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12 Dec, 2016

Afghanistan Tourism Mulls Challenges & Opportunities

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 12 December 2016 (13 Rabee’ al-Awwal 1438). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.



1MALAYSIA YEAR-END SALE IS BACK! Grab the best year-end deals

Malaysia’s annual year-end shopping event, the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale, is here again with participating retailers and malls throughout the country all set to entice shoppers with attractive bargains and exciting programmes. The two months shopping extravaganza, from 1 November until 31 December, was officially launched today by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture Malaysia Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin at Freeport A’Famosa Outlet, Alor Gajah. Tourism Malaysia has embarked on promoting Experiential Shopping packages that enable shoppers to go on a shopping spree while enjoying Malaysia’s best cuisines, entertainment or leisure activities, and visiting attractive tourist spots located near the malls or retail hubs.

The 1Malaysia Year-End Sale is the peak time for shoppers to get the most out of Experiential Shopping as most of the major shopping malls and retail outlets are offering attractive bargains, discounts and in-store redemptions that are too hard to resist. Besides shopping, there is also a line-up of various exciting entertainment events that promises lots of fun and adventure for shoppers to enjoy with their families. Freeport A’Famosa Outlet is among the retailers that offer the best Christmas deals during the sales campaign. For those who love unique art pieces, Kraftangan Malaysia is showcasing a wide array of beautiful craft and textile products from various countries at the Kuala Lumpur International Craft Festival, held at Kompleks Kraf Kuala Lumpur from 24 to 27 November. A Journey Through Time, an exclusive annual event that showcases luxury timepieces and jewellery, is among the major highlights of the 1Malaysia Year-End Sale. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this grand event, which is held from 4 to 13 November at Starhill Gallery.

The three annual sales carnivals in Malaysia have helped spur economic growth in the past years. In 2015, shopping registered the highest tourist expenditure, overtaking accommodation for the first time, with a share of 31.3% of the country’s total tourist receipts.New excitement awaits shoppers as new malls and lifestyle hubs are ready to jazz up the local retail landscape. Apart from Freeport A’Famosa Outlet (opened in January 2016), other new line-ups include DA MEN Mall, Isetan Mitsukoshi concept store and Pavilion Elite (all in the Klang Valley), as well as Design Village Outlet Mall in Penang. A new premium outlet centre, Genting Premium Outlets, is set to open soon in Genting Highlands, Pahang.

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

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

twitter: http://twitter.com/tourismmalaysia

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


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



Malaysia Well-Placed to be Hub for Aerospace Companies

KUALA LUMPUR, 9 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia is well-positioned to be a strategic partner and a compelling hub for aerospace-related companies’ expansion in Asia, says the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade).

Its Chief Executive Officer, Dzulkifli Mahmud, said Malaysia is the gateway to Asia, equipped with vital ingredients such as world-class infrastructure, excellent connectivity, a skilled workforce, strong technology base, and a critical mass of aerospace activities.

“Even though the percentage of the market captured by Malaysian players in the region is reasonably good, the absolute value of the aerospace industry is still small, compared to the size of the global market.

“With the presence of international players in the country, the prospects for Malaysia to improve its position in capturing a bigger market are promising,” he said at networking dinner, held in conjunction with Kuala Lumpur International Business Convention here.

He said with favourable demographics and growing middle class, the industry’s centre of gravity was shifting from the West to the more rapidly-growing markets of Asia especially ASEAN.

“By 2035, Asia-Pacific as you are well aware, will be the biggest airline market in the world, receiving 38 per cent of global deliveries of passenger and freight planes.

“This will create new demands for maintenance, repair and overhaul services, and opportunities for the aerospace supply chain such as engineering, electronics, composite materials as well as manufacturing and systems integration,” said Dzulkifli.

He said the government would continue to nurture and strengthen the capabilities of local players to support the industry’s growth.

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Malaysia: Gecommunity Targets Rm100 Mln Cross-Border Value Creation

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 8 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – The Global Entrepreneurship Community 2016 (GECommunity 2016) is targetting RM100 million in cross-border value creation, says Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

He said this can be achieved through the GECommunity 2016’s nine industry-specific cluster laboratories (labs) namely smart cities, health, creative, biotech, supply chain, education, lifestyle, finance and social innovation, which would bridge the corporate and entrepreneurship worlds.

“The aim of the labs is to find new, inventive and transformative approaches,” he said when launching the GECommunity 2016 here today.

The global summit was initiated by Malaysia to empower entrepreneurs around the world with groundbreaking ideas and collaborations to solve cross-border challenges, uncover new possibilities and revolutionary ideas within the entrepreneurship.

Najib also disclosed that the Mastercard-Cyberjaya cashless society, the Techstars Health Accelerator and the Nestle Open Innovation would be some of the initiatives to be undertaken by the labs.

The premier said another initiative was the move by the government to bring China’s Alibaba payment system to Malaysia to attract consumers from China, the world second largest consumer market.

In addition, he said the GECommunity would also include a social innovation cluster which would be a key thrust for all other clusters.

“While fostering entrepreneurship is at the heart of the national transformation, we believe this transformation must be sustainable and inclusive,” he added.

Najib said the government acknowledged that there was an urgent need to harness the immense potential of human ingenuity through imagination and enterprise.

“Entrepreneurs imagine a different world and have the vision to solve problems, others think, were too big.

“This is the recipe for innovation and new venture creation, which in turn powers the economic growth that advances a nation. We are here to imagine new ways of creating our future and to reimagine what that might be,” he pointed out.

Najib also announced two strategic initiatives — The Global Accelerator Programme and The ASEAN Impact Challenge, that would be undertaken through the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre to create entrepreneurs that would have transformative effects on their various sectors and communities.

He said ‘The Global Accelerator Programme’ would support nine clusters at the GECommunity in building the next generation of entrepreneurs while ‘The ASEAN Impact Challenge’ would harness global talents to solve problems that affect the ASEAN community.

“These initiatives will encourage new ways of doing business, formalise the inclusion of corporates in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, increase support for entrepreneurs and catalyse growth,” he added.

More than 4,000 entrepreneurs, innovators, industry leaders and ecosystem influencers are attending the two-day summit.

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PM Najib, Modi To Inaugurate Asian Business Leaders’ Conclave

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 8 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – Prime Minister Mohd Najib Razak and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will inaugurate the two-day Economic Times Asian Business Leaders’ Conclave here starting Dec 14, 2016.

The event will be a platform for the biggest business leaders of Asia along with bureaucrats to converge and facilitate conversations on Asia as a business hub and the role of the rising business leaders.

In a statement today, ET Edge said the gathering of the heads of the most successful corporations in the region aspired to become the seminal annual event for deliberating the course businesses need to take as they seek to make Asia the business hub of the world.

The Mumbai-based Economic Times is India’s leading business newspaper published simultaneously in 12 Indian cities.

ET Edge is an Economic Times initiative founded to empower multiple industries and segments by sharing critical business knowledge through focused exhibitions and strategic conferences and summits.

Over the past decade, Asia has been home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and can now boast of major contributions to global growth.

ET Edge said this clearly established the region as a predominant player in the world economy, with China flexing its economic might, while other Asian countries such as India, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Saudi Arabia also demonstrating strong growth.

Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large and Executive Deputy Chairman of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Ong Keng Yong; and Tan Tao University President & ASEAN Business Advisory Council member Dang Thi Hoang Yen will espouse on how ASEAN becomes a global fulcrum of manufacturing and one of the world’s fastest-growing consumer markets.

With regional businesses seeking to deepen ties and capture an even greater share of global trade, ASEAN’s economic profile is rising, making a crucial piece of the global economic jigsaw, ET Edge said.

The event has been endorsed by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and supported by the Consortium of Indian Industries in Malaysia, ASEAN India Business Council, and Malaysia India Business Council.

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Malaysia, Vietnam to upgrade O&G, Construction & Manufacturing

HANOI, Vietnam, 8 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia and Vietnam should exploit the vast potential in economic sectors in both countries to boost their trade and investment ties, as well as economic strengths.

International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said the two countries were looking to collaborate in the oil and gas, construction and manufacturing sectors, which are high on the list of investments.

“Vietnamese companies have expressed their interests in Malaysia’s Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex development in Johor. We found out recently that manufacturing and oil and gas are areas they are looking into,” he told reporters after the Malaysia-Vietnam Business Roundtable Meeting here, today.

Malaysia is currently Vietnam’s eighth largest investor with US$9.3 billion in total trade, constituting 2.5 per cent of Malaysia’s global trade, and seventh largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) as of September 2016 with cumulative FDIs amounting to US$12 billion in 547 projects.

Among the major Malaysian investors in Vietnam are Berjaya Corporation Bhd, Janakuasa Sdn Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.

Vietnam, meanwhile, is the top exporter of cashews and black pepper, second largest for coffee and cassava and third largest for rice and fisheries.

Mustapa said the presence of Malaysian companies in ASEAN countries had complemented the government’s efforts to increase trade and investments in the region.

He said the government had acknowledged the role Malaysian companies had played to enhance the economic integration within ASEAN.

“We have been working closely with them (private companies) about five to six years. The government has to rely more on the private sector to omplement what we are doing. We realised that resources are limited, therefore, we should leverage (their presence in ASEAN countries),” said Mustapa.

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Sarawak Urged To Develop Traditional Healing Tourism

KUCHING, Sarawak state, Malaysia, 7 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – A suggestion has been made for Sarawak state to develop traditional healing tourism.

University Malaya Professor Emeritus Mohamed Abdul Majid said this was because the World Health Organisation had described herbal treatments as the most popular form of traditional medicines.

“Sarawak’s many ethnic groups have a well-developed system of plant-based traditional medicine. These are still being preserved,” he said in his keynote address at the Sarawak’s Heart of Borneo (HOB) Seminar 2106 here today.

The state has set aside an area of 2.1million hectares in HOB, a 20 million hectares ecologically inter-connected rainforest shared by Kalimantan (Indonesia), Sabah and Sarawak (Malaysia) and Brunei Darussalam.

The two-day seminar is about conserving biodiversity through sustaining communities livelihood in the state area OF HOB.

“Sarawak forests too are still intact while its government is stable and the state is safe and peaceful. The word “Borneo” will conjure up images of exotic plant life in tropical forests shrouded in rich folklore,” he said.

Recent researches, he added, proved that living in pristine nature could speed up healing and increase longevity.

He said there would be great demand due to the rigours of city life and this would open up employment opportunities.

Toward this, Mohamed suggested that a traditional healing village be set up based on similar concept of the Sarawak Cultural village, a state culture tourism icon which preserves and showcases the culture and traditional lifestyle of its Chinese, Malay, Iban, Melanau, Penan and the Orang Ulu communities to visiting tourists.

“The healing garden should be planted with medicinal plants traditionally used in South East Asia and with emphasis on Borneo.

In addition, Mohamed also recommended that an Islamic traditional healing village be set up to target the Middle Eastern clients in particular.

He said a large corpus on ‘Tibbun Nabawi’ (Prophet’s medicine) was available for adaptation or reference.

Sarawak should also leverage on its rich biodiversity to set up botanical gardens, which could be a major tourist attraction, a research and development centre and for domestication of local ornamental species, carnivorous plants and ferns, he said.

He added Singapore, with no natural forests, had a botanical garden with some 400 herb species and which is a World Heritage Site.

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Malaysia’s CIMB Bank opens first branch in Vietnam

HANOI, Vietnam, 9 December 2016,(Bernama) – The first branch of CIMB Bank (Vietnam) Limited (“CIMB Vietnam Bank” or “CIMB Vietnam”) was officiated by Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysian Minister for International Trade and Industry, at a ceremony held in Hanoi today.

Also present to witness the opening were Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak (Chairman, CIMB Group), Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Aziz (Group Chief Executive, CIMB Group), Dato’ Wira Zainal Abidin (Chairman, CIMB Vietnam), His Excellency Bui Huy Tho (Director of Licensing, State Bank of Vietnam) and His Excellency Mohd Zamruni Khalid (Malaysian Ambassador to Vietnam).

CIMB Vietnam, a wholly-owned subsidiary of CIMB Bank Berhad (“CIMB Bank” or “CIMB”), was officially awarded the full-fledged banking licence by the State Bank of Vietnam in September 2016.

Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul said, “The opening of CIMB Vietnam reaffirms our commitment to play a part in Vietnam’s exciting growth story, with its 92 million population, 40% of whom are young and digital-savvy, and a growing middle class. Through its banking and economic reforms, the country is clearly showing signs of being the next “ASEAN Tiger”.

CIMB, with its Regional Operating Model and established regional network, is well-poised to not only contribute to the growth of Vietnam’s banking sector but also be an enabler in enhancing trade and investment flows between Vietnam and other ASEAN countries.”

The licence allows CIMB Vietnam to offer the full range of corporate, commercial and consumer banking products in the country. Thus far, only seven foreign banks have been awarded a licence to operate a 100 per cent banking subsidiary in Vietnam.

“CIMB Vietnam’s opening also marks the Group’s banking presence in nine out of 10 ASEAN countries, further cementing our footprint across ASEAN and providing us more opportunities to advance our ASEAN banking franchise,” Tengku Zafrul added.

The head office and first branch of CIMB Vietnam is located at Cornerstone Building, 16 Phan Chu Trinh Street, Phan Chu Trinh ward, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam.

CIMB Group is Malaysia’s second largest financial services provider and one of ASEAN’s leading universal banking groups. It offers consumer banking, investment banking, Islamic banking, asset management and insurance products and services. Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, the Group is now present in nine out of 10 ASEAN nations (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Myanmar and Laos). Beyond ASEAN, the Group has market presence in China, Hong Kong, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Korea, the US and UK.

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Malaysia to expand training programmes for Shariah Financial Planners

PENGKALAN CHEPA, 8 December 2016, (Bernama) – The Malaysian Financial Planning Council (MFPC) today signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with the Global Entrepreneurship Research and Innovation Centre (GERIC) Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) to expand training programmes for Shariah financial planners.

In consideration of the good reputation and the quality of education offered at UMK, MFPC is optimistic that this initiative will produce significant results and achieve success. The collaborative efforts with GEIRIC UMK as the education provider for the RFP (Registered Financial Planner) and Shariah RFP programme will further support the aspiration of Malaysia to have sufficient personnel with professional financial planning credentials.

RFP and Shariah RFP are professional designations recognised by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) for licensing purposes.

In today’s remarkable event, UMK in collaboration with MFPC, VKA Wealth Planner and Persatuan Perancang Kewangan Malaysia also organized a conference on financial planning and wealth management. The conference took place at Dewan Keusahawanan Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, Kampus Kota, Pengkalan Chepa.

At the event, Vice Chancellor UMK, YBhg. Prof. Dato’ Dr. Mortaza bin Mohamed in his speech remarked that financial planning is indeed important for one to achieve financial success. Today’s conference was organized at a time when global and local economy is undergoing profound changes especially from eroding yields of investments. He strongly believes today’s collaborative efforts will provide valuable knowledge to students and consumers at large on the importance of financial planning.

“To help educate and inform the consumers and society at large, the Ministry of Higher Learning welcomes industry-university initiatives that build on the new platform to enhance financial planning education and money management industry. A key example is this one and only UMK-MFPC’s Professional Partner Program, which aims to enhance the professionalism of the financial planning industry. I’d also like to congratulate UMK on the setting up of the Wealth Lab together with MFPC that is designed to improve the financial knowledge of graduates pursuing higher education in universities and the societies from a young age to adulthood and into their retirement years”, he added.

Ever since its inception in 2004, MFPC has worked towards developing the financial planning profession through its professional education programmes and introducing several initiatives and projects to raise the financial literacy of Malaysians from all walks of life. The RFP programme is also accredited by the Finance Accreditation Agency (FAA), an agency that is responsible for certifying the standards and quality of professional learning and development in the financial services industry.

About:- Malaysian Financial Planning Council (MFPC)

MFPC is an independent body set up with the noble objective of promoting nationwide development and enhancement of the financial planning profession. MFPC provides an evolving set of Best Practice Standards and Code of Ethics that must be adhered to by Registered Financial Planner (RFP) and Shariah RFP designees. This requirement is aimed at ensuring that the public will be served with the highest quality of financial planning services. MFPC was registered on 10th of March, 2004 under the Societies Act, 1996. The Registered Financial Planner (RFP) programme was launched by the former Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Y.Bhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz in November 2002.

The RFP designation was approved by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) as the prerequisite qualification to apply for the Financial Advisers’ License and Financial Advisers’ Representative License. RFP designation was also approved by Securities Commission Malaysia for the application of the Capital Markets Services License (CMSL) in view of the introduction of the Capital Markets and Services Act 2007.

Please visit: www.mfpc.org.my

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New-Look Johor Pavilion Launched At MAHA2016

SERDANG, 9 December 2016, (Bernama) – The new-look Johor Pavilion was launched by Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Menteri Besar Johor, during his walkabout at MAHA2016 in Serdang yesterday.

The idea to have a new look came from the Menteri Besar himself in 2014, who also wanted to give a fresh impression of the pavilion especially its look and contents. The new pavilion now looks more modern but still maintain the Johor cultural motives.

“Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that the pavilion will be fully utilised by the Agriculture Department and related agencies involved in the community development programmes rather than being used just for MAHA only.

“In fact, it can be utilised as a one stop service centre for advise, facilitator in the agriculture sector and many more.

“The investment made should also give an impact and returns to the community, while we are promoting Johor as the key food producer for Malaysia,” he added.

With three days to go, MAHA2016 has attracted more than two million visitors with the highest being last Sunday where more than 500,000 came to the event in MAEPS, Serdang.

The highlight for today (Friday) would be the Rhythm of The Farmers (ROTF) at D’Lereng which will feature artistes like Khalifah, Man Bai, Ali Terra Rossa and Projector Band. The concert will start at 7.45 p.m. and will last until midnight.

The turn-ups for the last three days are expected to be very much higher and the public are advised to come in the morning or take the feeder buses provided from the IOI City Mall and the Serdang KTMB station.

Among the attractions that await the visitors at MAHA2016 include product presentations and launches, agriculture technological and innovation demonstrations and competitions, agro bazaar, agrotourism activities, agro-product promotions, cultural performances, traditional cuisines and cooking demonstrations, pet shows, fishing contests, wellness programmes and many more. Also of interest is the appointment of Upin & Ipin as the official mascot and new attractions in the form of Rhythm of The Farmers (ROTF) Kampung Durian Runtuh Upin & Ipin, a Camping Site for 5,000 youths and Kampung Mok Cun.

MAHA (Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism), is a biennial event where all the nation’s best agriculture products and materials are being displayed. The event is actually over 90 years old as it was first organised in 1923, thus making it as among the largest and longest-established agricultural and food expo in the region.

This year’s theme, Our Food Our Future, highlighted the issue of food security and sovereignty, the awareness on the enormity of the role played by the agriculture sector as the backbone of national development and underscores the importance of our nation to defend Food Sovereignty as the basis of the nation’s power.

For more information and the latest updates, please visit www.maha.gov.my or www.facebook.com/maha.gov.my.

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Malaysia Supports Efforts To Generate Mutual Understanding

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 8 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia fully supports international-level efforts designed to generate greater understanding among cultures, civilisations and religions, including sectarian beliefs and practices.

Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican said people continued to witness deplorable humanitarian situations, human rights violations and acts of violent extremism in various parts of the world.

“This is where Malaysia strongly believes in the utility of advocating globally, the value of moderation as espoused by the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM).

“In advancing the voices of the moderates, GMM enhances mutual understanding and respect, as well as contributes towards peace, sustainable and inclusive development, equitable growth and social harmony.

“We believe moderation contributes to democracy as it paves the way for harmony in the socio-cultural fabric of a plural society,” he said in his speech at the Ninth Bali Democracy Forum in Bali, Indonesia today.

The speech text was made available to Bernama by the foreign ministry.

Delivering his speech themed, ‘Religion, Democracy and Pluralism’, Reezal Merican said the practice of democracy in a plural society was vital as it fostered mutual respect and understanding.

“It thereby, allows for peaceful co-existence and promotes strong people-to-people ties that bind societies,” he added.

He said the 1Malaysia concept was introduced as an initiative to promote national unity, tolerance and acceptance of each other’s differences.

“It is important to recognise that plural societies, in which diverse groups

are able to maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest, will certainly contribute to a successful and a more meaningful democracy.”

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Three Technology Park Malaysia Incubatees Big Winners At MCY 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, 8 December 2016, (Bernama) – Three incubatees of Technology Park Malaysia Corporation Sdn Bhd (TPM) were the big winners of the Malaysia Commercialisation Year 2016 Award (MCY 2016) grabbing the Best Overall Award, two Top Category Awards and a runner-up Category Award with a total prize money of RM 500,000.00.

The winners received their awards from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak at the MCY 2016 presentation ceremony in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

For this year’s MCY presentation, TPM submitted six products of which four were selected as award finalists. The selected awards finalists were MIT Innovation Sdn Bhd, BNetwork Sdn BHd, Pure Spectrum Sdn Bhd and ParkBox Digital Sdn Bhd.

MIT Innovation Sdn Bhd, the technology developer of iCWD Intelligent Drilling System that provides remote-controlled operation using agile activation, was the top winner having won the Best Overall MCY 2016 Award and the Top Commercial Deal Category Award, and rewarded with a prize monies of RM250,000 and RM100,000, respectively.

The iCWD is the industry’s first such intelligent drilling system employed in the oil and gas exploration/drilling sectors. It provides significant time-saving, safety and efficiency improvement features that reduce the cost of well construction.

Currently, two systems have been deployed by Halliburton Energy Services Inc at on-shore oil wells in Oklahoma USA, while eight systems have been deployed by Petronas in East Coast, Sabah and Sarawak. The company has also signed a contract with Samaa Tech of Saudi Arabia for Saudi Aramco. It has 38 Intellectual Proprietary (IP) rights valued at RM400 million.

BNetwork Sdn Bhd, the developer of BWave IoT Platform, was the winner of the Emerging Innovation Entrepreneur Award category bagging a cash reward of RM100,000.

Its product is a universal gateway communication platform for IoT (Internet of Things) devices from different technologies. Bwave can support IoT technologies such as Zwave, ZigBee, Enocea and Insteon. Its two pending IPs are valued at RM6.8 million. The company’s target markets are telcos, property developers, smart city authorities and household consumers.

Meanwhile, ParkBox Digital Sdn Bhd, developer of street parking payment mobile application, was named runner-up in the New Innovator Entrepreneur Award category and walked away with a prize money of RM50,000.00.

Its smart mobile application is fully cloud-based, paperless and offers user-friendly features and functions. The initial product commercialization was deployed for beta testing at the Taiping City Council. Targeted at public local authorities and private parking operators, the company is currently negotiating with several city and town councils in Batu Gajah, Kota Tinggi, Kuantan, Kuala Trengganu, Klang and Penang.

TPM President and CEO, Datuk Ir. Azman Shahidin said the TPM winners of the MCY 2016 awards have yet again demonstrated the capability and capacity of TPM to contribute and deliver the results to the nation’s aspirations of achieving a knowledge-based economy.

“We are certainly happy and proud of the hard efforts put in by our incubatees and all of our staff at the TPM Innovation Incubation Centre as well as our partners of the highly structured coaching and handholding programmes in driving the success. This is a result of the concerted efforts of all stakeholders, professionalism, positive energies and yen to always achieve the desired goals in business,” added Azman.

Technology Park Malaysia Sdn Bhd, an agency of MOSTI, has an integrated infrastructure, facilities and support services to assist technopreneurs and entrepreneurs who are keen to commercialize their ideas in the four industry clusters, namely, ICT, Engineering, Biotechnology and Green Technology.

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LEAD STORY: Afghanistan Tourism Mulls Challenges & Opportunities

Kabul, 7 December 2016, (BNA) – The Ministry of Information and Culture held a meeting to discuss tourism, challenges and opportunities, said Bakhtar News Agency.

The meeting sought ways on opportunities, challenges before tourism and the ways to help expand and develop tourism in the country, said the agency.

Attended at the meeting, deputy tourism, finance and administrative minister, Zardasht Shams spoke and detailed about the challenges, developments and the future programs on the tourism industry in the country.

He said, “Through tourism, we could introduce the country’s historical monuments, ancient sites and scenic natural views of different regions to the world,” the agency quoted. Emphasizing on the tourism industry, Shams said attention to the tourism industry could pave the way for work and incomes for the people in the historical areas, quoted the agency.

The deputy for tourism, finance and administrative of the ministry called cooperation between the private tourism companies and the ministry of information and culture a firm step in development of tourism industry in the country and enumerated a series of performances in this field and the challenges before the tourism industry in the country.

Participants including Nasrullah Stanekzay, head of presidential justice and judicial consultative board spoke about the legal defections available at the tourism industry and others on issues related to the agendas at the meeting. To conclude with, the meeting also discussed issues about the bill on the tourism development board, with the participants provided their visions, said the agency.

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Iranian Prof hailed for beautiful translation of Urdu poems

Islamabad, 9 December 2016, (IRNA) – A Pakistani Professor described as beautiful and faithful the Persian translations of Urdu poems by Iranian professor Dr Ali Bayat.

Dr Rauf Parekh in his article published in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, appreciated Dr Ali Bayat for translating Urdu poetry of renowned Pakistani poet Iftikhar Arif.

He said Ali Bayat in his translation, published from Tehran under the title ‘Panjereh ee be samt-i-baagh-i-gumshudeh’ (The window on the lost garden) has been so careful not to misinterpret or misquote Iftikhar Arif.

“The beauty of Ali Bayat’s translation is that it not only captures the linguistic traits of Arif’s poetry but it is also mindful of Arif’s true colors and his views,” he said.

“Translating Iftikhar Arif into Persian perfectly is the perfect tribute an Iranian can pay to him. Dr Ali Bayat has just done that,” he said.

The author added Bayat has done his MA and PhD in Urdu from Punjab University and has stayed in Pakistan for years, which has given him, along with the academic knowledge, a native-like command over Urdu.

He went on to say that another reason for a surprisingly good translation is that Urdu has drawn heavily upon Persian, especially for poetic vocabulary and hence sometimes you do not really have to translate something from Urdu into Persian or Persian into Urdu as the same words will suffice.

He said in fact the overall impact of the Persian language on the Urdu language and literature has been greater than what Urdu got from other languages, and Bayat has got it right when he says in his preface to the book that “Urdu literature during its development was influenced by the Persian language more than any other language.

“I have courage to even say that the influence of Persian on Urdu in its classical period was even greater than the influence of Arabic literature and language”, he said.

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Indonesian Mosque Council urged to increase social activities

5 December 2016, Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI) should not just hold meetings or congresses but should also increase its religious and social activities, Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla (JK), the council chairman, has said.

“I have always said that we should not become an organization which is busying holding gatherings from congress to congress. We should enhance our religious and social services,” the vice president said in Jakarta on Monday.

The vice president opened the councils national meeting at his office in the presence of a number of ministers.

Agreements were signed on the occasion between the DMI and the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Narcotics Agency, and the National Family Planning and Population Agency (BKKBN).

Kalla hoped that the DMI would expand the role and functions of Indonesian mosques from being just places for worship to include social activities, education, health and others.

“In the past several weeks, the functions of mosques have been increasing, such as becoming places for people to spend the night. If there is no mosque, it would be difficult to gather a large number of people,” the vice president said, referring to the 212 mass prayers held recently.

Many people who came from regions outside Jakarta to participate in the mass prayers last week spent the nights at mosques.

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8.1 million tourists visited Marrakech in first nine months of 2016

05 Dec 2016, Rabat (IINA) – Morocco’s Tourism Observatory stated that 8.1 million tourists have visited Marrakech in the first nine months of 2016.

Morocco’s news agency MAP reported this quoting a statement from the country’s Tourism Observatory that revealed the number of tourists that visited Morocco’s Marrakech between January and September of 2016. Compared to the same period of 2015, Marrakech registered a small increase of 0.3 percent.

The number of Moroccan expatriates visiting the city rose by 3.8 percent compared to the first nine months of last year. The statement of the Tourism Observatory also indicated that Russian and Chinese tourists recorded the biggest rise. The number of Russian visitors has doubled while Chinese tourists increased by 180 percent, compared to the same period of 2015.

The total overnight stays in classified establishment increased by 2 percent. This contains a drop of 2 percent for non-resident tourists and an11 percent increase for resident visitors.

Morocco’s two main tourism hubs, Marrakech and Agadir, accounted for 60 percent of the entire country’s overnight stays with a 2 percent increase for Marrakech and 3 percent for Agadir.

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Islamic body warns against ‘distorted’ Qur’an apps

05 Dec 2016, Istanbul, (IINA) – An international Islamic organization has warned of distorted applications of the Holy Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, for Android devices, Anadolu Agency reported.

In a statement, the Holy Quran Memorization International Organization (HQMI) said on Sunday that it has received complaints about mistakes in free Qur’an apps on digital media stores as Apple Store and Google Play. It cited missing letters in some words or mistakes in verses and punctuation in these free Qur’an apps.

“Some pages (of the Holy Qur’an) were also deleted whether intentionally or unintentionally,” said the organization, which is affiliated with the Muslim World League.

The statement appealed to Muslims to be cautious while using free Qur’an apps and suggested some reliable sources for users willing to read and study the Muslim book on their smartphones and computers.

Established in 2000 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, HQMI aims to teach Muslims how to memorize the Qur’an, perfect its memorization, and make them comprehend its meanings.

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UAE launches first national survey of happiness and positivity

05 Dec 2016, Dubai, (IINA) – A first-of-its-kind national survey was launched on Sunday by the government of the UAE to measure happiness and positivity across the country as well as identify priorities and sources of happiness for society, WAM reported.

The initiative also aims to create a database of the results to help local and federal government entities to develop legislation, policies, plans, and services to achieve happiness for the entire society.

“Starting on December 12, some 14,000 people, representing all social segments and including nationals, expatriates, visitors and tourists, will be polled in a nation-wide survey,” said Minister of State for Happiness Ohood bint Khalfan Al-Roumi.

Through the national survey for happiness and positivity, pollsters will seek feedback from participants for the following: happiness, positivity, quality of life, education, learning, healthcare, society, culture, environment, infrastructure, government services, living standards, and work.

“Happiness and positivity are among the priorities and goals set by the UAE government, which seeks to identify what affects society’s happiness. The launch of the national survey of happiness and positivity comes within the context of the efforts aimed at developing precise and comprehensive scientific tools and indices that will enable government entities to embrace plans and strategies to achieve happiness throughout society,” Minister Al-Roumi said.

She noted that the survey is further in line with the directives of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, who described happiness as a top priority and a sustainable goal.

It is also in line with the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, who recently said “Happiness can be measured, and its evaluation is already the subject of many programs and studies,” adding that the government is already measuring happiness at federal agencies.

Al-Roumi called upon all to cooperate with the teams conducting the survey, to help identify how happiness can be achieved for them and help enhance the UAE’s contribution to international efforts to design happiness and positivity indices.

In March 2016, during a Cabinet session, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid described happiness and positivity in the UAE as “a lifestyle, a government commitment and a spirit uniting the UAE community.”

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Bogor relies more on tourism sector for income

5 Desember 2016, Bogor (ANTARA News) – The Bogor city administration relies more in tourism for income saying the tourism sector is expected to contribute 28 percent to the city original income (PAD) target of Rp712 billion in 2017.

“The 28 percent contributions is expected from hotel, restaurant and food stall taxes,” head of the city tourism, culture and creative economy office Shahlan Rasyidi said here on Monday.

Shahlan said the city would maximize tax revenues from the tourism sector, adding he was optimistic the target would be achieved.

Bogor is mountain resort city located around 60 kilometer, south of Jakarta.

Shahlan said Bogor is an alternative city for weekend holidaying in the Greater Jakarta area. Bogor, which has many international hotels has often hosted national and international conventions including APEC in 1994.

City administration secretary Ade Sarip Hidayat said support for development of tourism sector continues with facility for programs and activities.

Ade said the number of visitors to Bogor has continued to rise from year to year. So far in 2016 , Bogor recorded 4,523 visits by domestic tourists and 2,228 visits by foreign tourists.

He said the tourism sector contributes to economic development of the city.

Ade said , meanwhile, the city administrations continued to seek improvement of the quality of its human resources especially in the tourism sector to sustain development of the sector.

In addition, the city administration has continued to improve and develop infrastructure to attract for investors in the tourism sector in the city.

The city administration has modernized the facility in the Bogor Botanical Garden, which is one of the main attraction for visitors to the city.

Soon there is a Fruit and Flower Festival in the Botanical Garden and the Association of City Councils from all over the country would visits the garden.

In January 1, 2017, tourist buses with information about tourist objects, culinary places and souvenir markets, would start operation in the city.

“This would be opportunity for players in tourism business,” Ade said.

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Turkey, China carry out first lira-yuan swap deal

08.12.2016, ANKARA, Anadolu Agency – The Central Banks of Turkey and China have concluded their first Turkish lira-yuan swap deal worth 450 million Turkish liras ($132.42 million), a Turkish Central Bank source told Anadolu Agency.

The swap took place on Nov. 30, which is aimed at reducing reliance on the greenback.

The move came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday his country was planning to trade with Iran, Russia and China in local rather than foreign currencies in order to strengthen the position of the Turkish lira and reduce dependency on the dollar.

Turkish lira has lost more than 6 percent of its value against the dollar since November. Top Turkish officials, including the president have urged Turks to cash in their foreign exchange holdings and buy the lira to stem the Turkish currency’s decline.

According to economists, the swap deal will promote trade and help in maintaining financial stability in both countries.

The Central Bank of China’s website said it has so far carried out swaps with more than 30 central banks across the world to boost the use of the yuan as a global reserve currency and to stimulate bilateral trade.

Enver Erkan, an analyst from Kapital FX, said Turkish officials are trying “to encourage the use of Turkish lira and domestic currencies in foreign trade and money substitution transactions.”

Erkan recalled the remarks of Turkish Central Bank Governor Murat Cetinkaya on Tuesday when he said: “The Central Bank supports local currency usage with reasons of lower trade costs, efficient currency risk management and reduce high sensitivity to movements of reserve currencies.”

Cetinkaya added: “We will continue to support the local currency as the medium of exchange in economic activities,” adding that the use of Turkish lira in foreign trade had risen to 6 percent of the total trade from 1 percent in early 2000s.

According to the analyst, the move could be considered as a major step towards “de-dollarization” in foreign transactions.

He termed it as “a positive movement for the Turkish economy”, especially its funding credits and investments. “China is a major partner of Turkey; both countries have a $28 billion trade volume,” Erkan noted.

“CNY’s (Chinese Yuan Renminbi) transformation to reserve currency after being included in SDR (Special Drawing Right – an IMF created international reserve asset) basket, sets an opportunity for Turkey also with the usage of both CNY and TRY (Turkish lira).

“Same steps could be taken with Russia and Iran as well through (such) money swap deals,” Erkan added.

Recently, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey had offered trade with Russia, China and Iran in local currencies, stressing the importance of using national currencies in foreign trade.

According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on talking to the media, the first money swap between the two countries’ Central Banks took place on Nov. 30. The duration of the money swap agreement, which was signed in 2012, was extended by 3 years in 2015.

ICBC Turkey – the first Chinese bank that started operations in Turkey by acquiring a majority of shares in a local bank on May 22, 2015 – became the first bank to use the money swap agreement that was inked to boost trade between the two countries.

Currently, China is one of the largest trade partners of Turkey with a bilateral trade volume of $28 billion as of last year.

Iranian parliament Chairman Ali Larijani said on Tuesday his country also welcomes the call of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to use local currencies in bilateral trade. “Iran always prefers trade in local currencies,” Larijani said.

Official figures show a rising trend in the use of Turkish lira in foreign trade even before the last push was made by government officials.

In the first 10 months of the year, approximately $5 billion worth of overall exports, which stood at $117 billion, was made through Turkish liras, indicating a 20.4 percent increase from the same period last year.

Also, imports worth $11.5 billion in the first 10 months of the year were made using the lira, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.

“President Erdogan is right (about the local currency issue), and his speech has a well-prepared background. Like his ‘world is bigger than five’ statement, it not only echoed domestically, but also around the world,” Hilmi Guler, member of the board at ICBC Turkey, said.

“I strongly approve the use of local currencies in foreign trade. But, as usual, lobbyists and status quo supporters object to this issue,” Guler said.

About the currency swap between the Central Banks of Turkey and China, Gurel said: “Actually, trade itself is an exchange activity, and there shouldn’t be extra variables in transactions. It is important to reduce the risks of changing currencies in trade.”

He said China was feeling confident about Turkey in China, which could be gauged from the fact that Chinese businesspeople continued to increase their investments in the country, and the ICBC, largest bank in China, had also begun operate here.

“There are a lot of opportunities to seize with China, especially in technology, telecommunication, and medicine sectors. In the coming future, Turkey and China may establish an international university jointly. Turkey will reach the lands wherein the sun rises through culture, universities, finance and tech companies,” Guler added.

Bulent Aksu, chief financial officer at Turkcell, said: “It is essential to establish a national economy, (which) should be resistant to financial attacks.

“In this sense, we deem the use of national currency (in foreign trader) as significant, and believe the state actions will also serve as guide to the private sector on this issue,” Aksu said.

He said Turkcell had started to turn to the Turkish lira in its corporate transactions which were previously made through foreign exchange, including in investment payments, purchases of goods and services, rental contracts, and equipment from external suppliers.

“We have stopped buying foreign exchange from the market in accordance with these measures. Moreover, we are waiting for the necessary legal arrangement to be able to pay the final installment of the 4.5G license fee in Turkish lira,” he said.

About dollarization being one of Turkish economy’s structural problems, he said: “The fragility of the Turkish lira would be ended as a result of decreasing demand for foreign exchange and a broad acceptance of these measurements by the private sector.”

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IFC to invest $85M bond in Next-Gen Turkish health

08.12.2016 IFC news release, ANKARA – The International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced Thursday it would invest €80 million ($85.3 million) in a project bond to support construction of next-generation health care facilities in Elazig, eastern Turkey.

“The 20-year bond, which totals €288 million (approx. $307.3 million), is the first project bond financing of a hospital under a public-private partnership (PPP) in Turkey,” a member of the World Bank Group said in a statement.

The IFC, which is a member of the World Bank Group, noted that the project seeks to improve access to high-quality public health services in the region.

“We highly value IFC’s participation in this transaction” said Kamil Yanikomeroglu, board chairman of Ronesans Healthcare and Real Estate divisions. “IFC has played an important role in helping us tap into a diversified set of institutional investors.”

The bond is also the first “green and social” project bond in Turkey, according to rating company Vigeo, IFC said. “The proceeds will finance construction of a campus, equipped with climate-friendly technologies,” it said.

“Capital markets create access to long-term, stable financing, that can play a critical role in expanding affordable health care services for a large part of population,” Aisha Williams, IFC Country Manager for Turkey, said.

“Successful issuance of the bond for the health campus in Elazig is expected to pioneer the market, allowing other projects to explore similar structures for mobilizing long-term financing for Turkey’s health care sector,” she added.

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Virtues of Tunisia’s olive oil highlighted

Tunisia, December 8, 2016, Tunis Daily News – Some twenty eight firms exporting bottled olive oil exhibited in an authentic Tunisian atmosphere the different varieties of Tunisian olive oil to Ambassadors of Austria, Spain, Palestine, China and Iran, on Tuesday in Gammarth.

The aim is to showcase the quality of the national olive oil and to promote it in different world markets.

An olive oil tasting ceremony to present Tunisia’s achievements in the bottled olive oil export sector was attended by Ambassadors, politicians and bank directors-general.

The event should be an annual meeting to promote Tunisia’s image as an olive oil-producing country, President of the Syndicate Chamber of Olive Oil Exporters Abdelssalem Loued told TAP.

“Tunisia is on the road of success in terms of exporting bottled olive oil, despite the harvest decline during the 2016-2017 season. This year’s olive oil is of high quality…Our goal is to promote bottled and organic olive oil. Exports should reach 70 thousand tonnes out of 100 thousand tonnes produced this year, to be divided between 20% for bottled olive oil (more than 15 thousand tonnes) and 80% in bulk.”

The plan to conquest capture will focus on the Chinese, Japanese and Russian markets, he pointed out recalling that the export market has 90 companies, including 10 ensuring more than 90% of Tunisian olive oil exports.

He called to review the legislation governing the Fund for the Promotion of Bottled Olive Oil (FOPROHOC), which is totally funded by private exporters, calling for the profession to have the lion’s share of its management.

For her part, Marketing Manager in a company exporting olive oil Nouha Loued said the different varieties of Tunisian olive oil is an advantage allowing us to vary the taste of olive oil and to meet customers’ demands.

According to her experience that allowed her to taste different olive oils of other countries, The Tunisian olive oil has the best quality and is marked by the mildness of its flavor, she further affirmed.

She pointed to the issue of the decline in the Tunisian olive oil supply that is not satisfying the foreign demand also resulting in increasing the selling price, therefore affecting the product’s competitiveness in foreign markets.

According to her, this situation is mainly reflected by the instability of olive trees’ production.

The internationalisation is never easy due to the requirements of importing markets, Marketing Manager in another company Fahd Ben Amer said, citing as an example the Russian market that requires setting a local distributor to directly export, and the American one that imposes a presence on the ground to respond to small orders and claims.

The Chinese market also requires a local partner to overcome obstacles related to cultural differences.

This event celebrates the Tunisian olive oil and its ability to be recognised as the best product in the Mediterranean, Ambassador of the European Union in Tunis Patrice Bergamini said.

He mentioned, on this occasion, the European Union’s revision of the olive oil export quotas over the past three years, stressing the importance to further support the Tunisian olive oil.

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Tunisia urges UK tourists to return

Tunisia, December 7, 2016, Tunis Daily News – Tunisia’s interior minister has urged British tourists to return to the country as he expressed hopes the UK will review its travel advice, saying it is no more threatened by terrorism than any major European city.

The Foreign Office warned against all but essential travel to the country following a June 2015 attack in the resort of Sousse in which 30 British tourists and eight others were killed by a gunman with links to Islamic State.

Hédi Majdoub said he was not demanding but hoping that the advice would be changed and was meeting UK officials to discuss security cooperation.

He told the Guardian: “Do you think governments are not under threat in Paris, Brussels and Istanbul? The threat exists everywhere. The question is: do you trust the Tunisians or not?

“We are not saying to Europeans: ‘Please come to Tunisia; there are no threats.’ There are threats, as there are all round the world. But we are ready to cooperate continuously on any security issue to assure the British and to ameliorate the situation, and build their confidence in us.”

With unemployment in Tunisia running at more than 14%, the UK travel advice has had devastating economic consequences. Travel agencies follow Foreign Office advice, and the few British travelling independently to the country find insurance harder to buy.

More than 440,000 British tourists travelled annually to Tunisian beaches and archeological sites before the Sousse attack but in its aftermath there has been a 90% fall.

Thomas Cook has announced it will not sell packages to Tunisia until May next year at the earliest and calls last week in the Lords for the UK to change its travel advice were rejected by the government.

Majdoub is in London to meet transport ministers, Foreign Office officials and the home secretary, Amber Rudd, and to strengthen cooperation with the UK security services. “It is not just a question of us demanding the Foreign Office change their travel advice, it is also about building back confidence,” he said.

Tunisia, the last surviving democracy to emerge from the 2011 Arab Spring, suffers high unemployment, corruption and levels of inequality that leave the country prey to a further uglier revolution. The high level of graduate unemployment is a special worry because studies of court records show that well-educated Tunisians form the backbone of homegrown jihadi groups.

Majdoub said the focus was on trying to deepen security co-operation, including the exchange of information and training, particularly at a time when Tunisians may be returning to their birthplace after fighting with Isis in Syria or Libya.

Inquests into the deaths are due next year with some evidence held in camera to keep subsequent counter-terror measures secret. The gunman was trained by Isis at a site in neighbouring Libya.

The level of interdependence between Libyan and Tunisian jihadis is striking, and policing a porous border has required US-supplied drones

“Since the attacks in 2015 we have revisited our whole way of thinking,” Majdoub said. “We have changed the strategy and decided the best way to combat terrorism is not remain on the defensive and instead to be aggressive and proactive. We have restructured our intelligence department. There has been a whole plan for tourist security in towns and hotels.

“This year, so far, we have had a whole tourist season without any problems but we need to need to continue to work because the road is long. Yes it is true we have successes, but I would prefer to focus on what we still have to do. In this field you never reach the summit.”

Whitehall has considered a phased relaxation of the Tunisia travel advice. Many other countries do not issue the same blanket warnings, and the flow of less free-spending tourists from Russia has risen this year.

Critics of the Tunisian government claim its economic problems lie outside tourism, which makes up 8% of the Tunisian economy. But others claim this figure is underestimated, and misunderstands how perceptions of the country can act as a multiplier for overseas investment.

With help from France and some Gulf states, the government is seeking overseas infrastructure investment with conferences designed to attract cash into the private sector that can create jobs and lift the country out of poverty.

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ITFC Supports Mali’s National Food Security Program

Wednesday, November 30, 2016, Bamako, Mali – The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group, and the Government of Mali, with OPAM and CSA (the national food security agencies) as Executing Agencies, signed a EUR 15 million (CFA Franc 10 billion) Financing Agreement to support the country’s Food Sector. The Agreement was signed by H.E. Mr. Boubou Cissé, Minister of Economy and Finance and IDB Governor for Mali, and Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of ITFC.

This operation will facilitate the import and local production of cereals, a vital element for the country’s food security. This new facility is aimed at fighting malnutrition and foster poverty alleviation, while contributing to the overall social well-being and stability of the country. Since Mali is a landlocked country, trade is vital for its economy, especially the agriculture and services sectors. This operation will also support the international community’s efforts to assist Mali in its post conflict reconstruction program.

A previous financing of EUR18 million was extended to the Government of Mali (with OPAM and CSA as Executing Agencies) in 2014. The operation enabled the Government to purchase 26,000 tons of cereals and 10,000 tons of animal feed for the “State Intervention Stock”. On this note, Mr. Boubou Cissé said, “Given the success of the previous operation, the renewal of this operation, will enhance the national production of cereals and help the country reach self-sufficiency.”

Commenting on the signing, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol said: “ITFC is keen to support its Member countries to improve the livelihood of the people; therefore, signing this agreement to support the food security of Mali is an important step to achieve ITFC’s mandate”.

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Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital Wins World Responsible Tourism Award

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 5 December 2016, (NNN-WAM) – The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital (ADFH), has been awarded the coveted ‘World Responsible Tourism Award 2016″ for the first time, at the annual World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final Gala Ceremony 2016.

The red-carpet event was held before an audience of leaders in the industry, and international media at the Sun Siyam Iru Fushi Resort, located in the Maldives.

The World Travel Awards, considered the Oscars of the global travel and tourism industry, has recognised the commitment to excellence, of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital’s tourism programme.

The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital added this award to its winning streak, for the fourth consecutive year, the “Middle East’s Responsible Awards.”

Established by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in 1999, the ADFH is internationally recognised for its commitment to the UAE’s culture and economy, and for its contribution to the field of biodiversity conservation. In addition to being the largest falcon hospital in the world, with an ever-increasing influx of patients, ADFH has become a popular award-winning tourism destination. It is now considered one of the top three must-see tour attractions in Abu Dhabi, and a recipient of TripAdvisor’s winner certificate.

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s Secretary-General, commented on the award, “We are immensely proud of the achievements of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, they are not only a world-leading clinical veterinary hospital, but through their tours, a critical component in raising awareness of the threats falcons face, and their importance in our cultural heritage. The hospital is also a pioneer in the understanding of falcon ecology and the rehabilitation of falcons into the wild, through the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme.”

Commenting on receiving the World Responsible Tourism Award for the first time, Dr. Margit Gabriele Muller, ADFH’s Executive Director said, “The World Travel Awards celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry and bring international acclaim to their winners. This is a great honour and reward for the monumental effort, hard work, consistent performance and commitment of my team, in making the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital a global leader in responsible tourism. This accolade underscores our unique role in the tourism vision of Abu Dhabi Emirate.”

The tour offered by Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital provides an in-depth insight in the historical tradition of falconry in Abu Dhabi and its development in modern times. A glimpse behind the scenes of the world’s largest falcon hospital and live interaction with falcons gives visitors the chance to get a better understanding of the Emirati’s culture, love and passion for nature and the UAE’s national emblem, the majestic falcon.

Thanks to its efforts in tourism, quality, performance excellence and innovation, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital has been awarded with 26 international awards from UK, USA, Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Qatar and UAE.

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AFDB US$800 mln for Nigeria’s agricultural sector

ABUJA, 6 December 2016, (NNN-NAN) – The African Development Bank (AfDB) has resolved to launch an 800 million US dollar scheme to support the agriculture sector in Nigeria, says its Pesident, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.

He announced here Monday that the support was for the platform of the AfDB’s initiative called Technology for African Agriculture Transformation (TAAT), which forms part of the efforts to encourage technological innovation in the sector.

Speaking at the opening of the African Economic Conference (ACE), organized by the Bank in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), he said the scheme when implemented would reach 40 million farmers in one year.

He added that another 24 million USD would be used to support Nigeria’s agricultural sector to fight hunger and post-harvest loses.

He said the TAAT initiative has a goal of reaching more than 40 million farmers in 10 years. “We must equally reduce the food system losses along the value-chain from the farm, transport, storage, processing and marketing,” he added.

The AfDB president called for a rapid and inclusive bottom-up approach to addressing challenges facing the agriculture sector. He identified poor infrastructure and access to finance as major challenges, stressing that it became imperative to develop the Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZ).

Adesina added that the TAAT initiative would also reduce post-harvest losses.

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Air cargo operations: Qatar Airways among ‘top 10 airlines’

7 December 2016, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – Qatar Airways is now among the ‘top 10 airlines in the world in terms of penetration of the e-Air Waybill (e-AWB), which according to IATA is the ‘most important transportation document in air cargo operations.

‘As an airline, Qatar Airways achieved more than 73% penetration in terms of e-AWB as of October this year, which is very rapid, impressive, said Glyn Hughes, IATA global head of cargo.

Qatar Airways ‘invested heavily in technology to get on to e-AWB, Hughes said in an interview with Gulf Times at the International Air Transport Association’s global office in Geneva.

‘A couple of years ago, Qatar Airways took a decision to fully embrace e-AWB. So they looked at all the systems they had in place and they realised some of them need to be updated. So they have invested heavily in technology. They did not look at it as a technical solution, but as a customer solution, something, which we have encouraged. By taking information from paper to digital, they can now provide a better product to customers, Hughes said.

Hughes pointed out that in the last one year Qatar Airways has ‘really, dramatically, accelerated in terms of e-AWB penetration.

‘This is because they have looked at it from a corporate perspective. They have actually seen the operational and customer service benefits from them, the senior IATA official said.

Speaking about the benefits of the e-AWB project, Hughes said, ‘It brings about accuracy, confidentiality, and efficiency. Developed collaboratively with industry stakeholders, e-AWB removes the requirement for a paper Air Waybill (AWB).

The ‘eAWB360 initiative was launched to accelerate e-AWB penetration and increase doption of e-AWB at the top 50 e-Airports in the world. The new eAWBLink tool will help small and medium-sized freight forwarders to become e-AWB-capable and join the e-cargo community.

‘In today’s electronic world, air cargo still relies heavily on paper documentation for the exchange of information. Each international airfreight shipment can require more than 30 different paper documents, IATA said.

In another report released on the sidelines of the IATA Global Media event here, the global body of airlines said the Middle Eastern carriers saw air freight demand increase by 9.2% in October 2016 year-on-year, marking an improvement over the last few months’ performance. ‘However seasonally-adjusted growth has slowed, predominantly due to weak freight volumes between the Middle East and Asia, and the Middle East and North America. Capacity in the region increased by 4.2%, IATA said.

The demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), rose 8.2% year-on-year in October. This was the ‘fastest pace of growth seen in 18 months. Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), increased 3.6% over the same period.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general and CEO said, “Global air freight markets look set to end 2016 on a high note. Demand is growing at its fastest pace in 18 months. It remains to be seen how long this growth trend will endure after the year-end peak period and we still face headwinds from weak global trade. But there are some encouraging signs. The peak has been stronger than expected. And purchasing managers are reporting a pick-up in new export orders. So we will enter 2017 propelled by some much-needed positive momentum.”

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AITYS, Yurt, Kuy enter UNESCO’S cultural heritage

9 December 2016, Aitys, kuy and yurt were included in the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister Imangali Tasmagambetov presented the relevant certificates to the National Museum. Also, the list includes the holiday Nauryz, hunting birds, the tradition of preparing thin bread and the national sport – Kazakh wrestling. This decision was taken at the regular UNESCO session, which was held in Ethiopia.

Imangali Tasmagambetov, Kazakh Deputy Prime Minister, said: First of all, this is a significant event. It means that the Kazakh people’s art became known to the entire world and represents the cultural and historical value for all mankind. They represent the Kazakh people’s history, destiny, rich inner world and the most intimate spirit of the nation.

The list of intangible heritage of humanity will be again replenished with the Kazakh fortune. In 2017, the country will nominate in the UNESCO list the national game of assyk and coordinate the multinational application titled the Heritage of Korkyt.

According to experts, including these initiatives in the international registry will help further promote the cultural heritage of Kazakhstan at the international level. The exhibition at the National Museum provides opportunity for those who want to learn deeply the ancient traditions and ancient customs of the Kazakhs.

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Algerian tourism minister visiting Egypt

ALGIERS, 8 December 2016, (NNN-APS) — The Algerian Minister of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry, Abdelwahab Nouri, will visit Egypt this weekend at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart, Mohamed Yehia Rashed.

The Ministry said in a statement here Wednesday that the working visit on Saturday and Sunday formed part of efforts to strengthen and develop relations of partnership and co-operation between Algeria and Egypt in the field of tourism.

It would also be an opportunity to launch an executive programme on tourism co-operation under an agreement signed in Egypt during the meeting of the Algerian-Egyptian High Joint Commission in November 2014, added the statement.

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Algerie Poste launches electronic payment card “Edahabia”

ALGIERS, 7 December 2016 (Algeria Press Service)- Algerie Poste launched Wednesday, in Algiers, the electronic payment card “Edahabia” which will allow to carry out all the types of financial and commercial transactions via internet.

The launch ceremony of this service was held in the presence of Minister of Post and Information and Communication Technologies Imen Houda Feraoun, of Deputy Minister at Ministry of Finance in charge of digital economy and modernization of financial systems Mouatassem Boudiaf and General Secretary of African Postal Union Younes Djibril.

In her speech on this occasion, Feraoun announced that a first quota of 5 million of electronic payment cards will be made before the end of December to progressively reach 20 millions.

This new card will be issued to the holders of CCP accounts (postal current account), she said, adding that this operation is part of the sector’s strategy aimed at modernizing postal services.

It will also allow carrying out all types of financial transactions on internet, notably concerning the payment of electricity and water bills, the payment for purchases in stores having electronic payment terminals as well as the purchase of various products form the website of “Baridi Net.”

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Aspiring Brunei entrepreneurs exhibit products and services

Bandar Seri Begawan, 8 December 2016, Borneo Bulletin — STUDENTS from the Universiti Brunei Darussalam’s School of Business and Economics (UBD SBE) recently showcased their innovative products and services during the INCU Festival at the UBD’s Student Centre in an effort to generate business ideas and inspire entrepreneurial potential.

The INCU Festival Project Lead, Nazurah Noor, said that the festival was organised by students from the Event Management Cluster of this semester’s Incubation Programme.

“This initiative is our response to the university’s call to fulfil its entrepreneurship pillars,” she said. “This is where we combine both pragmatic and theoretical knowledge onto a platform.”

The INCU Festival was officially opened by Associate Professor Dr Mohammad Ayub Sadiq @ Lin Naing, UBD’s Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Academic Affairs), during a ceremony that was held last weekend.

According to Nazurah, the festival’s main objective was to provide a platform for the incubatees to introduce their products and services to the general public.

“The festival helped to nurture the spirit of entrepreneurship that comes with this sort of event,” she said, adding that the Incubation Programme had successfully achieved its learning goals since its establishment in 2012.

“Alhamdulillah, this semester we have a couple of outstanding incubatees whose businesses, ‘HBR’ and ‘Just Eat BN’, have almost surpassed the $1,000 monthly sales mark,” she shared.

“The incubatees behind the HBR business have also launched a popular new dish, which is the ‘Bubur à la Pakistan’.”

She added that an innovation assignment was introduced this semester, in which the incubatees were required to develop concepts for innovative products and services.

“In a span of five weeks, 13 innovative products and services were produced by 13 groups of incubatees, ranging from aprons and kitchen cabinets to a mini-aquaponics tank,” said Nazurah.

“These talented groups carried out marketing validation among their families, friends and even members of the public – all of whom gave positive feedback.”

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Bishkek on of top 10 popular tourist destinations for Russians

Bishkek, 7 December 2016, Kabar – RoomGuru.ru determined the most popular cities of Russian tourists in the CIS in 2016. The ranking is based on data of booking hotels from 1 January to 31 December 2016.

Bishkek ranks ninth among the cities of the CIS and neighboring countries on booking hotels by Russian tourists in 2016.

Top 10 cities in the CIS, which are popular among Russian tourists in 2016 are Minsk, Tbilisi, Batumi, Baku, Yerevan, Astana, Almaty, Tashkent, Bishkek and Chisinau.

According to data of RoomGuru.ru, in 2016 Russian tourists spent an average of $ 53 to stay at the hotel in Bishkek, where stayed on average one and a half night.

The top five most popular cities among Russian tourists in 2016 includes Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan and Anapa.

RoomGuru.ru is a Russian version of HotelsCombined.com, which is recognized as the world’s best search engine for hotels in the past four years by World Travel Awards.

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Brunei, Oman hold seminar to boost cooperation

8 December 2016, (Borneo Bulletin) – THE 2nd Brunei-Oman Joint Energy and Industry Seminar was jointly organised by the Energy and Industry Department at the Prime Minister’s Office (EIDPMO) of Brunei Darussalam and the Ministry of Oil and Gas of the Sultanate of Oman from December 4-6, 2016 in Muscat, Oman.

According to a press release from the EIDPMO, the seminar was officially opened by Dr Mohammed bin Hamad Al Rumhi, the Minister of Oil and Gas, Oman. In his opening address, he expressed his appreciation to see the continued success of the relationship between Brunei and the Sultanate of Oman and he hoped to see more cooperation between the two countries in the future.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office, Brunei Darussalam, Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar in his remarks reiterated his appreciation to Oman’s Ministry of Oil and Gas for the successful hosting of the seminar.

The seminar was also held back-to-back with the 17th Bilateral Consultative Meeting between Brunei Darussalam and the Sultanate of Oman, which was co-chaired by Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II, and Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi, Secretary-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Sultanate of Oman.

During the meeting, they discussed strengthening bilateral cooperation in a number of areas, including trade, energy, defence, education and religious affairs. Both sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues.

The press release said the first Brunei-Oman Joint Seminar was hosted by Brunei Darussalam in 2014. The biennial seminar was established as a platform to share best practices and exchanges on strategically prospering beyond oil and gas. This first seminar allowed relationships and networks to be established between the Brunei Darussalam and Oman energy business community.

These networks were able to be built upon during the 2nd Brunei-Oman Joint Energy and Industry Seminar that welcomed the inclusion of the non-oil and gas sector into its programme, reflecting the ever strengthening and expanding partnership between Brunei Darussalam and the Sultanate of Oman. Encompassing both energy and industry into the seminar’s discussions mirrors the important agenda of economic diversification that the two Sultanates are looking towards in the current global economic climate of volatile oil prices.

The 2nd Brunei-Oman Joint Energy and Industry Seminar with the theme “Strengthening Industrial Cooperation for Economic Growth and Development” featured presentations from both Brunei and the Sultanate of Oman by relevant agencies, on Economic Resilience in the face of Falling Oil Prices; SME Development; Renewable Energy Capabilities; Ease of Doing Business among others.

In conjunction with the joint seminar, a trade delegation comprising of 25 companies was led by Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng and Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin. The trade delegation represented various sectors, including food, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, ICT, Muslimah fashion, business services and oil and gas.

On the last day of the seminar, a workshop was held between the private sector representatives of Brunei Darussalam and the Sultanate of Oman. Through the seminar, the trade delegation explored the vast potential that can be tapped from the various sectors of Oman’s valuable market, and the opportunity to regard Oman as a trading hub to enter other markets in the region.

In his closing remarks, Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamood Al-Busaidi acknowledged the depth of relationship between the two countries.

Meanwhile, delivering his closing remarks, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, on behalf of Brunei Darussalam, highlighted the ever growing opportunity to work together in overcoming the challenges faced by the two Sultanates, especially in the current economic climate.

Site visits to industries of different sectors were also conducted as part of the trade mission, which included visits to the Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (ORPIC) and Majis Industrial services at Sohar Port and Freezone.

The press release said the aim of the visits was to gain a thorough understanding of the set-up of the different industries, such as the integrated Refinery and Petrochemical Complex, which will be similar to the proposed 175,000 bbl/d Hengyi Refinery and Petrochemical at Pulau Muara Besar in Brunei that is in the construction phase.

The visit provided an insight on how the Sultanate of Oman created In-Country Value (ICV) and local employment opportunities from the project. Several areas of cooperation have been identified, such as capacity building and high value products creation such as production of polypropelene. The trade delegation also visited the Gulf Mushroom Products Company.

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Global Economic Think Tank Summit held in Tunisia

ALGIERS, 07 December 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – The 4th Global Economic Think Tank Summit will be held from Thursday to Saturday in Sousse (Tunisia) with the participation of Deputy Minister at Ministry of Finance, in charge of digital economy and modernisation of financial systems Mouatassem Boudiaf.

This summit will be held under the theme “The Sectoral Digital Transformation And The Economic Model,” said the Finance Ministry in a communiqué.

Simultaneously with this event, the 31st edition of the days of companies will be held under the theme “the digital transformation: mutation and opportunities.”

During his visit to Tunisia, Boudiaf will meet with his Tunisian counterpart in charge particularly of issues relating to digital economy and financial systems, said the source.

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GCC healthcare spend to reach USD69bn by 2020

MENAFN, 8 December 2016, (MENAFN News) – Healthcare spending in Mena is predicted to increase to reach USD144bn in 2020 with almost USD69bn of this coming from the GCC States.

Meanwhile, members of the Ministry of Health & Prevention in the UAE, Health Authority of Abu Dhabi and Saudi German Hospital inaugurated the 4th edition of the summit.

The event saw the attendance of 154 Healthcare experts from the GCC nations and global suppliers offering the newest products and services.

Accordingly, the GCC government mostly funds the health spending, with the public sector covering almost 65-80 percent of total health expenditure across GCC States.

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French President tours Louvre Abu Dhabi Site

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 4 December 2016, (NNN-WAM) – French President, Francois Hollande, accompanied by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, toured the site of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the first universal museum in the Arab world.

Hollande’s tour was part of his visit to the UAE, to attend the Conference on Safeguarding Endangered Cultural Heritage, which was jointly organised by the UAE and France, under the patronage of UNESCO, on Dec 2-3, 2016, in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Abdullah welcomed President Hollande to the satellite Louvre, praising the deep bilateral ties which he affirmed had expanded into intellectual, cultural and knowledge sphere.

“The visit was aimed at updating the French President, on the latest construction work on the striking and innovative museum.”

“Through the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the UAE and France are seeking to highlight the deep cultural exchange and interaction between civilisations, look at the future and convey a message to generations about the importance of intellectual and knowledge exchange,” Sheikh Abdullah said.

He expressed his pride at the Emirati-French cooperation in this ambitious cultural project.

Hollande expressed his thanks and appreciation to the curators, developers, artists and architects, including the designer of the museum, Pritzker Prize winning architect, Jean Nouvel. He termed the Louvre Abu Dhabi as an embodiment of the strong ties between the UAE and France.

Some of the masterpieces from the Louvre Paris collections and from other major French museums will be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi, he added.

At the end of the visit, the French President and his host, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, unveiled a memorial plaque marking the visit of the Louvre site.

“In culmination of the deep friendship bonds that bind our countries, the UAE presents the Louvre Abu Dhabi to the whole humanity, to stand as a ray of hope for the unity of the world and to serve as a centre for human heritage, a message for mutual respect among peoples,” the president wrote on the plaque.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is scheduled to welcome visitors in 2017. It will feature loaned paintings from 13 French cultural institutions, including Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh and Henri Matisse.

The central display will feature relevant and revealing works lining one unique path – the principal route via which visitors will navigate their way through the museum.

The journey proceeds chronologically with different civilisations, developing in parallel as visitors move forward on a journey through time. This display features four major periods: Archaeology and Birth of Civilisation; Medieval Days and Birth of Islam; Classical Period from Humanism to Enlightenment; and Modern and Contemporary Art, starting at the end of the 18th century.

Visitors will be invited to study the works themselves, compare them, and revel in their unique qualities and meanings. A variety of textual and multimedia resources in multiple languages will place the artworks in context, explain where they come from, and relate rich histories of the objects and artworks.

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Kyrgyzstan cultural performance held in Kuwait

Bishkek, 9 December 2016,(Kabar) – In honor of the 25th anniversary of the Day of Independence of Kyrgyzstan and the event “Kuwait City – Capital of Islamic Culture 2016”, the Kyrgyz Embassy in Kuwait in conjunction with the National Council for Culture, Arts and Literature of Kuwait held a show-concert with the participation of artists of Kyrgyz arts on December 6, 2016, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

Opening the event, Ambassador Zhusupbek Sharipov in the presence of the heads of diplomatic missions, representatives of the public and the media, as well as Kyrgyz Diaspora and residents of Kuwait, officially welcomed the guests, spoke about the dynamics of development of relations between the Kyrgyz Republic and the State of Kuwait, thanked the country’s leadership and National Council for culture, arts and literature of Kuwait for the support in the strengthening of cultural and humanitarian ties between the two brotherly countries.

The concert took place in the Main National Theatre of Kuwait with the participation of artists of Kyrgyzstan. The concert was highly appreciated by the audience and was met with thunderous applause and standing ovations.

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Exhibition to pay tribute to Fidel Castro held in Algiers

ALGIERS, 08 December 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – An exhibition of photographs and archives shedding light on the life and career of the leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro opened Thursday in Algiers.

Organized by the National Archives, the exhibition, devoted to the memory of Fidel Castro, who died on 25 November 2016, includes photos, newspaper cuttings and official correspondences exchanged between Algiers and Havana.

The exhibition comprises photos on Fidel Castro’s official visits to Algeria and meetings with foreign leaders and Algerian Presidents namely Houari Boumediene, Ahmed Ben Bella, Chadli Bendjedid and Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The visitors will also be able to see newspaper cuttings and photos of Fidel Castro’s official visit to Algeria in 1972 where he returned, one year later, on the occasion of the Non-Aligned Movement Conference held in Algiers.

Other photos showing the Cuban leader receiving Algerian presidents in Cuba, including Ahmed Ben Bella (1962), Houari Boumediene (1974), Chadli Ben Djedid (1985) and the recent visit of Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal (2016) are also part of this exhibition.

This exhibition also includes the written speech of President Bouteflika on the occasion of Fidel Castro’s visit to Algeria in 2001.

Attending the inauguration, Director General of the National Archives Abdelmadjid Chikhi said that the exhibition is meant to be “a tribute to a great man who managed to lead his people according to the principles of the Algerian Revolution.”

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EU’s grants, loans to Jordan to total 500 million Euros in 2016

AMMAN, 9 December 2016, (NNN-Petra) – The value of grants and loans provided and pledged by the European Union to Jordan in 2016 will total 500 million euros (300 million in form of grants and 200 million as soft loans), according to EU Ambassador to Jordan Andrea Matteo Fontana.

Fontana spoke on the sidelines of the signing ceremony of two grants and a loan to improve services provided by the ministries of municipal affairs and water and irrigation.

Following is the full text of an EU statement released on the occasion:

The European Union (EU) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) are joining Jordan’s effort to extend the use of sustainable and innovative renewable energy technology by providing finance, grants and technical cooperation for two projects in the solid waste management and water supply sectors.

These improvements to local municipal services will strengthen the country’s ability to cope with the increased population, which now includes 1.3 million refugees from Syria. Both projects are part of the EU’s €90 million renewable energy and energy efficiency programme in Jordan.

The EU is providing a €30 million grant to help the Water Authority of Jordan construct a photovoltaic system to power three to five water pumping stations across the country. The EBRD will manage the grant funds and supervise the implementation of the project.

Rapid population growth and the climatic conditions of the country have put significant pressure on the country’s limited water resources and created severe shortages. The increased demand for water and wastewater resources also brings higher demand for electricity, which represents up to 60 per cent of operating costs for water services.

Through the use of solar power for water and wastewater facilities, the project is expected to set a precedent for the use of sustainable renewable energy technology in the sector. The project also aims to develop market structures to enhance private sector participation by focusing, where feasible, on the introduction of engineering, procurement and construction, and operations and maintenance contracts.

In addition, the EBRD is extending a loan of up to €7.5 million to the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), while the EU Delegation in Jordan is contributing €5 million in grants to help build a waste-to-energy plant in the Al-Shaer solid waste transfer station. The plant is expected to produce up to 9 million cubic metres of biogas per year from food waste, recycling approximately 11 per cent of the organic waste collected. The plant’s yearly capacity for energy generation, estimated at up to 25,000 MWh, would be enough to power 8,000 Jordanian households.

The EBRD is also expected to mobilise from other international donors an additional €2.5 million in grants for the investments as well additional donor funds for technical assistance to support the project implementation.

The population growth in Amman has placed an unprecedented burden on the solid waste management services provided by GAM, which were already under strain. In recent years, the Al-Shaer waste transfer station, the only operational station serving the capital, has seen a 40 per cent increase in the solid waste it processes and the plant currently operates at a level greatly exceeding its design capacity. The project will help ease the burden placed on this facility.

The EBRD loan is part of a financing programme worth €102 million, recently signed to support GAM’s investment plan. It addresses the most pressing infrastructure needs with regard to solid waste.

Andrea Matteo Fontana, EU Ambassador to Jordan said: “Today, the EU is a key partner for Jordan in developing green energy sources with more than €150 million, and we are proud to announce that we have exceeded our 2020 green energy targets for Europe. We are therefore happy to use our experience to support Jordan in achieving their green energy targets.”

Heike Harmgart, Head of the EBRD Resident Office in Jordan, said: “The EBRD is committed to helping Jordan upgrade its municipal infrastructure services to improve the daily lives of Jordanians and refugee communities alike. The Bank promotes the adoption of renewable technology for a more sustainable use of scarce resources. This work can become a model for other projects in the Jordanian municipal sector.”

Jordan became an EBRD shareholder in 2012 and to date the Bank has committed US$ 775 million across 33 projects in various sectors of the economy, in addition to US$ 120 million of trade facilitation credit lines with local banks.

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Etihad Ventures into Leisure Airline with Europe’s TUI AG

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 6 December 2016, (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Aviation Group (EAG), has approved plans to create a new European leisure airline group, in a joint venture with TUI AG.

The new airline will have a fleet of around 60 aircraft, offering 15 million seats capacity per year, focused on point-to-point flying, to connect key European tourist markets, according to Arabian Business.com.

TUI AG will hold 24.8 percent of shares in the joint venture company, with Etihad holding a 25 percent stake. The remaining 50.2 percent will continue to be held by the existing private foundation, NIKI Privatstiftung.

Etihad said, the new leisure airline group, headquartered in Austria’s capital, Vienna, to be supported by EAG and TUI Group, will have a strong focus on hotels and cruises.

The group is scheduled to begin operations in Apr, 2017, the start of the summer season, serving a broad network of destinations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland (Hanover, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Nuremberg, Baden-Baden, Hamburg, Basel and Vienna).

Key markets will include the Balearics, Canaries, mainland Spain and Greece.

Etihad said, the new company will be able to leverage synergies and economies of scale, accessible through Etihad Airways Partners and the TUI Group, to ensure a lean overhead structure and competitive production cost.

It said, the planned transaction includes an agreement for EAG’s subsidiary Etihad Investment Holding Company LLC (Etihad), to acquire the 49.8 percent share, indirectly held by airberlin in its subsidiary airline, NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH.

At the closing of the transaction, Etihad said, it will immediately contribute the share in NIKI to the new European leisure airline group, and will not effectively control, or become a majority owner of NIKI.

TUI will contribute its subsidiary TUIfly GmbH to the joint venture, including the 14 aircraft currently operated by TUIfly for airberlin, under a wet-lease agreement.

This follows approval on Nov 23, by TUI AG’s Supervisory Board.

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Economy Minister: Azerbaijan popular with investors

Baku, 9 December 2016,(AZERTAC) – Minister of Economy Shahin Mustafayev has said Azerbaijan enjoys growing attention of foreign investors. Speaking at an investment forum in Baku, he noted that a growing number of investors want to do business in the country. He said the Islamic Development Bank, Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector are involved in a number of projects in Azerbaijan.

Mustafayev highlighted the government`s measures to stimulate the development of the non-oil sector, and stressed the importance of attracting foreign investment.

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Iranian documentary “Sonita” applauded at Film Festival

ALGIERS, 7 December 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – “Sonita,” a documentary film, by director Rokhasareh Ghaem Maghami, about the story of an Afghan teenager who exiled to Iran fleeing her country’s traditions against her dream of becoming a rap singer, aroused Tuesday in Algiers many reactions among the audience.

Projected at El Mouggar theatre in competition with the 7th Algiers International Film Festival (FICA), dedicated to the committed film, this 91-minute documentary shows the work of a documentary filmmaker who decided to film the 18 year ago Sonia Alizadeh, whose family wants to marry her in Afghanistan, a country she has fled for about ten years because of the Taliban.

Hosted in Tehran in a reintegration center for young Afghan migrants, Sonita sees her dream of becoming a rapper annoyed by the desire of her mother, who remained in Afghanistan, to marry her in return of $9,000 dollars..

Rokhasareh Ghaem Maghami who begins by filming the daily life of this author of texts in Farsi language, fan of US singer Rihanna, was obliged to pay the mother to help this girl and to finish her film.

She also helped Sonia to obtain a scholarship in a high school in the United States.

A large part of the audience has applauded the film and hailed “the courage” of the director while another part criticized the director for having showed an “ideal” image of the US after Sonita arrival there, since the US is country which is directly involved on the situation of Afghanistan.

Although Rokhasareh Ghaem Maghami has defended her choices, she said that showing US as the savior of Sonita is embarrassing for her because of the US foreign policy.

Co-produced by Germany, Iran and Switzerland, “Sonita” won two awards at the last Sundance Film Festival in the United States, last January.

Six directors of different nationalities are invited for the 7th FICA which continues until December 8th.

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Iran calls for further investment in North-South corridor

Baku, 8 December 2016, (AZERTAC) – The North-South transportation corridor, which will connect India and Russia, is close to realization, said Iranian Ambassador to the Russian Federation Mehdi Sanai, AZERTAC reports quoting RIA Novosti. “The North-South project was never so close to realization,” he said at the opening of the International Conference ITC “North-South” in Moscow.

He stressed that the international and regional realities are such that the project should be implemented as quickly as possible. “This is useful for all countries in the region, and I think already has serious feelings in all countries of the region, it is necessary and very useful project for everyone,” added Sanai.

According to the ambassador, the opening of new transportation routes within the ITC “North-South” corridor is a positive factor.

“Appropriate measures to revitalize this route were taken in the Islamic Republic of Iran and neighboring countries, including Azerbaijan. However, we need investments and greater efforts to increase the capacity of this corridor,” Sanai added.

The ambassador thanked his colleagues from India and Azerbaijan, as well as the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation for cooperation and support in the implementation of the project.

“I am very grateful and I confirm that the project is very relevant,” he said.

The International North–South Transport Corridor is the ship, rail, and road route for moving freight between India, Russia, Iran, Europe and Central Asia. The route primarily involves moving freight from India, Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia via ship, rail and road. The objective of the corridor is to increase trade connectivity between major cities such as Mumbai, Moscow, Tehran, Baku, Bandar Abbas, Astrakhan, Bandar Anzali.

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Indonesia calls for stronger economic ties with Iran

Isfahan, 7 December 2016, (IRNA) – Speaker of Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly Zulkifli Hasan on Wednesday called for strengthening economic, commercial and cultural cooperation with Iran.

He made the remarks in a luncheon hosted by Isfahan Governor General Rasoul Zargarpour in honor of Indonesian delegation.

Zulkifli Hasan said that there are different fields for Indonesian economic cooperation with Iran and that the two states have a great deal of advantages to develop trade ties.

He said that Indonesia needs oil and Iran can be a credible supplier of oil to Indonesia.

Hasan said that cultural affinities serve as common ground for developing relations and that Islam invited the Muslims for unity, so the two governments should work for bolstering cooperation.

The Indonesian official and accompanying delegation arrived in Isfahan on Tuesday evening to pay a visit to historical and cultural sites of the ancient Iranian city.

Zulkifli Hasan met with President Hassan Rouhani, Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani and senior religious leader Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi on Tuesday.

Indonesia with 238 million population is the fourth most populous country in the world.

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Indonesia Hosts International Islamic Tourism Festival

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 5 December 2016,(NNN-Bernama) – The first International Islamic Tourism Festival took place from Dec 2-4 in Batu city, Indonesia’s West Java province with participation of representatives across the world, Indonesia’s ANTARA news agency reports.

The event, held by local authorities, the biggest Islamic organisation in Batu Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, aimed to introduce diversity of Islamic culture and art as well as images and tourism potential of Batu.

Culture and tourism exhibitions were also held during the event, reflecting integration trend and cultural diversity of participating countries.

The event is expected to kick-start promotion of Batu and Indonesian culture, said the city governor Eddy Rumpoko, in a bid to build an international culture centre in the city.

He also noted that the diversified Islamic culture is a great tourism potential for Indonesia which houses the largest Muslim population.

Batu is one of leading tourism destinations in Indonesia.

It is well-known for beautiful nature, international-class resorts and interesting attractions such as transportation museums, culture and amusement park.

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Indonesia Addresses Sanitary Issue To Boost Tourism Sector

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 5 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – Indonesian ministries, agencies and industry associations teamed up to improve the nation’s sanitary facilities, highly expected to significantly help government’s efforts in boosting tourism, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

The sanitary improvement drive was also intended to address the notice on Indonesia’s shortcomings in tourism sector issued by World Economic Forum (WEF) in its last year’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, a senior official at Indonesia’s Tourism Ministry said on Monday.

Through the drive government expects Indonesia’s world tourism competitiveness rank would ascend to 30 by 2019 from 50 ranked by WEF in 2015.

The drive is manifested through improvement of public toilets whose competition is commenced at present.

“The public toilet design competition is expected to fix health and hygienic issue, aimed at meeting global standard,” Dadang Rizki Ratman, tourism minister deputy for destination and tour industry development, said in the event to launch the competition held in the ministry’s premises.

Besides health and hygienic issue, Indonesia’s shortcomings in tourism sector cited by WEF were in tourism infrastructure, Information Communications and Technology facility and flight accessibility to the tour destinations, Dadan added.

Best toilet designs resulted from the competition would be applied in public utilities, such as traditional markets, and in airports.

“Clean and comfortable toilets in the airports would satisfy travelers, gives personal experience to their trips,” a senior airport administrator Yudhi Sari Sitompul said.

Environmental Friendly elements are highly required in the design of each toilet, the competition organizer said.

Winners of the competition that provides total reward of 300 million rupiah (about US$22,200) are scheduled to be announced in South East Asia Toilet (SEAT) Conference scheduled in March.

Indonesia has declared tourism sector as the nation’s core business with a target to welcome 20 million foreign visitors by 2019 from 10 million ones recorded last year and 12 million targeted for this year.

The sector is expected to contribute more than US$24 billion to the nation’s economy by 2019.

Indonesia is now developing 10 new tour destinations to comply with targets in tourism sector. Those new 10 tour destinations are expected to par with resort island of Bali in attracting foreign tourists.

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Muscat to hold India-Arab Partnership Conferenc

CAIRO, Egypt, 8 December 2016, (NNN-MENA) – Aiming to boost economic ties between India and Arab countries, the 5th India-Arab Partnership Conference will be held in Muscat, Oman, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reports.

The two-day conference, to be held from Dec 14, will be organised by the Oman Foreign Ministry, Arab League Secretariat, in association with the Ministry of External Affairs in India.

Other collaboration partners include the Federation of Arab Businessmen (FAB) and the General Union of Arab Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Agriculture (GUCCIA).

“The most important part of the partnership conference is economic cooperation and to build business to business links,” India’s Ambassador to Cairo, Sanjay Bhattacharyya, said.

The theme of the conference this year is ‘Partnership Towards Innovation and Cooperation in Information Technology.’

About 500 Arab and Indian government officials, academicians, businessmen and investors are expected to take part in the conference, according to the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), is the coordinating chamber of commerce from the Indian side and their partner will be the Oman Chamber of Commerce, Bhattacharyya said.

The nine other chambers from the Arab States will also participate in the conference.

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IsDB Group, French Development Agency strengthen collaboration

Paris, France, 6 December 2016 – The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group and the French Agency for Development (AFD) are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will enhance cooperation between IsDB and the Agency.

The President of IsDB, H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, is on an official two-day visit to France on the occasion of AFD’s 75th anniversary. He met with Chief Executive Officer of AFD, Mr. Rémy Rioux, at the French Ministry of Finance to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the two entities.

At the meeting, Dr. Hajjar stressed the importance of IsDB’s partnership with France and said that further coordination of bilateral efforts will strengthen development programs in the Bank’s member countries. Dr. Hajjar and Mr. Rioux are soon expected to sign the MoU.

Dr. Hajjar is also scheduled to meet with several French Government officials to explore how the Bank can best provide support to the country’s Islamic financial services sector.

France’s Muslim population is approximately six million. However, the demand for Islamic finance does not come only from French Muslims.

Recent reports indicate that requests from non-Muslim Europeans for Islamic finance products, particularly Sukuk, is registering an 80 per cent increase. It is now a popular investment vehicle, as more financial institutes enter the Islamic finance sector.

Islamic finance is based on fair partnership principles that deal with profit and risk-sharing, which marks the road to real development and justice in society.

More than 50 financial institutes and banking windows operating on Shari’ah compliant principles are reportedly operating across Europe. Studies indicate that Islamic Banking Capital is expected to reach US $6 trillion by the year 2020, registering a 6.6% annual growth rate.

The success of Islamic Awqaf (endowments) has encouraged a large number of regional and international development institutions to consider using the successful Waqf experiences in IsDB member countries, especially the experience of Awqaf Department in Kuwait.

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IsDB Group President visits IsDB-financed schools in France

Paris, France, 6 December 2016 – On his official visit to France, the President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group, H.E. Dr. Bandar Hajjar, visited several French Muslim community schools launched through contributions made by IsDB.

The visit started with a tour of the Malik Ibn Anas Primary School in Paris, which serves 250 students. The school also provides supplementary and extra-curricular educational services to 450 students who do not attend regular classes there.

Dr. Hajjar also visited the campus at Ibn Rushd Secondary School, which was launched in 2006 with funding from IsDB. The co-ed school that is mainly run on state funding has nearly 550 students and offers French Government Curricula. It offers quality advanced-level education and has won several important awards, including the 2013 Award for Best School in the Republic of France.

Statistics show that the Muslim population in France stands at six million, while the number of Muslim schools in the country is not more than 30. According to French law, the Muslim community has the right to launch its own special schools offering the Government curricula and with state funds covering 80 per cent of the school’s costs.

IsDB began offering support to the Muslim community in France in 1998. Since then, the Bank has provided financial contributions of US $3 million to launch eight schools in Lille, Lyon, Marseille and Paris.

IsDB’s education development efforts in France also include scholarship grants for PhD courses in advanced technology and post-doctoral research aimed at capacity building in highly specialized areas in member countries.

Universities in France have so far hosted 84 male and female students from 19 IsDB member countries on scholarships in advanced majors, 44 of whom have graduated and are serving their respective nations in various advanced fields of science.

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‘Women On The Front Lines’ Conference held in Jordan

AMMAN, Jordan, 8 December 2016, (NNN-PETRA) – Jordan’s Queen Rania Al Abdullah, attended a panel discussion at the ‘Women on the Front lines’ (WOFL) conference, titled ‘Asking the Hard Questions,’ which was held under her patronage in Amman.

The panel discussed women’s influential role in the media, and addressed the challenges they face, while conducting interviews, especially when tackling a tough line of questioning with male interviewees.

The discussion, which was moderated by TV show host, Ricardo Karam, included panellists CBC Networks Anchor, Lamees Al Hadidi, BBC Arabic TV Host, Gisele Khouri, Al-Arab TV Anchor, Laila Al Shaikhli, as well as, France24 TV Host, Aziza Nait Sibaha.

Participants in the conference included a number of prominent women from the fields of politics, media, and economics. Other prominent speakers included, the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, Egyptian International Cooperation Minister, Sahar Nasr, CNN presenter, Becky Anderson, President of the Jordanian Business and Professional Women Association, Senator Haifa Najjar, and Iranian-American astronaut, Anousheh Ansari.

Women on The Front Lines is an annual conference organised by the May Chidiac Foundation, bringing together some of the world’s most influential women, who have inspired leadership, change, and sustainability in their fields.

The Foundation, which is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to training, research and education on media, democracy, and social welfare, was established in 2009, by Lebanese broadcast journalist, May Chidiac, who survived an assassination attempt in Lebanon in 2005.

The foundation also runs an affiliated non-profit media institute, that aims to foster the values of freedom of expression, human rights and democracy, in media production industries by providing young professionals with state-of-the-art technical facilities and training programmes.

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Jordanian Business Team In Kenya To Scout For Opportunities

NAIROBI, 9 December 2016, (NNN-KBC) – A delegation of business leaders and investors from Jordan are in Kenya scouting for opportunities in the construction, veterinary, health and manufacturing sectors.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Kiprono Kittony said here Thursday that the visit would provide an opportunity for local businesses to seal deals to secure markets for their products and services.

The total value of trade between Kenya and Jordan in 2015 was estimated at 1.8 billion shillings (about 17.7 million US dollars). However, trade between the two countries had been fluctuating over the last five years with the trade balance in favour of Jordan.

Ahead of the hold of the Jordan Week forum slated for next week at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre here, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is urging local business people to take advantage of the forum to source markets for their products and services.

Kenya’s exports to Jordan include tea, coffee, tobacco and fruits while the country imports fertilizer, metallic salts and office stationery from that Middle East country.

The 100-member Jordanian delegation of business leaders and investors are keen on business to business, business to customer and business to government meetings as well as industry and farm visits.

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Kazakhstan’s animation industry to mark 50th anniversary

9 December 2016 – Kazakhstan’s animation industry is on a new development stage. At present, domestic animation is gaining momentum with more and more products presented to large audience and receiving acclaim. The Kazakh animators are preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the industry next year.

It all started in 1967. The first Kazakh cartoon “Why The Swallow Has The Tail With Little Horns?” was filmed then. It was directed by Amen Khaydarov. As experts say, it is this cartoon that can be called the pioneer of Kazakhstan’s animation.

Amen Khaydarov’s directorial debut was a success. Cartoon was shown in 48 countries. This film has been awarded at the III All-Union Film Festival, and later won the hearts of sophisticated connoisseurs of animation in Walt Disney’s homecountry receiving a prize at the International Film Festival in New York. At present, in another century and even another millennium, this cartoon triggers a keen interest in children and their parents.

In total, 36 short animation films have been released in Kazakhstan since 2009 as well as the first feature-length cartoon ‘Er Tostik and Aidarkhan’. By 2017, ahead of the 50th anniversary, the animators will prepare another feature-length cartoon ‘Muzbalak’. This cartoon is for children, however, as the authors say, adults will like it too.

Turdybek Maidan, Director, Cartoon ‘Muzbalak’, said: The script was slightly amended. We added more dynamics and action to it. It has a historical plot. The main idea of the cartoon is the friendship of an eagle and a man.

Muzbalak tells a story of how an eagle saves people from a bloodthirsty dragon. But before that a man tames the proud raptor by his love. They create inextricable connection between each other. Ups and downs in the cartoon signify a real life. The creators of the cartoon have also experienced difficult times.

Ramil Usmanov, Animation Director, said: The old school was suspended during those difficult times, during Perestroika. The industry has been rebuilt with the help of the Ministry of Culture and Kazakhfilm studio.

A major premiere awaits the Kazakhstani citizens – the animators are preparing a feature-length cartoon ‘Kultegin’ that is to be released in 2018. The cartoon is about the formation of the Turkic state.

The plot of another animated movie “Kazakh Yeli” is based on the story of the Khans Zhanibek and Kerey, their childhood, when they began to learn martial arts and the basics of science in Otyrar, when matured Khans managed to unite the Kazakh people in the struggle for freedom and independence. It is this cartoon that was presented at Kazakhstan’s Embassy in Beijing ahead of the 25th anniversary of independence. It arouses courage and stirs up love for the motherland in children’s hearts.

Amir Shakhizat, School Student, said: When I grow up I want to become a hero like Khans Zhanibek and Kerey. I congratulate all children on the Independence Day.

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Khorgos – Eastern Gate to revive world trade

09 December 2016, (Kazakh TV) – According to experts, the special economic zone Khorgos – Eastern Gate will boost global trade. The thousandth container train has been launched on China-Europe route through the Altynkol station and Khorgos dry port. The train passed all customs procedures and overload on the broad gauge in just 55 minutes.

Experts say the volume of cargo transportation through the Khorgos – Eastern Gate is rapidly increasing. Only this year, the figure rose by almost 4 times. The main advantage of an overland route is the speed of goods delivery. This saves money and causes the growing interest to the route. In addition, the special economic zone is constantly improving. According to the Chief Operating Officer of the economic zone Hicham Belmaachi, the cargo terminals, including for the transport of agricultural products from Kazakhstan to China are planned to be built on the SEZ territory.

Kazakhstan applies all methods to improve the economic attractiveness of the region. There are no administrative barriers.

Hicham Belmaachi, CEO, Khorgos – Eastern Gate Special Economic Zone, said: The special economic zone Khorgos – Eastern Gate is going to play a major role in improving the connectivity between China, Central Asia and Europe. The special economic zone Khorgos – Eastern Gates will become a major hub for the region. It will be a major hub for logistics.

Chinese investors are already interested in the projects of the special economic zone “Khorgos – Eastern Gate”. Kazakhstan’s First Vice Prime Minister Askar Mamin met with Chinese businessmen to discuss the prospects.

Ding Zui, Chairman, Committee Of Lianyungang Port, said: Jointly we will be able to build a bridge between Europe and Asia. We will increase the trade turnover and create a passway across the sea to Central Asia.

Khorgos – Eastern Gate is an important link in the whole logistics system of the Eurasian continent. Lyunyungan is not the only Chinese port, from where container trains travel to Europe via Kazakhstan. Contracts with eight Chinese cities have been concluded just in few years. Experts estimate that the volume of transportation of goods by rail in Kazakhstan may reach a million of container trains by 2025.

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National Invention, Innovation Awards presented in Algiers

ALGIERS, 08 December 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – The Ministry of Industry and Mining has honored three inventors and an innovative SME in Algiers on Wednesday for their works in agriculture, health and technology.

The awards, to mark the National Innovation Day, were given by an evaluation committee made up of scientists and inventors. They selected three inventions according to criteria like their industrial application and the socio-economic impact on the environment.

The first innovation award went to Abdelkader Chenguel, researcher at the National Agency for the Promotion of the Research and Technological Development Results (Anvredet) for his soil-free (hydroponic) cultivation of green forage.

This invention allows the production of green forage inside intelligent greenhouse and with a better yield over the whole year, whatever the climatic constraints are.

The second prize was awarded to Dr. Noui Walid for his automatic infusion system which replaces the conventional manual perfusion system.

The invention is designed to help nurses and reduce the workload, and also secure the precise administration of drugs for the patient, according to medical prescriptions.

As for the third prize, it returned to Mohammed Yacine Debili for having developed a composite material made of aluminum and copper.

Moreover, the National Innovation Award of SME was granted to company Meditool (Batna) for its geotechnical drill and core drill, which can be up to 1,200 m deep and used in the study of soils.

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Nine-day Victory Fair begins in Rangpur

RANGPUR, 9 December 2016, (BSS) – A nine-day Victory Day Fair-2016 began at ‘Proyas’ Entertainment Park in Nisbetganj area from Thursday to present unprecedented heroism of the Bengali nation and history of the War of Liberation before younger generations.

Rangpur Cantonment authority has been organising the fair at Nisbetganj where about 600 heroic Bengalese embraced martyrdom while gheraoing the cantonment in a bid to capture the same on Mach 28 in 1971.

Mayor of Rangpur Alhaj Sarfuddin Ahmed Jhantu formally inaugurated the fair by cutting ribbon at a colourful ceremony at ‘Proyas’ Entertainment Park on the Ghaghot riverbank as the chief guest.

Mayor Jhantu along with high military officials also visited different stalls set up in the fair, a press release circulated here by Rangpur City Corporation said.

Bangladesh Army, district administration, Bangladesh Border Guard, Bangladesh Police and Ansar-VDP have set up stalls in the fair that will remain open from 10 am to 4 pm daily for the common people till December 16 next.

The stalls have been displaying the anti-British movements, history of struggles for independence and War of Libertarian from 1948 to 1971 and national uplift achieved since the post independence period through pictorial and documentary presentations.

Various attractive sport and entertainment facilities for the children as well as people of all ages have been made available in the fair.

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NPC Approves 27 Contracts Worth Over 8.8 Billion Afs

Kabul, 7 December 2016, (BNA) – Chaired by President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, a meeting of the National Procurements Commission (NPC) approved 27 different contracts costing 8.8 billion and 184 thousand and six Afghanis, said a statement from his office the other day.

The commission held last evening, with the presidential office reporting about on Tuesday, saying the contracts included some branches related to the ministry of defense on newly computerization of the chief of army staff’s communication department, 17 different provinces’ health requirements of the ministry of public health, needs of the ministry of finance etc. said the statement.

The commission returned the proposals of the ministries of urban development and public work as well as of the independent air-aviation due to technical problems, the statement added. The president demonstrated about the ministry of public health related projects and said the provincial governors should do its best to provide researches in their related provinces’ contracts and said the beneficent should also be included in the monitoring of the projects implementation process.

Projects related to the ministry of defense and finance ministries have also been approved by the commission meeting, under some required conditions, said the statement.

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Oman: Muriya fosters holistic lifestyle with new outlets

MENAFN, 07 December 2016, (MENAFN – Muscat Daily) – Delivering unique experiences that meet the needs of residents and visitors, Muriya has welcomed The View restaurant to its rapidly growing Jebel Sifah destination, and is set to welcome FitnessGuru, the specialist one-on-one fitness solution provider, which is supported by Horizon Fitness, Oman’s largest health and fitness club with over 25 branches.

Inspired by the project’s masterplan to offer comprehensive and completely holistic lifestyles, the new additions will boost the variety of world-class services and dining amenities at the burgeoning community.

The latest dining establishment to open its doors in Jebel Sifah, The View, is an SME that is operated under the management of long time restaurateurs Omar Khayyam Restaurant Group, the oldest registered restaurant in Oman, serving since 19. With dcor that mixes vintage and modern styles, The View offers a unique blend of mouth-watering international dishes ranging from Indian, BBQ and Chinese classics to Italian and Continental cuisine.

Jamie Houston, Jebel Sifah destination director, said, ‘Jebel Sifah is a stunning example of Muriya’s proposition in the development of fully integrated towns and tourism projects, reflecting our wealth of international and local expertise. The introduction of these two new outlets, amongst several more in the coming months, indicates our ongoing commitment to enhance Jebel Sifah’s facilities.’

Adnan Gabol, owner of The View, said, ‘With our diverse range of cuisines, we look forward to delighting our visitors.’

Chad Zlateff, owner of FitnessGuru, said, ‘Opening our gym in Jebel Sifah is a major milestone for us.’

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Pakistan Film Festival debuts in New York

NEW YORK, 4 December 2016, (APP) – Celebrated Pakistani movies drew packed houses on Saturday, the first day of Pakistan Film Festival’s triumphant debut in New York City.

“Actor in Law” and “Dobara Pher Say” received resounding applause from film fans and art lovers following the screening at Asia Society’s auditorium. More excitement was in store for them as the cast of the two movies appeared on stage.

Pakistani actors and film personalities, who traveled to New York from Pakistan, include Mahira Khan, Mawra Hocane, Nabeel Qureshi, Saba Qamar, Wajahat Rauf, Yasir Hussain, Sheheryar Munawar, Asim Raza, Tooba Siddiqui, Adeel Hussain, Sanam Saeed, Jerjees Seja (JJ), Producer, Afia Serena Nathaniel and Mehreen Jabbar.

Sabiha Khanum, the top star of yesteryears who lives near Washington, also made an appearance at a reception hosted by the Pakistan Mission to the UN on Friday to a warm welcome.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi declared open the two-day festival, saying it is a part of the continuing efforts to promote cultural diplomacy and to project the country’s soft power.

“Young film makers in Pakistan are producing an incredibly diverse and entertaining array of movies which are contributing to the cultural renaissance underway in the country which is also reflected in the profusion of creative voices found today in Pakistan’s art, music, literature and the media,” she said.

Since assuming charge as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to UN, Ambassador Lodhi has undertaken several cultural projects and organized a series of events to promote Pakistan’s soft image and highlight its modern and vibrant culture but also its ancient civilizational roots.

The Pakistan Mission, under her leadership, organized a Sufi Night at the UN General Assembly hall to mark Pakistan Day earlier this year featuring Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

She also organized an Exhibition of Contemporary Art from Pakistan at the UN, which showcased some of the best works of art to demonstrate how Pakistan is becoming a powerhouse of creativity. She was also instrumental in bringing the Lahore Literary Festival to the Asia Society in New York.

“Cultural diplomacy is an essential part of a diplomat’s job aimed at winning hearts and minds”, Ambassador Lodhi said, adding that “Pakistan has much to offer the world in this regard, and our responsibility is to take this to the international arena.”

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Trans-Caspian international transport route discussed

Baku, 8 December 2016, (AZERTAC0) – The prospects of Trans-Caspian international transport route (TITR) have been raised in quadrilateral meeting held in Baku, as railway representatives of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkey and Georgia met in “Azerbaijan Railways” CJSC.

Head of Azerbaijan Railways Javid Gurbanov, president of Kazakhstan railways JSC, Kanat Alpysbaev, Director General of Turkish Railways shipping, Veysi Kurt and chairman of Georgian Railways Mamuka Bakhtadze attended the meeting.

Head of Azerbaijan Railways Javid Gurbanov informed the guests about Azerbaijan’s active participation in realization of international transport corridors under great care and support of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, railway reforms carried out in the country, the work done to improve the country’s transit potential challenges ahead.

At the meeting, the sides exchanged views on development prospects of International Trans-Caspian Transport Route, increasing the volume of cargo transported on this route and issues on the optimization of tariffs.

Addressing the meeting, railway representatives of Kazakhstan, Turkey and Georgia emphasized the importance of Trans-Caspian international transport route Project.

A memorandum of understanding was signed at the end of the meeting.

Taleh Ziyadov, Director General of Baku International Sea Trade Port and Chairman of Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping Company Rauf Veliyev also attended the meeting.

The first test container train “Nomand express” arrived at Baku International Sea Port from China on Shikhezi (China)-Dostik-Aktau-Alat route, on August 3.

The operation of this container train became possible as a result of negotiations conducted by the heads of the state railway companies at the meetings of the Coordination Committee of Trans-Caspian international transport route. Then, Ukraine joined the International Trans-Caspian transport route.

The Nomad Express train plying on trans Caspian international transport route delivers cargo from China to Europe in 10-12 days. This is one of the advantages of the transport corridor. Upon completion of construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway corridor cargo capacity will increase, and the delivery time will be reduced.

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ISESCO/DLT pact to expand PWD training & education in Djibouti

Jeddah, 07 December 2016, (ISESCO/DLT) – Today in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a contract to implement the “Programme of Teaching and Training People with Disabilities (PWD) in Djibouti” was concluded between the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Riyadh-based Distance Learning and Training Company (DLT).

The contract was co-signed by ISESCO Director General, Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri and DLT Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Zuhair bin Ali Azhar. The Programme involves training the staff of the Rehabilitation Disability Center of the Republic of Djibouti to master the use of a mobile application for people with autism and cerebral palsy and other education-related handicaps.

It is worth mentioning that ISESCO and the Company had signed an agreement at ISESCO headquarters in Rabat, May 2016 to collaborate in serving PWD’s issues in the Islamic world.

For the record, the DLT Group aims to develop distance learning and training programmes in the Arab and Islamic worlds and boost capacity building to keep up with the world’s latest developments in science and education through offering distance learning and training services.

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Qatar Museums restores two old mosques

MENAFN, 8 December 2016, (MENAFN – The Peninsula) – Qatar Museums (QM) yesterday announced that it has completed the conservation and restoration of two mosques in Qatar, located in Old Salata and Fuwairit.

The project, run under the patronage of its Chairperson, Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, is part of a larger initiative by QM’s Architectural Conservation Department in the Division of Cultural Heritage to restore historical and archaeological sites throughout Qatar, helping to preserve Qatar’s architectural identity and heritage whilst also balancing progress and embracing the future.

Located in Old Salata, the Bin Obaid mosque was built in 1935. The original structure of the mosque was built from palm tree trunks, with the ceiling made from palm tree branches. The conservation consisted of replacing damaged materials with traditional, internationally recognised materials, whilst also carefully preserving the authenticity and style of the original building. Following the success of the restoration, which took ten months to complete, the mosque is now ready to welcome Muslims for prayers.

The second mosque is located in Fuwairit, an important coastal village in Qatar, approximately 80km north of Doha. It is an important site for Qatar’s oil industry and rose to regional prominence as the home of the Al Thani family during the early 19th century. The mosque was first built in the 1920s and was laterrebuilt in the late 1960s over the traditional design and the ruins of the first structure.

The latest conservation and rehabilitation of the Fuwairit mosque included removing damaged plaster layers and waterproof layers off the ceiling, resetting the wall stone structure, treating wooden areas against termites and applying plaster using traditional and waterproof materials.

Ali Al Kubaisi, Chief Archaeology Officer at QM, said: ‘At QM, we are very proud to successfully restore these significant and historical mosques. Qatar is a country with a proud and rich heritage, stretching back over thousands of years, and preserving this history for our future generations is vital. This is not the first time that we have restored an important element of our heritage and it will most certainly not be the last. We will continue our commitment to put local communities, young and old, in touch with their past, reminding them of their ancestors skills, wisdom, and heritage.”

Over the last ten years, the QM Architectural Conservation Department has rehabilitated traditional buildings in the North of Qatar, in Al Shamal, Al Ruwais and Abu Dhelouf. The team has also restored mosques in Al Wakra, Sumaisma and Dukhan; palaces in Al Wajba and Al Shamal and the village of Al Mufair. In addition to the two most recent mosques, Fuwairit and Bin Obaid, QM is now finalising the restoration of the Al Ruwais mosque.

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Qatar to ink QR46bn worth deals by 2017

8 December 2016, (MENAFN) – Project deals worth QR46bn will be signed in the coming year in Qatar as the total cost of commissioned projects reached almost QR374bn. The country will take more steps to enhance business environment and to attract foreign investments in the future, which will support its economic growth.

Qatar is predicted to reach an annual growth rate of 3.4 percent in the cited year, which is the highest forecast growth in the GCC. The Minister emphasized notable recent regulatory reforms, such as the enhancements made to the government’s tender and procurement to enhance transparency.

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Raja Muda Of Perlis State Meets Sri Lankan Malay Community

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 7 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) – The Raja Muda of Malaysia’s Perlis state, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail met the Malay community in Sri Lanka yesterday to know about their history and culture.

The arrival of Tuanku Syed Faizuddin, who is also Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) chancellor, at the Slave Island community hall, was greeted by Sri Lankan Malays Association president M. Hussain Jayah, who is one of the 50,000 Malays in Sri Lanka.

Tuanku Syed Faizuddin, who is leading a UniMAP delegation on a fact-finding mission to Sri Lanka, was briefed by M. Hussain on the lives of the Sri Lankan Malays, some of whom could still could speak well in Malay.

The Raja Muda also watched a game of sepak raga and sepak takraw involving the community and UniMAP delegation and they were also entertained with the ‘joget’ dance performed by the local community.

He also visited the Malay village on Slave Island and met its friendly people. The Malays from Indonesia and the then Malaya had migrated to Sri Lanka more than 250 years ago.

Their number has grown since but the Malay language proficiency has declined.

M. Hussain said they had never felt alienated in Sri Lanka as the government had always taken good care of them.

“After all, we were born and grew up here. Some of us even hold high positions,” said M. Hussain, who has been leading the association since last year.

On Sri Lankan Malays-Malaysian Malays relationship, he said it had been a long-standing relationship and flourishing.

He said they often received visits from Malaysians, either in groups or individually.

To strengthen cooperation among the community, the Sri Lankan Malays Association was set up in 1922 with its first president M.K. Saldin, who led the association until early 1942.

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First Festival of Kyrgyz honey and nuts held in New Delhi

Bishkek, 8 December 2016, (Kabar) – The Kyrgyz Embassy in India organized in New Delhi the first Festival of Kyrgyz honey and nuts, the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

The aim of the event was the promotion of domestic products in the Indian market and to familiarize the Indian business community with different varieties of high-quality Kyrgyz organic honey and walnut.

The festival brought together active representatives of the business circles of India and the Ministry of Agriculture of India, Indian Chambers of Commerce, tour operators and journalists.

Kyrgyz Ambassador to India Samargyul Adamkulova in her welcoming remark highlighted the rising popularity of Kyrgyz honey and dried fruits in India.

The Festival of Kyrgyz honey and nuts is coincided with the annual India International Trade Fair-2016. Producers of our country, who arrived in India at the initiative and special invitation of the Embassy, also took part in the fair.

The Honey Festival was accompanied by a concert of the children’s creative collective “Balazhan” and videos about Kyrgyzstan.

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Trade turnover grows between new Silk Road countries

09 December 2016, (Khabar Agency) – Marine harbors of Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran strengthen cooperation. Simplification of customs procedures contribute to the development of trade relations. Representatives of customs agencies of the CIS countries adopted a declaration at an international forum in Aktau.

This document defines the future development vectors of trade relations between the new Silk Road member countries. In addition, the declaration will help the development of the Aktau sea port. The port introduced the one-stop-shop principle last year. Time of registration of customs documents was reduced by 10 hours. Monthly capacity was only 600-700 cargo ships through the sea gate of Kazakhstan, now it makes up 1,500. More than 4.5 million tons of cargo has been transported in just ten months of this year through the Aktau port. Kazakhstan’s grain and metal are exported to the neighboring countries and the demand for them has grown.

Mikhail Yalbachev, President, Aktau International Sea Trading Port, said: This year we expect bigger batches of metal. We have shipped a record number of metal in August and September. If earlier the average shipment volume was somewhere around 100,000 tons per month, these months it is 160,000 and 170,000. That is, the port has demonstrated its potential, that there is no limit. It all depends on how much goods we receive from consignors for onward transportation for export.

Gosman Amrin, Deputy Chairman, State Revenue Committee, said: We have utilized the positive experience of the Aktau sea port at many centers of customs clearance in Kazakhstan and other departments. It is necessary to introduce a better time management in each state body.

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Turkish businessmen overseas supporting lira campaign

AARGAU, Switzerland, 8 December 2016 – Amid a popular social campaign in Turkey to support the domestic currency, the lira, Turks overseas are joining efforts to boost their homeland’s economy.

One Turkish businessman in Switzerland has even started to use Turkish lira in his restaurant in order to contribute to Turkey’s economy.

Suat Sahin, a businessman in Switzerland’s northern Aargau canton, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday he decided to sell meals in Turkish lira after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s call to convert foreign exchange savings into the domestic currency.

For Sahin, currency fluctuations in Turkey are the fault of a terror network.

“The Fetullah Terror Organization (FETO) attempted a coup (in Turkey). They failed to succeed with guns, airplanes and helicopters … now they try to do it by launching economic warfare,” Sahin said.

Led by U.S.-based Fetullah Gulen, FETO is accused of orchestrating Turkey’s July 15 coup plot as well as being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police and judiciary.

The July 15 defeated coup left 248 people martyred and 2,193 others wounded.

Sahin has called on Turkish businessmen in Europe to support the country’s local currency. “Our only goal is to contribute to the country’s economy,” he added.

On Sunday, Erdogan said Turkey had taken steps to carry out its foreign trade using national currencies.

“If we buy something from them (foreign countries), we will do that in their currency; if they buy something from us, they will do it in our currency,” Erdogan said, adding Turkey will “play its own game” in the economic arena against “all the games” played against it.

Since last week, the president has been calling on Turkish citizens to convert their foreign exchange savings into Turkish lira and gold to help boost the lira’s value.

The U.S. dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate went down to stand at 3.3820 at 10.00 a.m. Turkish time (0700 GMT) on Thursday, compared to 3.4120 at Wednesday’s close.

Turkey’s Economic Coordination Committee, which held a meeting last week, is set to soon announce its outcome.

It is expected the committee will take measures to accelerate economic growth and minimize foreign exchange volatility.

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Turkistan – 2017 cultural capital of Turkic world

9 December 2016, (Khabar Agency) – The Kazakh city of Turkistan will become the cultural capital of the Turkic world in 2017. This decision was unanimously reached at the 34th meeting of the Permanent Council of Culture Ministers of the TURKSOY member states in Azerbaijan.

Turkistan is the fifth city to become the cultural capital of the Turkic world and the second in Kazakhstan after Astana. The meeting participants discussed the implemented work and approved the activities plan for the next year. According to the Secretary General of TURKSOY Duysen Kaseinov, this year all the cultural events of the organization took place under the auspices of the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Turkic republics’ independence.

Kemal Celik, Former Member Of Turkey’s National Assembly, said: Almost all the Turks know about Turkistan. Because we honor Kazakhstan as the land of our ancestors, and Turkistan as a cultural and spiritual center of all the Turkic peoples. TURKSOY declared the historical city to become the cultural capital of the Turkic world. This will give an impetus to expand the tourism potential and development of the city.

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Lebanon hosts Third Rural Tourism Forum

BEIRUT, Lebanon, 7 December 2016, (NNN-NNA) – USAID Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson and Lebanon Minister of Tourism, Michel Pharaon, inaugurated the third National Rural Tourism Forum, at Le Royal Hotel, Beirut. The forum, organised by Beyond Beirut and the USAID-funded Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) project, brought together more than 100 experts and stakeholders from the Lebanese rural tourism community, highlighting the coordinated efforts by the public and private sectors to promote rural Lebanon.

Held under the theme “Rural Lebanon in Motion,” the forum focused on the Strategy for Rural Tourism Development for Lebanon, which was developed with USAID’s support and launched by the Ministry of Tourism, in Feb, 2015.

In her remarks, Dr. Patterson voiced the importance of boosting rural tourism as a key driver of the rural economy. She noted that rural tourism “can provide rural residents with business and employment opportunities, empower women and youth, spark an interest in the heritage and culture of rural areas, and increase community cooperation.”

Minister Pharaon, who endorsed and adopted the strategy, expressed his satisfaction with the progress achieved to date, and stressed the importance of building on these achievements, to further develop the tourism sector in rural Lebanon.

Since 2012, the United States has invested 2.9 million dollars, to boost rural tourism by supporting local organisations and the private sector. These efforts are focused on offering quality products and services, promoting quality standards for rural hospitality businesses, and conducting training for more than 1,200 individuals, on hospitality management and food safety, more than half of them women.

More than 730 jobs have been created or supported, as a result of LIVCD interventions.

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UAE- DED launches new Smart Lounge at headquarters

8 December 2016, (MENAFN – Khaleej Times) – The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) on Wednesday unveiled a ‘Smart Lounge’ at its headquarters in Business Village, which will streamline operations and ensure round-the-clock access to DED’s business registration and licensing services.

Shaikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai International Marine Club, inaugurated the lounge, which is the first of its kind in the region and is in line with DED’s commitment to ensuring the highest standards of excellence in its operations. Dedicated user-friendly and interactive kiosks and smart devices are set up in the lounge to help guide customers through each step of their service.

Sami Al Qamzi, Director General of the Dubai Department of Economic Development in Dubai, said: “Through the launch of the Smart Lounge, we are breaking new frontiers in our level of service excellence and contributing to the enhanced competitiveness of our economy internationally. It is also a testament to our commitment to following the directives of our leadership in leveraging the latest technology tools innovatively and creatively to provide advanced services that add to the happiness of our customers.”

The services and facilities will also support visually challenged people through keyboards in Braille as well as black and white screens. This comes in line with Dubai aiming to be the world’s most disabled-friendly cities by 2020, through services that are tailored for all segments of the community, especially persons with disability.

“We strive to implement the latest and best technologies in the Smart Lounge to meet the needs of our customers as per best practices and in ensuring that the facilities cater to the needs of persons with disabilities. A voice call facility is also available for customers. This unue initiative is the result of the tireless efforts of the Business Registration and Licensing team in providing the most efficient and least time consuming services for licence holders and investors,” Al Qamzi added.

Omar Bushahab, CEO of the Business Registration and Licensing sector in Dubai, added: “The Smart Lounge will elevate DED’s smart services to a five-star level. It is conceived as a one-stop shop for registration and licensing services, supported by the required knowledge resources available online as well as call centre support. It aims to add significant value to the fast-growing business and investor community in the city as well as in finishing their transactions in record time.”

Abdullah Hassan, CEO the Shared Services sector in DED, said that the IT team spent months benchmarking the services and operations of the Smart Lounge against the best in the world. “We studied best practices in customer services and took the private sector into confidence to see their requirements and preferences in completing registration and licensing transactions. The team will guide the logistics of the Smart Lounge according to international best practices in quality, in an environment defined by elegant and contemporary design.”

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UAE’s Etihad Museum to open on 7 January 2017

DUBAI, 7 December 2016, (WAM) – Etihad Museum will open its doors to the general public from 7th January 2017, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) has announced.

This follows the recent official inauguration of the museum on 2nd December, on the eve of UAE’s 45th National Day in the presence of Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Members of the Federal Supreme Council.

The museum will welcome visitors all week long from 10am to 8pm, and will present educational exhibits and programmes that show the chronological events of the agreement signing and Union declaration in 1971.

Saeed Al Nabouda, Acting Director-General of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority said, “This landmark heritage initiative is an important manifestation of the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to create an important national UAE cultural and tourist landmark. It will offer the public a valuable opportunity to discover year-round the events before, during and fter the Union agreement’s signing in 1971. In doing so, the museum will enhance visitor understanding of the rights, privileges and responsibilities bestowed upon the nation’s citizens through the UAE constitution.”

As part of Dubai Culture’s wider role in establishing a regulatory framework for the Emirate’s heritage sector, Etihad Museum will contribute to the realisation of the Dubai Plan 2021 objectives, to consolidate the Emirate’s position as a home for creative individuals who are proud of their cultural identity.

Visitors will be able to enjoy reading books at the Dubai Public Library branch within the museum, which will hold three thousand different titles on the UAE’s national and social history. Pictures, movies and documents from 1968 to 1974 will be on display to provide numerous points of interest throughout the nation building process of the nation, all of which is captured in the museum.

The Etihad Museum’s new permanent pavilion is inspired by the shape of a manuscript, with seven columns which emulate the pens used to sign the 1971 Union agreement, while the museum’s identity is inspired from the colours of the UAE flag, the Union’s identity and the seven emirates.

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UNIDO Honours Bahraini Businesswomen

MANAMA, Bahrain, 8 December 2016, (NNN-BNA) – The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), has honoured Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) member and head of the Businesswomen’s Committee, Afnan Al Zayani, in recognition of her long strides in supporting and empowering women and youths, through the Bahrain Model (EDIP).

The awarding ceremony was recently held on the sidelines of the UNIDO’s Golden Jubilee celebration in Vienna, Austria, wherein four Bahraini businesswomen were honoured.

In this regard, Afnan Al Zayani expressed pride in Bahraini women and their remarkable achievements, and said, “The prosperous era of King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, made a fertile environment for Bahraini women to flourish and excel in all fields.”

She added, “We are blessed with the wise and far-sighted leadership of Bahrain and the tremendous support of Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of the King and President of the Supreme Council of Women (SCW), that played a major role in consolidating the pioneering standing of Bahraini Women.”

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Conference held on Islamic finance in ASEAN

08 December 2016, Borneo Bulletin Online – The 4th ASEAN International Conference on Islamic Finance (AICIF) is taking place from December 6-8 at the Equatorial Hotel, Melaka.

The main organiser is the Islamic Banking and Finance Institute (IIiBF) of the Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia (UIAM). Other organisers are Universitas Islam Negeri Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta, Universitas Islam Sultan Agung, Universitas Darussalam Gontor, Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA) and Mindanao State University Philippines, according to a press release.

This is the first time UNISSA participated as an organiser of the AICIF. Leading the UNISSA delegation to Melaka is Dr Abdul Nasir bin Haji Abdul Rani, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Islamic Finance (FEKIm), who is accompanied by lecturers Dr Abdurrahman Raden Aji Haqi, Dr Hajah Rose binti Abdullah and Hajah Nurul Nabilah binti Haji Ali.

The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between FEKIm and IIiBF also took place on December 6 in the presence of Chief Minister of Melaka, Datuk Seri Ir Haji Idris bin Haji Haron.

The MoA focused on cooperation between both parties in areas of Islamic economics, banking and finance that can be expanded through short-term exercise, research and conferences.

Signing on behalf of UNISSA was Dr Abdul Nasir, while UIAM was represented by the Deputy Rector Professor Datuk Dr Mizan bin Hitam.

During a discussion among organisers, it was agreed that the fifth AICIF will take place in Brunei Darussalam. They also agreed to expand the AICIF network to Singapore and Thailand in 2017.

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Yemen’s FM Visits Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2016

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 7 December 2016, (NNN-WAM) – Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Yemen, has toured the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival 2016, being held in Al Wathba, Abu Dhabi, and runs until Jan 1, 2017.

While visiting the festival, Al Mekhlafi said, the event is a continuation of the course, outlined by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, to consolidate and preserve cultural heritage.

“These values should be implanted in the hearts of current generation, to transfer them to the next generations, so that the UAE’s authentic heritage remains intact,” he added.

The Yemeni minister applauded the role of the organising committee, expressing his satisfaction at Yemen’s participation in the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival.

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