Throughout my journey, I read a lot and able to see the way of life of Muslims in the countries which I visited.

“I also had a glimpse of the ancient Quran, during the time of Caliph Uthman, visited the tomb of Imam al-Bukhari in Uzbekistan, and the memorial of Prophet Ayub (Prophet Job in the Bible).”

The cycling tour went through 22 countries, including Thailand, Laos, China, Kazakshtan, Uzbekistan, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Brunei.

Back to top

Malaysian Prime Minister to visit Japan Nov 15-17

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 13 November 2016, (NNN-BERNAMA) – The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, will be undertaking a working visit to Japan, from Nov 15-17, at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

The Prime Minister will be accompanied by his wife, Rosmah Mansor, cabinet ministers and senior government officials, from the relevant ministries and agencies.

The Prime Minister’s programme in Tokyo includes a meeting with the Prime Minister of Japan and a courtesy call by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Japan, Keiichi Ishii. The meetings are expected to discuss bilateral cooperation between the two countries, as well as, regional matters and issues of mutual interest.

The Prime Minister will also receive courtesy calls by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Japan External Trade Organisation, Mr. Hiroyuki Ishige, and members of the Japan-Malaysia Parliamentary Friendship Association, to exchange views on bilateral cooperation and regional issues.

This upcoming visit will be the fourth working visit by Najib to Japan.

This visit will continue the momentum of high level discussions between Malaysia and Japan on issues and matters at bilateral, regional and international levels. Malaysia and Japan continue to enjoy close cooperation in key areas such as, economy and trade, investment, science and technology, higher education, human capital development, culture, air services and taxation.

In 2015, Japan was Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner globally, with total bilateral trade recorded at USD 32.77 billion (RM127.4 billion).

Japan continues to be the largest foreign investor in the manufacturing sector, with more than 1,400 Japanese companies currently operating in Malaysia.

In 2015, a total of 60 projects with Japanese participation were approved, with investments amounting to RM 4.0 billion (USD 0.93 billion). These projects are expected to generate 5,201 job opportunities.

Back to top

Philippines President visits Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA, 9 November 2016, (Bernama) — The President of the Republic of the Philippines, His Excellency Rodrigo Roa Duterte will be undertaking an Official Visit to Malaysia from 9 to 10 November 2016. This will be the first visit by H.E. President Rodrigo Duterte to Malaysia since taking office as the President of the Philippines on 30 June 2016. During the visit, he will have a discussion with YAB Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak to take stock of the progress of the on-going bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines. Both leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues of mutual concern. Presiden Duterte will also be hosted by YAB Prime Minister and YABhg Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor at an Official Dinner.

Malaysia and the Republic of the Philippines enjoy warm and cordial relations. Both countries also cooperate on various issues of common interests at the international level. For the period of January to August 2016, Malaysia’s total trade with the Philippines increased by 5.4% to RM13.5 billion (USD3.22 billion), as compared to the same period in 2015 which stood at RM12.48 billion (USD3.36 billion). In 2015, the Philippines was ranked Malaysia’s 5th largest trading partner in ASEAN and 10th largest trading partner globally.

The visit will provide the opportunity for both leaders to explore ways to further strengthen the existing cooperation between the two countries.

Back to top

Malaysia an important gateway and investment hub – Deloitte

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 November 2016, (Bernama) — Deloitte Malaysia successfully held its annual TaxMax Conference 2016 on 8 November 2016, a full-day seminar led by Deloitte’s tax experts. Themed ‘Brave decisions, Brave Actions’, the seminar provided an indepth analysis on Budget 2017 and discussed how businesses can leverage on recent tax and economic developments to maximize the opportunities and embark on the right steps under current economic conditions. The seminar was attended by more than 600 finance professionals and industry players.

The key highlight of the seminar was the Economic Forum which discussed the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the enhanced diplomatic relationship between China and Malaysia which gives rise to multiple bilateral trades and investments opportunities. Other headlines of the seminar included corporate and personal income tax, changes to the Companies Act and its implications on the corporate tax regime, the Tax Amnesty programme and the GST tribunal.

Deloitte Malaysia Country Tax Leader, Yee Wing Peng led the Economic Forum with a comprehensive discussion on the importance of Malaysia joining the TPPA, its impact to foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic direct investment (DDI) , and the challenges and opportunities local businesses will face.

When the TPPA comes into force, there will be allocation of government procurement for Bumiputera vendors. However, a large proportion of the tenders will be opened to all local and international vendors. Director of Strategic Negotiations Division of Ministry of International Trade (MITI), Syahril Syazli Ghazali shared that the Government has rolled out several initiatives to help local businesses to prepare themselves for the opportunities. As of March 2016, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) has organised 150 export production programmes for SMEs. MITI has also been working closely with the SMECorp to assist SMEs with branding, labelling, packaging and capacity building.

Yee opined that compared to other ASEAN countries, Malaysia is a competitive location for shared-service centres as the nation has a good pool of talent and infrastructure. The softening Ringgit against the major currencies in the region has made Malaysia more compelling as a regional service hub.

Additionally, Malaysia is well-positioned to embrace more Chinese investments. Business and language proficiencies inherent within Malaysians provides the ease of doing business with China players and establishes high chances to attract Chinese MNCs to set up their regional service centres in Malaysia. Notably, there are several large Chinese multinational developers already embarking on mega mixed development in Malaysia. These developers can play a leading role in bringing in more Chinese MNCs to operate in the facilities they will set up.

Some of these major Chinese development projects in West Malaysia include the Bandar Malaysia (486 acres), the Melaka Gateway (600 acres), the MalaysiaChina Kuantan Industrial Park (1500 acres), and Forest City in Johor Bahru (3425 acres).

“Potentially, the economies of Malaysia and China can be comprehensively intertwined. We were the first ASEAN country to develop a diplomatic relationship with China in 1974. Rooms for collaboration is enormous,” Yee added.

Regional Vice President of Country Garden Holding Co. Ltd., Dr Runze Yu echoed off Yee’s positive outlook of the Malaysia-China dynamic.

“Malaysia is a great middle ground between China and the Western countries. In terms of policy, Malaysia has maintained a very delicate and well-balanced relationship between China and the U.S. There are multiple trade agreements that Malaysia has signed with China and other ASEAN countries. So, it will definitely attract more investors.”

“Malaysia has built a very strong momentum in attracting China companies to invest here. Moving forward, in addition to property development, the presence of Chinese players will also be felt in the manufacturing sector including electrical and electronic, textile and solar power and property,” said Runze.

During the Economic Forum, Yee also noted that the weakening Ringgit can act as a silver lining for several National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs), mainly tourism and retail in terms of ASEAN buyers. Thus, businesses should look at opportunities within these two sectors to further strengthen the country’s economy.

Whilst the Ringgit has depreciated by more than 20% compared to the US Dollar in the past two years, Chief Economist of RHB Banking Group, Lim Chee Sing noted that oil prices have stabilised and China can’t re-evaluate the Renminbi (RMB).

“In this perspective, over time, the Malaysian Ringgit is hoped to hit 3.80 against to the U.S Dollar by end of 2017,” said Lim.

Now in its 42nd year, the TaxMax Conference 2016 included other guest speakers such as the Head of Unit in Regulatory & Legal Services Division, Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia, David Yap and Deputy CEO, Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN), Dato’ Noor Azian Abdul Hamid.

Back to top

Clinical Research Malaysia creates waves in its global missions

HONG KONG, 10 November 2016,(Bernama) — Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), a non-profit company owned by the Ministry of Health (MOH) made its presence at the recently concluded The 3rd International Conference on Phase 1 and Early Phase Clinical Trials (ICPOEP) held on 3rd – 4th November 2016 at the Hyatt Regency, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. This year’s conference organized by The University of Hong Kong Clinical Trials Centre (HKU-CTC) attracted over 400 delegates from five continents and 20 countries. This event provided a platform for experts around the to share the latest trends on early & Phase 1 drug development in various diseases.

CRM also participated in Drug Information Association (DIA) in Philadelphia, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) in Rome and the annual European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) congress held in Copenhagen. It was CRM’s third time participating at DIA US while its first at the ESC and ESMO since its inception in 2012 as an enabler and facilitator to the industry and medical fraternity for the conduct of industry sponsored clinical research.

CRM showcases Malaysia’s capabilities at ESMO particularly in Oncology from 7th till 10th October 2016 to some 20,000 participants form 134 countries, 80 exhibitors and 460 invited speakers. CRM led by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Akhmal Yusof, and Head of Business Development, Dr. Khairul Faizi Khalid, was at ESMO to create awareness on CRM and also to to showcase what Malaysia can offer to sponsors and contract-research organizations to bring in more clinical trials into Malaysia.

CRM had the opportunity to meet with sponsor’s global team such as Novo Nordisk and Astra Zeneca to shed some light on the start of more Industry Sponsored Trials coming into Malaysia in the future. The meetings with the sponsors involved clinical operations and medical affairs team from the sponsor companies and an officer from MIDA Copenhagen, Puan Roslina Othman.

Earlier in the same year, CRM had participated in three other international clinical research-related conferences including the BioPharma Asia, DIA Japan and DIA China. These events empowered CRM to reach out to the global audience from both the medical fraternity and industry to promote Malaysia’s potential and its available resources to conduct clinical trials. Due to CRM’s global presence, the company has seen an increase in the numbers of new sponsors & CROs submitting feasibility studies to Malaysia.

Back to top

Petronas seeks expanded business in India

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 November 2016, (Bernama) — PETRONAS is committed to explore business growth opportunities across all segments of the oil and gas value chain in India, said President and Group CEO, Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin during a series of receptions held for partners and customers in Mumbai and New Delhi.

“India has always been an important market for PETRONAS as we see great potential to grow further with our partners and customers,” said Wan Zulkiflee.

As part of its business strategy, PETRONAS will continue to invest in expanding its capacity in commodity chemicals and refined products, and enhance its product offerings to include differentiated and specialty chemicals for its customers worldwide.

This will be supported by the Sabah Ammonia Urea project in Sabah, Malaysia, which is on track for commercial operations in Quarter 4 this year. SAMUR will have an estimated annual output of 2.6 million metric tonnes, making PETRONAS the second largest granular urea producer in South East Asia.

Further to that, PETRONAS is also embarking on the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID) located in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor. It is a single largest integrated downstream investment in the country to date, scheduled to commence in 2019.

India, one of the most competitive economies and the fourth largest LNG market in the world also presents vast potential for PETRONAS. Wan Zulkiflee said PETRONAS is keen to explore opportunities in the Indian LNG market and is working to establish a liaison office to help grow its business in the country.

With decades of experience as an integrated end-to-end LNG player and currently the third-largest producer of LNG in the world, PETRONAS also boasts a sterling reputation of being a reliable supplier among its LNG customers.

“Over the years, we have also expanded the scale of our production facilities in Bintulu, and invested in new projects. I’m also exceptionally proud that our world’s first floating LNG facility, PFLNG Satu, was completed earlier this year. PFLNG Satu is a true industry game changer that allows us to monetise stranded gas assets and is currently undergoing commissioning. The first cargo is expected in the first quarter of 2017,” he said.

Back to top

Malaysia’s Malindo Air introduces new route to Phuket

PHUKET, Thailand, 11 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Airline company, Malindo Air yesterday introduced Phuket as its third route in Thailand with four weekly flights from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Malindo Air Public Relations and Communications director, Raja Sa’adi Raja Amrin said the first inaugural flight to the island with 89 passengers and crew onboard, arrived at the Phuket International Airport at 3.10pm (local time).

“Malindo Air has seen a significant growth by expanding our regional footprint rapidly to provide more opportunities for business and leisure travellers alike.

“Our services will foster the development of the tourism industry in Malaysia and Thailand, as we are able to provide connectivity from Thailand not just to Malaysia but also to Indonesia, Australia and India which are within our network services,” he said at a press conference, here, yesterday.

Another two Malindo Air’s route services to Thailand are Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

Raja Sa’adi said for this new Phuket route, the introductory promotional fares for economy class would start from RM139 and business class from RM599, one-way fares all inclusive.

Back to top

Vietnam seeks to lure Malaysia Finance, Industry Business

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam, 11 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Vietnam is an attractive destination for Malaysian finance and industry businesses, CK Lim, Director of the ASEAN Business Community said at a function to connect Vietnamese and Malaysian businesses, here Thursday.

He noted that the Vietnamese Government’s investment attraction policies andtax incentives offered to foreign businesses are the attractions of the Vietnamese market, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported.

With over 90 million people, Vietnam is a potential consumption market that is being eyed by regional countries, CK Lim commented.

Several Malaysian banks have made their presence in Vietnam’s finance–banking sector with efficient operations and possibilities to grow robustly, he said.

Malaysian businesspeople saw Vietnam a top choice in the ASEAN region when they plan to build plants to manufacture industrial goods in the coming time, he told participants.

Assessing Vietnam-Malaysia cooperative ties, Ho Xuan Lam, Deputy Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre, said Malaysia is always a crucial, promising partner of Vietnam.

Being members of the ASEAN Economic Community, which forms a single market and production centre with free movement of goods, services, skilled labourers, investment and capital flows, will allow the countries to boost bilateral trade and investment, he said.

Ho Chi Minh City has been offering flexible and competitive investment attraction policies and mechanisms, he noted, saying this enables foreign businesses, including Malaysian ones to expand their investment and business scope.

Malaysia is one of Vietnam’s strategic partners in ASEAN. In the past ten months of this year, trade between the two countries hit US$6 billion and it was targeted to reach US$12-15 billion by 2020.

Back to top

New Look, Improved Navigation in Malaysia’s Central Bank Website

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 11 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will introduce its newly-redesigned website, www.bnm.gov.my, which is more intuitive, efficient and user-friendly beginning Nov 14, 2016. (BNM is Malaysia’s central bank)

In a statement today, BNM said, navigation has been redesigned with an efficient multi-level menu, more interactive features and streamlined content.

“Additionally, users can keep up-to-date with new developments by signing up for email alerts for press releases, speeches and announcements,” it said.

The central bank said the refreshed corporate look and feel was complemented with relevant images to better highlight key messages and contents.

“The website also offers an improved mobile browsing experience through responsive design features, which will make it adaptable to smartphones and tablets.

“It will also provide quick links to the bank’s initiatives as well as its social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, it said.

Back to top

Malaysia: Services Sector Revenue up RM356.7 BLN in Q3

KUALA LUMPUR, 11 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The services sector’s revenue increased 5.6 per cent or RM356.7 billion in the third quarter of 2016 as compared with the same quarter last year, said the Department of Statistics.

The increase was contributed by health, education and arts, entertainment and recreation (8.7 per cent) and professional and real estate agent (8.3 per cent) segments.

“The total revenue on quarterly basis increased by RM6.9 billion or 2.0 per cent,” it said in a statement.

The total number of persons engaged in this sector was 3.5 million persons,an increase of 78,840 persons or 2.3 per cent year-on-year (yoy).

In the third quarter 2016, salaries and wages paid amounted to RM22.3 billion, up 4.3 per cent yoy and 1.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter.

On segmental basis, the total revenue for wholesale and retail trade, food and beverages and accommodation segment registered a growth of 5.6 per cent (RM282.9 billion) as compared to the same quarter of 2015.

“The increase was driven by wholesale and retail trade (5.8 per cent), food and beverages (2.6 per cent) and accommodation (2.1 per cent) sub-sectors.

“This segment showed an increase of 2.1 per cent as compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year,” the department said.

The number of persons engaged in this segment increased by 2.7 per cent or 69,767 persons as compared to the third quarter of 2015.

Salaries and wages paid grew by 5.2 per cent to RM13.4 billion while for quarter-on-quarter, number of persons engaged and salaries and wages paid

increased 0.8 per cent and 2.3 per cent, respectively. (US$1=RM4.27)

Back to top

Nippon Express to promote sea, rail transport from Asia to Central, East Europe

TOKYO, 10 November 2016, Kyodo JBN-AsiaNet –NIPPON EXPRESS CO., LTD. will step up its sales of through container forwarding services from Asia, including India, to Central and Eastern Europe via Koper, Slovenia, from November 1, as “ADRIA DIRECT.”

The route from Asia to Budapest, Hungary, via Koper has less distances of sea and land transportation, by approximately 3,700 kilometers and 550 kilometers, respectively, from the route via Hamburg, Germany.

Advantages of the services:

  • The route from Singapore to Central and Eastern Europe has less transit days required for freight transportation — by up to about four days — and charges for a 40F container by up to about 10% from the Hamburg route, in the company’s comparison.
  • NIPPON EXPRESS has been in cooperation with Koper Port since 2014. NIPPON EXPRESS launched “Danube Express,” consolidation services from Japan to Budapest, Hungary, via Koper, in 2015. NIPPON EXPRESS thus became the first Japanese company to launch such forwarding services, and has since steadily gained experiences in this field.
  • Based on its experiences in this field, NIPPON EXPRESS is determined to expand its forwarding services from Asia, including India, via Koper Port.
  • NIPPON EXPRESS will provide high-quality combined transportation services by having its group companies handle cargo from the origin to the final destination.

Background of the services:

  • The route from Koper Port to Central and East European countries has been well known with Japanese subsidiary companies operating in Hungary in recent years because the route has reduced the distance of inland transportation.
  • Based on experiences it has gained so far, NIPPON EXPRESS will step up its sales promotion for transportation services from Asia to Central and Eastern Europe via Koper as “ADRIA DIRECT.” This service may be the first among Japanese transportation companies, according to NIPPON EXPRESS.

Back to top

LEAD STORY: New Islamic Cultural Centre to be built in Croatia

Sisak City, Croatia, 13 November 2016, (IINA) – In a ceremony attended by about 2,000 Islamic faithful from Croatia and neighboring countries, including religious dignitaries, state and local officials, diplomats and other guests, the construction of the fourth Islamic Cultural Centre in Croatia started on Saturday in Sisak city.

The center, which is estimated to cost around 5.5 million euros, will be built in phases by the Islamic Community in Croatia. The new facility, with the area of 2,500 square meters, in addition to the prayer area, will also include a number of other facilities for cultural, social and educational activities.

In addition to a mosque with a large dome and a minaret, there will be a multi-purpose hall, library with reading room, classrooms, a Muslim restaurant, accommodation area and other facilities, Total Croatia News reported.

This is a great day for Islamic believers, said Head of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Reis-ul-Ulema Husein Kavazović, who welcomed attendees on behalf of the Muslims from the neighboring country.

“From the future spiritual home, we will demonstrate and express harmony and a new quality of life, not only for the Muslims in this town but also for their good neighbors, Catholics, and others. This act is also our hope for the vision of a better world, united in good and communion. Croatia today allows everyone to live as believers”, said Kavazović.

From his side, President of the Islamic Community in Croatia Mufti Aziz Hasanović said that such an example of religious coexistence could be found only in Sisak.

He said that the ceremony was a confirmation of high democratic values in Croatia, which allows full religious freedom. The new center would benefit everyone, not just Muslims, he added.

Catholic Bishop of Sisak Vlado Košić expressed confidence that the Sisak mosque would be a place where God will be celebrated, a meeting place for Muslims and Christians under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother, and Queen of Peace.

The ceremony was attended by the envoy of the Emir of Kuwait, the envoy of the Turkish Diyanet, head of the Government Office for Relations with Religious Communities, Sisak-Moslavina County Prefect, the Sisak Mayor and others, while the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Alessandro D’Errico, led the diplomatic representation.

Back to top

Jordan launches strategy to boost ICT Sector

AMMAN, Jordan, 10 November 2016, (NNN-PETRA) – Jordan, on Wednesday, launched a strategy to boost the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector, which contributes about 12 percent to its gross domestic product.

The plan was launched, during the MENA ICT Forum 2016, which King Abdullah II of Jordan opened, in the presence of international and regional experts and decision-makers in the field.

The strategy, called “Reach 2025,” seeks to create some 150,000 new digital jobs by 2025.

It is a collaboration of public and private stakeholders and institutions, spearheaded by the Ministry of Information and Communications and Technology, and the ICT Association of Jordan.

It targets increasing the overall gross domestic product growth, between 6-8 percent.

Experts at the event will discuss several key issues, in the ICT industry, regionally and globally.

Back to top

Dubai Plans to build First Hyperloop Track

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 9 November 2016, (NNN-WAM) – The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), said on Tuesday, it will build the first prototype of the high-speed “Hyperloop” train solution.

RTA Chairman, Mattar Al-Tayer, and Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hypeloop One firm, signed an agreement to work through the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) programme, and develop a prototype of self-driving cars, powered by Hyperloop technology.

The company will also test the feasibility of connecting Dubai with several destinations, and determine the project’s economic viability. If feasible, the technology will be implemented and stands to change the transport and logistics sector worldwide.

Dubai’s daily Gulfnews reported that, the prototype ought to be ready by 2020.

Hyperloop stations will be set up across the city, to ensure accessibility and reduce travel time between Dubai and the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, to less than 12 minutes.

Hyperloop One revealed its vision, for the future of the transport sector, citing Dubai as an example, during a presentation.

“Dubai has become a model for the cities of the future, launching one revolutionary initiative after another and drastically reshaping strategic economic sectors,” said Al-Tayer.

“The DFA programme, though only a few months old, is now a gateway for the world’s most innovative companies to materialise their ideas and achieve tangible results, that can change the future and benefit mankind,” said Rob Lloyd.

Back to top

Indonesia: Bogor Zoology Museum most complete in Asia

BOGOR, West Java Province, Indonesia, 9 Nov 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The museum of zoology, named Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense (MZB), under the Indonesian Science Institute (LIPI) management in Bogor, West Java province has millions of fauna specimens.

It is considered the most complete such museum in Southeast Asia,Indonesia’s Antara news agency reports.

“We are proud of this museum as besides commemorating its 122nd anniversary, the museum has the best collection in Southeast Asia,” Professor of the University of Indonesia, Prof.S.Somadikarta, said here on Tuesday.

He added that people should understand the importance of this museum and what it offers so that they can benefit from it.

“The museum provides knowledge and serves the people honestly. Museum ethics should be understood by all people,” he pointed out.

Zoologicum Bogoriense Museum’s Director Hari Sutrisno noted that the museum has 3,030,657 speciments; including 3,007 mollusks, 134 nematode (worms), 15,804 insects and arthropods, 70 crustaceans, 1,300 fish, 498 reptiles, 334 amphibians, 1,200 birds and 460 mammals.

“The collections have attracted many scientists, including those from abroad,” Hari noted.

He added that the museum was established in 1894 under the name of Landbouw Zoologish Laboratory.

In order to commemorate the 122nd anniversary of the museum, the Indonesian Science Institution would hold various events, such as talk shows and field trips.

Back to top

Singapore Amends Constitution, Paving way for First Malay President

SINGAPORE, 10 November 2016, (NNN-Xinhua) — Singapore Parliament on Wednesday passed the bill to amend the Constitution to raise bar for presidential candidates and ensure multi-racial representation in the Presidency, which paves the way for the country to have its first Malay president in more than 40 years.

After a three-day intense debate in the Parliament, 77 Members of Parliament (MP) gave approval to the bill, while all six MPs from the opposition Workers’ Party cast opposing votes.

Under the new Constitution, an election will be reserved for a particular racial group if no one from that group has been president for five continuous terms.

This means next year’s Presidential Election will be reserved for candidates from the Malay community.

Since Wee Kim Wee became the first Elected President in 1991, Presidents in Singapore have come from the Chinese and Indian community.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made clear for the first time the government’s intention to trigger the proposed mechanism for reserved election in the next polls, and explained the broad reasoning behind the decision.

“If the president, who is the symbol of a multiracial nation, always comes from the same race, not only will he cease to be a credible symbol of our nation, but the very multiracial character of the nation will come under question,” said Lee.

The prime minister added that even though the minority communities have not pressed for it in Singapore, such arrangements should be made to ensure the presidency will be multiracial.

President Tony Tan Keng Yam also stated that he “will not be standing in the next presidential election” as it would be for Malays via his Facebook post.

Other changes on Elected Presidency include raising the bar for candidates to keep up with the times. Prospective private sector candidates would have to have helmed companies with 500 million Singapore dollars (359 million U.S. dollars) in shareholders’ equity, up from 100 million Singapore dollars (71.83 million U.S. dollars) in paid-up capital.

The President of Singapore is directly elected by popular vote. Potential candidates for office have to fulfill stringent qualifications set out in the Constitution.

The city state is a multiracial country comprising Chinese, Malay, Indian and other races. The majority of the population are Chinese which take up about 74 percent, while Malay account for 13 percent and Indian for 9 percent.

Back to top

China One of Most Important Trade Partners of Lebanon

BEIRUT, 12 November 2016,(NNN-Xinhua) — Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon Wang Kejian said on Friday that China was one of the most important trade partners of Lebanon during the past three years, the National News Agency (NNA) reported.

Trade between the two countries topped 2 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, the report said.

The Chinese ambassador made the remarks on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Lebanon and the People’s Republic of China.

“The Chinese embassy will continue to work in order to strengthen the bilateral relations and cooperation for more fruitful results,” he said.

Regarding the military relations, the ambassador said China offered logistic and field equipments worth about 6.6 million dollars between 2013 and 2015.

Back to top

IMF approves 3-year US$12 bln Loan for Egypt

CAIRO, 12 November 2016, (NNN-Xinhua) — The International Monetary Fund (IMF) executive board approved on Friday Egypt’s request for a three-year 12 billion U.S. dollars loan, Egypt’s state TV reported.

Meanwhile, Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Tarek Amer told official MENA news agency that Egypt has received Friday an initial 2.75 billion dollars from the IMF.

Egypt reached an initial deal with the IMF on a 12 billion dollars loan in August, a move seen by many experts as a necessary step to help the country’s ailing economy.

“This will make our foreign currency reserves jump to 23.5 billion dollars,” Amer affirmed.

The foreign currency reserves at the CBE declined since the 2011 uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak from 36 billion dollars to 19.6 billion dollars as of the end of September 2016.

Earlier this month, the CBE announced the devaluation of the Egyptian pound by 48 percent which would allow the pound to float in the financial market based on supply and demand.

The move was meant to limit the hike and shortage of dollar, boost foreign investments and meet a key demand of the IMF to provide Egypt with the loan.

Meanwhile, the Washington-based IMF board said in a statement that further disbursements following the immediately released 2.75 billion dollars will depend on the country’s economic performance and implementation of reforms.

“The reform program will help Egypt restore macroeconomic stability and promote inclusive growth,” said the statement.

Policies supported by the program aim to correct external imbalances and restore competitiveness, place the budget deficit and public debt on a declining path, boost growth and create jobs while protecting vulnerable groups, said the statement.

Egypt has been struggling to survive severe economic recession that led to a decline in foreign currency reserves, a growing budget deficit and rising foreign debts.

Back to top

Oman to host Regional Statistics Workshop

MUSCAT, Oman, 13 November 2016, (NNN-ONA) – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)’s Statistical Centre, in collaboration with the Statistics Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), on Monday (tomorrow), will organise a workshop on the principles and recommendations for the development of vital statistics system.

Twenty Arab countries will take part in the workshop, which focuses on accelerating the process of improving civil registration and vital statistics.

The vital statistics play a key role in securing necessary population data, for the development and statistics of health planning and evaluation, in addition to the protection of rights and access to services, and improving governance through the identification data.

The four-day workshop will contribute to, increasing the knowledge of statisticians and those responsible for civil registration, in governments and revised international principles and recommendations, with a view to compiling, process and disseminate vital statistics, and improve their ability to identify gaps and challenges, in the application of international standards, to improve the vital statistics system in their countries.

Back to top

Saudi Seeks to Promote Sports Development

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, 13 November 2016, (NNN-SPA) – Prince Abdullah bin Massa’ad bin Abdulaziz, President of the General Authority of Sports and President of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, met the Deputy President of the International Olympic Committee and President of the International Court of Arbitration (CAS), John Coast, and the Deputy Director General of the International Olympic Committee, Peru Miro.

At the outset, Prince Abdullah welcomed the IOC officials, who are currently visiting the Kingdom, at the invitation of Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee, stressing the desire of the General Authority of Sports and the Saudi Olympic Committee, to promote sporting ties and joint work, in all Olympic related aspects.

Subsequently, the chief executive of the Olympic Committee of Saudi Arabia, Hussam Al-Qurashi, opened a plenary meeting between the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, presenting an overview of the Saudi Olympic Committee’s objectives and future aspirations, noting that work is under way to achieve advanced positions, in the Asian Masters 2022, through the implementation of a number of steps that will contribute to the development of administrative and technical work, in the Olympic Committee and sports federations, notably recruiting the best talents and merger of national and international capacities, in terms of sports’ science and sports’ medicine.

Back to top

South Africa, Kazakhstan Commit to Boosting Bilateral Trade

PRETORIA, 14 November 2016, (NNN-SA NEWS) — South Africa and Kazakhstan have expressed satisfaction with the trade and economic relations between the two countries but say that there is still considerable potential to increase bilateral trade.

“Both parties agreed to work towards a closer co-operation in the fields of mining, energy and agriculture. It was further agreed that these sectors will be reviewed on an annual basis to allow further expansion in terms of economic cooperation,” the two countries said in a joint communique issued after the 5th Round of the South Africa-Kazakhstan Bilateral Political Consultations held last week.

The consultations, which were co-chaired by International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo and her Kazakhstan counterpart, Akylbek Kamaldinov, were held in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan, from Wednesday to Sunday.

The two sides noted the potential of both countries in exploring business opportunities in the corresponding regions — Kazakhstan as a hub for central Asia and the Eurasian Economic Union, and South Africa as the hub for southern Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community.

In order to achieve the desired levels of co-operation, the two sides agreed to maintain the political dialogue, through the exchange of official visits, including high-level visits, as well as facilitating engagements and cooperation on all levels, including civil society and inter-parliamentary co-operation.

They also discussed perspectives of co-operation in higher education, science and technology and the promotion of cultural relations and co-operation. They agreed to explore a programme to exchange representatives from universities and institutions of higher learning from both countries. Both parties will promote scholarship programmes.

Back to top

Kazakhstan, South Korea sign agreements worth US$640M

BAKU, 12 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — Kazakhstan and South Korea signed 23 documents worth US$640.2 million during a bilateral business forum held in Seoul, the Kazakh National Export and Investment Agency Kaznex Invest reported, as quoted by Trend news agency.

The forum, attended by 350 businessmen from the companies of both countries, was held on Nov 10 during the visit of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev to South Korea.

The agreements were signed in the spheres of healthcare, information technologies, construction, finance, trade, tourism and others.

The major documents signed include a memorandum on establishment of a cluster of pharmaceutical and medical-biological plants Nefertem worth US$350 million in Kazakhstan, a memorandum on cooperation between Korean SEOHA and Kazakh Investment and Development Ministry worth US$150 million, as well as a memorandum on creation of the Kazakh-Korean Consortium to attract investment for the construction of a clinic worth US$80 million, designed for 504 beds.

Today, 465 South Korean companies are operating in Kazakhstan in the spheres of production, trade and services, construction, agricultural and industrial complex, consulting and finance, subsoil use and exploration.

There are also 27 South Korean-Kazakh joint ventures that operate in chemicals industry, energy production, mechanical engineering, pharmaceutics,information and communication technologies, mining and metallurgical complex, infrastructure and light industry in Kazakhstan.

Back to top

Muslim Elders, Anglican Church meeting ends on high note in Abu Dhabi

09 Nov 2016, Abu Dhabi (IINA) – A two-day meeting of the Muslim Council of Elders and the Anglican Church hosted by the United Arab Emirates, ended recently here, with participants emphasizing the necessity to work on building a world based on mutual understanding.

In addition to the Muslim-Christian dialogue, with an aim of effectively bridging the gap that hinders the understanding of others and agreed that the dialogue will contribute to the efforts of combating both extremism and the undermining of minority rights, WAM reported. The historical meeting between the Episcopal/Anglican communion and the Muslim Council of Elders, was chaired by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al Tayyeb, and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. It was the fourth round of meetings between elders from the East and the West titled “Towards an Integrated World”.

The two-day meeting included four sessions that focused on the dialogue between religious leaders, religious pluralism, experiences of coexistence and promoting a culture of peace. The meeting witnessed speeches from the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Archbishop of Canterbury on the role of religious leaders in addressing the current challenges facing the World.

The meeting covered four main themes: religious pluralism, the experiences of common co-existence, the role of religion in promoting citizenship and consolidating principles of human flourishing, and the obstacles facing dialogue and co-existence and their possible remedies.

During the meeting, discussions and interventions focused on the vital role of religious leaders and adherents in peace-building, sustaining human values, disseminating religious concepts that encourage tolerance, cooperation between religious followers in combating extremism, hatred speech, and restoring hope in peoples’ hearts and minds, and empowering young people to be effective actors in their communities.

The participants stressed the importance of promoting the principle of citizenship as people enjoy the same entitlements and responsibilities towards their countries and communities.

We concluded with some recommendations as follows: – The necessity of working on building a world based on understanding including the Muslim-Christian dialogue, with the aim of effectively bridging the gap that hinders the understanding of others.

The dialogue will contribute to the efforts of combating both extremism and the undermining of minority rights. As such, we encourage our wider communities to develop similar dialogue based initiatives as among the mostly powerful tools in consolidating societal peace in all communities.

  • Organize Mutual youth based meetings between Muslim and Christian university students, which embrace intellectual discourses on tolerance and coexistence.
  • Produce documentary films in various languages that track, document and underline the historical and contemporary experiences of co-existence. These will be suitable materials to be broadcast or air on TV channels and other forms of social media that have been proven effective more than gatherings and meetings.
  • Develop a five-year academic research program on the pillars and values of tolerance and coexistence. Researchers from both sides, Muslims, and Christians, will be invited to contribute to the research and produce publications in various languages. The program will help the Muslim-Christian Dialogue through articulating it with post- graduate studies in the concerned universities.
  • Digitize all the Muslim-Christian dialogue initiatives, including audio-visual materials, studies, and conferences’ proceedings, and upload them on the internet, to be accessible to the participants in this conference, and other concerned people.
  • Highlight and benefit from the multiple initiatives in promoting the values of tolerance, co-existence, participation, primarily the experience of the Ministry of Tolerance in the United Arab Emirates, and the experience of the House of Family in Egypt. These initiatives characterized by working on the ground through a variety of communities including work encompassing women and young generation. We affirm the work of these initiatives in establishing a model of genuine citizenship including Muslims and Christians in Egypt.
  • The necessity of work promoting a culture of dialogue at different levels. We affirm the importance of respecting each other’s faith at all levels.
  • We commit ourselves to work together for the common interest in fighting illiteracy, poverty, and disease.
  • Lastly, the participants from both the Muslim Council of Elders and the Anglican Church call on all religious leaders, politicians, decision-makers and influential community leaders to encourage the values of justice, peace and cooperation for all nations and peoples regardless of the difference in religion, gender, race, or any other factor.

Back to top

Morocco reveals its first electric pickup truck

10 Nov 2016, Marrakesh (IINA) – The National Transportation and Logistic Company (SNTL) of Morocco revealed the world’s latest and newest innovation of the first electric pickup truck ever made.

The innovation, which is 100 percent electric, is also a 100 percent of Moroccan origin in terms of concept and assembly. The creation, which took nine months to complete, was revealed at SNTL’s center of technology and innovation “Tamayuz Supply Chain,” in Marrakesh. The center chose and accompanied Engima, the Moroccan consulting firm specializing in automotive engineering, to work on the development and manufacturing of the electric pickup’s design.

The electric vehicle prototype, which was adapted to fit the Moroccan market, does not require the creation of electric stations for it to be recharged. The pickup can be recharged in less than 7 hours at the comfort of one’s home using a 220V power outlet, or in a mere hour if a supercharger is used.

The vehicle’s rechargeable batteries are placed in a balanced manner on the chassis allowing more stability and an autonomy of 180 to 200km. The designers of the vehicle claim that it is perfectly suited for urban journeys, with frequent stops, during which its speed can reach 129km/h, and its rear bed can bear up to 800kg of the load.

However, the most highlighted element of this innovation is that the users of the electric pickup truck can easily upgrade their vehicles without having to purchase a new one. The modular design allows integrating a new version of a component on an earlier version of the car, without it hindering any of its standard functions.

To top it off, the electric pickup and its features, such as temperature control that could harm or spoil transported goods, can be remotely controlled by the driver using an all in one tablet.

Although designed, manufactured, and assembled in Morocco, the electric pickup innovation is intended to be primarily sold in the European market while Morocco, until it is fully ready, will only be acting as a carrier market.

Back to top

First Somali-American Muslim woman elected to US Senate

10 Nov 2016, Minneapolis (IINA) – An American hijabi Democrat and former refugee called Ilhan Omar made history after winning race into senate from Minneapolis and becoming the first Somali-American Muslim woman in the U.S. to be a legislator, according to media reports.

Omar faced little Republican opposition, local daily The Star Tribune reported, yet some believe that the 34-year-old’s win is “huge.”

“I am excited about our progressive values and to be able to be on the ground at the Capitol representing the diverse people of my district and being a champion with them and for them,” Omar told the Daily Star Tribune.

Omar came to the United States after escaping the Somali civil war with her family and spending four years in a Kenyan refugee camp.

The newly elected Senator is also the director of policy at Women Organizing Women Network, an organization dedicated to pushing East African women into positions of civic leadership.

Back to top

Festival to promote Indonesian pearls to the world

10 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti hopes that the Indonesian Pearl Festival (IPF) 2016 will introduce Indonesia’s original pearls to the world.

“I hope the Indonesian South Sea Pearl (ISSP) would be introduced to pearl stakeholders and enthusiasts. The exhibition which has been held regularly would open access to the people,” the minister said when opening the IPS in Jakarta Wednesday.

The exposition displays the Indonesian sea kept pearls to the public she said.

It was the duty of everyone to introduce the Indonesian pearl to pearl stakeholders and enthusiasts, the minister said.

If the ISSP is recognized as a new commodity which has a high value, it would benefit Indonesia, as it would serve as a new source of economy to Indonesia.

The Indonesian pearl has good potential for the world market and therefore, noted designers are called on to present the latest pearl designs, she stated.

“Many people will come to know and love the pearl when they see the creative and up to date designs,” the minister added.

If the Indonesian pearl potential is cultivated properly it would boost the Indonesian economy, Minister Susi reminded earlier.

Pearls have become the target of illegal export practices, she said, and added that in 2014 the pearl exports to Hong Kong were worth US$49.8 million.

The figure is very different from the Indonesian pearl export data.

In 2015, Hong Kong imported pearls from Indonesia worth $34.2 million. But Indonesias pearl export data to Hong Kong showed that it was worth only about $1 million.(*)

Back to top

Indonesia unveils policy package to facilitate development of e-commerce

10 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian government on Thursday announced the 14th economic policy package that carries a roadmap for the development of e-commerce industry in the country.

“The policy package is aimed at encouraging people all over Indonesia to expand their economic activities efficiently and to connect them to the rest of the world. With this roadmap, they will be able to enhance their business in a better way,” Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution said while announcing the package at the Presidential Office, along with Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung.

Darmin expressed the hope that the roadmap for the development of e-commerce industry will encourage younger generations to come up with new and innovative products and services.

The roadmap is also expected to induce certainty in business besides facilitating the e-commerce industry. Therefore, with strategic direction and guidance, the electronic-based national trade system can be put in place during the 2016-2019 period, he noted.

The roadmap is also expected to accord priority to and protect the national interests, particularly the interest of small and medium entrepreneurs and startups, he commented.

“It will also help the human resources and e-commerce agents to improve their knowhow. Also, it will provide terms of reference to the government and all stakeholders for determining or adjusting sector-based policies as part of the effort to develop the e-commerce industry,” he explained.

Darmin pointed out that the policy package deals with at least eight issues, including funding, taxation, consumer protection, human resource development and education besides cyber security.

Meanwhile, Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara underlined that digital economy has a huge potential in Indonesia.

“The Indonesian digital economy is so huge that all transaction services using digital technology will continue to develop,” he observed.

He reminded that the package also covers several provisions to address seven key issues, including human resources and education, access to capital, tax incentives, consumer protection, cyber security, logistics and communication infrastructure. (*)

Back to top

Indonesia promotes kolintang, wants it in world heritage list

11 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia is promoting kolintang, a musical instrument made of wood from Minahasa, North Sulawesi, so that it is included in UNESCOs world heritage list.

This was stated by the Indonesian Consulate General in a press release received by Antara here on Thursday.

A kolintang concert and a batik fashion show were held at theSydney Opera House Studio on Wednesday (Nov 9). These events were organized by the National Kolintang Insan Group (Pinkan) Indonesia, the Purnomo Yusgiantoro Foundation, Jaya Suprana Performing Arts, and IT Foundation. These were supported by the Indonesian Embassy in Canbberra and the Indonesian Consulate General in Sydney.

“Efforts to promote Kolintang is another proof of the wealth of art and culture that Indonesia has, in addition to batik and angklung musical instrument which are already part of UNESCOs world heritage list,” Indonesian Ambassador to Australia, Najib Riphat Kesoema, noted.

According to him, kolintang is unique as it has a range of low to high tones which are produced when one beats the instrument.

The event was attended by more than 300 guests, including Australians and members of the Indonesian diaspora.

Seven kolintang musicians of Pinkan Group have been taking Indonesian traditional music across the nation.

In 2013, the government declared wooden kolintang as part of Indonesian cultural heritage, an important step for this traditional musical instrument to be recognized by UNESCO.

Ambassador Najib reminded that such efforts to promote the countrys music was go beyond the recognition granted by UNESCO. In diplomacy, music is a universal language which plays a very important role in improving understanding among the peoples of the world.

“When words fail, music speaks,” the ambassador commented.

He hoped that the kolintang concert and the batik fashion show would help open another window for Australians to know Indonesia better.

Back to top

Indonesian govt taking steps to tackle growth of e-commerce industry

12 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The volume of e-commerce transactions in Indonesia is still relatively small but the government is taking anticipatory steps in the face of e-commerce industry growth as it is developing as a global trade model.

Indonesias e-commerce transactions still account for about one to two percent of retailer transactions or much lower than the global average of eight percent. However, it is predicted that e-commerce transactions in Indonesia will increase drastically from US$12 billion in 2014 to about US$24.6 billion this year.

Therefore, the government sees that the e-commerce industry is one of the business sectors that has good prospects in the future, and for this it is issuing an e-commerce development roadmap through an economic policy package.

The roadmap is appearing in the 14th economic policy package announced by the government on Thursday, November 10, 2016.

“The policy package is aimed at encouraging people all over Indonesia to expand their economic activities efficiently and to connect them to the rest of the world. With this roadmap, they will be able to enhance their business in a better way,” Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution said while announcing the package at the Presidential Office along with Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung.

Therefore, the next economic policy package is expected to sufficiently address the issue.

“E-commerce should not be treated as a general form of trading. The tariff should be lower as it is a fledgling industry, an early adopter,” Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto underlined while speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a book on “Developing Populist Economy and Winning ASEAN Economic Community” recently.

Indonesian businesses hope that the tax tariff for e-commerce business will be lower than that of the non-e-commerce industry.

The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) hailed the issuance of the package. Businesses badly need the governments support, particularly on the fiscal system with regard to the issuance of the economic policy package on e-commerce, Fredy Ongko Saputro, chairman of Apindo for East Nusa Tenggara, said.

“The tax tariff should be lower than non-e-commerce because this is a new industry. We hope the tax traffic is set at a modest rate,” the Apindo chairman for East Nusa Tanggara, said.

The regulation to be issued would determine the success of e-commerce in Indonesia as it has the potential to guarantee the survival of fledgling businesses using e-commerce, economic observer Agustinus Prasetyantoko said, elaborating the point.

Agustinus is also of the opinion that tax exemption would help boost e-commerce in the country.

“In certain cases, tax could even be abolished during the start-up phase,” he underscored.

Singapore could be used as the reference country to study ways to develop and expedite the expansion of e-commerce. It provides tax facilities and a low tax for start-ups in addition to assistance in the form of access to cheap capital.

The e-commerce market has begun to grow in Indonesia. In 2014, transactions were valued at $12 billion. E-commerce spending in Indonesia was only 1 to 2 percent of the total retail sales as against 16 percent in South Korea, 12 percent in the United States and the world average of 8 percent.

However, it is worth noting that the performance in 2014 represented a significant increase from $8 billion in 2013. In 2016, the value of transactions is predicted to rise to $24.6 billion.

Therefore, it is being predicted that Indonesia would be among the top ranked countries in e-commerce in the future after China and India in Asia, which is why the government drew up a roadmap.

Chief Economic Minister Darmin Nasution expressed the hope that the roadmap for the development of e-commerce industry will encourage younger generations to come up with new and innovative products and services.

The roadmap is also expected to induce certainty in business besides facilitating the e-commerce industry. Therefore, with strategic direction and guidance, the electronic-based national trade system can be put in place during the 2016-2019 period, he noted.

The roadmap is also expected to accord priority to and protect the national interests, particularly the interest of small and medium entrepreneurs and startups, he commented.

“It will also help the human resources and e-commerce agents to improve their knowhow. Also, it will provide terms of reference to the government and all stakeholders for determining or adjusting sector-based policies as part of the effort to develop the e-commerce industry,” he explained.

Darmin pointed out that the policy package deals with at least eight issues, including funding, taxation, consumer protection, human resource development and education besides cyber security.

Meanwhile, Communication and Information Minister Rudiantara underlined that digital economy has a huge potential in Indonesia.

“The Indonesian digital economy is so huge that all transaction services using digital technology will continue to develop,” he observed.

He reminded that the package also covers several provisions to address seven key issues, including human resources and education, access to capital, tax incentives, consumer protection, cyber security, logistics and communication infrastructure.

Back to top

Indonesian-made electric motorbike prototype completes test drive

12 November 2016, Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) – National electric motorbike prototype units, called Gesits, completed a test drive on Saturday, covering more than 1,000 km from Jakarta to Bali.

The arrival of Gesits, short for Garansindo Electric Scooter (ITS), was welcomed by Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education M. Nasir in Denpasar on Saturday.

“Gesits electric motorbike prototype units performed well during the test drive and did not face any significant problem during the journey,” Minister M. Nasir said.

Gesits is expected to go into mass production in 2018, the minister stated, adding that a production permit must be issued in 2017.

Gesits is a research product of Sepuluh November Institute of Technology Surabaya (ITS) and PT Garansindo Surabaya.

The Director General for Innovation Strengthening at the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education, Jumain Appe, noted that the ministry offers incentive for research on electric motorbike prototypes.

It was part of the government’s initiatives to boost research in the industrial sector as it can produce innovative products.

So far, five prototypes have been produced for test drive and five others for crash test.

Five Gesits prototype units began the test drive from Jakarta on Monday (Nov 7) at around 10:00 a.m. local time and arrived in Denpasar on Friday at 05:00 p.m. local time.

During the test drive, the prototypes, which could have touched more than 100 km per hour, maintained an average speed of 60 km per hour.

Gesits prototype is equipped with two types of Lithium-ion batteries.

A 6 kwh battery is installed to push the motorbike to more than 100 kph, while a smaller 3 kwh battery is designated for traveling below 60 or 70 kph.

“We changed the battery 12 times during the journey. There was no problem of any short circuit even when it rained,” Yoga, a test driver, disclosed.

However, at times, the electric motor could heat up until 90 degree Celsius and turned off, he observed.

The overheating problem was fixed by creating a channel to allow air flow to the motor, thus reducing the heat to 50 or 60 degree Celsius.(*)

Back to top

Indonesian President promises to build “inward infrastructure”

13 November 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has said while Indonesia has been focusing on physical infrastructure, the government will also work towards ensuring that the citizenry is mentally and emotionally strong.

He called it “inward infrastructure,” vis-a-vis the physical infrastructure.

“Currently, we are focusing on physical development, but the inward infrastructure is also important (to build),” the president stated before thousands of people at a prayer event in Ancol, North Jakarta, on Saturday.

The President admitted that such “inward infrastructure” development is required as a foundation for developing sound and accomplished human resources in the country.

Therefore, he appreciated all those who have been pursuing the goal of national character while the government was focusing on improving the physical infrastructure.

He reiterated the importance of physical infrastructure development, being carried out as part of the five-year program of the government of Joko Widodo and M. Jusuf Kalla (Jokowi-JK).

“I want to say that our focus is now on physical development,” reminded the president.

Under the leadership of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla, Indonesia has switched from the Java-centric development pattern and shifted focus a more even development across Indonesia.

The objective is to unite the Indonesian nation that is made up of thousands of islands, from Sabang to Merauke.

“We have built toll roads from Lampung to Aceh, and work has been going on for two years. All this development should not remain confined to in Java but must be pursued outside Java. Such development needs to take place from Balikpapan to Samarinda and from Manado to Bitung. Thank God that everything has been running well. Now, people should wait for the completion of these projects,” he counselled.

The infrastructure development achieved by the government is now expected to bring down the cost of transportation, and the president hopes that as a consequence, commodity prices will be more affordable in the country.

“The physical infrastructure is indeed expected to lead to cheaper transportation costs,” he explained.

On the occasion, the President also expressed his gratitude to the scholars, especially of the National Awakening Party (PKB), which has initiated the program of “Nusantara Mengaji” or Quran recitation initiatives throughout Indonesia.

It is seen as being in line with the vision of the Indonesian government that wants to build a model Indonesian citizen.

Several cabinet ministers attended the event, including Minister/State Secretary Pratikno; Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Imam Nahrawi; and Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri, who hails from the PKB.

PKB General Chairman Muhaimin Iskandar also attended the event, which was a national friendly gathering of ulemas and the people.

Back to top

Indonesia, China agree to check unprofessional tour operators

13 November 2016, Shanghai, China (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian Tourism Ministry and the China National Tourism Administration have agreed to check certain tourism operators who are unprofessional and harm tourists interests.

“We are ready to blacklist such operators since tourism is a service-based business. Managing the tourism business ecosystem with a sense of commitment and professionalism is crucial. What is at stake is to keep the tourism business sustainable,” Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said at a meeting with the Chief of the China National Tourism Administration, Lin Jinzao, on the sidelines of the China International Travel Market (CITM) held in Shanghai from November 11 to 13.

Travel operators and agents who violate commitment made to their customers must be dealt with sternly, he stated, adding that unprofessional tourism operators will have a detrimental impact on the future of the tourism sector.

The China National Tourism Administration has taken several steps to control such unprofessional elements, including travel agents, as part of the efforts to make tourists feel comfortable while on vacation in China, he noted.

“First of all, we express our gratitude to China as more and more Chinese tourists visit Indonesia,” he underlined.

China is now the biggest source of tourist arrivals in Indonesia, overtaking Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and South Korea.

“We have set ourselves the target of attracting 20 million tourists in 2019 and nearly 50 percent of them will come from China,” he disclosed.

In this regard, he underscored the importance of stepping up tourism cooperation with China to achieve the target.

In addition, he pointed out that his ministry will also focus on promoting the “Great China” branding which covers China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

He also invited Chinese investors to invest in the Indonesian tourism industry.

“We invite Chinese investors engaged in the tourism sector to invest in Indonesia which offers natural and cultural attractions. Now is the time to make long-term investments in the tourism sector,” he observed.(*)

Back to top

Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia up 20 percent

13 November 2016, Shanghai (ANTARA News) – The number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia so far this year rose 20 percent from a year earlier, Chief of the China National Tourism Administration Li Jinzao said.

“At the turn of 2016, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Indonesia reached more than one million,” he said on the sidelines of China International Travel Mart (CITM) held in Shanghai from November 11 to 13.

Over the same period, the number of Indonesian tourists visiting China increased 16 percent, Li Jinzao said.

“This suggests that tourism cooperation between the two countries has been running well,” he said.

He expressed the hope that the existing good cooperation in the tourism field could be stepped up in the future.

Earlier, Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said China is currently the biggest source of tourist arrivals in Indonesia, overtaking Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Japan and Korea,”.

“We have set ourselves the target of attracting 20 million tourists in 2019 and nearly 50 percent of them will come from China,” he disclosed.

In this regard, he underscored the importance of stepping up tourism cooperation with China to achieve the target.

In addition, he pointed out that his ministry will also focus on promoting the “Great China” branding which covers China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

He also invited Chinese investors to invest in the Indonesian tourism industry.

“We invite Chinese investors engaged in the tourism sector to invest in Indonesia which offers natural and cultural attractions. Now is the time to make long-term investments in the tourism sector,” he observed.

Back to top

OIC to discuss appointing goodwill ambassadors for women empowerment

01 Nov 2016, Istanbul (IINA) – The 6th Session of the Ministerial Conference on the Role of Women in the Development of member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) kicked off Tuesday in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

The three-day conference will discuss a draft resolution on the appointment of OIC goodwill ambassadors for the empowerment of women, the defense of family values and the marriage institution as well as combatting early marriage.

The draft resolution will be presented on Wednesday to the ministers, in conformity with the decision of the 43rd session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) held in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, on October 18-19, requesting the secretary general to appoint OIC goodwill ambassadors.

Back to top

Oman Opens 4th Int’l Conference at SQU Education College

Muscat, Nov.13 (ONA)—- The college of Education at Sultan Qaboos University will organize on forthcoming Tuesday the 4th International Conference under the theme ‘ Academic Accreditation, the way to ensuring sustainability of education’ under the auspices of Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah al- Hinai, State Advisor.

The conference reflects the importance of the academic accreditation and its role in developing the program related to the preparation of teachers. The conference provides an opportunity for networking and sharing experiences among researchers and those interested in educational issues to come out with recommendations and proposals that may enhance the level of the teachers’ preparation programs and ensuring sustainability of education.

The conference covers a number of key themes that are related to the main theme of the conference namely the accreditation of academic programs, the role of data driven decision management (DDDM), the role of educational leadership in enhancing quality and development of education, the role of institutional research centers in managing quality and accreditation, the technological experience in the academic accreditation and quality assurance, the quality practice and accreditation in higher and institutional education.

Dr. Sulaiman bin Mohammed al- Balushi, Dean of the College of Education said that 275 individuals from 24 Arab and foreign countries will take part in the 6 main sessions and 36 parallel sessions that will cover 180 working papers. There will be also five seminars on academic accreditation for the schools and higher education institutions.

Back to top

Sharjah Museums takes centre stage at World Travel Market

SHARJAH, 12th November, 2016 (WAM) — Sharjah Museums Department, SMD, has played a significant role in the World Travel Market London, using the prestigious annual event to highlight the upcoming 20th anniversary of Sharjah Art Museum.

This year’s participation marks the tenth time that SMD has attended one of world’s leading events for the travel industry, which provides the global trade with an opportunity to meet, network, negotiate and conduct business.

SMD participated at the event in partnership with Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, SCTDA, to showcase Sharjah’s diverse array of unique cultural and historical offerings.

Their discussions with trade delegates and tourism chiefs focused on the upcoming milestone anniversary of Sharjah Art Museum, which was founded in 1997. SMD’s team outlined the permanent collections and paintings by renowned artists and how visitors can learn about the history of the region through the fascinating masterpieces of local painters and Arab artists who have left an important mark in the local and Arab art world.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Department, said, “The World Travel Market London offers us an incredible platform to showcase our family of museums to an international audience. One of SMD’s key aims is to expand the outreach of our museum portfolio in order to form new partnerships and bring the world’s best collections to Sharjah.”

“The contacts that the team has developed at World Travel Market London today will also be vital in attracting more visitors from a wider geographical area.”

Back to top

Abu Dhabi to host the 3rd International Annual Diabetes Conf

ABU DHABI, 13th November 2016 (WAM) – HealthPlus Diabetes & Endocrinology Center in Abu Dhabi organizes the 3rd International Annual Diabetes Meeting for Primary Care on November 18, 2016 at Dusit Thani Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Under the theme, Innovation and New Technologies in Diabetes, the conference will attract over 200 attendants from the medical field from the region.

International and local speakers at the one-day conference will discuss the latest global trends in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and ways to prevent its complications as well as the latest scientific studies and a number of case studies in dealing with complex cases for patients with diabetes.

Majd Abu Zant, CEO of HealthPlus Network of Specialty Centers in Abu Dhabi, said, “UEMedical group though its different healthcare facilities is keen to hold this medical conference about diabetes every year providing continuous medical education to the medical community, and keeping them informed on the latest developments in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and to help transfer global expertise of the latest treatments used for diabetes management to the region. Alongside the scientific conference, an exhibition will be held showcasing the latest technologies and innovations in the field of diabetes.”

From his side, Dr. Mohammed Al-Khatib, Consultant Endocrinology and Diabetes at HealthPlus Diabetes & Endocrinology Center and the Chairman of the conference stated, “the main session at the conference will be delivered by Professor Siegmund Thorsten from University of Munich in Germany about the new treatment options and the new generation of medications including injections or oral medications in treating patients with diabetes.”

He added that experts and specialists in the treatment of diabetes from Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, Al Mafraq Hospital, the Ambulatory Healthcare Services – SEHA as well as HealthPlus Diabetes & Endocrinology Center and other healthcare providers will speak at the conference and participate in case studies discussions.

He said, “One of the sessions will be dedicated to review and discuss the most complex cases that suffer from diabetes and how physicians managed the cases in controlling blood sugar levels to be close to normal levels.”

Speakers will discuss sleep apnea in patients with diabetes type 2, as well as the relation between diabetes and erectile dysfunction, and the psychological impact of diabetes. The conference is accredited for 6.5 hours of CME hours by the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.

Back to top

Mauritania Looks To Nouadhibou Port For A Brighter Future

Geneva, 14 November 2016 (UNCTAD News release) – Nestled on a peninsula overlooking the world’s biggest graveyard of ships, the port of Nouadhibou may hold the key to a better future for Mauritania’s 3.9 million people, of whom 42% live in poverty.

For years, Mauritania’s economy ran on the iron ore buried deep beneath its Sahara desert sands. But Chinese demand for iron ore has fallen, and the government is putting more hope in its Atlantic coastal waters, some of the richest fishing grounds in the world.

“Mauritania’s fishing industry could boost exports and create jobs, but its ports will need to become more competitive,” says Mark Assaf, in charge of UNCTAD’s port management programme, active in some 200 ports around the globe.

In 2016, Mauritania became the 34th country to join the programme, aiming to promote Nouadhibou as a door to the world, through which to export its processed fish.

Foreign boats may fish in Mauritanian waters, but they currently take their catch elsewhere. Every year, some 1.2 million tons of tuna, shrimp and other fish are caught in Mauritania’s waters. But just 5% of this is processed locally.

According to industry executives, landing fish in Nouadhibou, Mauritania’s only fishing port, is more expensive than in the Canary Islands nearby.

In 2013, Mauritania’s government launched the free zone of Nouadhibou to improve the port’s competitiveness and to attract fish processing industries such as tuna canning. In 2014, it completed an $18-million extension to accommodate bigger vessels.

“Upgrading a port needs new infrastructure but also investment in human resources,” Mr. Assaf says. “Ultimately, a port’s performance depends on the quality of its management.”

The UNCTAD TrainForTrade Port Management Programme took a first crucial step last month when 11 senior port managers completed a workshop for instructors held at the port of Nouakchott, the Mauritanian capital.

These newly-trained instructors will then deliver the first cycle of training to around 25 middle managers over the next two years, working closely with UNCTAD experts and managers from other ports in the programme.

“In the port of Douala in Cameroon, a manager took what he learned from our programme, reorganizing the cargo loading and unloading operations to speed the port’s work by 30-40%,” Mr. Assaf says.

According to World Bank data, delays in ports add roughly 10% to the cost of imported goods, more in many cases than tariffs. For exports the harm is worse.

Back to top

Exhibition sheds light on Syria’s oldest traditional handicrafts

Damascus, 10 November 2016, SANA –”From Homeland’s Memory” exhibition held at Damascus Citadel provided a precious opportunity to bring Syria’s oldest traditional handicrafts into the spotlight.

45 exhibitors took part in the three-day exhibition, which was organized by the General Establishment for Exhibitions and International Markets in cooperation with the General Union of Syrian Craftsmen.

The showcased objects included handmade mosaic, sea shell, Ajami, brocar and silk items, in addition to drawing on glass, engraving on copper, embroidery, weaving, basketry, leather products, ceramics, bags, potteries and documentary works such as photographs, stamps and medals dating back to the 1950s.

Director of General Establishment for Exhibitions and International Markets, Fares Kartli said that the location of the exhibition was carefully chosen since the Citadel of Damascus gives a living testimony on Syria’s civilization and historical heritage.

The participants underlined the importance of this exhibition in preserving and documenting the Syrian heritage as a reminder of the Syrian craftsmen’s creativity over thousands of years.

Representative of the General Union of Craftsmen, Khaldoun Messotti revealed that some master craftsmen and local heritage association are preparing to enter the Guinness World Record with a large number of stunning Syrian handmade products to show the world the successive civilizations of Syria and the creativity of its people despite all circumstances.

The participants called for raising children’s awareness through mass media and the National Heritage Office to enable them to get acquainted with the heritage of their grandfathers since these artworks represent a memory of their homeland, and demanding to establish an academy to teach traditional handicrafts in order to protect them from extinction.

Back to top

“Made in Syria” festival showcases variety of products at affordable prices

Damascus, 13 November 2016, SANA – A wide range of food, clothes, plastic products, perfumes, detergents, stationery and cosmetics showcased at the monthly shopping festival “Made in Syria” which kicked off Saturday at al-Jalaa sports complex in Mezzeh area in Damascus with the participation of 125 national companies.

In a statement to journalists, Minister of Industry Ahmed Al-Hamo highlighted the importance of the festival in terms of items and products offered at affordable prices to meet citizens’ needs.

He noted to the Ministry’s continuous support to industrialists to provide them with all necessary requirements in order to continue work and production, adding that the discounts help manufacturers increase their sales volume on one hand and enable low-income citizens to buy what they need on the other one.

In turn, Chairman of the Damascus and Damascus Countryside Chamber of Industry Samer al- Debs said that this is the 30th session of this monthly festival organized by the Chamber of Industry in Damascus and other provinces, indicating to the wide participation of private industrial sector, side by side to the General Consumption Establishment.

He noted that the festival allows direct communication between producers and consumers, not to mention the reasonable prices and discounts which exceeded 50% on some products, including textiles.

The festival, organized by Damascus and Damascus Countryside Chamber of Industry, lasts till the 17th of November 2016.

Back to top

Syriatech 2016 expo opens at Dama Rose Hotel

Damascus, 12 November 2016, SANA – The Syriatech 2016 IT expo opened on Saturday at Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus, organized by the Communications and Technology Ministry in cooperation with Syriatel and Creatives for Expos and Conferences, with the participation of around 30 local companies.

The 4-day expo features services, offers, and products from various IT companies, including internet services providers and software companies, as well as direct retail of IT products.

In a statement to journalists, Communications and Technology Minister Ali al-Zafir affirmed that the Ministry is working to support the IT sector which suffered setbacks due to the crisis in Syria, and that there are efforts being exerted to work on the IT infrastructure in terms of the e-signature and e-payment projects.

Al-Zafir noted that one of the most notable things about Syriatech 2016 is the presentation of fiber optics services that provide high-speed internet ranging between 20, 50, 75, and 100 mbps, noting that this technology is being applied in Damascus, Homs, Tartous, and Lattakia, with the rest of the provinces to follow later.

During the expo, Syriatel announced that it will launch IPTV (internet protocol television) services soon.

Back to top

EU, ADB Assist $76m To Afghanistan’s Amo Project

Kabul, 13 November 2016,(BNA)— To increase and improve products and food safety, the European Union (EU) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have assisted $76mln to Afghanistan’s Amo project. In a ceremony held last week, the contract was signed by the finance minister, Eklil Hakimi and Tom Manilla, the ADB chairman. A Kabul University professor, Saifuddin Sayhoon said that there was no doubt that the international community has always assisted Afghanistan to grow agriculture. However, it is laudable, but the assisted money should be properly spent, Sayhoon further said. He believes that Afghanistan is faced with many agricultural problems, however it is rich of water. Unfortunately, lack of water management has caused the farmers cannot use the waters appropriately, he added. He stressed that if the waters are managed properly, it can undoubtedly be effective on economic development and agriculture growth of the country.

$26 million of the assistance is of the ADB and the rest from the EU.

While signing the contract, finance minister, EklilHakimi said that the government would transparently practice one of its priorities which is expansion of irrigation system in Amo zone provinces, such as Badakhshan, Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar and Bamyan. The money of the project will be spent through the national budget. Tom Panila, the ADB chairman said that through the project, the income of almost 55000 agriculturist families would increase. He also added that the project will provide job opportunities to about 9000 inhabitants and will continue for twenty years. The EU deputy to Afghanistan said that these long-term assistances and cooperation of the European Union will strengthen the Amo zone areas from the viewpoint of water management. He added that it shows the EU and international donors joint efforts with finance ministry. The finance minister said that agriculture was the main source to develop Afghanistan economically. Lack of food safety is felt throughout the country, particularly in Amo zone provinces such as, Badakhshan, Takhar, Baghlan, Bamyan and Kunduz. It is worth mentioning that the project is consisted of water management system, reconstruction of canals, teaching of farmers to properly use the waters, etc.

Back to top

Tourist possibilities of Kyrgyzstan presented in England

Bishkek, 10 November 2016, Kabar — Embassy of Kyrgyzstan in the United Kingdom with the support of the Kyrgyz Association of Tour Operators (KATO), Kyrgyz travel company “Ak-Sai Travel” and the British company Norton Rose Fulbright organized on November 7 the presentation “Kyrgyzstan – Heart of Asia” in order to promote and develop tourism in Kyrgyzstan, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

The event, which was attended by representatives of the British Foreign Office, the British company, the company TheCityUK, BritishExpertise and other travel agencies of various countries, held discussions and exchanged views on the projects and opportunities in the tourism sector of Kyrgyzstan.

During the presentation, Ambassador of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UK Gulnara Iskakova told the participants about the history and prospects of development of independent Kyrgyzstan, and explained the importance of tourism in economic development.

Back to top

Kazakhstan hosts Muslim Magomayev festival

Kokshetau, 10 November 2016, AZERTAC – A festival commemorating USSR People’s Artist, outstanding Azerbaijani opera and popular singer Muslim Magomayev has been held Kokshetau, Kazakhstan. The festival was part of a series of events marking the 25th anniversary of the restoration of state independence of Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Counselor of Azerbaijan`s Embassy in Kazakhstan Agajavid Ramazanov said the genius of Muslim Magomayev attracted worldwide attention, including of the Kazakh people.

Young Kazakh singers performed Muslim Magomayev`s songs.

The event also featured the screening of a documentary on the outstanding singer`s life and career.

Back to top

Conference on peace and multiculturalism held in Spain

Murcia, 1 November 2016, AZERTAC — A conference titled “Contribution of the interreligious dialogue to peace and multicultural environment” has been held in Murcia, Spain.

The event was arranged with support of Azerbaijan`s Embassy to Spain and Catholic University of Murcia.

The conference brought together State Adviser on Multinational, Multicultural and Religious Affairs, Academician Kamal Abdulla, Chairman of the Caucasian Muslim Board Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahashukur Pashazade, Head of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Mubariz Gurbanli, Rector of Baku State University Abel Maharramov, as well as, scientific and art figures.

As part of the event, a memorandum of understanding has been signed between Baku State University and Saint Anthony Catholic University of Murcia.

Addressing the event, Azerbaijan`s Ambassador to Spain Anar Maharramov said the country attached great importance to peace, religious and multicultural values.

State Advisor Kamal Abdulla highlighted Azerbaijans experience in the field of multiculturalism. He pointed out that President Ilham Aliyev declared 2016 as the Year of Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan. On the countrys tolerance traditions, as well as its multiculturalism and religious tolerance, the State Advisor spoke about the policy carried out by the State on this front. “This policy carried out and supported by President Ilham Aliyev plays an important role in development of civil society in the country.” He added.

Cardinal, Archbishop emeritus of Madrid Antonio María Rouco Varela highlighted the visits of Popes to Azerbaijan, adding representatives of difference religious confessions live in the country in peace and in stability.

Chairman Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahashukur Pashazade spoke about Azerbaijan’s rich history, as well as co-existence of different nations in the country. Mr. Pashazade highlighted the state support to religious and national tolerance, as well as multiculturalism and state-religion ties.

The Chairman provided an insight into the cause and consequences of the Armenia-Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Head of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Mubariz Gurbanli said that Azerbaijan has developed an exemplary model of multiculturalism, adding that representatives of different religions live in peace and harmony in Azerbaijan.

Rector of Catholic University of St. Anthony Jose Luis Mendoza thanked the participants for the event, adding religion promoted peaceful life among the nations.

Rector of Baku State University Abel Maharramov highlighted tolerance environment in Azerbaijan. The Rector stressed the significance of the agreement signed between the two Universities. The rector said Baku State University was interested in strengthening ties with the Spanish higher schools.

Then a group of participants received special awards.

Back to top

Renovated Birinji Shahsevan-Ahmadli-Dunyamalilar highway reopens

Beylagan, 12 November 2016, AZERTAC — President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has viewed the newly-renovated Birinji Shahsevan-Ahmadli-Dunyamalilar highway as part of his visit to Beylagan district.

Chairman of Azeravtoyol OJSC Saleh Mammadov informed the head of state of the technical indicators of the highway.

The opening of the 22km part of the highway was held with participation of the head of state in 2014. The two-lane highway is 39 km in length and 6 m in width.

Eighty culverts were built, traffic signs were installed along the road.

President Ilham Aliyev cut the ribbon symbolizing the opening of the highway.

Back to top

A green gem in Heart of Borneo

12 November 2016, Borneo Bulletin —KEEPING up the spirit of the Heart of Borneo Declaration, Brunei has been effectively managing its forest resources through commendable conservation efforts over the past years that have gained global recognition for the Sultanate.

Brunei Darussalam has also gained international acclaim for having bio-rich tropical rainforests, majority of which are still in pristine condition and protected by effective legislation, despite occupying just one per cent of the total forest in the island of Borneo.

Brunei Darussalam is among those countries with a leading forest area, according to Asia Development Bank (ADB).

According to ADB’s Key Indicators for Asia and the Pacific 2016 (Key Indicators 2016) report published this week, Laos topped the list with a forest cover of 81.3 per cent followed by Bhutan (70 per cent), Brunei (70 per cent) and Papua New Guinea (70 per cent).

The report was prepared by the Development Economics and Indicators Division (ERDI) of the Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department (ERCD) of the ADB.

Forest area is a crucial foundation for maintenance of biodiversity, management of sustainable water sources, and even in mitigation of harmful consequences of extreme weather conditions, the report said.

Estimates based on the latest data suggest that about 22.2 per cent of Asia and the Pacific’s total land area is covered by forest.

Forest cover in East Asia is estimated at 30.9 per cent and in Southeast Asia at 28.6 per cent. On the other hand, forest cover in Central and West Asia is estimated at 2.6 per cent.

According to the report, the economies with air pollution levels that are below the maximum air pollution level set by the World Health Organization (WHO) include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, the Federated States of Micronesia and New Zealand.

Brunei now has the highest proportion of intact peat swamp forests in Southeast Asia. According to the Forestry Department, about 80 per cent of the peat swamp forest is still in good quality, covering around 16 per cent of the country’s total land area.

The department said last year that forest law and the national forest policy have been further strengthened with the formulation and implementation of the National Master Plan or Vision 2035.

Embedded in the five-year national plan are the implementation strategies and programmes of the forestry sector that provide allocation of government funds for projects that would facilitate economic and environmental development as envisioned under the Vision 2035.

In Brunei Darussalam, there has been a strong political will at all levels of the society to manage and conserve its forest resources since 1934 when the Forest Act was formalised in the country.

The high appreciation for forest and the role of forestry in the Bruneian society have ensured active participation from a wider range of stakeholders in the protection and conservation of the Sultanate’s natural forests.

Meanwhile, commitment by three governments in Borneo to a common conservation vision to effectively manage the island’s forest resources was further strengthened with the International Conference on the Heart of Borneo, which ended on Wednesday (November 9, 2016) in Sabah with a promise not to let the future generations down.

Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia had made a commitment nine years ago to secure a sustainable future of Borneo’s highland rainforest by signing the historic Heart of Borneo Declaration that committed them to a common conservation vision.

Under the common vision, the countries are to ensure the effective management of forest resources and the creation of a network of protected areas, sustainably managed forests and land-use zones across the 22 million hectares which constitute the Heart of Borneo – an area which covers almost one third of the island.

Back to top

Iran ranks 1st in 2016 World Fitness Champs

Tehran, 13 November 2016, IRNA – Iranian national team snatching a gold and a silver medal won men’s section of 2016 World Fitness Championship which was held on Nov 12-13 in Poland.

The event was held with attendance of some 131 athletes from 49 countries in Białystok, Poland.

Khodadad Shafi Pour and Hamidreza Bagheri received gold and silver medals respectively.

China, Portugal and Oman received 1 gold medal while Kuwait, England and Spain snatched 1 silver medal and Japan got 2 bronze medals.

Back to top

Iran President inaugurates three development plans

Ahvaz, Khuzestan prov,. Nov 13, IRNA – President Hassan Rouhani inagurated three development plans in the oil fields located west of Karun river in the Khuzestan province.

Rouhani attended a ceremony held to celebrate the official launching of the first phase of the development projects in Yadavaran, the first phase of north Azadegan and north Yaran oil fields.

The first phase of Yadavaran oil field with the production capacity of 85,000 barrels per day, north Azadegan oil field with production capacity of 75,000 barrel per day and North Yaran with the production capacity of 30,000 crude oil went on stream on Sunday.

Totally, the production capacity of oil fields located west of Karun river reaches 300,000 bpd after launching the projects.

Back to top

One million Iranians visit Iraq for Arbaeen ceremonies

Tehran, Nov 13, IRNA – Spokesman for organization in charge of Arabeen ceremonies affairs Hamidreza Goudarzi said over one million pilgrims have crossed into Iraq through four official Iranian outlets so far.

Talking to IRNA on Sunday, he noted that based on latest information today, about 1,050,000 Iranians have passed through the four border checkpoints on the Iraqi border namely Shalamche, Chazzabe and Mehran as well as air borders.

The official referred to Mehran as the busiest border checkpoint with close to half a million pilgrims having used it to enter Iraq.

Goudarzi further stressed the need for all Iranian pilgrims seeking entry into Iraqi soil to attain visas.

He said 35 Iranian pilgrims who lacked sufficient legal documents have been arrested and sent to jail by Iraqi officials.

The official further noted that the Iranian foreign ministry officials are in talks with the Iraqi side on the release of arrested pilgrims.

He explained those who embark on illegal entry into Iraq will face 6 months in jail and cash punishment.

The official also said a total of 1,390,000 Iraqi visas have so far been issued for Iranian pilgrims with another 743,223 ones still going through the procedures.

Goudarzi said he anticipated about 2,500,000 pilgrims to travel to Iraq for the Arbaeen rituals, showing an increase of about half a million in number compared to last year.

Back to top

Iran opens new terminal hall on Shalamche border point

Ahvaz, Khuzestan Prov. Nov 13, IRNA – President Hassan Rouhani inaugurated new terminal hall on Shalamche border point on Sunday.

President visited the border point of Shalamche with Iraq and inaugurated a new terminal hall for the pilgrims going to Karbala, Iraq, from the border post.

The northern site of the terminal covers an area of 7,500 square meters, built at a credit of 282 billion rials at a period of 16 months.

The terminal hall has the capacity of stopover services for 50,000 pilgrims going to Iraq a day.

Back to top

Oman’s Prized khanjar watches highly sought after by collectors

12 November 2016, (MENAFN – Muscat Daily) Muscat- High-end collectors are locked in bidding wars for prized ‘khanjar’ watches which feature a dagger in a sheath, superimposed upon two crossed swords – the emblem of Oman – on their dials.

Some of these antique watches, which were commissioned by the Government of Oman, and typically given as presents to dignitaries, are making their way to the world’s top auctions such as Christie’s Patek Phillipe Nautilus 40 Part I, which was held in Dubai last month.

A stainless steel ‘khanjar’ Patek Phillipe Nautilus was sold for US193,500 (RO74,478) at that event.

Experts from the auction house expect an even more valuable 18k gold ‘khanjar’ Patek Phillipe watch to break records at the upcoming Nautilus 40 Part II auction to be held in Geneva on Monday. It is expected to sell for between US200,000 and US400,00 (RO76,980-RO153,960).

Well looked after khanjar watches tick all the boxes for collectors, according to Remy Julia, watch specialist, head of watches, Middle East, India and Africa, Christie’s. ‘It was an honour to offer such a collectible watch in the Middle East as the opening lot of our Nautilus 40 Part I in Dubai. The excitement was in the room as well as on the telephone with bidders from three continents.’

The watch eventually sold for US193,500.

Julia said the gold Patek Phillipe Nautilus Khanjar could break records in Geneva, as it has all the features appealing to collectors. ‘It’s fresh to the market, it’s in exceptional condition – stock condition unpolished and untouched. It is an extremely limited production of a vintage watch enforced by the emblem of Oman, and a special order by the Government of Oman.’

Back to top

Iran’s Kish Island hopes relaxed rules will attract tourists

13 November 2016, (MENAFN – AFP) – Iranian investors are pouring money into Kish island in the Gulf, hoping its white sand beaches, coral reefs and more relaxed Islamic rules, could make it a major tourism destination.

From the pristine beaches of Kish, it is only 200 kilometres (120 miles) across the water to Dubai — and it is the booming city state’s tens of thousands of wealthy expats that the investors are hoping to lure.

The wide, palm tree-lined boulevards that circle the island of 100 square kilometres (nearly 40 square miles) are full of top-end cars, including luxury American models.

The buildings are modern, the hotels comfortable and new shopping centres are sprouting everywhere.

Diners pack late-night, roof-top restaurants. Women sit with cigarette in hand, wearing colourful headscarves pushed right back to reveal plenty of make-up and expensive hair-dos.

During the day, the men walk the long jetties in bermuda shorts — forbidden in most parts of Iran. Under the warm autumn sun, one man is even shirtless.

A motorboat zooms past, techno music blaring, with men and women sitting together.

In many ways, it looks as if little has changed since the days when the shah and his family holidayed here before the Islamic revolution of 1979. The green and white cars of the morality police are rarely seen.

Still, even though Islamic rules are less strict on Kish, they are still in force — creating a major obstacle for investors hoping to attract Western expats for short breaks from Dubai.

There are no bars or clubs — or any alcohol at all — while men and women must use separate beaches, splitting up families.

  • ‘Halal tourism’ –

Massoud Gilani, an investment consultant who divides his time between Dubai and Kish, tries to put an optimistic spin on the issue.

Iran is in the midst of a tourism boom, thanks to the efforts of the current moderate government under President Hassan Rouhani to rebuild ties with the West.

Visitor numbers have leapt from 2.2 million a year in 2009 to 5.2 million in 2015, the government says, and an even bigger increase is expected this year.

But most Westerners are drawn by Iran’s ancient cities and historical treasures, rather than a beach break.

Ali Jirofti, one of the managers of Kish’s free trade zone, recognises that the island’s best hope is to focus on Muslim holidaymakers.

The priority is “high-end halal tourism,” he said.

Kish already attracts some 1.8 million visitors per year, mostly Tehranis hoping to escape not just social strictures but also the horrendous traffic and pollution of the capital.

Shopping is another big draw — Kish was the first and most significant of seven free-trade zones set up during the 1990s to attract investment and help with the import of consumer goods.

There are now some 40 hotels, and US-style malls are everywhere.

The company also wants to double the number of international flights by Kish Air and create a car-free “ecological paradise” on the nearby island of Hendorabi, where an airport, port and hotel have already been built.

Investors are also pushing health tourism, with two top-end hospitals already running on the island, boasting leading doctors, particularly plastic surgeons.

“Forty more luxury hotels of four to five stars are under construction,” said Jirofti. “Our aim is to reach 2.6 million tourists within 10 years.”

Back to top

UAE- GCC’s hospitality sector has $104.4b projects under way

12 November 2016, (MENAFN – Khaleej Times) – Active tourism market backs industry; remains firm on growth trajectory With the GCC hospitality industry remaining firm on its projected annual 7.6 per cent growth trajectory, the region is pressing ahead with projects with a combined value of 104.4 billion despite the headwinds posed by falling oil revenues, tourism industry experts said.

A bulk of the tourism and hospitality projects underway are in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, collectively valued at 23.5 billion, as the region’s hospitality market is expected to grow at a 7.6 per cent compound annual growth rate to 36.7 billion in 2020 from an estimated 25.4 billion in 2015.

Organisers of the upcoming Hotelier Summit UAE & KSA said the regional governments support the tourism sector that they consider as a strong economy growth driver. Several measures have been taken such as building new attractions, involving private investments, and launching several international promotional campaigns. Of the ongoing projects in GCC, 15 of them are either in UAE or Saudi Arabia.

Analysts at Alpen Capital said in the long-term, aided by upcoming events, robust fundamentals and government efforts, the hospitality sector in the GCC is anticipated to recover on the back of sustained rise in tourist arrivals and a robust pipeline of hotels and serviced apartments.

Backed by an active tourism market, the GCC hospitality industry remains firm on its growth trajectory. Though drop in oil prices and currency depreciation is currently affecting demand, the sector’s long-term outlook remains strong, Alpen said.

Government measures to bolster tourism activities in the region like encouraging private sector investments, building new attractions, expanding airport capacity, and increasing international promotion campaigns are providing impetus to the growth of the hospitality sector in the region, Alpen said.

A thriving segment of meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE), spate of technological advancements, and brisk development of midscale hotel properties are amongst the key factors elevating the appeal of the GCC hospitality sector, she said.

The GCC region holds one of the largest hotel development pipelines in the world. Driven by the bright prospects of the tourism industry and government support, international hotel chains as well as domestic players have laid down robust hotel and serviced apartment development plans.

Dubai is likely to witness an addition of nearly 57,000 rooms in hotel and serviced apartments in the five years to 2020, whereas Saudi Arabia has a pipeline of over 47,000 rooms. Addition of such massive capacity is expected to extensively scale up the region’s hospitality sector. Large-scale international events, upcoming tourist attractions, and a growing MICE market are likely to accelerate tourist arrivals to the GCC region. International tourist arrivals to the GCC are anticipated to grow by 5.7 per cent annually in the next four years to 2020, Alpen said.

Ganesh Babu, Director, India & Middle East, IDE, organiser of the Hotelier summit, said the event’s previous edition in Qatar had such a huge impact and generated a lot of good echoes among participants and in media as well as important business deals. “We could present more than 345 projects and reunite over 120 hotel owners, operators, developers, architects, interior designers, consultants and service providers.”

Back to top

VFS Global opens advanced France Visa Application Centre in Muscat

12 November 2016, (MENAFN – Muscat Daily) Muscat- Residents of Oman can now apply for visas to France at the visa application centre launched for the Embassy of France in Muscat.

Applicants can visit VFS Global’s modern and well-appointed centre to submit visa applications and enrol for biometrics. With France being a popular tourist destination with Omanis, the opening of this new centre will bring added convenience and ease to applicants through quicker and more streamlined application processes.

The new centre joins five other client governments served at the same premises, making it convenient for travellers planning multiple business or leisure trips abroad. Oman is the third country in the Middle East, after Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi in UAE, from where applicants can apply for a visa to France. Since commencing visa processing operations in Oman in 2005, VFS Global now serves nine client governments in the country.

VFS Global has been serving France since 2004, and currently serves clients in 15 countries from 52 visa application centres globally. H E Roland Dubertrand, Ambassador of France to Oman, said, ‘In order to ensure an excellent quality of service to an ever increasing number of visa applicants and to attract more Omanis and foreign residents to visit France, the French Embassy has selected VFS Global for collecting visa applications.’

Yummi Talwar, regional head – Middle East, VFS Global, said, ‘The opening of this centre and our longstanding association of over 12 years with the Government of France reflects their trust in our abilities to deliver uncompromising service quality.’ The centre is located at Muscat Grand Mall. For further details visit www.vfsglobal.com/france/oman

Back to top

Oman Motorhomes to set up recreation vehicle campgrounds

12 November 2016,(MENAFN – Muscat Daily)- Muscat- Omran signed an agreement with Oman Motorhomes recently to set up the first campgrounds for Recreation Vehicles (RVs) in various key tourist areas.

It falls within Oman’s national Tourism Strategy 2040 that aims to make tourism account for six per cent of the country’s GDP.

The agreement provides another dimension to the development of the tourism industry, and will enable visitors to experience the sultanate’s attractions in a new way. The first campgrounds will be established in Al Ashkhara and Salalah.

Eng Khalid Mirza, director of Projects Development, Omran said, ‘We look forward to working with Oman Motorhomes on setting up the first campgrounds across the sultanate. It’s the right time to furnish the tourism sector with new creative ideas such as the entrepreneurship concept offered by Oman Motorhomes which will help in boosting tourism and offer new activity for internal and external tourists in Oman. This will create jobs for Omanis and support Omani SMEs at the local communities around the campgrounds.’

He added, ‘With Omran’s aim to continue implementing its Local Development Investent (LDI) strategy, which looks beyond the short-term goal of immediate returns; this kind of collaboration bolsters the investment in the strategic vision of Omran. We want to ensure a stronger local supply chain, working with local skills and talent and consequently improving the quality of our end product. And this is a great example of doing that.’ Oman Motorhomes is the authorised dealer in Oman for the world’s largest manufacturers of RVs including Thor Motorcoach and Forestriver which guarantee the highest standard.

‘Oman Motorhomes strives to create a positive touristic experience while exploring the beauty of Oman in a convenient and affordable way for all customers. After a day of sightseeing, families can return to their RVs, cook their favourite meals at leisure and relax in a comfortable and familiar atmosphere,’ said Eng Nasser al Saadi, owner and managing director of Oman Motorhomes.

‘Oman Motorhomes will also seek community participation in operating campgrounds which will bring substantial economic benefits to local communities and residents and create community awareness and understanding,’ Eng Saadi added.

Back to top

270 ships cross Suez Canal with load of 14.9m tons

13 November 2016, (MENAFN)- Suez Canal traffic data showed that 270 ships crossed the canal with a load of 14.9mn tons from 5-10 Nov.

Moreover, an average of 45 ships transited the canal per day amid that period, with an average load of 2.48mn tons per day.

Compared to July of last year, before the inauguration of the New Suez Canal, the average daily number of transiting vessels reached 47 vessels.

Recently, 135 ships transited the new channel coming from the south, with a daily average of 22.5 vessels and a total load of 7.9mn tons.

Back to top

Morocco seeks US$50 Billion Attain Climate Change Goals

12 November 2016, (MENAFN – Morocco World News), Casablanca — A new report by INDC Maroc (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) on projected contributions for the 2010-2030 period has determined that Morocco would need 50 billion dollars in order to attain its climate change goals.

The document describes how Morocco plans on reducing its gas emissions by 17 percent by 2030. 4 percent of those reductions are set to be handled by the AFAT (agriculture, forestry, and other land use).

The report also determined that an additional 25 percent reduction on gas emissions is possible if Morocco gets investments amounting to 50 billion dollars between 2010 and 2030 (495 billion dirhams).

Morocco intends to invest between 15 and 20 percent in fighting climate change, but pans on asking the international community to contribute as much as 38 billion dollars over the next 15 years.

Morocco is highly vulnerable when it comes to climate change given its geographical positioning. Unfortunately, its ‘contribution to the causes of climate change is extremely low,’ says the INDC report.

The contribution numbers were determined with global ambitions, and the Paris Agreement, in mind.’In coherence with Article 3 of the Paris Agreement,’ says the report, ‘Morocco’s INDC presents the country’s efforts in its battle against climate change in terms of adaptation and mitigation for all sectors of the country’s economy.’

Back to top

Dubai property gets the Gen Y boost

13 November 2016, (MENAFN – Khaleej Times)- Millennials account for almost half of Dubai’s total population of 2.5m Millennials in Dubai are increasingly getting onto the property bandwagon – and that’s good news for the emirate’s real estate sector in general and for certain up-and-coming suburbs in particular.

Born between the early 1980s and 2000, millennials account for almost half of Dubai’s total population of 2.5 million (2015 data), according to the Dubai Statistics Centre.

With high disposable income, Dubai’s millennials make up the bulk of first-time buyers, a fact that holds true more for Western and Arab expats than for Asians, who prefer to make their first property purchase in their home country.

Also known as Generation Y, these professionals are increasingly choosing to invest in Dubai property as a hedge against rental inflation, mostly opting for studios, one-bedroom apartments and townhouses, say experts.

“Young families show a preference for townhouses as there are gardens and rooms to expand should their personal circumstances dictate,” said David Godchaux, CEO of Core Savills.

The launch of affordable townhouses such as Town Square by Nshama and in Jumeirah Village Triangle has certainly piqued the interest of millennials and first-time buyers. Other townhouse options on their radar include The Springs and Arabian Ranches Phase 2.

“Townhouses are very attractive for those with young children. Emaar’s Mira development is one such good example of a new community. In some ways, it is what The Springs used to be five to seven years ago,” said Sanjay Chimnani, managing director of Raine & Horne Dubai.

Property and community requirements vary for a couple with children and those without kids. While a young family is on the lookout for parks, communal pools and proximity to schools, singles and DINK (double income no kids) couples seek restaurants and the convenience of daily chores around their new abodes.

Facilities in demand

New homeowners are sticklers for some basic facilities in the building such as a pool, gym, parking, etc.

“Community facilities such as convenience retail, F & B, clinics, pharmacies, schools, salons as well as easy access to main highways are important factors in their consideration. In terms of floorplans, millennials look at efficient layouts with open kitchen rather than closed kitchens,” according to Mansoor Ahmed, director of healthcare, education, development solutions and PPP at Colliers International Mena.

In terms of size, young people are looking for studios or one bedroom units. Most of them are price-conscious, so would be prepared to sacrifice on size in order to potentially pay less.

“This constitutes almost 60 to 70 per cent inventory of several new projects. Home sizes have also changed over time. A typical one-bedroom apartment seven to 10 years ago was 1,000 sq ft to 1,200 sq ft and these are now around 700 sq ft. This is more in line with big cities in international markets,” added Raine & Horne’s Chimnani.

Besides a way out of the rental trap, most millennials buy homes for investment purposes as well (think capital appreciation and rental returns).

Barometer of wealth

“Given a choice, most people’s dream would be to own their property. But in Dubai, this is not necessarily possible. Property ownership is seen as a barometer of wealth, and young first-time buyers would prefer to buy an investment if they cannot afford an end-user property. There are also those who want to put roots down and get out of the rental trap, so the drivers are wealth building and/or owning one’s home,” explained Mario Volpi, chief sales officer, Kensington Exclusive Properties.

Meanwhile, with developers getting creative with post-handover payment plans, millennials and first-time buyers are seeing the benefits of committing EMI to a mortgage rather than wasting money on rent.

“Even if a person takes a five-year view of staying in Dubai, s/he will find it very attractive to own as opposed to rent. If the lending cap is reduced to 10 to 15 per cent down payment and 85 to 90 per cent mortgage as against 25:75 today as per central bank guidelines, end-user ownership would boom,” suggested Chimnani.

“What has happened over the past two years is the formation of a growing pool of underlying demand because of the very high level of yields in Dubai. Some of this underlying demand is starting to translate into transactions as there is a perception that prices have or are starting to reach the bottom. This, in turn, is pushing more renters to move to ownership as there is anticipation that prices will progressively grow over the next few years,” Core’s Godchaux concluded.

Back to top

Denim Expo begins in Dhaka

DHAKA, 8 November 2016, (BSS)-A two-day Bangladesh Denim Expo-2016 began at Bashundhara International Convention Centre in the city today.

A total of 55 organizations from 15 countries are taking part in the event. The theme of this year expo is ‘Natural Denim’.

Around 5000 global denim experts from different countries, including the USA, the UK, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Egypt, Belgium, China and the UAE, have joined the expo.

As part of the programme, a seminar was held today. German ambassador Dr. Thomas Prinz and Swedish ambassador Johan Frisell attended the seminar which was conducted by BGMEA vice-president Mohammad Nasir.

Back to top

Dubai opens Water Canal in fresh boost for tourism, commerce

DUBAI, 10 November 2016, (BSS/AFP) – Dubai inaugurated a new canal Wednesday after a three-year construction project costing $735 million, in a fresh boost for tourism and commerce in the booming Gulf city state.

The Dubai Water Canal creates a 6.4-kilometre (four-mile) waterfront in the area running from the city’s growing Business Bay commercial district to the Gulf.

The waterway, between 80 and 120 metres (260-400 feet) in width, will “add a unique tourist and commercial showpiece” to the city, said the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) chief, Mattar al-Tayer.

RTA said three bridges were built and that the project would provide “a new residential district, tourist attractions and recreational facilities including several hotels, restaurants and entertainment”.

It will add a new shopping centre, four hotels and 450 restaurants to the city, according to local media.

Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attended the canal’s grand official opening ceremony, as the city state which attracted 14 million tourists in 2015 aims for 25 million visitors a year by 2020 when it hosts the global trade fair Expo 2020.

In 2013, Sheikh Mohammed, who is also the Gulf country’s vice-president and prime minister, promised that the water canal will be Dubai and the UAE’s “biggest landmark.”

Following a spectacular show of acrobats and dancers, he boarded a boat with his guests and sailed in the canal towards the commercial centre amid applause from inhabitants who gathered at its banks as fireworks lit up the sky.

The emirate is also working on a skyscraper that when completed will stand even higher than its Burj Khalifa — the world’s tallest tower at 823 metres (2,700 feet).

Back to top

Bangladeshi Professor gets ‘Rowshan Innas Research Award’

DHAKA, 13 November 2016, (BSS) – Dr Kazi Hanium Maria, associate professor of the Department of Physics of Dhaka University (DU), has been Awarded “Rowshan Innas Ali Research Award-2014” for her outstanding research work.

DU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Prof AAMS Arefin Siddique handed over the award to Dr Maria as the chief guest at a function at Nabab Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban of the university.

Donor of the Trust Fund Dr Husne Ara Ali and Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration Syed Nazmul Huda also addressed the function.

Prof Arefin congratulated Dr Maria and also paid his glowing tribute to the memory of late Prof M Innas Ali.

The VC recalled the outstanding contributions of Prof Ali to develop scientific research and education in the country.

He urged the students to equip themselves with moral values by following the ideals of Prof M Innas Ali.

Prof M Innas Ali was the Chairman of DU Physics Department. He had donated money to DU authorities for setting up “Rowshan Innas Ali Trust Fund” at the university in memory of his wife. He died on May 3, 2010 in Dhaka at the age of 94.

Back to top

Nasim vows to let no one destroy communal harmony

SIRAJGANJ, 13 November 2016, (BSS)- Health and Family Welfare Minister Mohammad Nasim today said the Awami League government would not let any quarter to destroy communal harmony asserting no one would be spared who carried out attacks on the minority community.

“Let us not destroy the thousand-year-old tradition of communal harmony of the country. A vested quarter is hatching conspiracy to instigate the communal disturbances,” he told a meeting of district law and order committee at Deputy Commissioner’s office here this afternoon.

Nasim, also Awami League presidium member and 14-party spokesman, called upon the administration, the party leaders and workers and the peoples’ representative to remain alert so that none can carry out further attack on the minority community people to create instability in the country.

The minister said the members of different religions, including the Hindus, have been performing their respective religious festivals peacefully and with much festivity under the rule of the present government.

“But, a vicious circle suddenly carried out attack on the Hindus to destroy the communal harmony,” he added.

Deputy Commissioner Kamrun Nahar Siddique chaired the meeting while Tanvir Imam, MP, Superintendant of Police Miraj Uddin Ahmed and District Awami League President Abdul Latif Biswas, among others, joined it.

Back to top

Azerbaijani news agency to head two media associations

BAKU, Azerbaijan, 12 November 2016, (Anadolu Agency)— Azerbaijan’s state news agency AzerTac will take over the presidency of the Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies (OANA) and of the World Congress of News Agencies (NAWC) for three years.

The opening ceremony of the meetings, the 16th general assembly of the OANA and the fifth congress of the NAWC, will be held at the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku on Nov.16.

“We are sure that Anadolu Agency and AzerTac, two friendly agencies, will achieve greater success by cooperating during our presidency of the World Congress of News Agencies in 2016-2019.” Aslan Aslanov, director general of the AzerTac told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.

The two events will bring together more than 200 heads and representatives of over 100 reputable news agencies, speakers specialized in media, and officials from the UN and UNESCO.

In the World Congress of News Agencies, they will discuss hot topics such as the opportunities of the new technologies and social media, innovation of the news agencies and journalism training for the future of the multimedia.

At the events, executives of the news agencies such as Associated Press, Reuters, Anadolu Agency, TASS, Xinhua will give speeches.

OANA was run by Russian news agency TASS for the 2013–2016 period. Turkey’s Anadolu Agency held the presidency between 2010-2013

Established in 1961 under a UNESCO initiative, OANA is comprised of 44 Asia-Pacific news agencies from 35 countries.

The NAWC was established in 2004 in Moscow. This year Azerbaijan will take over the presidency from Saudi Arabia.

Back to top

Thousands run in 38th Vodafone Istanbul Marathon

ISTANBUL, 13 November 2016, (Anadolu Agency) – It was third time lucky for Kenyan-born Azerbaijani runner Evans Kiplagat who finished first in Sunday’s Vodafone Istanbul Marathon’s men’s race.

Crossing the line with a time of two hours, 13 minutes and 28 seconds, Kiplagat finally took first place after finishing second last year and third in 2012.

Ethiopian athlete Shura Kitata Tola finished second and Kenyan runner Peter Kiptoo Kiplagat came third.

Kenyan athlete Agnes Jeruto Barsosio won the women’s marathon with a time of two hours, 28 minutes and 24 seconds. Ethiopian runner Sechale Adugna Dalasa came second and her compatriot Rahma Tusa Chota finished third.

July 15 martyrs remembered

Thousands of people are still taking part in the Istanbul Marathon where this year’s theme is: “We are running for the July 15 martyrs.”

Sunday’s marathon hosted 90 elite athletes, including 28 top Turkish runners, as well as thousands of people who just want to challenge themselves by running 42 kilometers (26 miles).

Turkey’s Sports Minister Akif Cagatay Kilic, Family Minister Fatma Betul Sayan Kaya, Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin and Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Kadir Topbas gave the starting signal at 9.00 a.m. local time (0600 GMT).

Starting pistols were not used out of respect for the hundreds of martyrs killed in the deadly July coup plot.

More than 240 people died and nearly 2,200 others were injured during the events of July 15.

The Istanbul marathon also features 15km and 10km events.

A free 8km Heroes Run will see people casually race or just walk along the Bosphorus. A race for wheelchair-bound competitors is also underway.

The races started on the Asian side of the July 15 Martyrs’ Bridge, formerly known as the Bosphorus Bridge, and will end on the historic European side.


Sports Minister Kilic told Anadolu Agency he was walking in the Heroes Run to commemorate the people who were martyred on the bridge during the night of the coup attempt.

“Our people are together. Those who have different opinions and favor different political parties are in unity,” Kilic added.

The marathon will end in Sultanahmet Square; the 15km and 10km races will finish in the nearby Eminonu district. The Heroes Run will end in front of the Ottoman-era Dolmabahce Palace.

This year’s elite athletes were mostly from Turkey, Belarus, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Russia and Ukraine.

Back to top

Pakistan, China start using $46bn economic corridor

KARACHI, Pakistan, 13 November 2016, (Anadolu Agency) – The departure of a Chinese ship from Pakistan’s southwestern Gwadar port on Sunday meant a much-vaunted economic corridor between the countries began to transition from bilateral agreements to reality.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attended a ceremony held at the port, a key part of the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), to celebrate the arrival of a Chinese trade convoy that had travelled 3,000 kilometers from China’s northwestern Xinjiang province.

Flanked by powerful army chief General Raheel Sharif, cabinet ministers and ambassadors from 15 countries, Sharif formally saw off the first ship from the deep-sea port.

Describing the much-publicized CPEC project as “game-changer” for the entire region, Sharif said his country was harnessing its geo-strategic location for economic benefits.

“This is the beginning of shared benefits, shared prosperity and shared cooperation between Pakistan and China,” he said, adding that his government planned to transform Gwadar into a small port city to serve as a trade and economic hub for the entire region.

The Chinese ambassador to Islamabad, Sun Weidong said: “CPEC has entered its full implementation. It is a sign of mutual benefits, mutual construction and win-win cooperation between Pakistan and China.”

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan last year, the two countries sealed a total of 51 agreements under the CPEC umbrella, increasing their cooperation on energy, security and infrastructure issues.

The corridor, which is part of Beijing’s most ambitious foreign economic initiative, One Belt, One Road, will connect northwest China to the Gwadar port through a network of roads, railways and pipelines, to transport cargo, oil and gas.

It would provide the shortest route for Chinese cargo destined for the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa while earning Islamabad $5 billion annually.

One of the most serious barriers to the completion of the 2,000-kilometer corridor has been Pakistan’s security problems, with Chinese workers having been attacked or kidnapped by Taliban militants or Baloch separatists operating in the province Gwadar is located in.

Baloch separatists have accused Islamabad of taking Chinese help to steal resources from the mineral-rich Balochistan province.

After a request by the Chinese president, the Pakistani army has created a 10,000 strong force to provide protection to hundreds of Chinese workers, technicians and experts working on projects linked to the economic corridor.

Beijing is already Islamabad’s largest trade and defense partner but the two countries hope the project will increase their trade volume from $16 billion to $20 billion.

Back to top

Pak Veterans cricket team to visit South Africa

LAHORE, 13 November 2016,(APP)- Pakistan Veterans Cricket team will visit South Africa from November 15 to play a four match series against the veterans teams in different cities.

“It will be an interesting series and a test of potential and abilities of our team”, said prominent veteran and club cricket organizer and member of the team, Salman Khan while talking to APP here on Sunday.

He said Pak veterans team will be playing matches in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth during the ten day tour.

“This tour is of greater significance as it will help in promoting veteran cricket ties between the two countries and we will also be aiming to portray a soft image of Pakistan being a sports loving country with a rich history of having organized elite sports events not only in cricket but also in other sports”, said Salman.

He said there is dire need of bringing back international cricket to Pakistan and from the platform of the veteran cricket they will be making efforts in this regard.

The veterans team comprises, Ashiq Hussain, Salman Khan, Amer Ilyas Butt, Hamad Maqbool, Saleem Elahi, Bilal Khilji, Mohammad Hafeez, Kamil Khan, Kamal Ghani, Asim Jah, Zubair Butt, Muhammad Shakeel, Zia uddin and Qaiser Khichi.

Shakeel and Saleem are the two ex test cricketers in team, he said.

He said the touring side will open its tour with a 30-overs match at Newlands, Cape Town, second match at Western Province Cricket Stadium, Cape Town, third match at George Cricket Stadium and the fourth and last game at Port Elizabeth stadium.

He said Veterans team is in good shape as its members are engaged in veteran cricket at Lahore and Karachi. “The team is a mixture of players mainly from Lahore and Karachi and they have warmed up for the tour by taking part in number of veteran cricket matches and events held at their respective centres”, said Salman.

He said Pakistan Veterans Cricket Association was doing a lot to develop veteran cricket and it was arranging foreign tours for its team on regular basis to create healthy activities for the former cricketers.

Salman said being involved in veteran cricket it does not mean that they will be utilizing their energies and resources only on the promotion of grass root cricket.

“From the platform of the veteran cricket I will be organizing youth cricket tournaments by involving local clubs of Lahore to identify new cricket talent and to play a due role in a national cause”, he added.

He said they will also be inviting the respective South African veterans teams to visit Pakistan in due course of time to develop veteran cricket ties on reciprocate basis.

Pak veterans team will return home on November 27.

Back to top

British Council to launch film on Pakistan’s Independence

ISLAMABAD, 11 November 2016,(APP)- British Council will launch a short film in collaboration with Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy Films during August 2017 in connection with 70th anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence.

The film intends to explore migration between the United Kingdom and Pakistan since 1947, said a news release issued here.

It will focus on telling families’ stories and will examine how understandings of the period of Partition and Independence affect subsequent generations’ cultural understandings and identities.

This exciting project will explore the rich and complex relationship between the UK and Pakistan through personal narratives.

The film would explore how family histories of migration affect peoples’ relationships to their ancestor’s ‘home’ countries and to their own countries in this case, how grandparents’ or parents’ experiences of migration from Pakistan to the UK around 1947 are perceived and internalised.

The film will explore several distinct family stories it will aim to feature several diverse stories, including stories of families who migrated to the UK but who have since returned to Pakistan.

Back to top

Pakistani Film produced on a Shakespeare novel

LAHORE, 12 November 2016, (APP) – Newly produced Pakistani film, Rahm, is based on a novel of great British poet and playwright Shakespeare and it will be released in the cinema houses all over the country on Nov 18.

The special aspect of this film is that the old songs of Madam Noor Jahan and Reshma have been picturised in it according to the situations of the story.

Heroin of the film, Sanam Saeed, told APP here on Saturday that film ‘Rahm’ is her fourth film to be released during this year, while her fifth film, Azad has also been completed.

Besides, Sanam Saeed, Nayyar Ejaz and Rehan Sheikh and others performed in this film.

A Mujra dance has been picturised on an old beautiful song of Madam Noor Jahan. Sanam saeed claimed that this film will hit the box office.

Back to top

Pakistan urged to tap $5bln trade potential with Turkey

ISLAMABAD, Nov 12 (APP): Pakistan has potential to enhance its exports to Turkey up to $5 billion, with the greatest capacity of $329 million in the trade of instruments and appliances used in medical, surgical and veterinary sciences, says the latest report of Pakistan Business Council (PBC).

The PBC in its “2016 Second Review of the Feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Turkey,” urged that Pakistan should emphasize on pressing for tariff reduction on its high potential export products.

“While the tariffs faced by the top 10 high potential items of Pakistan are low (9.6 percent or below), there is a significant difference between tariffs placed on Pakistan and Turkey’s Free Trade Agreement partners, Egypt and Jordon,” it said.

Turkey’s FTA partners Egypt and Jordan enjoy tariffs significantly lower than those currently faced by Pakistan; while the tariffs on Turkish exports, though high, are at par with those on the exports of Pakistan’s FTA partners including China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

The report said that Turkey has the potential to export $12.8 billion to Pakistan, with the greatest potential $346 million in trade of motor cars and other motor vehicles.

According to the report, tariff and trade simulation shows that had both the countries signed an FTA that eliminated all tariffs in 2015, Turkey’s exports would rise by 32% while Pakistan’s exports would only rise by 22%.

The Study finds that the benefits of a bilateral FTA are skewed in favor of Turkey and its export portfolio fits the import needs of Pakistan better than vice versa, hence Turkey is more likely to experience increased exports post FTA.

Looking at the potential for both countries to increase their exports to each other, Turkey’s export potential is over 2.5 times larger than Pakistan’s export potential, the report observes.

The report urges that negotiations need to focus on tariff elimination across high potential exports, particularly those in which the exporter has a comparative advantage.

Pakistan should also be wary of non tariff barriers, it says, adding tariff elimination alone cannot increase Pakistan’s exports to their 2011 level; those exports can be partly recouped if trade remedy provisions are made part of the FTA.

According to the study,Pakistan’s exports to Turkey are concentrated in cotton while its imports consist of machinery, electrical, electronic equipment, plastic, chemicals, synthetic staple fibers, and iron/steel.

Pakistan benefits from a positive, though sharply declining,bilateral trade balance, the report adds.

The report urges both the countries to do away with discrepancies in their reported data on which the bilateral trade policy is made, which would help promote trade.

Back to top

Trade via Gwadar Port to usher in prosperity for Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, 13 November 2016, (APP) – Minister of State for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday said start of trade operations through cargo ships from Gwadar Port would start a new era of economic prosperity and global integration.

This was the start of the period that would be epochal in the history of Pakistan, as an era of economic prosperity and global integration, she said in a statement.

The minister said the Prime Minister had inaugurated the start of trade operations through cargo ships from Gwadar Port.

The Government of Pakistan under the leadership of Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had opened a corridor of progress and development for Pakistan, especially for the province of Balochistan, she added.

She said China Pakistan Economic Corridor in the near future would provide opportunities for the youth that would encourage and inspire those who have to go abroad to look for opportunities.

The mega project, she said, would change the destiny of the nation by utilising vast national resources effectively that would be an enabler to deliver high quality of services and amenities to the people.

Back to top

First Gwadar trade pilot shipment, watershed event in CPEC history

GWADAR, Nov 13 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Sunday said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) had become a reality with starting off the first shipment of trade cargo from the Gwadar Port to international destinations.

Terming the arrival of the first trade convoy at Gwadar Port ‘a watershed event’, the Prime Minister said the CPEC project, conceived by the leadership of China and Pakistan, had materialized, bringing a dawn of immense trade and commerce opportunities for the whole region.

Addressing a ceremony of the launching of the first mega pilot trade cargo, he said Pakistan was a proud partner of China and assured that his government would leave no stone unturned to complete all the development projects under the aegis of CPEC on time.

He said the CPEC also manifested the desire of the leadership of two countries for shared prosperity through a broader and solid cooperation.

He also lauded the Chinese President for his vision of regional prosperity which coincided with Pakistan’s vision of development of 2020.

He said President Xi’s vision of shared prosperity through greater connectivity was need of the hour in the conflict ridden and increasing polarized world.

The CPEC was the fusion of Chinese President’s concept of ‘one belt and one road’ project which came as integrating the trade and commerce activities of various regional countries through enhanced connectivity, thus transforming Pakistan into a major hub of trade and commerce, he added.

The Prime Minister said Pakistan enjoyed the unique geo-strategical location, standing at the crossroads of three major engines of growth, including South Asia, China and the Central Asia, and changing fate of three billion people of the region and in future would serve as the hub of a major trade zone.

Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Rashad Mahmood, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Zakaullah Khan, federal ministers Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Ahsan Iqbal and Abdul Qadir Baloch, Advisor on National Security Nasir Khan Janjua, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, a number of ambassadors, FWO officials, Chinese dignitaries, Sino Trans company officials, members of provincial assemblies, notables and elders were present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister said today they had gathered to witness the dream of CPEC turning into reality and further strengthening of bilateral ties between the two countries that stood the test of times.

Terming the Gwadar Port a ‘jewel in the CPEC crown’, he expressed the confidence that due to its geo-strategic prime location, it would play a pivotal role in future trade and cargo activities.

He said the vision of exclusive and sustained development must reach to those who had been mired in poverty and backwardness and in that regard, the CPEC would provide benefits to the all the under-developed areas of the country, including Balochistan, KPK, FATA, AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan.

The Prime Minister said the construction of new roads had brought peace and prosperity in the province linking the major coastline of the country, which had been erstwhile virtually inaccessible due to lack of road network.

He said the federal government was spending Rs 74 billion for numerous development projects in the province whereas projects, including Khuzdar-Quetta and D I Khan road dualization, worth Rs 200 billion would be launched soon.

He lauded the services of Frontier Works Organization (FWO) for the operationalizing of Gwadar Port by laying three major road networks through the rough and difficult terrains of the province over which the federal government spent Rs 49 billion.

He paid tribute to the brave 40 FWO men who laid down their lives in the construction of the road projects.

The Prime Minister also commended the personal support and indulgence of the Chief of Army Staff and Balochistan Chief Minister for executing the development projects, adding the maritime security was being looked after by the Pakistan Navy.

He announced that Khuzdar-Gwadar-Ratodero road would be made operational in 2017 whereas Chaman-Khyber road had been rehabilitated.

The federal government, he said, had allocated land for the Free Trade Zones whereas a project worth Rs 25 billion was being executed for the development of Gwadar city, keeping in view its importance.

He said an amount of Rs 11.5 billion was being spent for the clean drinking water supply to Gwadar. In that regard, Shadi Kaur dam was completed whereas work on Basol dam was underway.

The existing 50-bed hospital, he said, was being upgraded to 300-bed facility, while a university, and a technical and vocational training institute were also being set up in Gwadar to produce required manpower.

He said under the CPEC, the government had prioritized energy and road infrastructure. To meet the electricity needs, a 300-megawatt power plant was being installed in Gwadar, he added.

The Prime Minister said the government had already allocated land for the Gwadar Free Trade Zone with special concessions.

Moreover, he said, the projects of Exclusive Industrial Park Processing Zone and Mineral Economic Zone were also being executed on priority basis.

He underscored the significance of the political stability and said the CPEC was a leapfrog in this regard. The Prime Minister said the CPEC was a national programme and its enemies were the enemies of Pakistan and China.

Speaking on the occasion, FWO Director General Major General Muhammad Afzal said the first pilot trade convoy had reached Gwadar after covering a distance of 3000 Kms from Kashghar.

He said under the concept of modern times maritime trade activities, the CPEC would usher in socio-economic transformation of the whole region.

Maj General Muhammad Afzal said the Prime Minister’s patronage was vital for the realization of the project. He said Pakistan army provided security to the trade convoy from China to Gwadar and would ensure security of all the trade routes in future.

He thanked the Sino-Trans, a Chinese company, for lending help and cooperation to the FWO and said the synergy among all the stakeholders proved to be a catalyst in operationalizing the port.

Executive member of the Sino Trans company, in his remarks, said the completion of the CPEC would have far reaching effects upon all the countries of the region.

Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong conveyed the warm felicitations on behalf of the Chinese government to the Pakistani nation and the government on the commencement of first trade cargo.

He said it was a significant development as for the first time, a trade convoy had passed through the western route to the south and north of the country, showing the greater connectivity.

It proved the capacity of the port to handle the shipment of the trade cargo to international destinations, he added.

Weidong said it was ‘the win-win opportunity’ for both the countries and commended the security and law enforcement agencies for providing security to the convoy.

He said about 60 different projects of the CPEC were under construction, creating jobs for the tens of thousands of local people.

A duet was also presented by the Pakistani and Chinese singers to celebrate the occasion.

Back to top

Dubai Wholesale City signs MoU with China’s Ningxia province

DUBAI, 13th November, 2016 (WAM) — To enhance mutual collaboration and promote economic, trade and investment relations, Dubai Wholesale City, a member of TECOM Group, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Ningxia province of China.

Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Wholesale City, Abdulla Belhoul and Governor of the Ningxia province, Wang Heshan, signed the MoU in the presence of Department of Commerce representatives and international relations officials from the Ningxia province, in addition to other senior government officials from the two sides.

The visiting delegation from Dubai Wholesale City met with representatives of more than 300 major institutions, companies and investors. They briefed the Chinese companies and investors about Dubai’s leading role in Islamic economics and explored possibilities for jointly developing the Halal food sector.

The strategic agreement will help promote investment opportunities and trade cooperation between the two sides. It will also enable Ningxia to leverage Dubai’s strategic location as a global hub, to gain access to various international markets around the world. It will also encourage mutual investment cooperation through introducing traders and investors, to the potential benefits and opportunities of joint investment projects.

Speaking on the new partnership, Abdulla Belhoul said, “Through this collaboration, we will enhance our efforts to support our trading industry and strengthen our ties with the Ningxia region that is a key trading partner for the UAE. Yinchuan, the capital of Ningxia, is strategically important to China’s One Belt One Road initiative that plays a highly significant role in strengthening economic ties with Asia and the Middle East.”

Wang Heshan, Governor of the Ningxia province said that Dubai Wholesale City offers a competitive and attractive investment opportunity and is a key factor in forging ahead with the partnership. He added that Dubai’s position as the Middle East and Africa region’s foremost hub for re-export, will allow trading entities within Ningxia to step-up their operations and foray into new markets.

Back to top

Sharjah’s First Ladies Duathlon receives remarkable response

SHARJAH, 11th November, 2016 (WAM)–The area around the university city of Al Qasimia University in Sharjah was alive with the spirit of 142 women, young ladies and girls from 32 nations as they participated in the first edition of the Sharjah Ladies Duathlon on Friday morning.

Organised by Sharjah Ladies Club (SLC), the event witnessed the participation of 14 girls aged 15-19, 42 young ladies between 20 and 29 years, 54 women aged 30-39 years, 28 women aged 40-49 and 4 women aged 50-54. A range of nationalities took part, in the race, including a high number of Emiratis.

Participants included Khawla Al Serkal, Director General of SLC, Nada Al Naqbi, Director of Women Sports Department, Amna Al Shanasi, Manager of SLC branches, Hanan Mahmoud, Director of Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre and celebrity athlete and women’s trainer Manal Rostom.

The contestants competed in two formats – as individuals and as part of a team – to accomplish the objectives, which were set out before them in three phases. Starting with a 2.5 kilometre run, followed by cycling for 9 kilometres, the duathlon finished with another 2.5-kilometre race on foot, with the event paving the way for all women to practice this interactive sport and lead a healthy lifestyle.

The race saw a fierce competition between participants who were keen to perform well in all phases. In the individual category, Liz Verheyden took the first place, Sioned Taylor ranked second and Lynette Wam won third place, while in the team category, Skydive Dubai won first place, Team Emma and Kieran took the second place and Lorna Jane Super Stars ranked third.

The winners of the race were awarded medals by Khawla Al Serkal, Director General of SLC. Place holders also received cash prizes. In the individual category, the winner received AED 7,000, the runner-up AED 6,000 and the third position winner AED 5,000. In the team category, the prize for the first place was AED 9,000, the second AED 8,000 and the third AED 6,000.

“The first edition of the Sharjah Ladies Duathlon was a huge success, reflecting that women are aware of the importance of sports in enhancing physical and mental health. SLC works to encourage women to take care of themselves and lead a healthy lifestyle by organising a spectrum of challenging and engaging activities for women and girls in the UAE,” said Khawla Al Serkal.

Al Serkal extended her gratitude to all partners and sponsors who played a key role in the success of the event, including Sharjah Environment Company Bee’ah (Gold Sponsor), Tilal Properties (Silver Sponsor), Sharjah Sport Council (Silver Sponsor), the University City of Sharjah, Barakat Juice, Bioderama and ‘Liv’ – the official bicycle sponsor. She also thanked Collage Cafe and Fitness bar for having booths at the event, which provided healthy snacks for all throughout the competition.

Back to top

Dubai to Muscat Boat Race launched

DUBAI, 10th November, 2016 (WAM) — The parade of boats participating at The 25th Dubai to Muscat Sailing Race, the longest offshore race in the region covering over 300 miles, left on Thursday the start line at docks of Umm Suqueim 1 Fishing Harbour.

The race is organised by the United Arab Emirates Sailing and Rowing Federation (UAE SARF), in association with Oman’s Ministry of Sports Affairs, and recognised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). The race is scheduled for 5 days and 20 hours, departing from Dubai Offshore Sailing Club in Dubai on 10 November and ending at 6:00 p.m. on 14 November at Al Mouj Marina in Muscat. The sailors can expect to spend from three to five days at sea, racing 24 hours a day in pursuit in a variety of challenging conditions.

Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Sailing and Rowing Federation, joined by Ahmed Obaid Al Falasi, Executive Director of Human Resources, Finance and Administration Division, of Dubai Customs, and Khalifa Hareb, General Manager of the Fishing Harbours, greeted the skippers and their first mate along with the 43 children from the Gems Sohar Education Programme.

The ceremony at the Umm Suqueim 1 Fishing Harbour, which will host the race village until the 13th November, was attended by friends and family of the 151 crew on 21 boats, including one from Kuwait, two professionally crewed Farr 30 from Oman Sail and the Pindar Volvo 60.

World famous offshore and multihull sailor from France, Sidney Gavignet will skipper EFG Bank Monaco from Oman Sail. Sidney holds the single handed world record for Round Britain and Ireland.

This year in particular, the competition is fierce, with professional sailors mixed with experienced club sailors. Many have expressed their hopes for strong winds. Tom Way, skipper of the Pindar Volvo 60 stated clearly, “We need a strong wind to move, and if we get it we would really like to break the current record.”

The Dubai to Muscat yacht race record was broken in 2013, for the first time in 13 years, and was smashed the following year by two boats. Current record holder is Doug Hassell in Diablo, Commodore of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club.

“We are so proud that the race endures and it is thanks to the collaboration of Dubai Customs, Dubai Offshore Sailing Club and Al Mouj Marina that the build up to this race has proven so successful. All of this is thanks to the sponsorship and support and of Dubai Customs and we thank them for their role in this most prestigious race in the region,” said Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Ahmed Obaid Al Falasi, Executive Director of Human Resources, Finance and Administration Division of Dubai Customs, commented: “Dubai Customs is pleased to have been a principal sponsor of the prestigious Dubai to Muscat Yacht Race which celebrates its silver anniversary this year. We are committed to our partnership with UAE Sailing & Rowing Federation to help them organize a successful race. They have our support by making available all necessary requirements and facilities at Dubai Customs’ Umm Suqueim 1 Fishing Harbour which has been hosting educational and entertainment activities for school students and visitors as part of the race’s 25th edition.”

Dubai Customs’ newly-revamped infrastructure at the Fishing Harbour have been put at the disposal of the Dubai to Muscat Race organizing committee to ensure smooth and efficient organization of the event and its parallel programs, he added.

“We are particularly proud that Dubai Customs has been a key part of the exciting program of community events organized from September to November in conjunction with the Dubai to Muscat Yacht Race. The Umm Suqeim Fishing Harbour is hosting the Dubai to Muscat Race Village which caters to the visiting boats and racers, and welcomes members of the community interested to know more about sailing sports, but more importantly will be the stage of so many children’s activities, including the education program, facilitated by Gems Education.”

The race village from 10th November to the 13th November, will include Try Sailing, Safety demonstrations, a dhow, and many children’s activities, trendy food trucks and is free to enter.

The race village will also be the centre of activity for the children of Gems who have taken part in the Sohar Education Programme.

Back to top

Doha to host Jordanian business forum in December

Amman, 02 November 2016, (IINA) – Doha to host a Jordanian industrial fair and a business forum in December with the objective of enhancing investment opportunities in the Kingdom’s various economic sectors. Jordanian and Qatari officials will hold talks on further boosting bilateral business ties during the event.

Representatives from the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, Amman Chamber of Industry and Jordan Investment Authority, will be organizing the business forum in Doha to promote made-in-Jordan products and highlight the business climate in the Kingdom.

Jordan Chamber of Commerce President Nael Kabariti said in a statement that the three-day forum, due to start on December 14, is a key opportunity to get Qatari businesspeople acquainted with the investment opportunities in Jordan’s various economic sectors and the prospect of forging business partnerships between the two countries.

He said Jordanian-Qatari ties had largely grown due to their governments’ measures to bolster cooperation, noting that Qatar has $1.6 billion in investments in the Kingdom and stressing Amman’s vested interests in maximizing the benefits from signed agreements with the Gulf Arab state.

Back to top

Demand growing for education in Islamic finance

London, 03 November 2016, (IINA) – The increasing economic importance of banks in Muslim-majority countries has made Islamic finance a useful skill. And the globalization of business education means that many schools now have campuses in countries where Islamic finance is a significant part of the local banking sector.

The number of courses being offered by business schools is swelling partly as a result of this, but also to meet demand from students.

The catalyst for introducing the Islamic finance elective at London Business School (LBS) Dubai Centre was the opening of the school’s Dubai campus in 2006, Financial Times reported.

Like many business schools, LBS had opened its overseas base to capitalize on the school’s brand value beyond Europe. But the faculty was also keen to teach courses of local relevance, according to Narayan Naik, who is course tutor and professor of finance.

Applications have come from everywhere, he adds. Only a fifth of last year’s intake of 36 students, which arrived from 22 countries, including Peru, Hungary, Ireland, China and Bulgaria identified themselves as Muslim.

LBS is planning to introduce a London-based course, possibly as an executive education program, Prof Naik adds, noting that applications are up for this year’s Dubai-based course.

Specialist teams within banks, such as those dealing with Islamic finance, are regarded as relatively safe amid widespread cost cutting by large financial services groups, Prof Naik adds. Deutsche Bank, for example, is in the middle of a cull of 9,000 positions across its global operations.

George Osborne, when he was the British chancellor, pledged to make London the world center for the Islamic finance industry after the UK became the first country outside the Muslim world to issue an Islamic bond, known as Sukuk, in 2014.

British higher-education institutions lead the non-Muslim world in the teaching of Islamic finance, with longstanding courses run by Durham, Aston, Bangor, Salford and Cass Business School. More than 60 institutions in the UK now teach Islamic finance, up from fewer than 10 a decade ago, according to the University of East London, one of the early adopters of the subject.

London Metropolitan University is the latest UK institution to add an option to learn about the subject, relaunching its MBA in January with Islamic finance as one of four specialists.

The university has run courses for the Commercial Bank of Qatar at Doha that involved a comparative evaluation of Islamic and conventional banking. The MBA is aimed at satisfying demand from would-be students, according to Hazel Messenger, the MBA course leader.

Frankfurt School of Finance and Management has developed an online certification course for Islamic microfinance, which launched in September in partnership with the charity Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Islamic Relief Academy, a UK-based training body.

Hossam Said, managing director of the Islamic Relief Academy, describes the six-month program as a significant contribution to fill an “educational gap” in the market for helping some of the poorest people in Muslim countries.

Timur Kuran, a Turkish-American economist and professor in Islamic studies at North Carolina’s Duke University, believes there is a problem with transparency in the teaching of Islamic finance as a business discipline.

“It is one thing to offer degrees in finance, it is another to teach people how to manipulate matters to make the underlying transactions acceptable to a constituency that wants to avoid interest,” he said.

Back to top

Muslim, Jewish communities in New York join hands to feed the hungry

New York, 01 November 2016, (IINA) – As part of the annual “Twinning” series of events, which encourage partnerships between Jewish and Muslim groups, the Brotherhood Synagogue in New York City held a program on Sunday where volunteers put together food packages in conjunction with the Muslim Hunger Van project.

“Hunger is a big issue, and nobody fights it,” said Zamir Hassan, the president and founder of Muslims Against Hunger.

Muslims Against Hunger Project is a non-profit that educates Muslims about the hunger issues in this country and helps feed the homeless and hungry in more than 20 cities throughout the U.S., JP Updates news reported.

Far too many people live each day without knowing where their next meal will come from. In fact, according to Feeding America, 42 million people out of around 324,720,797 faced hunger last year.

The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU), which is a New York-based nonprofit, created the Twinning program in 2008 with a goal to unite the Muslim and Jewish communities.

The event featured about 50 attendees, where 10 people were stationed at five tables putting rice and lentils in bags. According to Hassan, each bag will make eight to nine meals, and a total of 10,000 were made. Most of the food was brought to the elderly.

“It’s my dream come true when I see this,” Hassan said. “This is something I envisioned 20 years ago. It’s not about food; it’s about engaging people.”

Bob Wolf, the president of the Interfaith Committee at the shul and his wife, Penny participated in the program. They both echoed the sentiment that it is important for Jews and Muslims to come together and help others in need.

“There are too many hungry people in this country, and it’s a shame,” Penny said. “We can’t be divided by religion, ethnic backgrounds or race; that will destroy the fabric of this country. I’m here to support Muslims and Jews.”

“I think particularly in this day and age when there’s a lot of dissension between certain religious groups, both in our country and around the world, that we get to know each other on a personal basis,” Bob added. “Intolerance toward any religious group is unacceptable.”

Among the attendees was 12-year-old Chloe Metz. She had participated in events like this before but didn’t realize the hunger problem was as big as it is.

“It’s kind of surprising that so many people live in hunger,” she remarked. “It is good to help people who are hungry and nice to have people come together.”

Back to top

Qur’an memorization competition held in Philippines

Lanao, Philippines, 04 November 2016, (IINA) – The International Organization for Holy Qur’an Memorization, an affiliate of the Makkah-based Muslim World League, in collaboration with Message Association, organized the holy Qur’an memorization competition in Philippines Wednesday.

Secretary General of the Organization Dr. Abdullah Basfar said that the competition had several categories, which included memorizing the Qur’an with word interpretations; memorizing the Qur’an and 152 Hadith from Riyad Al-Salihin; memorizing the Qur’an with Tajwid; memorizing 15 chapters of the Qur’an; 10 chapters; and 5 chapters. Basfar also urged participants to continue their studies of the Qur’an and Sunnah of the Prophet.

As many as 67 contestants participated. The closing ceremony was attended by representatives of the Saudi Embassy in the Philippines, a number of scholars and the Qur’an teachers in southern Lanao province in Philippines.

Back to top

Faith leaders in Illinois urge businesses to support Muslims

Oak Lawn Village, Illinois, 13 November 2016, (IINA) – On Saturday, more than 100 people of different faiths thronged the parking lot of First United Methodist Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois to denounce the anti-Muslim vitriol spurred by the election season.

Community members listened to Muslim, Christian, and Jewish leaders speak and brought signs sprinkled with hand-drawn hearts that read: “We stand with our Muslim neighbors!” and “United against hate.”

After a brief rally, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and other interfaith groups, community members split up into teams and traveled to businesses across Oak Lawn, asking owners to post signs in their windows that read “We support our Muslim neighbors.”

Those who spoke at the rally congratulated Trump and commended the democratic process. But they demanded Trump’s administration denounce the verbal attacks on Muslims and revoke his pledge to deny entry to the country to all Muslims. Religious tolerance, they said, is among America’s core values, Chicago Tribune News reported.

Michael Kooy, of the Oak Lawn Clergy and Religious Workers Association, said it’s important for his fellow Christians to stand alongside those of other religions because it makes them more compassionate. Working with Muslims, he said, has made him a “better Christian.”

“Certainly it’s the job of the government to protect us from violence, the violence of terror, the violence of defamation, the violence of assault,” he said. “And some perceive they are threatened or see the harm that may come their way. Mercy urges me to stand up with people who are threatened in these ways.”

Barbara Lyons, a 79-year-old member of Jewish Voice for Peace who works on its anti-Islamophobia Committee, led a group of 10 community members up and down 95th street, visiting businesses and asking their employees to post fliers supportive of Muslims in the windows of their shops. An employee at Chimera’s Comics said the business has several Muslim customers, and that they should always feel welcome. Lyns said community members should make every effort to support those who feel attacked or marginalized, no matter their religion.

“Anything you can do can make a difference,” she said. “The difference between doing nothing and doing something? It’s everything.”

Back to top

8th Islamic conference of ministers of higher education held in Mali

Bamako, Mali, 13 November 2016, (IINA) – The 8th Islamic Conference of Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research will be kicked off Monday in Bamako, capital of Mali.

The two-day conference is co-organized by the General Secretariat of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), a specialized organ of OIC. It is expected that many high-level delegations, including ministers, deputy ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research from the OIC member states, as well as from observer states and representatives of international organizations will attend the conference.

The conference is set to adopt important decisions identifying priorities and follow-up actions pertaining to Higher Education and Scientific Research among the OIC member states including establishing an Islamic World Observatory of Science, Technology, and Innovation; launching of an integrated platform for promoting quality-accreditation and exchanges; cooperation among the universities as well as launching the pan-Islamic Research and Education Network (PIREN) web portal.

The conference will also review progress on the Islamic network of women scientists and the activities of the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic world.

ISESCO prizes in science and technology for 2016 will also be awarded during the conference. The meeting will also discuss the use of modern technology for enhancing higher education and scientific research.

Back to top

OIC organizes Media Training for staff on social media and mobile journalism

Jeddah, 11 November 2016, (IINA) – The Information Department of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has organized a training workshop this week on Mobile Journalism and Social Media for staff from its General Secretariat as well as from its affiliated and specialized institutions.

The workshop was held from Sunday through Thursday at the training center of the International Islamic News Agency (IINA) and OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah.

The workshop facilitated by the Thompson Foundation was designed to equip OIC staff with requisite skills on shooting videos on smartphones, social media promotions and creating successful media campaigns.

In a letter seen by the International Islamic News Agency, Director of OIC’s Information Department Maha Akeel said: “OIC places special importance on training and re-training of its staff to enhance their professional skills to meet the demands of their daily jobs in serving and protecting the interest of its member states.”

Participants at the course said they are now more equipped and ready to further enhance the image of the OIC and its institutions in both the conventional and social media platforms.

Back to top

Algeria to launch Biometric driving licence

ALGIERS, 12 November 2016 (ALGERIA PRESS SERVICE)-Minister of Interior and Local Assemblies Noureddine Bedoui announced Saturday in Algiers that the biometric driving licence and the electronic vehicle registration card will progressively enter into force as of 2017.

Speaking at the Government-Walis meeting, Bedoui said that his department will pursue the development of biometric and e-services, particularly the biometric driving licence and the electronic vehicle registration card as of 2017.

“These two strategic projects seek to implement before the end of the current year will enter into from 2017,” the same official added.

Actually, he added, the aim of these projects is to be in line with the goals provided by national polices in order to “reduce the impact of car accidents, ensure road security and protect the national economy,” the Bedoui said.

These two projects aim at providing citizens with a new public, developed and quality service and saving them bureaucratic complications, said Bedoui, who announced “the activation of remote services following the launch of e-signature.”

Back to top

Algerian Filmmakers at Cairo International Film Festival

CAIRO, Egypt, 13 November 2016, (ALGERIA PRESS SERVICE) – Film directors Karim Traidia and Hamid Benamra will represent Algerian cinema at the 38th Cairo International Film Festival, to be held Nov. 15-24 in the Egyptian capital, the event’s organizers said.

Came out in 2015 “Chronicles of my Village,” by Karim Traidia, will compete in the feature-length fiction films and documentary section.

The movie relates childhood stories dating back to the national liberation war era (1954-1962) as well as the construction and identity of independent Algeria.

Filmmaker Hamid Benamra will compete with his latest film “Hizam” (Belt), which deals with the women’s realm and the oriental dance.

Benamara’s film, produced in 2016, tackles the femininity theme depicting woman body as a “man’s refuge and mirror.”

Instituted in 1976, the 38th international film festival of Cairo will pay tribute to Egyptian actress Faten Hamama, died in January 2015.

Back to top

Algeria to promote Small & Medium Sized Enterprises

ALGIERS, 13 November 2016, (ALGERIA PRESS SERVICE)- The bill on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) was presented Sunday at the People’s National Assembly by Minister of Industry and Mining Abdessalem Bouchouareb in a plenary session chaired by Mohamed Larbi Ould Khelifa, the speaker of this parliamentary institution.

This bill, presented after the code of investments which has been recently promulgated, will amend the law of 2001 relating to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

The bill introduces several measures of support to this category of companies notably in terms of their creation, research and development, innovation, development of subcontracting, financing of rescue actions and resumption of SMEs’ activities in difficulty.

It particularly plans for the implementation of seed funds to encourage the creation of innovative start-up.

Back to top