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5 Dec, 2016

CALL FOR ENTRIES: US$280,00 Saudi award for Environmental Management in Islamic World

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 05 December 2016 (06 Rabi 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.



M-Bike System Introduced At Malaysia-Singapore Entry Points

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 28 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The implementation of the Secured Automated Clearance System for Malaysian Citizen Motorcyclists (M-BIKE) starting Nov 30 (Wednesday) is expected to reduce motorcycle lane congestion by 50 per cent at the Malaysia-Singapore entry points.

The Home Ministry in a statement today said the system would be implemented at both Malaysia-Singapore entry points situated at the Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex and the Sultan Abu Bakar Complex (KSAB) (Second Link), Johor Bahru.

“Through the system, inspecting travel documents at the Malaysia-Singapore entry points would be through the automated system. Through the M-BIKE system, the inspection time would be reduced to between eight and 10 seconds compared to the earlier method which took between 12 to 15 seconds for each motorcycle,” said the statement.

The CIQ has 100 lanes while the KSAB has 50 lanes.

Motorcyclists and pillion riders are urged to immediately register at the One Stop Centre (OSC) that operates 24 hours a day at the CIQ and KSAB to ensure a smooth implementation of the system.

According to the statement Malaysians above 18 with a valid passport with a minimum expiry date of six months can register under M-BIKE which is free. For more information, motorcyclists are urged to surf the www.mbike.my website or contact 07-2182400 (24 hours).

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Malaysia Targets More Tourists From India, Sri Lanka

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 28 November 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents is embarking on a sales mission to Kochi, Kerala state, India, on Wednesday.

MATTA vice-president (inbound) Tan Kok Liang said the mission was organised by MATTA in accordance with a successful sales mission to the south Indian cities of Bengaluru (Bangalore) and Chennai in August.

“The sales and fact-finding mission this time includes Colombo as the number of visitors from Sri Lanka has fallen from 32,089 for the first eight months of last year to 19,004 this year, a drop of 40.8 per cent.

“The percentage of decrease for Indian visitors over the same period was lesser, at 6.7 per cent, from 483,841 to 451,295,” he said in a statement here today.

Tan said it has understandable for Indian and Sri Lankan nationals to be more inclined to visit other countries as they allegedly faced obstacles when planning to visit Malaysia.

“Travel agents in India are complaining that visa agents charge INR5,000 (RM325.38) as processing fee on top of the INR1,000 (RM65.08) fee for a Malaysian visa.

An INR3,000 (RM195.21) fee is charged for those who apply e-Visa online, but the high rate of rejection forced many to apply manually,” he said.

Furthermore, he said, a joint e-Visa application may result in some members of the family or an incentive tour group approved while others were rejected.

“Instead of paying much more to obtain a Malaysian visa or go through unnecessary hassle, many tourists choose to visit other countries for their holidays or MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) events, negating the efforts made by Tourism Malaysia,” he said.

The sales mission to Kochi and Colombo is again supported by Tourism Malaysia, as its south India office also covers Sri Lanka.

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Malaysia’s Central Bank Further Liberalises Financial Market

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 2 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — In a move to further broaden and deepen Malaysian financial markets, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) today introduced a series of measures, effective Dec 5, to enhance the liquidity of the foreign exchange market.(BNM is Malaysia’s central bank)

Among them is to allow residents, including resident fund managers to freely and actively hedge their US Dollars and Chinese Reminbi.

However, the exposure is up to a limit of RM6 million per client per bank, with a one-time declaration of non-participation in speculative activity, Assistant Governor, Adnan Zaylani Mohamad Zahid said today.

Residents and non-resident fund managers can now actively manage their foreign exchange exposure of up to 25 per cent of invested assets.

He said to broaden accessibility of foreign investors and corporates to the onshore foreign exchange market, offshore non-resident financial institutions may participate in the Appointed Overseas Office framework which will be accorded additional flexibilities on ringgit transaction.

“These flexibilities include foreign exchange hedging (own account/on behalf of client) for current and financial account based on commitment, opening of ringgit account (book-keeping) and extension of ringgit trade financing,” he added.

Adnan said as part of streamlining treatment for investment in foreign currency assets, residents with domestic ringgit borrowing, are free to invest in foreign currency assets both onshore and abroad up to the prudential limit of RM50 million for corporates and RM1 million for individuals.

“Residents without domestic ringgit borrowing shall continue to enjoy flexibility of investing in foreign currency assets both onshore and abroad up to any amount.

“This gives equal treatment for residents with ringgit borrowings investing in foreign currency assets whether in the onshore or offshore market,” he said.

Exporters can now retain only up to 25 per cent of export proceeds in foreign currency as compared with 100 per cent previously.

“They may hold higher balances with approval from BNM to meet their obligations in foreign currency,” Adnan said.

Payment by resident exporters for settlement of domestic trade in goods and services is now to be made fully in the ringgit.

All ringgit proceeds from exports can earn a higher rate of return via a special deposit facility.

The facility for ringgit proceeds will be offered to exporters via all commercial banks and receive a rate of 3.25 per cent per annum.

This facility will be offered until Dec 31, 2017 subject to further review.

Foreign currency arising from conversion of export proceeds will be used to ensure continuous liquidity of foreign currency in the onshore market.

In addition to the newly announced hedging measures, exporters are also able to hedge and unhedge up to six months of their foreign currency obligations.

These measures are intended to promote a deeper, more transparent and well-functioning onshore foreign exchange market where genuine investors and market participants can effectively manage their market risks with greater flexibility to hedge on the onshore market.

“A deep and liquid onshore foreign exchange market will enable investors to better manage against volatile currency movements,” Adnan said.

The above measures are part of a series of market development initiatives by the Financial Markets Committee.

The aspiration is to have a highly developed, liquid and deep foreign exchange market in Malaysia, to commensurate with the growth of the economy and the increasingly sophisticated needs of the users.

To facilitate enquiries, public may contact 03-2698 6089, 03-2692 8736, 03-2691 6473, 03-2691 3164 or 03-2693 0772 (Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm), Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm) or email infofmc@bnm.gov.my from Dec 3.

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AirAsia Bags Two Honours At World Travel Awards Grand Final

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 3 December 2016, (NNN-Bernama) — AirAsia has been named the World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the fourth year in a row and its maiden title as the World’s Leading Inflight Service at the 23rd World Travel Awards (WTA) Grand Final held in Male, Maldives.

Asia’s largest low-cost carrier beat contenders from five continents to secure the award, including Ryanair, easyJet, Jetstar Airways, Southwest Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Norwegian, Kulula, Mango, fastjet, flydubai, Air Arabia, flynas and West Air.

“What a thrill to win World’s Leading Low-Cost Airline for the fourth straight year. It’s a great honour to round out what has been a great year for AirAsia, not just financially but in terms of recognition from the industry,” Group Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said today.

AirAsia also won the World’s Leading Inflight Service title for the first-time ever, beating full-service carriers Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways, Qantas Airways, Lufthansa, American Airlines and Air Canada.

The win builds on AirAsia’s success earlier this year when it secured Asia’s Leading Inflight Service award from WTA for the first time.

“I’m also super proud of our first World’s Leading Inflight Service award. I’ve always said we have amazing crew and amazing inflight products, and we’ve proven it by beating not one, not two, not three, but eight full-service carriers for the prize,” he said in a statement.

He said there are more to come for AirAsia as the airline is always working on more innovations, and not just for inflight.

“Right now, we are exploring ways to make the airport experience better. One thing we’re looking at is fast-tracking guests who share their travel profile with immigration authorities. We expect to run the trial at selected airports in Asean in the not-too-distant future, so keep an eye out for it,” he said.

The WTA serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the travel and tourism industry, as chosen by thousands of travel professionals and high-end tourism consumers.

Airlines are judged on customer satisfaction and service quality, overall business performance, product innovation, staff relations and development, corporate social responsibility and contribution to local community, commitment to sustainable policies and fulfillment of long-term corporate vision.

AirAsia is Asia’s leading low-cost carrier, with an extensive network of more than 120 destinations in Asia, Australia and New Zealand, the Middle East and Africa.

It is also the only airline to fly direct to all 10 Asean countries, including some 60 unique routes in the region.

AirAsia was also named World’s Best Low-Cost Airline for the eighth year in a row at the 2016 Skytrax World Airline Awards in July.

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Malaysian Foreign Ministry holds Innovation Day expo

PUTRAJAYA, 30 November 2016, (Bernama) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or Wisma Putra, culminated its celebration of innovation with an Innovation Day exhibition today, 30 November 2016. Though held on a small scale at the Ministry’s lobby, the event nonetheless managed to attract about 500 visitors, including some of the members of the public who had gone to the Ministry to attend to their consular services.

Earlier that morning, the Ministry’s Secretary General, Tan Sri Othman Hashim officiated the exhibition to a packed auditorium before making the rounds of the various booths participating at the exhibition. In his speech, Tan Sri Othman said, “Today’s event is important in our quest to realise the culture of innovation in the workplace, which in turn will enable us to implement the public sector’s transformation agenda”.

The launch also saw Ms. Nabila Lukman from the South Asia division of the Ministry bag first place in the logo and tagline contest. Her winning entry, “Growing Innovation without Boundaries” earned her a cash reward and a certificate of appreciation, and will be used in the Ministry’s innovation promotions in the coming year.

In order to ensure that innovation is an inculcated culture rather than a one-off event, a number of programmes were held throughout most of 2016. These included poster competitions, logo and tagline contests as well as the introduction of an innovation board. The board is meant to provide a platform for all innovative ideas to be publicly displayed and discussed. The Board was in full display, taking centre stage at the exhibition.

Exhibition guest Marzita Marzuki lauded the Innovation Day exhibition, saying that it “shows the evolution of the Ministry especially in terms of its delivery system.” Another guest, Wan Mohd Azmi Wan Awang, a netizen of the Ministry, said that “it is wonderful to see such good support for this exhibition from both inside and outside the Ministry”.

The Innovation Day celebration, organised by the Department of Policy Planning and Coordination under its Director General, Dato’ V. Sudha Devi, was a three month project from the planning stage to its execution.

In addition to the booths by 1GovUC, PR1MA, PPA1M, there was also a bean bag area and an interactive kiosk featuring questions related to international relations. Guests to the exhibition were treated to free ice cream and popcorn, as well as Malaysian favourites Teh Tarik and kacang kuda.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Innovation Day was the latest in a series of programmes which began on 18 April this year with the establishment of the Ministry’s Genovasi Alumni — the first of its kind in the government sector. The alumni, part of an elite group of young diplomats who have made design thinking their cornerstone, are expected to lead diplomacy into the next century and beyond.

This is the seventh Innovation Day for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but the first time that an exhibition is held. This year’s Innovation Day runs on the theme “Fostering Innovation Ecosystem”.

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Fishing Vessel Guidelines Launched@ MAHA2016

SERDANG, 2 December 2016, (Bernama) — MAHA2016 (Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture & Agrotourism), the largest and longest-established agricultural and food expo in the region, yesterday witnesses the launch of the guidelines in building new modern fishing vessels in Malaysia.

Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Minister of Transport, said that the introduction of the guidelines, to be implemented in January next year, is an initiative by the Department of Fisheries to propel Malaysia into becoming an important deep sea fishing nation in the future.

“The Maritime Department which is under the Ministry of Transport, has the expertise in implementing the guidelines and we will be working closely with the Fishery Department in helping them meet the requirements such as better storage, hygienic and safety aspects.

“This is also in line with the EU standards which had indicated that they would only deal with nations that adhere to the guidelines,” he added.

The modernisation of fishing vessels will have 12 standards which will be in line with the International Maritime Associations’ and the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) Codes apart from fulfilling the requirements of the importing nations.

“Currently, five companies have shown interest in implementing the guidelines and one of them is Lui Hai Feng Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd.

“The existing government policy gives importance to the private-driven concept in implementing this vessel modernisation development project.

“Besides the investment by the private sector, we would encourage the participation of co-operatives and a special revolving fund to be managed by Agrobank, SME Bank or others,” he said.

He also said that at this point in time only one Malaysian company is responsible for the classification of vessels operating in Malaysian waters, and all these fishing vessels need to obtain the Certification of Worthiness for sailing, which is the minimum requirement, from reputable ship recognised organisation which is recognised by the Ministry of Transport.

Datuk Ismail Abu Hassan, Director General of Fisheries, said that the Department of Fisheries has expected that it will be able to develop a more modern fishing industry that fulfils the 12 standards for the safety and comfort of the workers, ‘Hygiene on Board’ and also as a collateral for financing via approved financial institution.

“We expect all Zone C, and above, trawlers and ‘pukat jerut’ fishing vessels will be built according to the Guidelines for the Construction of Fishing Vessels, prepared by the Department of Fisheries of Malaysia,” he added.

The Department of Fisheries has targeted for 3,000 fishing vessels to be converted with the new guidelines by 2050.

During the event, Mr Ben Lee, Executive Director of Lui Hai Feng Holdings, exchanged agreement documents with the first two owners of the modern fishing vessels, Peng Ching Fishery and Poh Hock Chai Fishery, both from Kedah.

Datuk Nogeh Gumbek, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries was also present during the event.

Earlier in the morning, MAHA2016 received its first VIP when the Governor of Sabah, Tun Datuk Seri Panglima Juhar Hj Mahiruddin, visited the event together with his wife.

MAHA2016 is expected to be officially officiated by the Prime Minister, Datuk Sri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak, on Sunday, December 4, 2016.

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

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“Sabah Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2012-2022” Launched

KUALA LUMPUR, 29 November 2016, (Bernama) – Assistant Minister of Sabah State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Datuk Kamarlin Ombi launched “Sabah Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2012-2022” on 11th October 2016 at Deawan Kinabalu in Kinabal National Park. This is for all of residents in Sabah to stay Environmental Symbiotic in Biodiversity and the Strategy and Action Plan are referred as a statutory plan in National Biodiversity Strategy.

The action plan has been so far implemented by related agencies such as Natural Resource Office, Sabah Forestry Department, Wildlife Department, Department of Irrigation and Drainage, Sabah Parks, Department of Agriculture and so forth, and it is expected that periodical monitoring will be done from now onwards. The project of JICA and Sabah state has worked together for 14 years for Biodiversity Conservation and this strategy is one of the outcomes of it.

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Istanbul’s historic Blue Mosque to undergo major renovation

Istanbul, 29 November 2016, (IINA) – Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque, which is one of the most visited tourist sites in the city and Turkey as a whole, will soon be undergoing a series of renovations, which are expected to take place over the course of three and a half years, Daily Sabah reported.

The renovations will be the most extensive of its kind since the construction of the mosque, the Prime Ministry Directorate General of Foundations announced on Sunday.

General Director of the institution Adnan Ertem said that the preparation for the restoration of the 17th-century Ottoman-era mosque has been completed, and that work in the mosque is expected to start in the spring of 2017.

Ertem noted that the foundation’s directorate had completed numerous renovation projects throughout the city and the restoration of the Blue Mosque will be their final one in Istanbul. He noted that the mosque went under renovation around 30 years ago, but the necessary underground work had not been done back then.

The mosque will not be shut down to worshippers or visitors during the project, he said. “We used a special material that isolates sound from the work. During the mosque’s restoration, worshipers could pray at the floor while the restoration continued at the upper levels.”

One of the most beautiful examples of Ottoman classical architecture, the mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet I and was first opened in 1616. It is the only six-minaret mosque built by the Ottomans and one of the most famed buildings in Istanbul.

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Suriname One of World’s Best Sources of High-Quality Water

PARAMARIBO, Suriname, 2 December 2016, (NNN-CARIBBEAN NEWS) — Alliance Partners of Monaco, which is moving to tap the lucrative drinking water business, has identified Suriname and Finland as the world’s top two sources of high quality drinking water during a press conference this week in Finland.

However, the company has chosen Finland because it is three hours away from Monaco. Nevertheless, Suriname isn’t so far from the EU, it borders France’s overseas department of French Guiana, and may have an advantage in tapping the EU market.

The Monaco-based company has partnered with Lahti Aqua of Finland to expand their global sale of drinking water in Europe, the United Arab Emirates, Asia and North America. Finnish bottled water is already being sold in Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Persian Gulf.

Monaco investor, Guy-Alain Mierczuk, has identified Finland and Suriname as the best sources of high grade drinking water. During a press conference, after a meeting of Alliance Partners and Lahti Aqua in Finland, a French expert said, “Investors have two options for the best sources of drinking water, Finland and Suriname.”

Suriname, a multi-racial country, has escaped ethnic and religious bloodletting, is one of the greenest countries on earth, and is located in South America on the northern shore bordering Brazil, Guyana and French Guiana.

Alliance Partners group has an investment capital of three billion euros, and is mainly in real estate around the world. It has recently built accommodation for refugees in Germany.

Suriname, like Finland, has unspoiled nature, an abundance of fresh water from the Guiana Shield, and is now looking to profit from the growing demand for drinking water across the world. The Netherlands has funded a study to help Suriname develop this industry. Drinking water from Suriname has great export potential, but so far it has not been widely commercialized in the international market.

A Dutch-Swiss company, Amazone Resources, received a concession in 2012 to investigate water export. The company was then asked to conduct research into the social and environmental impacts before they are allowed to start exporting.

Last week, a boat was due to tow a giant bag made from PVC-coated fabric with enough water to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool from Suriname to drought-stricken Barbados and Curacao, as a test run for Amazone Resources’ technology.

The Barbados Water Authority, which signed a memorandum of understanding for the test run but is not buying the initial shipment, said in a statement that the accord is part of its long-term plans to tackle the impact of global warming. The trip to Barbados was expected to take five or six days.

Ironically, Barbados was impacted on Tuesday by torrential rains and flooding from a local weather system.

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Tokyo holds its first fashion show for Muslim women

Tokyo, 24 November 2016, (IINA) – Tokyo, capital of Japan, held this week in what organizers said was the first such fashion show for Muslim women in the country after models were wearing colorful hijabs and walked down a Tokyo catwalk on Tuesday, according to media reports.

Floral patterns were among the designs adorning long robe garments and matching headscarves at Japan’s first “Muslimah Fashion Show,” which is taking place as part of a two-day Halal Expo Japan event.

Around 10 brands, mainly from Singapore, were showcasing their creations at the Tokyo Modest Fashion Show. Of one the model presented a creation by designer Lynn Siregar from her brand Weddingku Gallery during Tokyo Modest Fashion Show, Muslim fashion show, at Halal Expo Japan in Tokyo.

Another model presented a creation by brand Alia Anggun.

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German exhibition company develops portal in Farsi

The German trade show specialist fairtrade focuses on events in North- and Subsahara Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. In Iran fairtrade organises its shows Iran Agrofood since 1994 and Iran Telecom Innovations since 2000. Fairtrade and the technology specialist NGN – New Generation Network GmbH cooperate on developing exhibition portals since 2013. The announcement of extending the cooperation until 2019 goes hand in hand with big news as the exhibition portals from next year on will also be made available in Farsi, the language spoken in Iran and surrounding countries.

Iran has become a very attractive exhibition market. Numerous exhibition organisers have established their own new events in the Islamic Republic. However, xhibition and online services are usually available in English and other western languages, but only very few will be found in Farsi. Thus, the offer will mainly appeal to international companies and Global Players, whereas local companies often struggle with this one-sided focus.

The fact that almost none of the fair organizers work on this issue is partly understandable: Not only the need of linguistic skills, but also the necessary technological upgrade causes a whole bunch of investments. The Farsi characters for example are completely different to all major internationally used languages like English, French, Spanish etc.

And to top it all, texts in Farsi are read from right to left, so on the one hand the content of a website has to be flipped around and on the other hand, the entire user navigation has to be adjusted to it. To address international and local exhibitors equally, the Farsi content has to be combined with the other languages. Therefore, search-engines for example need to be re-programmed to make the connection possible.

However, developing Farsi online-services is by no doubt a wise step, as the number of local exhibitors and visitors is steadily increasing. Now, NGN decided to intensify their cooperation to make a digital connection between international and local trade show participants possible.

NGN will upgrade their state-of-the-art online portal for exhibitors and visitors with a Farsi-version. Additionally, a customer service for Iranian exhibitors in their mother tongue shall be brought to life.

Doris Beckmann, Managing Director at NGN: “Our goal is always to meet the demand of our customers in their native language and to make their preparation for the fair as comfortable as possible. We work in an ambitious multicultural editorial team, which will soon welcome new colleagues with Farsi as their mother-tongue”

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CALL FOR ENTRIES: US$280,00 Saudi award for Environmental Management in Islamic World

ISESCO News Release – Pursuant to the approval of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to entrust the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) with the Award of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Environmental Management in the Islamic World, under the supervision of the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and on the recommendation of the 6th Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers, held at ISESCO headquarters in Rabat in October 2015 whereby ISESCO was entrusted with the Award’s General Secretariat, ISESCO is pleased to officially announce the opening of submissions for the Award of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Environmental Management in the Islamic World, as from October 1st, 2016.

The announcement comes in implementation of the decision of the Award’s Higher Committee in its 1st meeting held in Jeddah on Monday 24 Zul Hijja 1437 AH/ 26 September 2016, wherein it was decided to officially announce the launch of the Award on 1st Muharram 1438 AH, and open submissions on November 1st, 2016.

The Award aims at consolidating the broad concept of environmental management in the Islamic world; encouraging interest in the concept of sustainable development; introducing the excellent efforts and successful practices in the field of environmental management and circulating them in the Member States to wider benefit. The Award is also one of the important levers for boosting joint international environmental action and raising awareness about its issues and inspiring institutions and individuals to secure the environmental future for the Islamic world in particular and for humanity in general.

The total value of the Award is US$280,000 covering four categories. Three winners shall be selected for each category as follows:

• Best research, achievement or practice in fields of environment and sustainable development in the Islamic world.

• Best practice in environment and sustainable development projects and activities in the public sector in the Member States.

• Best practice in environment and sustainable development projects and activities in the private sector.

• Best leading practices or activities in the environment and sustainable development in public-interest and non-governmental organizations in the Member States.

Further information about the Award, its categories and submission requirements can be reached at the Award’s website which links directly to the electronic platform dedicated to the reception submissions and indicates the tasks of the Jury (http://www.ksaaem.org/en/).

The Higher Committee of the Award set 30 April 2017 as a deadline for receiving submissions. The prizes shall be awarded to the winners at the opening session of the 7th Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers which is due to be held at ISESCO headquarters in Rabat in October 2017.

For further information please contact the Submission Reception Division at the Award’s General Secretariat at the following email addresses: info@ksaaem.org, superchair@ksaaem.org

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Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency adds 5 languages to mobile app

ANKARA – Anadolu Agency has added five more languages to its mobile application.

Albanian, Macedonian, Bosnian and two dialects of Kurdish (Sorani and Kurmanji) are now available in the mobile application in addition to Turkish, English, Arabic, French, Persian and Russian languages.

Windows Phone users will have access to Anadolu Agency stories in eight languages excluding Arabic, Persian and Sorani, while 11 languages are available on iOS and Android.

Turkey’s oldest news corporation Anadolu Agency broadcasts in eleven languages, including Turkish, English, French, Arabic, Persian, Kurdish (two dialects), Russian, Macedonian, Bosnian (three dialects) and Albanian, which enables it to reach millions of people around the world.

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France to help Tunisia upgrade civil aviation

Tunisia, November 22, 2016 – The twinning project on “Support of the Civil Aviation Institution Building in Tunisia,” by means of a European Union (EU) funding worth EUR 1.2 million, about 2.8 million dinars (MTD), was launched at a seminar held Tuesday in Tunis.

The two-year project will, in particular, contribute to reo-rganise civil aviation institutions in Tunisia, increase the institutional capacity and harmonise relations, according to the project’s presentation documents.

The project also seeks to update the regulatory framework of the civil aviation in Tunisia by ensuring its compliance with international conventions and its approximation of the European legislation, particularly in terms of security, safety, access to the market, management of air traffic, passengers’ rights, the environment protection, research and safeguarding.

Besides, the project provides for devising a training strategy for the civil aviation meeting the sector’s needs at mid- and long-terms with a training programme organised in Tunisia and at the “Ecole nationale de l’aviation civile de Toulouse.”

The twinning, which is part of the “Support Programme for the Association Agreement and the Transition” (P3AT), projects the mobilisation of twenty French experts to train Tunisian executives and technicians and adapt the regulatory texts to international requirements.

According to Transport Minister Anis Ghedira, this twinning will contribute to the improvement of the Tunisian institutions’ competitiveness and will enhance the operation of interior airports.

“We hope that this twinning will be extremely productive and fosters the already strong co-operation between the two countries,” said France ‘s ambassador in Tunis Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, pointing out that the development of the transport network will help Tunisia become a platform for Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Poetry Night held in Oman

Barka, Dec 1 (ONA) — Al-Maragh Cultural and Sport Team of the Al Shabab Club in the Wilayat of Barka organized a poetry night under the patronage of Sayyid Fatik bin Fahr al-Said in the presence of Dr. Abdulmunim bin Mansour al- Hasani, Minister of Information and a number of officials, sheiks, dignitaries of the Wilayat and a huge gathering of citizens.

During the event, a documentary film titled “Oman Story”, was screened. The documentary narrated the achievements in the Sultanate on various areas.

At the end, the chief guest honored the companies and individuals contributed in organizing the event, as well as the participating poets.

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OCCI North A’Sharqiyah Governorate Branch Organizes Tourism and Economy Seminar

Bidiyah, Dec 1 (ONA)— Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah Branch organized a seminar on tourism and economy in Wilayat Badiyah today.

The seminar was organized under the patronage of Aiman bin Abdullah al-Hassani, OCCI Deputy Chairman for Economic Affairs and Branches, who stressed the importance of tourism and its role in enriching the Omani economy and providing job opportunities for youth.

A number of officials took part in presenting the seminar’s working papers, such as the Ministry of Tourism, OCCI, Oman Development Bank, representatives from Alfa Tourist Company, A’Sarooj Company and Desert Camps.

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Tunisia to target tax, graft in 2017 to lift growth

Tunisia, December 1, 2016 – The Tunisian government wants to target corruption and raise tax revenue next year in an effort to bring the economy toward its potential of 5 per cent annual growth, Prime Minister Youssef Al Shahed said in an interview.

Achieving that goal would also require measures including streamlining public sector companies and combating the informal economy, Al Shahed said late Tuesday at the Palais de Congres in Tunis, where Gulf and European countries convened to pledge billions of dollars of investment to the birthplace of the Arab Spring. He didn’t offer further details.

“The most important thing is to proceed and put the train on the track and the reforms will take their time,” Al Shahed said. “We believe that the economy is reviving and we see glimpses of growth returning as phosphate production resumes and tourism starts to pick up. Also, the procedures taken by the government will help growth return.”

The North African country revised down it growth forecast to 1.5 per cent this year and is targeting 2.5 per cent expansion in 2017.

Testing democracy

The new plans would build on recent steps to cut costs, draw investors and promote private-sector growth in the one Arab country that embraced democracy and eluded the instability that engulfed other Middle East nations that deposed dictators. But economic hardship has tested Tunisia’s young democracy, with terrorist attacks battering its vital tourism industry and officials still struggling with the high unemployment and other economic problems that helped to fuel the 2010 uprising.

The planned wage freeze for public-sector workers that is a mainstay of the current reform program is facing resistance. The country’s biggest union has called for a general public sector strike next week if the government doesn’t reverse course on wages.

Tunisia has already secured a $2.88 billion (Dh10.56 billion) International Monetary Fund loan, and hopes the ongoing investment conference “will bring it back to the international investment map,” El-Shahed said. The government plans to get about 6 billion Tunisian dinars ($2.6 billion) through foreign loans next year to bridge the financing gap in addition to local debt, he said.

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Tunisia Seeks Foreign Investment to Cement Democratic Gains

Tunisia, December 1, 2016 – The emir of Qatar came in person with a pledge of $1.25 billion. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, France and other European partners promised substantial amounts, too.

The show of support, as the Tunisian government threw open its doors this week at a two-day investment conference, was a measure of the stake the entire region feels in keeping Tunisia’s democratic transition on track.

It was also an acknowledgment that the greatest threat to that transition may be Tunisia’s weak economy, which is sowing discontent, especially among young people in rural areas.

After a year of political drift and growing social tensions, the conference was a prominent attempt by the government to secure support. It was opened in Tunis on Tuesday by President Béji Caïd Essebsi, who told international partners that Tunisia faced an exceptional situation, a sentiment that other officials expressed.

“We want to show what we have done in the last five years in changing society, in changing mentalities, going through democracy, which is a huge, enormous change,” Tunisia’s prime minister, Youssef Chahed, said in an interview before the conference. “It is a call to the world to come and be part of the story.”

The country has been buffeted by civil unrest, terrorism and full-fledged war with its neighbor Libya, once a major trading partner and source of employment, in the five years since the popular uprising that overthrew President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and set off the Arab Spring.

The Tunisian economy has been in decline since 2011, and the government is struggling with a growing budget deficit. Investors fled the post-revolution disarray and have been further scared off by terrorism since 2013.

Four large-scale terrorist attacks over the last 18 months left more than 70 people dead, many of them foreign tourists. The tourism industry, which contributed 7 percent of gross domestic product, and more indirectly, collapsed to half its former level.

Successive governments have been absorbed with the democratic transition — and their own political divisions — and economic reforms have largely been delayed or neglected. Annual economic growth has averaged only 1.5 percent since the revolution.

Government spending, meanwhile, soared as the government sought to ease social tensions — poverty, inequality and joblessness were the main grievances that incited the revolution — by creating 200,000 public-sector jobs and raising wages.

A growing terrorism threat forced the government to triple its security budget, to buy new equipment and upgrade army and police forces, according to the prime minister.

At 41, Mr. Chahed is Tunisia’s youngest-ever prime minister. Only three months into the job, he faces the urgent task of rescuing the economy.

“We succeeded in the political transition,” he said. “Most Tunisians agree on the model we are following, there is a national consensus about that, which is very important. Now we are moving to the economic and social side.”

Mr. Chahed was plucked from relative obscurity to be prime minister by President Essebsi in the summer, after the predecessor, Habib Essid, lost a vote of confidence. Mr. Chahed represents a new generation of Tunisian politicians that had no part in government before the revolution.

He holds a doctorate in agribusiness — for which he studied partly at Iowa State University — and worked for several years as a consultant for the United States Department of Agriculture at the American Embassy in Tunis.

He says his focus will be on creating jobs, especially for the youths in the disadvantaged regions in the interior of the country. This week, he will embark on a tour of the country to start a $250 million microcredit program for young entrepreneurs.

“One of the biggest problems in Tunisia is that one in three unemployed is educated, around 33 percent of unemployed people has a higher degree,” he said. “This is one of the biggest challenges. We need to create growth, inclusive growth, equally distributed between the coast and inner area of the country.”

The United States was not among those announcing new funds. But it has been Tunisia’s most important partner in combating terrorism, providing training and technical assistance, including basing drones in Tunisia to help survey the border with Libya, Mr. Chahed said.

Many conference participants praised Tunisia for completing a difficult political transition from dictatorship — drafting a constitution, holding free elections and even winning the Nobel Peace Prize for resolving political differences through a process of national dialogue.

Yet concern for Tunisia’s economic situation was evident. Sheikh Tamim said the conference was “an example of how to support a promising experience and to avoid the worst.”

Western representatives, led by Christine Lagarde, president of the International Monetary Fund, warned Tunisia’s government that it was crucial to overhaul the economy and improve performance or risk failing its population.

“The government needs to act, too,” she said in a video message to the conference. “Keeping public finances healthy, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public services, and maintaining a steady pace of reforms will be crucial tasks in the months and years ahead.”

Tunisia’s leaders, who have spent much of the time since 2011 engrossed in political turf battles, have delayed economic measures that the I.M.F. and other financial institutions have called for. Tunisia’s powerful unions and business leaders have also resisted change.

It has taken three years for successive governments to pass a new investment code and a law covering public-private partnerships. In a signal of the lack of progress, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Tunisia’s credit rating just before the conference.

The country of 11 million is still constrained by a closed system of patronage that benefited a small circle of rich coastal families and left much of the inner regions of the country impoverished and undeveloped. Cronyism and corruption, hallmarks of Mr. Ben Ali’s dictatorship, remain problematic, I.M.F. and World Bank analysts have warned.

“We are really aware of the need for reforms, and now we are really engaged on this,” Mr. Chahed said.

His government is holding tough negotiations with unions and business leaders to tighten public expenditure, and he plans further legislation to combat corruption and speed up reforms in 2017.

Tunisia remains a good investment prospect, he insists, with its proximity to Europe, a gateway to Africa, and highly skilled manpower.

“What is very important today is to succeed on the economic side to consolidate the political transition,” he said, “and to make this democracy definitely in the club of developed, democratic countries.”

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“Digital Qatar” Offers Huge Opportunities For Growth

DOHA, Qatar, 1 December 2016, (NNN-QNA) – Qatar’s efforts to digitise its economy and provide more services online, is opening a huge range of opportunities for citizens, businesses and the wider region.

This is according to experts, who are set to attend the Euromoney Qatar Conference 2016. The event will run from Dec 6-7 in Doha.

Qatar has announced a multi-government agency initiative, to digitise services and build a strong network foundation, as part of the plans to promote the knowledge-based economy, in support of the Qatar National Vision 2030.

The push for digital economy has seen the majority of government services made available online, as well as, the launch of dedicated programmes to tackle social issues.

This includes electronic payments for workers, which has ensured that 85 percent of Qatar’s 2.1 million workers are now paid by bank transfer.

Most recently, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC), has announced plans to expand “digital culture” across the community and achieve 100 percent digital comprehensiveness for all demographic segments, including temporary workers, the elderly, and people with disabilities, to raise awareness of the benefits of ICT.

Next steps under consideration include measures to encourage more businesses to move their service offerings online, particularly small and medium businesses.

A recent report by Trading Economics suggests that, digitising Qatar’s economy could result in GDP growth of 3.4 percent – or QAR 38.2 billion (USD 10.49 billion) – by 2020.

The next stage, which will see large-scale digitalisation of business services, should provide significant stimulus for diversifying the economy, offering new employment opportunities and boosting innovation across Qatar.

A special panel at the upcoming Euromoney Qatar Conference 2016, will look at the steps taken to date, to digitise the economy, and examine the necessary strategic priorities, including infrastructure investment and regulatory change.

Featuring speakers from Qatar Central Bank, SAP, Vodafone Qatar and PayFort, the panel discussion will pay particular attention to the potential impact of digitalisation on the financial sector.

Euromoney Conferences is the leading organiser of financial events, in both developed and developing markets, for cross-border investment and capital markets.

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‘Iranian Cultural Link Passage’ inaugurated in Pakistan

Islamabad, 3 December 2016, (IRNA) — A re-designed Iranian Cultural Link Passage was inaugurated at Pakistan National Heritage Museum, Lok Virsa on Friday. Ambassador of Iran Mehdi Honardoost, inaugurated the ‘Iranian Cultural Link Passage’.

The Iranian link passage was created at the time of establishment of Heritage Museum which has now been redesigned and renovated by Cultural Consulate of Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran in collaboration with Lok Virsa.

Joint Secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage Zahoor Ahmed Barlas, Iranian Cultural Counsellor, Shahaboddin Daraei and Executive Director of Pakistan National Institute for Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) Fouzia Saeed were also present on the occasion.

Ambassador of Iran Mehdi Honardoost, expressing his views called for further promotion of Iran-Pakistan cultural ties. He added that this region is the cradle of art and culture.

He added that Iran is the pioneer of human values and we are proud of it. He said that Iran and Pakistan have to do a lot of work in the field of culture. He went on to say that Iran-Pakistan cultural ties must be the same as trade and political ties of the two countries.

The ambassador said that Iran and Pakistan are two big countries of the Islamic world. Therefore, major responsibility lies on us to teach strong cultural values to our younger generations.

He said that Embassy of Iran is open to all those who are engaged with cultural activities in Pakistan. He noted that strong cultural relations between the two friendly countries would help overcome the danger that our younger generation is facing from Western culture.

He added that Iranian films which are close to our cultural and Islamic values must be screened in Pakistan. “Western films are against our cultural values,” he said.

Presentation of Rabab performance and mystic songs were the special features of the program. Large number of people from all walks of life attended the event.

Recently Lok Virsa had screened an award winning Iranian film “A Separation”. A good number of people of different age groups watched the movie with great interest.

Lok Virsa has been regularly holding Iranian cultural events at its premises which attract large number of Pakistanis.

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3rd phase of Al-Aqsa Mosque manuscripts project accomplished

Amman, 30 November 2016, (IINA) — Jordanian Endowment Minister Wael Arabiyat attended a ceremony on Tuesday to mark the completion of the third phase of the Development of Al-Aqsa Mosque Manuscripts Restoration Centre Project.

The event also included the graduation ceremony of ten Manuscripts Center employees, who completed a training program. Earlier, phases of the project in the holy city of Jerusalem involved establishing a Manuscripts Restoration Center in Al-Aqsa Mosque back in 1999, one of the several significant Hashemite restoration projects. King Abdullah has granted the project personal care and support, Petra reported.

The King has followed up the development phases of the project. He funded and enabled the entry of the laboratory of the manuscripts center in 2008.

In 2015, King Abdullah directed the concerned authorities to permanently appoint the ten graduates, as employees of the Jordanian Jerusalem Awqaf, who are now contributing to restoring and archiving thousands of valuable manuscripts in Al-Aqsa Mosque and in Jerusalem libraries.

The minister stated that Al-Aqsa Mosque Manuscripts’ Restoration Center Project is no less important than other Royal Restoration projects that have been completed recently, citing the restoration of the Mosaics at the Dome of the Rock and Dome of the Qibli Mosque as examples.

The minister stressed that the protection of the Manuscript heritage constitutes the protection of the accounts of documented History that prove the Arab-Islamic identity of the Holy City.

The minister thanked UNESCO for the support it provided for the project, clarifying that the UN cultural organization provided the needed coordination and international experts for the completion of the project. Arabiyat also thanked Norway for funding the third phase of the project.

The Representative Office of Norway to the Palestinian Authority Tor Gjerde expressed Norway’s “delight of being part of this historical project that aims to protect the valuable cultural heritage of the city of Jerusalem.”

The UNESCO Representative and Coordinator of the project, Nao Hayashi, voiced her gratitude to King Abdullah for granting the UNESCO this precious opportunity to be part of a Hashemite I’mar projects inside Al-Aqsa Mosque.

She also pointed out that this achievement was a result of intense efforts and great cooperation with Jordan, represented by the Royal Hashemite Court, the Jordanian Minister of Awqaf and the Jordanian Awqaf Department in Jerusalem, and the Norwegian and Palestinian support.

From his side, Director General of Jerusalem Awqaf Sheikh Azam Al-Khatib recalled the royal directives to establish the center in Al-Ashrafiyah School in the Western Part of Al-Aqsa in 1999, so that the center would protect the school, preserve, and revive invaluable treasures of Islamic history.

Al-Khatib elaborated that the Royal Project started by dispatching Awqaf employees to Italy in cooperation with the UNESCO. The Project also involved importing laboratory devices from Italy in 2005. However, Israeli Occupation Authorities confiscated the devices in Ashdod Port for three years until King Abdullah personally intervened and paid the transportation and setup expenses.

Secretary General of the Palestinian Awqaf Ministry and the dean of the Revival of the Palestinian Heritage Foundation, Khalil Karajah Al-Rifa’i, commended King Abdullah’s Custodianship over Islamic and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem and his keenness on protecting written heritage.

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“The Birth of a Nation” screened at Algiers Film Festival

2 Dec 2016, (ALGIERS)- The 7th International Film Festival of Algiers (FICA), devoted to the committed film, opened Thursday evening in Algiers with screening, out of the competition, of the American feature film “The Birth of a Nation.”

Directed by Nate Parker, “The Birth of a Nation” deals with a complex and a taboo issue in the American cinema which is slavery.

Based on a true story, this 110 minute-film, awarded in January at Sundance Festival (USA), relates the rebellion of Afro-American slaves led at the end of the 19th century by Nat Turner, a black preacher.

The film, which will be soon distributed in Europe, captivated the big audience of Algiers on this opening evening.

Previously, excerpts from an interview with late Cuban President Fidel Castro that he granted in 2004 to the French monthly “Le Monde diplomatique” were screened in tribute to this leader who embodied the Cuban Revolution against the authoritarian regime of Fulgencio Batista.

A total of 17 films, including “Ouled Mokrane” by Algerian filmmaker Amor Hakkar, will be screened in competition of the 7th FICA which will be held until 8 December at El Mouggar movie theatre and Algiers’ Film Theatre.

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Algerian Press Service pursuing modernization

01 Dec 2016, (ALGIERS)- News agency Algeria Press Service (APS) celebrates on Thursday the 55th anniversary of its creation, marked this year by its continued modernization process to adapt to the new technological evolution and ensure a high quality public service to increasingly more demanding customers.

Since its creation on 1st December 1961, the national agency has made major steps forward, with the permanent ambition to adapt its mode of operation with the transformations experienced by the Algerian society at the political, social and economic levels.

Since the mimeograph machine and the telegraph, APS means rapidly progressed as the Agency went through several stages towards the Digitalization of all departments, to be in tune with the country’s economic and social development.

Indeed, with the ever increasing number of news websites and the emergence of the “citizen journalism” through social media, the agency engaged a large process for modernizing its equipments and for providing continued training to its personnel in a view to supply its large audience through its website (www.aps.dz), with diversified, reliable and accurate news around the clock.

In the past years, the Agency thus launched a new strategy aiming at diversifying its products (text, image, audio, video and graphics), making use of the various techniques of the internet and the ICT.

Continuing this new digitalization policy, APS will shortly install a new editorial platform which allows managing the whole process of news production (reports and multimedia).

The platform will be profitable to the increasingly growing subscribers (media, institutions, companies and embassies).

The Agency, which possesses 12 news websites (in Arabic, French, English and Berber, and 8 other sites covering east, west, centre and south in Arabic and French languages), eyes to upgrade them into multimedia web magazines and create further websites.

APS, considered as the provider of news for media organizations locally, plans to launch in 2017 two websites dedicated to economy and business, and sports and youth.

Besides, it intends to create a web TV, which will broadcast non-stop news and also contain varied products namely articles, photos and graphics.

The Agency was created on 1st December 1961 in Tunis during the National Liberation War, at the Provisional Government of the Algerian Republic (GPRA), to be the flagship of the Algerian Revolution on the global media.

After independence, its headquarters was naturally transferred to Algiers.

The Agency, which started with rudimentary means and limited staff, now counts over 250 reporters working in Algeria and a dozen of permanent correspondents abroad.

It has daily production of more than 400 dispatches in Arabic and French languages covering politics, economy, society issues and sports events.

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58 Welfare Development Projects Completed

Kabul, 30 November 2016, (BNA) National Solidarity Program NSP completed the construction work of 58 welfare development projects in Nangarhar province.

According to the information of public relation department of Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development MRRD to BNA, the projects completed in Behsod, Sourkhroad, Kozkonar, Deri-nor, Kama and Goshta district of the province with the cost of 3000738 Afghanis.

The projects included reconstruction of irrigation canals, protection walls, underground canals (Kariz), gabion walls, retaining walls, gravelling of roads, roadside drains and asphalting sidewalks.

MRRD by NSP has covered 377 villages in the province so far succeeded to execute 367 projects in different parts of the province.

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Pakistani Fashion Week held in London

Islamabad, 29 Nov 2016, (APP)- Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK Syed Ibne Abbas commended the work of Pakistani fashion designers who displayed their fabulous designs at the Grand Finale Catwalk Show in London.

It was the 10th Edition of Pakistan Fashion Week (PFW) in London, a message from PHC London reaching here Tuesday said.

The high commissioner appreciated the hard work and passion of both the experienced and the budding designers and said Pakistan was full of talented people who were making their mark in the world.

He said the high commission has planned a series of events for the 70th Independence Anniversary of Pakistan and offered the PFW a partnership for a fashion show on a larger scale next year.

He also commended the organizers, the models and the volunteers for putting together such a wonderful show.

Ambassador Tehmina Janjua, the Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN, Geneva, also spoke on the occasion. She praised the talent of Pakistanis in various fields and urged the diaspora to project the positive side of Pakistan abroad.

PFW10 London presented the latest collections from 36 of Pakistan’s leading and emerging fashion designers. It was a fusion of design that presented Pakistani fashion’s stunning heritage and flair in a western context.

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ADB To Help Improve Clean Energy Access, Efficiency In Pakistan

Islamabad, 28 Nov 2016, (NNN-ADB) – The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $325 million loan to help enhance Pakistan’s energy security by helping install clean energy sources and improve people’s access to electricity in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPP) and Punjab, two of the country’s largest provinces.

ADB will also provide a $750,000 technical assistance grant for capacity development and improvement of performance monitoring of the programme.

“The project will help meet the growing energy demand to fuel economic activities and increase access to sustainable and more reliable electricity services particularly for vulnerable communities in KPP and Punjab,” said Adnan Tareen, Senior Energy Specialist with ADB’s Central and West Asia Regional Department. “It will increase opportunities for women and girls to obtain energy services and benefits, particularly on households headed by women.”

Energy shortage is one of the issues hampering development efforts and poverty reduction in Pakistan especially in rural areas, where only 57% enjoy electricity access. Although Pakistan has abundant renewable and nonrenewable energy resources, public and private investment in energy infrastructure has remained inadequate, and the system suffers from the low efficiency of generation, transmission, and distribution networks.

KPP, with a population of over 28 million, is one of the poorest provinces in Pakistan and in some of its districts the electrification rate is below 20%. Meanwhile Punjab, a province with the largest population in Pakistan, consumes around 68% of the country’s electricity and gas. The economy is based largely on agriculture and industry, and depends heavily on a reliable electricity supply. Geographic constraints make extending the national grid to such remote areas costly and technically difficult. In these areas, the least-cost option is off-grid renewable energy sources.

The programme will install renewable energy power plants including the construction of 1,000 micro-hydropower plants (MHPs) in off-grid areas of KPP. It will also provide and install rooftop solar plants for 23,000 schools and over 2,500 primary healthcare facilities in two provinces and a university in Bahawalpur, Punjab.

The MHPs and solar plants will provide electricity to around 1.5 million people in rural areas and to more than 2.6 million students, including 1.2 million girls.

The programme will strengthen the capacity of provincial governments to improve the programme sustainability, through enhanced monitoring, procurement and internal audit capacities, and promotion of public sector energy efficiency.

The loan is part of ADB’s commitment announced last year to double its annual climate financing to $6 billion for Asia-Pacific by 2020. Out of the total project loan, $16 million will be dedicated for climate change adaptation activities and $247 million for climate change mitigation activities.

ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.

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Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank repays $500m sukuk

Abu Dhabi, 30 November 2016, (WAM) — Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) announced on Wednesday that it had repaid in full a US$500 million Islamic bond or sukuk from its own resources, reflecting what it said was its strong liquidity position amid difficult market conditions.

The sukuk matured on November 30. The five-year sukuk, which were listed on the London Stock Exchange, were more than four times oversubscribed when they were launched in 2011 with a 3.78 per cent profit rate, ADIB said.

“ADIB’s ability to repay the sukuk from its own resources and without the need for refinancing demonstrates our strong liquidity position, especially in these challenging market conditions,” said Abdul Qadir Khanani, Group Treasurer at ADIB in a statement, “The repayment of these sukuk shows the deep confidence that investors across a range of geographies have in ADIB and its long-term future. We will continue to explore potential opportunities to expand our funding sources as and when needed in the future,”he added.

In November 2015, ADIB repaid a $750 million sukuk also from its own resources. The 5-year sukuk matured in November 2015 and had a profit rate of 3.74 per cent.

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Afghanistan cites Benefits of its Geopolitical Location

Kabul, 30 November 2016, (BNA) – President Ghani following the inauguration of Aqina railroad project emphatically said that Afghanistan would take measures to change every province of the country into connection point with the neighboring countries.

BNA economic affairs analyst commenting on the issue writes, the inauguration of Aqina railroad that connects Afghanistan to Asian and European countries via Lajward High Way is not only a great commercial and economic development in the life of Afghan people but in life of the people of the region.

The project in addition that connects Afghanistan via the ancient Lajward Highway to Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey provides the ground for Afghan merchandise to reach European markets but at the same time connects the southern Asian countries to central Asian countries through the Afghan territory.

These outstanding facts indicate that Afghanistan is not an isolated country but a connection point of the countries of the region that can ensures the interests of relevant countries.

Establishment of Aqina railroad is a part of the commitments of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan for the growth of regional economic cooperation and commercial links that called it a part of strategic projects. The Aqina Railroad will provide a safe and secure transit road for Afghan commercial goods, while earlier used a transit road passed through Pakistan territory mostly misused by that country as a means for achieving its political goals.

As sometimes ago, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan signed an agreement with Iranian side that let Afghan merchandise reach Indian markets via Chabahar border that also can be consider as a door for Afghanistan to reach the ocean.

Now, with inauguration of Aqina railroad, the distance between Afghanistan and Europe via Turkmenistan and other central Asian countries has become much shorter. These two projects are not the only and the last opportunity for improving commercial ties among the countries of the region, work on railroad network that connect Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan is continuing, with completion of the project, Afghanistan will access to Chinese markets.

Likewise, Islam Qala railway makes easier the exchange of commercial goods between Afghanistan and Iran. For extension and further development of trade with India an aerial corridor will be establish between the two countries.

Afghanistan due to its geopolitically important locations has six countries as its neighbors and works as a crossroad among the countries of the region. These concrete facts endorse the statements of president Ghani that he says every provinces of Afghanistan a connection point of neighboring countries and will use for ensuring the national interests of our people and Afghanistan will not be in commercial and economic isolation anymore.

The extension and development of commercial ties with other countries never harms the interests of the third country. All countries with exception can use legally Afghan territory for improving commercial ties and cooperation relations. The Afghan people wish the other countries of the region, following the Afghan policy jointly without any discrimination work for elimination of poverty and building a prosperous life in level of the region.

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New Railway Line Inaugurated In Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, 28 November 2016, (NNN-DPA) — Giving landlocked Afghanistan a new and much-needed connection to the outside world, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and Turkmenistan’s president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov inaugurated a new railway line on Monday.

At the inauguration ceremony, Ghani spoke of an “historic day for Afghanistan and its people.”

Berdymukhamedov said the Imam Nazar-Aqina line “could play a key role for trade between the two countries.”

The Imam Nazar-Aqina railway line starts in Ata Murad in Turkmenistan and goes to Afghanistan’s Aqina port, 3.5 kilometres from the joint border, according to Musafer Qoqandi, spokesman for the Afghan ministry of commerce and industry.

He said the railway line is the second to connect Afghanistan with Turkmenistan and the country’s fourth.

Other railway lines connect Afghanistan with China and Uzbekistan, while a connection to Iran is under construction. “Railways play vital roles for landlocked countries like Afghanistan,” Qoqandi added.

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Aqina Railway Utilization To Benefit Both Afghanistan, Region

Kabul, 01 December 2016, (BNA) – Holding economic international conferences inside or outside the country, and using transit routes, particularly the Turkmenistan power line which passes through Afghanistan and goes to Pakistan and India, enjoy special importance to the regional countries.

Touching to recent Turkmenistan visit of President Ghani and his participation in ‘Sustainable Transit Conference’, an economic expert, Saifuddin Saihoun said, ‘there is no doubt that such conferences can be important and the government of Afghanistan availing such opportunities, can find way to world markets.’

He believes that due to its geopolitical location, Afghanistan has the best transit routes connecting to the Central Asia and through them to European countries. He added that if such projects are being practiced, job opportunities will be provided to thousands of the Afghan people. The government of Afghanistan should not lose such opportunities and assure the Afghan people that such projects will come into effect, he stressed.

A Kabul University lecturer, Mohed said, ‘nothing has done on transit routes of the country over the last years, but recently, the government of national unity has done something considerable.’

He believes that recently a new route names Azure Route has been opened in the region, through which Turkmenistan’s Aqina Port is being connected to Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Europe – a move that will enhance economic cooperation in the region. CASA-1000 is another important economic project passes through Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and reaches Pakistan.

The Afghan people can benefit the projects while they put into practice, as they will provide job opportunities to our people, Mohed further said. Afghanistan will reach self-sufficiency if these projects are practiced, Mohed added. Furthermore, through the mentioned routes, the Afghan merchants will also be able to easily export their business commodities such as, carpets, dried fruits, etc. to the world markets, he went on to say.

Currently, Afghanistan imports 95 percent of its needed commodities from abroad and has only 5 percent export, a difference which is not in the benefit of Afghanistan. In fact, there is no doubt that Afghanistan’s transit routes enjoy much importance in terms of imports and exports and can also provide the ground for attraction of tourists to Afghanistan.

This is while that in a ceremony held on Monday, Aqina port’s railway was inaugurated by President Ghani and Turkmen counterpart. In the ceremony, considering the railway as effective in cooperation between Shanghai member countries, the Turkmen President added that it was determined that a great bridge would be constructed on Amu River in near future.

It is worth mentioning that Aqina, Atamurad – Imam Nazar railway is 93Km long and is part of Azure route agreement between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey and goods of the related countries will be transited through the route to Europe.

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Algiers To Host 2018 African Youth Games

Algiers, 2 December 2016, (NNN-APS) — The agreement on the organization of the 2018 African Youth Games in Algiers has been signed here by Youth and Sport Minister El Hadi Ould Ali, Algerian Sport and Olympic Committee (COA) President Mustapha Berraf, Algiers Governor Abdelkader Zoukh and the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ACNOA), Lassana Palenfo.

“We will be ready and live up to the trust that the ACNOA has placed in us. The city of Algiers will implement all the measures for the success of these games in a climate of fraternity, conviviality and sportsmanship,” the Algiers governor told journalists after Wednesday’s signing ceremony.

Palenfo congratulated Algeria for the signing of the agreement which is a concrete sign of the commitment of the country’s highest authorities for the development of sport and promotion of youth in Africa.

“The Games will be a platform of cultural exchange and of sharing of values of excellence, friendship and mutual respect. I would like to seize this opportunity to send a message of friendship and respect to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika for his unfailing support to the African sporting movement,” he added.

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Brunei Mosque fund rakes in $3.84M

02 December 2016, (Borneo Bulletin) – A TOTAL of $3,848,655 has been collected for the Mosque Construction Fund as of November 30, Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Haji Awang Othman, the Minister of Religious Affairs said.

The fund mobilised at least $200,000 on a monthly basis and received overwhelming response from government employees, government-linked companies (GLCs), corporate bodies as well as the general public, Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Haji Awang Badaruddin shared during a media conference at the Musyawarah Hall, Ministry of Religious Affairs extension building.

The fund mobilised $120,919 via Data Stream Technologies (DST) and Progresif Cellular Sdn Bhd (PCSB) from June 2 until July 16, 2016, the minister said, adding that more than 4,000 government employees including uniformed personnel and GLCs contributed their donations via banks, assigning a certain amount from their salary to be contributed to the fund.

According to him, donation boxes allocated at the mosques and suraus across the country further encouraged the general public to make their contributions.

The minister said that with the support of the Brunei Islamic Religious Council and with the consent of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, the fund will be used to construct a mosque in Kampong Tanjung Bunut, replacing the current surau there. The project is estimated to cost about $3.5 million.

The fund will also be utilised to repair and renovate existing mosques in the country.

The event also saw presentation of donations collected via DST and PCSB campaign.

DST’s donation cheque was presented by Abdul Latiff bin Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Setia Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yusof, member of the Board of Directors of DST Sdn Bhd.

The telecom provider collected $104,507 through SMS campaign. DST also presented its own contribution of $10,000.

Meanwhile, Normah Ahmad, a member of the Board of Directors of PCSB, presented a contribution amounting to $16,412 that was collected via its SMS service.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) also presented its donation amounting to $4,362.47 which was collected from officers and staff at the PMO. It was presented by Dato Paduka Haji Yahya bin Haji Idris, Permanent Secretary (Corporate and Governance) at the PMO.

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Bidiyah Tourism Forum To Kick Off In Oman

Muscat, Oman, 27 Nov 2016, (NNN-ONA) – The 1st Bidiyah Tourism Forum will kick off next Wednesday, under the auspices of Sayyid Mohammed bin Salim al-Said.

The ten-day forum is organised by the Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) branch, in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah, under the theme “Economic Development and Tourism Enrichment.”

The first version of this forum aims at activating tourism activity in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah, in general, and the wilayats of Bidiyah and Wadi Bani Khalid in particular. It also aims at shedding light on the major tourism attractions in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah and creating fruitful cooperation among different public and private stakeholders taking part in the events, to be held on the sidelines of the forum.

The forum includes several cultural, tourism and sports activities, in addition to presenting case studies and successful experiences in promoting domestic tourism, especially the forum and festival tourism.

It also aims at ensuring economic diversification through activating the added value economic sectors of the Sultanate, such as the tourism sector.

Ali bin Salim al-Hajri, Treasurer, Head of OCCI branch in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah, General Supervisor of the Forum said that, the forum includes several events; the most important of which is the specialised seminar on tourism sector.

Working papers will discuss means of promoting the tourism industry, how to activate its role in economic growth and sustainable development. They will also cover the promising investment opportunities in the Governorate of North A’Sharqiyah.

He also said that, the seminar will also discuss procedures and means of getting licenses to establish tourism ventures. Successful experiences in the tourism field will be also displayed. The forum will host speakers from some GCC countries.

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Bangladesh: Pohela Boishakh’s Rally Gets UNESCO recognition

Dhaka, 1 December 2016, (NNN-BSS) – The traditional procession brings out on Pohela Boishakh – the first day of the Bangla New year – has got recognition of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)’s as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The recognition was given at the 11th session of the UNESCO’S Inter-governmental Committee on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, according to a web-posting of the UN body.

The main event for celebrating the Bangla New Year, known as Mangal Shobhajatra, is organised every year by the students and teachers of Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

“The Mangal Shobhajatra festival symbolizes the pride of the people of Bangladesh have in their folk heritage, as well as their strength and courage to fight against sinister forces, and their vindication of truth and justice,” the UNESCO noted.

The UN body also said that the New Year’s procession represents solidarity and a shared value for democracy, uniting people irrespective of caste, creed, religion, gender or age. Knowledge and skills are transmitted by students and teachers within the community.

The tradition of Mangal Shobhajatra began in 1989 when students, frustrated with having to live under military rule, wanted to bring people in the community hope for a better future, the UNESCO said while describing the background of the annual august event of the Bangla New Year.

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Baku hosts 1st Azerbaijan-US business forum

Baku, 2 December 2016, (AZERTAC) – The first Azerbaijan-US business forum was held in Baku. The event co-organized by US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) and “ADA” University, was supported by the US Embassy in Baku and Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington and financed by “PASHA Bank”.

AmCham Executive Director Natavan Mammadova stressed the importance of the forum for further development of bilateral economic relations and to open new business opportunities.

The main purpose of the event is to strengthen the business relations between the two countries, as well as to present the opportunities and prospects for American companies.

During the forum, Azerbaijan’s State Customs Committee and American Chamber of Commerce in Azerbaijan (AmCham) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU).

The document envisages the use of “green corridor” and other access systems during the transportation of goods and vehicles for AmCham member-companies.

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Apple Inc. agrees to develop R&D in Indonesia

Jakarta, 03 December 2016, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia has reached a cooperation agreement with Apple Inc., the Minister of Telecommunication and Informatics, Rudiantara, said here on Friday.

“We have signed a cooperation agreement with Apple. They have agreed to undertake R&D (research and development) here and will be ready to recruit our people to work with them,” he stated at the Presidential Palace complex.

He noted that basically, it was most important that Indonesia could take part in the investment project of the US Silicon Valley company.

Apple products include the latest iPhone 7 that has not entered Indonesia yet although the number of iPhone users in the country has been increasing, he explained.

The minister observed that following the cooperation agreement, it is expected that all lines of Apple products, including the latest Apple series, could immediately enter Indonesia.

Rudiantara disclosed that the cooperation agreement would later cover research and development and even the industrial field.

“I will personally be involved in the cooperation for R&D development locally while the industry minister wil be involved in any initiatives in the industrial field,” he emphasized.

He commented that he plans to invite Apple Inc. to come to Indonesia by the end of December 2016.

“Let the Apple people announce the value of investment. Our estimate is that it will be above Rp100 billion,” he pointed out.

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Algeria to host first African Bowls Championship in January 2017

Algiers, 02 December 2016,(Algeria Press Service) – Algeria will organize the first African Bowls Championship (men and women) on 24-30 January 2017 in the province of Mostaganem, President of the Algerian Federation of Bowls and Billiards (FARB) Mohamed Amine Maidi told APS.

“This event was to be organized in Algeria in March 2015 but we realized that we could not create the necessary conditions to make this event successful due to lack of resources. Therefore, we requested postponement of the competition so that we better organizer the first edition of this championship,” Maidi told APS on the sidelines of the 23rd Algerian Bowls Cup.

“Twelve (12) African countries will take part in this event,” announced president of FARB.

The organizing committee has set a deadline (30 December) for the nominative confirmation of participation. Each country will partake with eight players at the most in the competition that will run in singles, pairs and triplets.

In accordance with the regulation in force, Algeria, the organizing country, will be represented by 16 players.

“Some countries namely Tunisia, Morocco Libya, Mauritania, Benin and Senegal have already confirmed their participation. We are waiting for the rest. We are in permanent contact with President of the African Bowls Confederation, Algerian Abdelkader Teriaki, who spares no effort to make this first African championship successful,” Maidi stressed.

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Algeria Seeks Self-Sufficiency In Production Of Pulses

Algiers, 29 November 2016, (NNN-APS) — Algeria seeks to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of lentils and chickpeas by 2020 and save on more than 150 million US dollars of imports, says the Director-General of the Field Crops Technical Institute (ITGC), Omar Zeghouane.

In terms of quantity, Algeria imports about two million quintals (200,000 tonnes) of pulses, including 1.4 million quintals of lentils and chickpeas, every year.

In order to reduce imports, the agricultural sector has launched a programme for the development of cultivated areas through the extension of lands reserved for lentils and chickpeas growing.

The programme has been drawn up following a study that takes into consideration the growing demand fr these pulses and the country’s population growth by 2020.

In order to meet the expected needs, “we have to produce nearly twp million quintals of chickpeas and lentils,” said Zeghouane.

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Etihad Group Announces Winners Of Innovation Week Hackathon

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 30 November 2016, (NNN-WAM) – Etihad Aviation Group has awarded the winners of a special ‘Hackathon’, which it hosted in partnership with Cognit, a joint venture between Mubadala and IBM Watson, as part of the UAE’s nation-wide Innovation Week celebrations last week.

The Hackathon, which took place at Etihad Airways’ Innovation Centre, was attended by more than 20 computer science and engineering students from leading Abu Dhabi based universities, who competed over three days to create innovative travel and aviation applications using IBM Watson’s cognitive technology.

A team comprising four female students from the Higher Colleges of Technology, won for developing an app that gives reminders on when to hydrate, exercise and rest, helping passengers to prevent and recover from jet-lag.

A second team of five students from New York University Abu Dhabi, won for developing a door-to-door travel ‘concierge’ app, allowing passengers to get in touch with flight attendants in-flight.

Each member of the winning teams was awarded an Etihad Airways Business Class round-trip ticket to New York, to visit IBM Watson’s headquarters at Astor Place, and a New York City sightseeing tour.

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Emirati doctors innovate world’s first virtual heart clinic

Abu Dhabi, 28 November 2016, (IINA) – In the first initiative of its kind, Emirati Heart Doctors have invented the world’s first virtual heart clinic to limit the spread of stroke through the provision of the best diagnostic, therapeutic, preventive and awareness services to various segments of society, locally and globally.

According to WAM, the drive of the ‘Zayed Giving Initiative’ is supervised by senior doctors and surgeons in partnership with the public and private sectors, the Saudi German Hospital, Dar Al Ber Society, and the UAE Volunteer Center.

The UAE celebrates innovators and exciting ideas presented during the UAE Innovation Week 2016 – a platform to attract talented and encourage them to generate innovative ideas and explore promising talents to adopt and support them to provide more innovative solutions for future challenges, said Emirati Heart Surgeon Adel Al-Shamri, CEO of Zayed Giving Initiative, Chairman of Emirati Doctors Team.

He stressed that the leadership provided full support to spread the culture and concept of innovation to achieve the innovation and creativity in all fields. The diagnostic services to be provided at the virtual heart clinic include three-dimensional medical imaging, ECG test, and a pharmacy to provide patients with medicines in accordance with the prescriptions issued by physicians.

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Dubai Airports wins top Arab Business Achievement Award

DUBAI, 2 December 2016,(NNN-WAM) – Dubai Airports, operator of Dubai International, DXB, the world’s busiest international airport, and Dubai World Central, DWC, was voted as the Travel and Tourism Company of the year at the Arabian Business Achievement Awards in Dubai recently.

The awards seek to recognise and reward outstanding corporate leadership across a range of sectors, with nominations being drawn from across the Gulf and wider Middle East region.

Anita Mehra, Senior Vice President, Communication and Reputation at Dubai Airports, described the win as greatly satisfying.

“Dubai International is known around the world for its meteoric rise to the top of the list of the world’s busiest international hubs, but our goal is to be recognised equally for the way we delight the millions of customers that pass through our airport each year. This award is a recognition of our ongoing efforts to raise the bar with innovative ideas and quality services to keep our customers happy,” she said.

The Arabian Business Achievement Awards saw fierce competition in 12 award categories this year with winners decided by a rigorous judging process that involved a shortlisting of nominees in each category created by the executive editorial team of ITP, the event organisers, based on business activity over the past 12 months.

The shortlist was then assessed by a panel of judges comprised of some of the region’s most prominent and successful business leaders, before winners were announced.

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Denmark, Norway To Help Achieve Indonesia’s Maritime Vision

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 29 November 2016, (NNN-BERNAMA) – Danish ambassador to Indonesia Casper Klynge and Norway’s ambassador to Indonesia Stig Traavik have said various companies from their countries can help Indonesia to realise the national maritime vision, Indonesia’s ANTARA news agency reports.

“Denmark and Norway can provide innovative and high quality solutions to make the Indonesian maritime vision come true,” Ambassador Klynge stated here on Monday.

According to the Danish ambassador, his government, together with the Norwegian government, wanted to be key partners in Indonesia’s maritime sector.

Both countries are also determined to increase trade and investment which will benefit Indonesia.

Ambassador Traavik pointed out that his country and Denmark were very keen to work more closely in the maritime sector in Indonesia.

“We want to be part of some very good solutions that Denmark and Norway have, particularly in terms of more efficient modern energy generation,” he noted.

Both Denmark and Norway are known as developed countries when it comes to ownership of vessels and maritime industries which are included in the global value chain of maritime sector.

The two countries are also known internationally for their strong focus on environment-friendly maritime services and the use of sustainable and efficient energy.

Meanwhile, Norway-based DNV GL Country Manager Thusitha Danwatte pointed out that a number of future technologies will be there by 2025, including virtual ship technology, ships operating in remote areas, cyber security, robots and drones.

DNV GL is an international certification body and classification society with main expertise in technical assessment, advisory and risk management.

Earlier, Indonesian Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Rosan Perkasa Roeslani asserted that maritime and fisheries sectors will become the economic backbone of Indonesia.

“Indonesia is the largest archipelagic country and has the second-longest coastline after Canada. Therefore, the fishing industry will become the backbone of the Indonesia’s economy,” Rosan said.

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China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to change course of history

LAHORE, 26 November 2016, (APP)- Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Saturday said the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project would change the course of history and the entire region, including Pakistan, would get benefit from this mega project.

According to a handout issued here, he said the CPEC had laid the foundation of progress and prosperity in the region, including Pakistan.

He said work was being carried out speedily on the CPEC projects throughout Pakistan, including Punjab.

Shehbaz Sharif said one belt one road vision of Chinese President Xi Jinping was of paramount importance and interest by other countries in the CPEC projects augered well.

He said our friends were happy with the CPEC while foe was trying to create hurdles in this project. He said no conspiracy would be allowed to succeed against the CPEC and under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, journey of progress and prosperity of the country would be completed.

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Chinese Book Fair Launched In Beirut

BEIRUT, Lebanon, 26 November 2016, (NNN-NNA) – A Chinese book fair was launched Friday, at the UNESCO palace in Beirut, with the release of a book entitled “Hand by Hand – Half a Century of Chinese-Lebanese friendship.”

The book was published on the occasion of the 45th year of establishment of diplomatic relations, between the two countries.

The fair is organised by the Chinese General Directorate of Information and the Chinese Embassy in Lebanon, and was attended by the Chinese Ambassador to Lebanon, Wang Kejian, former Lebanese Economy and Trade Minister, Adnan Kassar, and leading businessmen and authors from both countries.

Kassar said, bilateral relations developed during the last century, revealing, “I travelled to China with the late Prime Minister, Rafic Hariri, and the moments of this successful trip are detailed in the book we are launching today.”

Hassan Falha, Director General of the Lebanese Ministry of Interior, said, “Chinese-Lebanese relations are a unique example of cooperation between countries of different capacity, surface and number of habitant.”

“The two countries share humanitarian, cultural and civilisation diversity of belief and religion,” he added, stressing that, between Lebanon and China there is “a uniqueness of wealth and importance of the role they played in human civilisation.”

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Sarawak students win Petronas Youth All Star 2016 awards

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 (Bernama) – Twenty Form Four students from SMK Tatau, Sarawak, were all smiles when they were announced the winner of PETRONAS All About Youth (AAY) All Star 2016, defeating teams from 29 other schools to bag the grand prize worth RM50,000 in the nationwide competition.

Taking centre stage at the grand finale held at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre yesterday, the team received their prizes from the Deputy Director-General of Education, Ministry of Education Malaysia, Datuk Dr Amin Senin together with PETRONAS Senior Vice President of Group Human Resource Management, Dato’ Raiha Azni Abdul Rahman.

Lauding PETRONAS’ efforts, Datuk Dr Amin said: “I am very impressed with the concept and content of PETRONAS AAY, with its goal to empower the youth to play their part in promoting social cohesion. At the Ministry of Education, we always encourage our youth to channel their creativity and collective energy into productive activities to build the communities and the nation. I congratulate PETRONAS for organising this meaningful programme.”

“Congratulations to the winning team and all finalists. I am truly proud and impressed with the dedication, hard work, tenacity, passion and heart that were put into these projects throughout the six-week execution,” said Dato’ Raiha Azni.

Aside from receiving the grand prize worth RM50,000 for the purpose of upgrading their existing project, each member of the winning team will receive RM1,000 in Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional (SSPN) savings scheme. SMK Tatau captured the judges’ interest with their project titled “Green Toilet”, an eco-friendly toilet built to effectively save energy using solar gutter lights and rain water. This year, the energy-saving mechanism has been implemented at primary schools and public toilets in Bintulu, Tatau and Sebauh.

SMK Chukai from Terengganu was named 1st runner-up with their project titled “Kassaskap”, an anti-flood storage box which enables local community to safe-keep their important belongings during the flood season. Meanwhile, SMK Penangah from Sabah was 2nd runner-up and their project called “One Stop Centre V2.0” is a Koperasi set up in their school which functions as a salon and entrepreneurial hub selling local products by villagers. Each team member of both winning categories received RM800 and RM500 in SSPN savings scheme respectively. The other two finalists were SMK Bongkol and SMK Padang Pulut.

The final judging, which was concluded earlier in the morning, saw a panel of judges from PETRONAS, Ministry of Education Malaysia, Ministry of Finance Malaysia and Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC), assess the projects based on creativity, clarity of presentation, originality, impact and sustainability of the projects.

The three-year old programme, which started out as a pilot project, aims to nurture well-rounded youths in the areas of social development, community wellbeing and environment.

Endorsed by the Ministry of Education, the PETRONAS AAY All Star 2016 saw the return of 30 schools from Terengganu, Kelantan, Melaka, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak selected from the list of former participants of the programme. The schools were represented by their respective Form Four students and had been awarded a grant of RM1,000 each to further enhance their projects.

Also present at the prize presentation ceremony was PETRONAS Senior General Manager, Group Strategic Communications, Zahariah (Liza) Abdul Rahman.

“I am pleased that all 3,600 PETRONAS AAY participants will be enrolled as Alumni members where their long term development can be monitored. The aim of the PETRONAS AAY Alumni is to help groom and nurture the development of its members to eventually enhance their employability later on in life,” said Liza.

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Qatari-Indian Business Council launched

New Delhi, 02 December 2016, (QNA) – HE Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani stressed that the joint commonalities between the State of Qatar and the friendly Republic of India represent a solid platform for the development and promotion of economic ties and trade between the two countries, and boosting them to wider horizons, especially in light of the rapid developmental process they witness, which is reinforced by their economic openness.

Speaking during a working dinner with businessmen in India that was held on Friday at his residency in the Indian capital of New Delhi, HE the premier stressed the historic and outstanding ties between Qatar and India that date back to hundreds of years, considering the attendance and participation in this meeting a side of cooperation between the two friendly countries that promotes economic relations and investments between them.

In this regard, HE the prime minister and interior minister announced the establishment of a Qatari-Indian council for the private sector.

HE the premier pointed to Qatar’s achievement of decent growth rates despite the fall in oil and gas prices over the past two years thanks to its efforts to diversify economic activity and boosting public spending, noting that India is one of the biggest five trade partners for Qatar, with a trade exchange of more than $10 billion.

HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser said that the majority of trade exchange in Qatar’s exports to India relies on liquefied natural gas as Qatar is one of the biggest exporters of natural gas to India. In this regard, HE the premier said Qatar aims to increase the export volume in order to address India’s growing needs of energy.

He added that economic issues come at the forefront of state priorities and, for that reason, countries of all political systems strive to enhance the role of the private sector and unleash its innovations without any restrictions, and work to invite foreign investment to contribute its financial and technical capacities in national economy.

HE the prime minister and interior minister added that Qatar, under the wise leadership of HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, took that approach and path and boosted it recently with a big number of initiatives to develop the business environment by developing cooperation between the public and private sectors and providing support for the private sector to carry out its role across the different economic sectors.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser noted that Qatar will continue its efforts to enhance the business environment, open the sphere for domestic and foreign investments, and increase the private sector’s participation in huge development projects. Among these initiatives is the recent announcement on facilitating work visas and granting tourist visas to people of some countries, including India.

The prime minister reaffirmed that Qatar enjoys advanced rankings on business environment indices as it ranked 14th out of 140 states on the Global Competitiveness Report according to the World Economic Forum. Qatar is currently working to execute projects at a total cost of more than $100 billion and contracts are expected to be signed for new projects worth up to $12 billion in 2017, HE the premier said.

In light of the policy of Qatar’s government in increasing the private sector’s role in the execution of these projects, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser said, there are several opportunities that “we invite you to exploit in order to enhance economic cooperation and investments between Qatar and India in the coming phase.” HE noted that the Indian expat community in Qatar is the biggest in the country and is well taken care of as it plays a role and contributes to the economic development.

HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani extended his thanks to Indian businessmen for their participation in the meeting, wishing that the meeting will achieve the desired goals so as to serve the mutual interests and meets the aspirations of both countries in promoting economic cooperation and investments so as to achieve sustainable development.

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Investors observe Indonesia’s economic growth positively

Jakarta, 2 December 2016, (ANTARA News) – Foreign investors have seen Indonesia’s economic growth positively, President Joko Widodo has stated.

“Even though the economic growth of India and China has been better than Indonesia’s, the quality of Indonesia’s economic growth is more real and concrete,” President Joko Widodo said in his remarks during the opening of a meeting of the leaders of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) here on Thursday.

The president remarked that the economic growth was seen through a country’s gini ratio. The poverty rate and the unemployment rate also witnessed some decline.

The president said several foreign investors have expressed interest to invest in Indonesia, also because of the ease of licensing policies.

“Now, they have started discussions on specific projects. The foreign investors are discussing the investment period and the total number of investments,” the president pointed out.

In his speech, the president urged Kadin to ensure that foreign investors interest in Indonesia remains high.

“The investors will look for domestic partners. Kadin can utilize the momentum to help development in Indonesia,” the president added.

The Indonesian central bank, Bank Indonesia (BI), earlier revised down its forecast for Indonesias economic growth in 2017 from 5.1-5.5 percent to 5.0-5.4 percent, because the global economy is not expected to fully recover next year.

“We have to make adjustments by revising down the previous growth forecast, because the world economic growth in 2016 has turned out to be worse than last year,” BI Governor Agus Martowardojo told a press conference here on Thursday.

Agus has predicted that the global economic condition in 2017 would be affected by the impact of the 2016 economic downturn. This is a challenge that forces BI to continue revising down its growth forecast.

“Various international bodies and research results of qualified institutions have also revised down their global economic growth predictions for 2017,” Agus explained.

Apart from that, the revision of the growth projection was also based on credit growth, which is expected to increase only after the end of the second quarter of 2017 following the gloomy global economic period in 2016.

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First International Muslim health communities congress

Istanbul, 01 December 2016, (IINA) – The first international Muslim health communities congress, which will be held by Sa’Der in Istanbul, Turkey, will kick-off on Friday and will last for three days, according to the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC).

The congress aims to bring together Muslim NGOs, which are active in healthcare fields in different parts of the world. Furthermore, the Congress will comprise discussions on the problems and solutions of the Islamic world through various panels and conferences.

The Congress will mainly discuss the following topics: Health and social security system, struggle with refugees and health problem, medical aid organizations in Islamic countries, health education in Muslim communities and exchange student program.

In addition to that, inequalities get through to preventive health services, presentation of treatment and rehabilitate health services, child health in Islamic countries, women’s health in Islamic countries, healthy aging in Islamic countries, traditional medicine and alternative treatment methods, healthcare management, and drug addiction in Islamic countries.

Health tourism, pharmaceutical and medical industry in Islamic countries, environmental health in Islamic countries, collaborate in the health industry and health informatics.

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First Arab best award honors various sports clubs

Marrakesh, 30 November 2016, (IINA) – The Secretariat General of the First Arab Best Award held here a ceremony to honor various sports clubs and sportspersons in all Arab countries, Arab Times reported.

The United Arab Emirates won most of the awards. Al-Ain Club won the Best Club Award reward, and the International Sportsman Omar Abdul Rahman won the title of Best Player. Al-Wehda Club won two awards for basketball and swimming.

Rumaithiya Club won the award for Best Club for Taekwondo. The Bowling Association also won an award. In the other categories, Qais Marrakesh Archery Club, Al-Etihad Al-Qatari Equestrian Club, Al-Jamea Al-Maghrabiya Boxing Club, The Oman Motor Club, Saudi Etihad Swimming Club, Bahrain Etihad Club for Athletics and Tunisian Fencing Institute won awards.

Head of Qatar Police Association and Head of Arab Police Association Brigadier Khaled Bin Hamad Al-Attia won the award for Best Executive President in the sports sector.

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Bangladesh seeks to popularise aromatic rice cultivation

RANGPUR, 2 December 2016, (BSS)- Agriculture experts at a field level result sharing discussion have called for popularising cultivation of the highly environment-adaptive indigenous aromatic rice varieties to bring more profits to the farmers.

They made the call at the discussion organised by RDRS Bangladesh, an NGO, to disclose cultivation results of seven selected aromatic rice varieties at its Monthona Farm here on Thursday.

Rangpur Regional Acting Additional Director of the Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) SM Ashraf Ali attended the discussion as the chief guest.

Head of Rangpur Regional Station of Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) Dr Shahidul Islam presided over the function participated by 30 aromatic rice trial farmers, agricultural scientists and extension workers from different districts under Rangpur division.

Regional Agriculture Farm Broadcasting Officer Agriculturist Abu Sayem, Taraganj Upazila Agriculture Officer Rezaul Karim and Agricultural Research and Development Officer of HarvestPlus Bangladesh Ruhul Amin Mandal addressed as special guests.

Agriculture and Environment Coordinator of RDRS Bangladesh Mamunur Rashid delivered keynote presentation on the research work titled “Yield Performance of Seven Aromatic Rice Cultivars.”

He said that the field level experimental cultivation of the selected aromatic rice varieties was being conducted adopting scientific ways at Monthona Farm since 2015.

“The main objective of the experimental study is to explore yielding ability of aromatic rice cultivars for selecting the high yielding varieties with strong aroma for popularising and promotion of their cultivation in northwestern Bangladesh,” he said.

Last year, the NGO cultivated five local aromatic rice varieties and obtained yield rates of 3.5 tonne per hectare from ‘Ijon’ followed by 3.4 tonne form ‘Kataribhog’, 3.3 tonne from ‘Jirakatari’, 3.15 tonne from ‘Chinigura’ and 3 tonne from ‘Kalijira.’

“We conducted the same experiment on six selected indigenous aromatic rice varieties of ‘Kalijira’, ‘Kataribhog’, ‘Jirakatari’, ‘Chinigura’, ‘Chiniatab’, ‘Badshabhog’ and high yielding aromatic rice variety BRRI dhan34 at Monthona Farm this year,” Mamun added.

Agriculturist Abu Sayem said that the indigenous aromatic rice varieties were being grown in the region during Aman season in the rain-fed low land ecosystem surviving for time immemorial as the most adaptive varieties to environment.

The chief guest predicted brighter prospect for expanded cultivation of indigenous aromatic rice varieties and stressed on saving and using those as parent varieties in developing high yielding aromatic rice to enhance production and bring more profits to farmers.

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EU To Promote Sports Diplomacy

BRUSSELS, 23 November 2016, (NNN-Xinhua) – The European Union (EU) will enhance sports diplomacy, namely, to influence diplomatic, intercultural, social, economic and political relations through the use of sports.

The decision was made at a meeting of the EU’s Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council, which was held on Monday to Tuesday.

The council invited member states to explore the potential of better using sports at the national level, in particular through education and the involvement of well-known athletes as messengers, to promote positive sporting and European values.

The council responded warmly to the decision to hold a European Year of Cultural Heritage in 2018, which is designed to “raise awareness of the richness of European cultural heritage and the opportunities it can offer and to share the European values and ideals embedded in cultural heritage,” according to a press release of the European Council.

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Iran to send lecturers to Int’l Islamic Univ of Indonesia

Jakarta, 1 December 2016, (ANTARA News) – The Islamic Republic of Iran has expressed its readiness to send lecturers and teachers to the International Islamic University of Indonesia which will be built by the Indonesian government.

“We are ready to cooperate with Indonesia regarding the university,” a senior adviser to the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Mohsen Araki, said after a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla here on Thursday.

Araki stated that the lecturers and teachers would provide knowledge and understanding of Islam.

“Iran is ready to send its students to study at the university,” he remarked.

Deputy Secretary for Politics to the Vice President, Dewi Fortuna Anwar, said Vice President Jusuf Kalla has conveyed Indonesias plan to establish the International Islamic University.

“The vice president highlighted the fact that many Indonesian students study in the Middle East countries, such as Egypt, Yemen and others. The vice president worries about the condition of Indonesian students because the Middle Eastern countries have been witnessing many conflicts,” Fortuna added.

Therefore, Indonesia should become a new center of Islamic thought, which can teach about Islam as a peaceful religion.

In addition, the understanding between different mazhab (schools of jurisprudence) should be taught by experts.

The UK government had earlier supported President Joko Widodos decision to establish an international Islamic university in Indonesia to serve as a forum to share experiences in curbing terrorism.

“Several new steps have been outlined since our prime minister visited Indonesia, including cooperation in potential areas, such as building an international Islamic university in Indonesia,” British Ambassador to Indonesia Moazzam Malik stated here on Tuesday.

Malik explained that the university will become a place to share experiences and will have people speaking international languages in Asian and European countries.

Malik noted that people can take a cue from the role played by the two great Indonesian Islamic organizations: Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah.

He remarked that the partnership between Indonesian and British Islamic institutions, especially those engaged in teaching the youth both scientific and religious principles, had shown good progress.

According to the ambassador, the British government is also ready to cooperate with Indonesia to control the spread of extremism through the virtual world.

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Iran-Russian tourism on the rise

Moscow, 2 December 2016, (IRNA) — Iranian ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sanaei on Friday appreciated the wide cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in tourism sector.

Sanaei, who was speaking in a live interview with Russian radio broadcaster Vesti FM, said the number of tourists in 2015 doubled in comparison to that a year ago.

The Iranian tourists now, apart from Moscow, visit other Russian cities such as Saint Petersburg and Sochi, the ambassador said.

Iran has also attracted a large number of Russian tourists with its tourism attractions in Isfahan, Shiraz, Persepolis and Kish Island, the ambassador said.

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Indonesia coffee exports valued at US$650.2 million

Denpasar, Bali, 2 December 2016, (ANTARA News) – The trade ministry said Indonesia exported US$650.2 million worth of coffee products in the first nine months of the year.

Director of development and promotion at the trade ministry Merry Mariyati said demand for Indonesian coffee products is high abroad.

“Sustainability and transparency of coffee industry contribute to the rise in demand for Indonesian coffee products,” Merry said when opening “Specialty Coffee Association of Indonesia” (SCAI) EXPO 2016 here on Friday.

Indonesia is the fourth largest coffee producer in the world after Brazil, Vietnam and Colombia.

Merry said Indonesian coffee products consist of 16 varieties grown in different geographical conditions in the country making Indonesian coffee unique.

She said in 2015, the country’s exports of coffee were valued at US$1.19 billion, up US$158 million from export earning in 2014.

In 10 years ending 2015, the country’s coffee exports grew steadily 1.05 percent annually with export destinations the United States, Japan, Italy, Malaysia and Germany.

She said Indonesian coffee is gaining in popularity in international market through the forum of SCAI Expo.

“Indonesia has many coffee varieties that they need promotion in international market,” she said.

SCAI chairman A Syafrudin said drinking coffee has become a life style of most Indonesians.

SCAI also organized Indonesia Coffee Events (ICE) 2017 Eastern Regional Championship, Auction of Indonesian Special Coffee, and Coffee Origin Trip to coffee plantation in Bali.

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Indonesia eyes 2nd largest geothermal power producer status

Jakarta, 29 November 2016,(IINA) – Indonesia is set to become the world’s second largest geothermal power producer, overtaking the Philippines, with its capacity to generate geothermal electricity expected to increase by 385 megawatts next year, Jakarta Globe reported.

Despite siting on the world’s largest geothermal energy reserves, Indonesia today generates only 1,647 megawatts from geothermal wells, less than half of the United States’ geothermal power output (3,450 megawatts) and still behind the Philippines (1,870 megawatts).

Yunus Saefulhak, director of geothermal energy at the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, said that by the end of this year Indonesia’s geothermal power capacity will have increased by 130 megawatts, and by 255 megawatts next year.

“If everything goes to plan, our capacity will soon reach 1,908 megawatts, higher than the Philippines’,” Yunus said.

“We will hopefully catch up with the US in 2021,” he said, adding that the United States is unlikely to expand its geothermal power capacity.

Indonesia has a total of 28,994 megawatts in geothermal power reserves – the largest in the world – but conflicting laws, complicated pricing scheme and opposition from local communities have posed difficulties in harnessing them effectively.

A recent government decision to allow geothermal exploitation in conservation areas – a successful practice learned from the Philippines – is likely to speed up the process and prove that conservation and power generation can go hand in hand.

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Indonesia Plans Reduction of Foodstuff Imports

Jakarta, 2 December 2016, (NNN-ANTARA) – Indonesia is steadily reducing the import of foods such as corn and rice, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said.

“For several years, we had imported rice. However, the agriculture minister informed me that we did not import rice in 2016,” Jokowi said at the award function of Adhikarya Pangan Nusantara held at the State Palace.

Indonesia cut the import of corn by nearly 60 percent of 3.2 million tons, the president revealed.

The government has set a target of ending the import of corn by 2018.

If Indonesia continued to import food, he would be grieved, the president remarked.

To achieve national food security, the government undertakes several projects in agriculture and irrigation.

It also helps the village administration set up irrigation projects to improve farm productivity.

The government will increase the allocation for the village budget to Rp120 trillion in 2018, which the local administration can utilize for maintaining existing irrigation projects and constructing new ones, the president stated.

The government needs the support of the people, including academicians, farmers, and researchers, to achieve national food security, Jokowi said.

Indonesia has fertile soil that can produce a variety of fruits and vegetables, so it can compete with other countries, he felt.

“Any country that has a productive agricultural sector must have good water supply. It can have a fertile soil by utilizing water supply in any weather. We should master those techniques,” Jokowi stressed.

The local administration should construct water reservoirs to reserve water and utilize the source for the agriculture field, he stated.

Indonesia still has a lot of potential to supply international food security, Jokowi said. “We should achieve the food security target by conducting more efforts immediately to support agriculture,” he added.

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Sport “Unites Cultures and Break Down Barriers”

MONACO, 29 November 2016, (NNN-QNA) – Mohammed Hanzab, Founder of Save the Dream and Chairman of the International Centre for Sport Security (ICSS), today highlighted the importance of using sport as a powerful tool, to unite young people from different cultures and backgrounds, as well as, the diplomatic role it can play in promoting peace and humanity around the world.

Speaking on the opening panel entitled ‘Breaking down barriers through Sports Diplomacy’ at the Peace and Sport International Forum, Hanzab highlighted, how sport can be used as a tool for diplomacy in society and how the interactions and experiences young people have through sport, can be a powerful platform to begin building bridges between different cultures and break down barriers within society.

Speaking at the Peace and Sport International Forum, Hanzab said, “Sport is a common language that is spoken by many people around the world. Sport can play an important diplomatic role in society and it can be a powerful platform in breaking down barriers and divisions between people, as well as, bringing young people together and fostering greater dialogue and cooperation between different cultures and communities around world.”

“At Save the Dream, we believe that the interactions and experiences young people have through playing sport can lay strong foundations for the future and have a significant impact in bringing people together and breaking down divisions that currently exist between people from different cultures and backgrounds.

“As part of Save the Dream’s activities protecting and promoting the values of sport in young people, we recognise that sport is a common language in many countries around the world and have already helped young people around the world to play sport through various projects, platforms and activities.”

Mentioning some examples, including the boxer Mohammed Ali, Nelson Mandela and diplomat Henry Kissinger, Hanzab also highlighted on the panel how more athletes and influential figures from civil society should speak out about the role sport can play, in bringing people and communities together, as well as highlighting how more resources from major international sport events should be allocated, to projects that use sport as a diplomatic tool between different cultures and communities.

He added, “Sport can unite children and young people from all corners of the world and – whilst social media is an important platform that can connect, inspire and help to share a positive image of humanity – developing strong values like fair-play, respect and teamwork are best achieved by actually playing sport and interacting with others on the field of play.”

In addition to highlighting social media as one platform, Hanzab also mentioned the growing role and influence of e-sports in the lives of young people and highlighted how governments and policy-makers should explore how to use e-sports platforms as a vehicle to promote the positive values and benefits of sport and encourage young people to go out and play.

Hanzab concluded, “As Founder of Save the Dream and Chairman of the ICSS, I am honoured to speak today at the Peace and Sport International Forum and meet with other like-minded organisations, who believe in the power of sport to inspire young people and who are actively working to help create a stronger, more peaceful society. “As Save the Dream looks forward, I hope that we can build on our recent work delivering projects and empowering young people through sport in countries including India, Haiti, Brazil, Italy and Qatar.”

As part of his participation on the ‘Breaking down barriers through Sports Diplomacy’ panel, Mohammed was speaking alongside Pal Schmitt, Former President of Hungary from 2010-2012, IOC Member since 1983 and Head EU’s Sports Diplomacy Advisory Group, Juan Carlos Sainz Borgo, Dean of the University of Peace in Costa Rica, Afarin Shahidzadeh, Vice-President of National Institutions and Local Mechanisms, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kash Siddiq, Founder of Football for Peace.

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Saudi Writers’ Conference inaugurated

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, 28 November 2016, (NNN-SPA) – Under the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud’s patronage, Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Adel bin Zaid Al-Toraifi on Sunday opened Saudi writers’ fifth conference.

The Minister of Culture and Information delivered a speech, in which, he highlighted the great support by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, for literature and writers.

The minister underlined the Ministry of Culture and Information’s support for the conference, culture and literature.

He also pointed out the importance of the role played by writers.

Following the speech, the minister honoured a number of poets and cultural institutions.

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Bangladesh leather products export to reach $6bn by 2021

DHAKA, 29 November 2016, (BSS) – Export of leather products including shoes would be $six billion by 2021 if 16.5 percent cash incentive is given.

The parliamentary standing committee on ministry of commerce today apprised of the export target at its 18th meeting held at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban with committee chairman M Tajul Islam in the chair.

The watchdog body suggested the authorities concerned to give additional cash incentive to the leather products and shoes industries for making country’s image brighter.

It also reviewed implementation progress regarding the decisions taken at the 17th meeting and discussed further on leather products and shoes industries which are now the second highest foreign currency earning sector after RMG, said a press release.

Committee members –commerce minister Tofail Ahmed, Enamul Huq, Waresat Hossain Belal, M Sanwar Hossain, M Manzurul Islam Liton and Laila Arzuman Banu were present at the meeting.

The committee also urged different organisation under the ministry to become selective with the consultation of the parliamentary committee in participating international fair for maintaining quality.

Senior commerce secretary Hedayetullah Al Mamoon and officials concerned attended the meeting.

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Jordan borrows US$140 million from French Development Agency

AMMAN, Jordan, 1 December 2016, (NNN-PETRA) – Jordan, on Wednesday, signed two soft loan deals totalling 132 million euros (about 140 million U.S. dollars), with a French Development Agency, to support municipalities and water projects in the country.

A loan of 100 million euros (about 106 million U.S. dollars) is aimed at supporting the country’s municipalities, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Emad Fakhoury, said, at the signing ceremony.

Half of the loan will be transferred to Jordan before the end of this year, while the remaining part will be sent in 2017, the minister said, adding that, the interest rate is around 1.5 percent.

Another loan of 32 million euros (about 34 million U.S. dollars), will finance projects to improve access to water and enhance performance in water distribution and sewage services, in Irbid governorate.

The overall cost of the water project is 144 million euros (about 153 million U.S. dollars) and Jordan will soon sign more deals to complete the finance needed for the project.

The project will help improve water supply to communities affected by the influx of Syrian refugees, through conducting maintenance for water networks and enhancing water supply.

Jordan, which is among the poorest countries in water supply, is home to some 1.4 million Syrian refugees.

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Jordan Picks Consortia For Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Project

AMMAN, Jordan, 29 November 2016, (NNN-PETRA) – Five international consortia have been chosen, to implement and fund the first phase of the Red Sea-Dead Sea Water Conveyance Project (Red-Dead), according to a statement from the Water and Irrigation Ministry of Jordan.

The ministry said in the statement, that, the five shortlisted consortia, picked out of 17 international alliances, comprising 60 companies, include 20 companies from China, France, Singapore, Canada, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Spain.

The Red-Dead project is a leading strategic project, on a national and regional scale, for its potential to provide drinking water and water for other uses, preserve the Dead Sea and generate electric power.

Phase One of the $1.1-billion project, comprises the installation of a desalination plant north of Aqaba, Jordan’s coastal city, with a capacity of 80-100 million cubic metres per year, of desalinated water, while the resulting brine will flow to the Dead Sea to help reduce its degradation.

According to the ministry, the first stage will start in the first quarter of 2018, and end in the last quarter of 2020, which will give the ministry the chance to start a number of touristic and industrial projects, in the adjacent valley area.

In Dec, 2013, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, signed a water-sharing deal, which made the project much closer to reality.

The Dead Sea, the lowest and saltiest body of water in the world, is at the edge of drying out, since Israel, Jordan and Syria began to divert water from the Jordan River, the main source for the Dead Sea, in the 1960’s.

Water is a rare resource in Jordan, where 92 percent of the land is desert. The country is home to around seven million people and the population is growing with an influx of refugees from Syria.

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IRCICA attends Conf on Women’s Role in Development of Islamic states

The Sixth Ministerial Conference on Women’s Role in the Development of OIC Member States was opened with an address by H.E. Recep Tayyip Erdoƒüan, President of the Republic of Turkey in Istanbul, on 2 November 2016. The conference is attended by ministers in charge of women’s affairs in the 56 OIC Member States and representatives of international organizations concerned.

IRCICA Director General Dr. Halit Eren delivered an address during the conference, outlining the projects of IRCICA that aim to enhance women’s cultural and artistic activities. In this regard IRCICA encourages participation of women artists, scholars and other professionals in the international events on arts and traditional handicrafts that it organizes, such as festivals, award competitions and training programs.

Furthermore, IRCICA devotes specific activities to themes relating to the role of women in cultural life of Member States. Examples are: the symposium on “The Family in the Muslim Countries and Communities” it organized in 2012, the symposium, accompanied by exhibitions, on “Lady Calligraphers” it held in 2010, the special session on “Lady Artists in the Muslim world” it held in 2014 in the context of the IRCICA International Gathering on Islamic Calligraphy.

On the occasion of the conference, IRCICA organized an exhibition of Calligraphy and Illumination by Lady Artists.

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Iran-New Zealand ties to grow fivefold

Kuala Lumpur, 2 December 2016, (IRNA) — Implementation of the JCPOA has made New Zealand hopeful of developing bilateral relations with Iran so much so that volume of trade exchanges will increase up to $1b, experiencing fivefold rise.

New Zealand Minister of Trade Todd McClay, heading a trade delegation, is to pay a visit to Tehran on Friday aimed at giving an impetus to economic ties in the post-sanction era.

Since conclusion of the Iran nuclear deal, New Zealand Middle East Business Council (NZMEBC) has been closely following developments in Iran’s market in the international market so as to win diversified opportunities.

The Trade volume between Iran and New Zealand has reached over $174m in 2016 which was $90m in the past year.

Electronics, communications, dairy products, seafood, meat, agriculture technologies, industrial excavation and earthquake-resistant structures are sectors in which the two countries can expand cooperation.

As an oil exporter to New Zealand, Iran now exports dates, pistachios, figs, carpets and polymer to the country, while importing dairy products, milk, sea products and wool.

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Pakistan Embassy in US launches forum for public diplomacy

WASHINGTON, 2 December 2016, (APP) – The Pakistan Embassy in Washington has launched a major diplomacy initiative to provide avenues of engagement on public policy matters to counter negative portrayal of Pakistan through a sustained engagement with experts and policy makers.

The initiative named ‘Pakistan Embassy Forum ‘held its inaugural session on Wednesday that deliberated upon the “Energy Situation in Pakistan’. The session was attended by participants from think tanks, academia, U.S. Government departments, World Bank, IMF, private sector energy companies and notables of Pakistani-American diaspora.

The initiative is part of Embassy’s efforts to enhance people-to-people ties between Pakistan and the United States, as agreed between the leadership of two countries at the highest level. Pakistan Embassy plans to host the next session of the Forum in January, 2017.

At the opening sessions, Mr. Ziad Alahdad, leading energy expert and the former Director of World Bank and Mr. Shahid Javed Burki, the eminent economist, who is currently associated with Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC, led the discussion.

Mr. Ziad Alahdad presented a paper highlighting various dimensions of Pakistan’s energy sector and its challenges.

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani described the

objective of the establishment of the Forum. He said instead of a defensive or reactive approach the Embassy was adopting a proactive approach to provide avenues of engagement on public policy matters in the national and regional context.

He expressed hope that the debates held under the Forum would help

counter negative portrayal of Pakistan in the public domain through sustained engagement with experts and policy community with a veracity of perspectives.

Ambassador Jilani noted that the Embassy Forum would build up a resource base in the form of pools of experts to project and promote our policies in the positive light.

It also expected to expand the circle of friends of Pakistan by adopting an inclusive approach, through listening to sane voices and blunting the negative stream of information.

“Through this initiative the Embassy intends to institutionalize linkages between experts, academicians, and scholars in Pakistan and the U.S.,” he added.

The Embassy plans to host a series of events under the umbrella of Pakistan Embassy Forum on different issues including economy, health, education, water, extremism, etc. in which experts from both United States and Pakistan would be invited to participate.

The initiative would help initiate and sustain a Pakistan-specific positive discourse in the United States. It is also geared to conveying and building Pakistan’s image as a country open to debate and constructive engagement on issues of interest and import.

The participants of the Forum took keen interest in the discussion and

appreciated the Embassy’s openness to debate that highlighted the transparency in governance policies.

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Padang to boost tourism through Malindo Festival

Padang, 3 December 2016, (ANTARA News) – The Government of Padang city, West Sumatra, will turn the Indonesia-Malaysia Culture and Economic Festival (Malindo), scheduled from December 3 to 5, into an event to boost the tourism sector in the area.

“We expect visitors from Malaysia and other South-East Asian countries to participate in the festival, so that Padangs tourism and culture can be introduced to the people of the world,” Head of Padang Cultural and Tourism office, Medi Iswandi, said in Padang, West Sumatra.

The festival, initiated by Malindo MBCC Asia, will showcase a number of products crafted by small-medium companies from Padang, Malaysia, Jambi, South Sumatra, Riau, Java Island and other countries in the ASEAN region.

This will open investment opportunities for the city, especially in the tourism sector, he added.

In his agenda, Iswandi said that there are a number of activities involved in the sector, including watching the Dayung Palinggam festival, officiating a playground and visiting the beach.

“Although the festival bears cultural and economic themes, the local government will also be targeting the tourism sector,” he pointed out.

For the three-day agenda, guests from Malindo arrived in Padang on Friday, and they conducted a meeting in preparation for the festival.

The festival will open tomorrow in Kyriad Bumi Minang Hotel, where the activities will happen for the next two days.

Other than the festival, a city tour is also included in the agenda for guests from Malindo.

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Abu Dhabi oil company gives briefing on new procurement policies

ABU DHABI, 9 November 2016, (WAM) – ADNOC, Abu Dhabi’s integrated oil and gas company, in conjunction with the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, hosted on Wednesday the ADNOC Private Sector Forum, as part of its efforts to strengthen its partnerships with suppliers and local businesses.

Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and ADNOC Group CEO, said: “Abu Dhabi’s private sector will play a fundamental role in helping deliver ADNOC’s 2030 strategy and five-year business plan. Together, we must develop a win-win partnership model that is performance based and that will maximize the economic impact from ADNOC’s growth plans.

“The improvements we are introducing to our procurement will ensure it is easier for everyone to do business with us, by making the whole process faster and more efficient, while at the same time maximising value for ADNOC.”

The forum was attended by over 600 of ADNOC’s SME, oil and gas, exploration and production, construction and infrastructure suppliers and partners.

Held under the theme of “Strengthening Cooperation With Our Private Sector Partners”, the forum provided a platform for sharing ADNOC’s growth strategy and revised procurement policies and procedures which aim to strengthen the company’s private sector partnerships and support the growth of the Abu Dhabi economy.

Mohamed Thani Murshed Al Rumaithi, President of the Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stressed the importance of private sector companies partnering with ADNOC, which he described as one of the most important drivers for economic acceleration in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

“At the Abu Dhabi Chamber, we view this forum as an excellent opportunity to introduce private sector companies and businesses to the projects and opportunities being offered by ADNOC, and to enhance the private sector’s contribution to the execution of services and developmental projects in Abu Dhabi,” he said.

A key component of ADNOC’s efforts to strengthen its relationship with the private sector is the Group’s overhauled procurement system, which will deliver a more efficient and effective process.

The new procurement policies will benefit vendors by providing a single entry for registration and prequalification for tenders. Repetitive tendering for the same goods and services has been be eliminated. In addition, ADNOC has standardised contract terms and conditions, streamlining the negotiation process, and simplified contract requirements.

Along with a centralised commercial directory and transparent key performance indicators, these changes are part of the company’s strategic goal of ensuring fair competition among vendors.

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Algeria to hold 1st Innovation and Tech expo in Jan 2017

ORAN, Algeria, 1 December 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – About fifty exhibitors are expected to participate in the 1st edition of INNOVA Innovation and New Technology Show scheduled for January 10-14 at the Oran Convention Center (CCO), the organizers said.

Created by the communication company “Numidiya expo”, this show will be an opportunity for innovators and promoters of new technologies projects to make their visions known.”

The exhibitors will present innovative solutions to meet the major challenges of the society of tomorrow or more modestly to the still unsatisfied needs of society, the source added.

This scientific and economic event aims at “accelerating the development of technologies by connecting technology providers and service providers with people in search of innovative solutions to meet the environmental challenges they need to take up,” the organizers said.

The challenge of this show is mainly to stimulate innovation and to allow the faster diffusion of new environment-friendly technologies in Algeria, but also to overcome some of the difficult obstacles that often impede rapid dissemination and adaptation of technology.

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Oman Takes Part in WISH 2016

DOHA, Qatar, 30 November 2016,(NNN-ONA) – The Sultanate of Oman, represented by the Ministry of Health, is taking part in the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), which began in Doha, Qatar yesterday.

The Sultanate’s delegation is led by Dr. Ahmed Mohammad al-Sa’eedi, the Minister of Health.

The two-day Conference discusses several topics, including Autism, Health Professional Education, and Precision Medicine. It will further address topics, such as, Accountable Care, Genomics in the Gulf Region and Islamic Ethics, and behavioral insights.

Furthermore, WISH will look into the subject of cardiovascular diseases and investing in Health.

The plenary sessions will discuss infectious diseases and global diffusion of healthcare innovation. The conference will also touch upon the WISH policy, regarding delivering affordable cancer care, as well as, Dementia, which is a growing public health concern.

In addition to the discussions, the conference will provide an opportunity for young innovators, to display their innovations in healthcare, before healthcare leaders and decision makers.

The WISH 2016 Innovation Showcases represent some of the world’s most exciting healthcare innovations, ranging from practical devices and business models, to design-based solutions.

Some of the innovative projects in WISH 2016, include, a voice-messaging service aimed at educating pregnant women in rural areas about maternal health, and a communication device for speech-impaired people that uses images and environmental data, and other projects.

On the sideline of the conference, Dr. al-Sa’eedi today met Dr. Hanan al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health of the State of Qatar. The two sides exchanged cordial conversations, as well as, discussed bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the field of health.

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SESRIC releases OIC Economic Outlook 2016

28 November 2016, (SESRIC)- SESRIC has launched the OIC Economic Outlook 2016 report during the 32nd Session of the COMCEC which was held in Istanbul on 21-24 November 2016. The main highlights of the report were presented by H.E. Ambassador Musa Kulakkaya, Director General of SESRIC, during the meeting, where the Report and its special theme on growth potentials have attracted great interest.

The OIC Economic Outlook 2016 analyses the trends in major economic indicators for the OIC member countries, as a group, during the latest five-year period for which the data are available (2011-2015). The Report investigates these trends in a comparative manner with the groups of developed and non-OIC developing countries as well as with the world average. In so doing, the Report highlights a number of constraints and challenges confronting the OIC Member Countries in their efforts towards enhancing their economic development and progress.

This year’s report also includes a special part on how to utilize inherent potentials of OIC Countries for better economic performance. This section highlights some potential areas where OIC Countries have relatively stronger position vis-a-vis the rest of the world. According to the Report, effective utilization of these capacities may result in higher economic growth rates. In particular, the report identified three major factors that can potentially contribute to achieving better economic performance and living standards.

These were dynamic population structure, rich energy resources and great market potential. In this context, the report provides some preliminary assessment on the significance of these resources and their potential contributions to socio-economic development in OIC Countries. The report argues that the reckless consideration of these resources and potentials may equally deteriorate the already existing level of development and, thus, transforming the potentials into threat rather than strength.

Download Online Electronic Version

English: http://www.sesric.org/files/article/562.pdf

Arabic: http://www.sesric.org/files/article/564.pdf

French: http://www.sesric.org/files/article/563.pdf

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Nigeria Set To Export Rice By 2017, Says Central Bank

ABUJA, 1 December 2016, (NNN-NAN) — The Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) says its Anchor Borrowers Programme aimed at promoting agriculture has set the country to begin exporting rice by 2017.

The Anchor Borrowers Programme of the CBN and the Presidential Committee on Rice Production launched in July had jointly set the target for rice exports.

The Acting Director of Corporate Communications at the central bank, Isaac Okorafor, disclosed this Tuesday at a workshop for farmers in Yenagoa in Bayelsa state in the Niger River delta region of the country. The theme of the workshop was “Promoting Stability and Economic Development’’.

According to Okorafor, farmers in Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, Sokoto and Cross River states, among others, are already keyed into the programme, resulting in massive rice cultivation.

He said the country would achieve self-sufficiency in rice if this momentum was sustained, and Nigeria should be able to start exporting rice by 2017.

Kebbi State had already harvested one million tons of rice, while Ebonyi state’s harvest had outstripped the production target for the year, Okorafor said.

“The development is encouraging and by the end of 2017, we will not only meet our national demand which is between six and seven million tons but have a surplus to export. We must rid ourselves of eating foreign rice that has been stored for over nine years in (leading rice exporters) Thailand, Vietnam and India. Nigerian rice is fresh and healthier.”

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Morocco’s net international reserves rise by 13.7%

Rabat, 29 November 2016, (IINA) – Morocco’s net international reserves amounted to MAD 249.9 billion until November 18, recording a 13.7 percent increase on an annual basis, Bank Al-Maghrib said.

During the week of November 17-23, the central bank injected MAD 17.1 billion. Over the course of this period, the interbank rate remained at 2.25 percent, while the average daily exchanged volume fell from MAD 3.9 billion to MAD 3 billion, Morocco World News reported.

During the same period, the Dirham appreciated by 0.58 percent against the euro and depreciated by 0.86 percent against the dollar, the central bank said in its weekly indicators.

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Moroccan cartoonist named on BBC’s 100 influential women list

London, 28 November 2016, (IINA) – A Moroccan woman cartoonist, called Riham El-Hour, has been named on the BBC’s 100 Women List for 2016.

Every year, the BBC selects the world’s most prominent influential and inspirational 100 women, seeking to highlight their efforts and shed light on their projects. The list is designed to bring groundbreaking moments of defiance, new takes on fairy tales, and stories of octogenarian cheerleading, according to the BBC, Morocco World News reported.

El-Hour was appointed alongside 100 other international influential women, such as American singer-songwriter Alicia Keys, Mexican sociologist-activist Marta Sanchez Soler, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, and Rachida Dati, former French minister of justice, of Algerian-Moroccan descent.

The BBC annual list has recorded a strong presence of the women in several different fields. It also features Arab teachers and artists, including Egyptian biology professor Lubna Tahtamouni and cartoonist Doaa el-Adl, Jordanian music teacher Dalia Sabri, and Syrian actor, Carolina de Oliveira.

The 32-year old Riham El-Hour is the first female cartoonist in Morocco’s history. Her passion for cartoon started in her childhood when she devoted most of her time to sharpen her artistic skills.

In 2000, El-Hour won an award from UNESCO for a poster on “heritage protection.” This award was life changing for the cartoonist and led to her embarking on her profession career, working for newspapers.

It is noteworthy that 100 Women is a BBC series established in 2013. The series examines the role of women in the twenty-first century and has included events in London and Mexico.

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Sericulture generates employment for Rajshahi villagers

RAJSHAHI, 3 December 2016, (BSS)- Many grassroots people are putting in their best efforts to attain success in sericulture through boosting local yarn production which is very important to revitalize the sector.

In Bagha and Charghat upazilas of the district, most of the villagers were seen interested in mulberry and silkworm farming with intervention of Bangladesh Sericulture Development Board (BSDB).

Now they are habituated in homestead sericulture side by side with their regular household activities.

Regional Sericulture Training Center is extending necessary support like silkworm to the farmers. An ideal sericulture village has been established at Meerganj. The growers are selling cocoon at Taka 270 per kilogram.

BSDB has implemented a project promoting sericulture and its industry through entrepreneurship development at different levels of production.

Sirajul Islam, Member (Extension) of BSBD, said the five-year project titled “Extension and Development of Sericulture in Public and Private sector in Bangladesh” was implemented throughout the country by spending Taka 300 million.

Under the project, 23 ideal sericulture villages were established in the potential areas as a model to improve capacity of small and marginal farmers to establish high yielding mulberry garden and produce superior quality of silk cocoon.

The villages function as a good center for economic activity and people of the adjacent areas will gradually be inspired and involved in income generation process.

The sericulture and silk industry, by its nature, is a family based labor- intensive economic activity that provides employment for the rural people.

More than six lakh people are involved in this industry of which one lakh are cocoon growers and the rest are engaged in silk reeling, spinning, weaving, dyeing, printing, finishing and trading activities.

The multidisciplinary activities provide unique job opportunities to the marginal farmers, landless poor, rural artisans and also the urban silk fabric manufacturing industries and contribute a lot to poverty reduction, he added.

He said there are around 80 small and medium silk factories in private sector with a capacity of manufacturing 25.50 million meters fabrics annually.

Apart from this, there are about 10,000 private handlooms with capacity of producing 30 million meters silk fabric.

Sirajul Islam said the project has been developing suitable mulberry and silkworm varieties besides producing and supplying superior quality mulberry saplings and cuttings and silkworm eggs according to the demands of the farmers.

Some six lakh mulberry saplings were raised and three thousand people were engaged in plantation and nursing of the trees within the project period, under which, 24,000 kg’s of seed cocoons will be produced.

Necessary process for providing essential supports for human resource development, infrastructure development, machinery procurement and raw materials is progressing fast under the project.

In addition to arrangement of training for 2130 farmers, 330 people are being provided with improved training on reeling, weaving and dyeing and printing.

Another 700 farmers, 200 spinners and 200 silk weavers are being given need-based training to improve their working efficiency in the field for improvement of rearing of mulberry trees and silkworm and reeling and weaving productivity.

Liakat Ali, vice-president of Bangladesh Silk Industry Owners Association, said boosting production of local yarn can help revitalizing the silk sector to regain its lost legacy alongside meeting the existing local demands

He highlighted various aspects of the silk sector and its contribution to the national and local economy and viewed that the local consumption could be met up through domestic outputs after the best uses of the existing natural resources and there is no doubt in this regard.

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Jordanian Senator wins Arab Woman of the Year award

London, 2 December 2016, (Petra) – Jordanian Senator Judge Taghreed Hikmat was named “Arab Woman of the Year” for 2016 in recognition of her success and excellence in the international law domain.

Hikmat was honoured in a ceremony organized in London, which was attended by Arab and British figures as well as Arab and foreign ministers in the United Kingdom.

The Senator received the award along with other Arab women, during the second Arab Woman of the Year Award Ceremony.

Addressing the ceremony, Hikmat delivered a message of peace to the world, urging all nations to distance themselves from the hatred speech. She also presented the award to all Jordanian women.

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Purbachal to be Bangladesh’s first smart city by 2018

DHAKA, 3 December 2016, (BSS) – Purbachall new town project will be developed as the first smart city in Bangladesh by 2018, official said.

“The government has a plan to build Purbachal new town project a smart city where quality infrastructure and all modern amenities will be set up for ensuring residents a high standard of living,” Chairman of Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkho (RAJUK) M Bazlul Karim Chowdhury told BSS.

He said the smart city would have separate water supply and sewerage system, waste treatments plant and power production and supply system so the basic services remain uninterrupted.

The project, first of its kind in the country, will also have the measures to keep the smart city clean, green and eco-friendly, the chairman said.

A 142-storey ‘iconic tower’ would be built on about 60 acres of land in the city where a stadium with a capacity of 70,000 spectators would also be constructed for giving sport activities a further go.

One of the sectors of the new city has already earmarked for building the country’s largest stadium, which will have modern facilities and connected with metro rail service for smooth transportation.

Besides, the country’s largest exhibition centre, which would be the house of Dhaka International Trade Fair, would be constructed there.

The project will also have its own solid waste management system, efficient public transport, affordable housing, health and education services and strict security system.

On completion, Purbachal will be the biggest planned township in the country with an area of about 6,228 acres of land, divided into 30 sectors. The project is situated in a vast area between the rivers Shitalakhya and Balu in Rupganj Upazilla of Narayanganj district and Kaliganj upazilla of Gazipur district.

Member (development)of RAJUK Md. Abdur Rahman said there are 27,068 plots in the Purbachal new town. Of them, 25,016 residential plots and 1,992 other plots.

“Around 85 percent land development work has been finished” he said. The official said about 48.5 kilometers lake would be developed in and around the project for maintaining an environment friendly atmosphere for dwellers.

RAJUK has already sought application from respective plot owners for approval of design for construction, and a good number of allottees got their design approved for construction.

The township, planned in 1996 by the Awami League led government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will be the home to around one core people in the next three years.

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Indonesian President joins thousands of Muslims for Friday prayers

Jakarta, 2 December 2016, (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo joined thousands of Muslims in performing Friday prayers at the National Monument (Monas) Square to appreciate the participants of the mass prayer rally dubbed “Defend Islam.”

President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla braced themselves for rain as they headed towards the Monas Square and tent to take part in the prayers.

“It is Mr. President himself who has decided (to do that) after considering views from many sides,” Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said. The president took the decision shortly before adzan (call) for Friday prayers, the minister said.

Lukman said the president appreciated the participants of the event, who sincerely prayed for the tranquility and unity of the nation.

He hoped that people who took part in the mass prayers would not conduct another rally while law enforcement agencies were handling the Quranic blasphemy case involving non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

“So, we only wait for how the court will decide the case,” he said.

The president urged people who participated in the mass prayers to return to their home towns peacefully after the event.

Indonesian Police Chief General Tito Karnavian and a number of high ranking government officials and influential ulemas also joined the mass prayers.

Among the ulemas who attended the peaceful rally, held by various Muslim-based organizations to demand justice in the Quranic blasphemy case involving non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was Rizieq Shihab, the head of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI).

Shihab arrived in Monas Square along with the chief of Indonesian Police Force Public Relations Boy Rafli Amar.

Previously, the representatives of the Movement of Indonesian Council Edict Supporters (GNPF MUI) and the National Police had agreed that the event, dubbed the “Defend Islam” Rally, will be organized on December 2 at the National Monument area, Central Jakarta.

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Pakistan gains “new identity” due to economic turnaround

ISLAMABAD, 21 November 2016, (APP) – Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Ahsan Iqbal has stated that Pakistan has assumed new identity due to economic turnaround during the last three years under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

The minister was speaking as Chief Guest at the CPEC Awareness Seminar organized by the World Congress of Overseas Pakistanis (WCOP) in London, a message received here from London on Monday said.

The minister said, “Today we live in the world of brands and every country is a brand. The way our people project Pakistan, becomes its identity and brand.”

“Before we seek development as our goal, we need to reset our thinking and mental model based on self belief and positive thinking about our country. With the economic turnaround and unprecedented foreign direct investment of $46 billion under CPEC, Pakistan has already assumed a new positive identity and brand in the eyes of the world. The international media that used to label Pakistan as the most dangerous country in the world, is now bullish on Pakistan and calling it the next emerging economy of Asia,” he added.

Giving economic overview of the country the minister said, “In the last three years, the economy has seen a steady growth from 2.5% in 2013 to 4.8% last year, which is the highest growth rate in the last eight years. Our foreign reserves with $24 billion are at the highest in the history of Pakistan. This economic take off has changed the perception of the world about Pakistan. The same Moody’s that downgraded the US, has upgraded the credit rating of Pakistan.”

Talking about the performance of the government, Ahsan Iqbal said, “When we came into power we had a manifesto of 4 Es – Economy, Energy, Extremism and Education. The government presented the Vision 2025 for the socio-economic development of Pakistan and has delivered on all the four key areas. As a result, the economy has taken off. Similarly, the government has significantly eradicated extremism and terrorism due to which peace has been restored in Pakistan, especially in Karachi.”

“Pakistan is seeing ever largest investment of $35 billion under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in energy sector which will not only meet our energy needs but also expedite GDP growth and create new job opportunities for our Youth,” he added.

The minister said, “Education is the fourth key priority of current government. Despite education being a provincial subject after the 18th Amendment, the federal government still wants to help provinces to improve the standard of education. For this purpose, a National Curriculum Council has been set up to upgrade the curriculum. Reform of Examination Boards and Teachers Training Programme are the other two initiatives of the federal government for complete overhaul of the education system of Pakistan to bring about creativity and innovation in our academic institutions.”

“Additionally, the federal government has increased allocation of funds for Higher Education Commission from Rs 100 billion to Rs 215 billion in last three years. Besides, every district will have a university campus in three years. During the US visit of the Prime Minister, Pakistan-US Knowledge Corridor initiative was launched and it was agreed that 10,000 Pakistani PhDs would be produced in leading US universities in next ten years that would help promote research and innovation in our universities,” he added.

Ahsan Iqbal spoke about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in detail and termed it a great opportunity for Pakistan.

He said, “The CPEC would turn Pakistan’s geo strategic location to its geo economic advantage. Within three years, the first convoy of goods has successfully travelled from China to Gwadar through Western Route that has made CPEC operational. All provinces of Pakistan as well as the entire region would benefit from CPEC. The energy projects, infrastructure projects and industrial zones along the Western and Eastern Routes would promote connectivity and bring about unprecedented economic growth.”

The minister urged the Pakistani community not to pay heed to the negative propaganda against the CPEC by detractors of Pakistan as CPEC is the real game changer for the country.

He also called upon the diaspora to take maximum advantage of CPEC by investing in Pakistan. The minister thanked the WCOP for arranging the seminar and the community for attending in large numbers. He also responded to the question of the attendees.

In his address Dr Miftah Ismail, Minister of State, Board of Investment said that Pakistan was rich in natural resources like agriculture, minerals, coal, copper, gold and water, adding, similarly Pakistan was rich in human resource.

But despite natural and human resources Pakistan’s economic development could not take off in the past because the vital ingredient of economic management was missing, he added.

The Minister of State said the present government provided efficient economic management which turned around the economy and now the foreign investment has started to come into Pakistan.

Speaking on the occasion, Syed Ibne Abbas, Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK said the narrative about Pakistan in the world was changing fast as the economy of Pakistan was growing and security situation has improved significantly.

This has happened due to the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, he added.

He appreciated the initiative of the WCOP for holding the seminar on CPEC as it would create awareness about this vital project among the diaspora.

The High Commissioner invited the community to be part of the Pakistan’s 70th independence anniversary celebrations being organized by the High Commission.

Salamat Ali, a trade economist and PhD candidate at Nottingham University spoke on relevance of the CPEC to Pakistan and its diaspora.

He said CPEC would significantly reduce the cost of trade inside the borders of Pakistan through development of road and rail network. Similarly, when new trading blocks and alignments are forming in the world, the CPEC would connect Pakistan to major trading country of China, which would enhance Pakistan’s trade immensely, he added.

He said that there is great opportunity for diaspora in the CPEC as the British Pakistanis already have the necessary skills like language to become part of the international trading and business community.

Syed Qamar Raza, Chairman WCOP thanked the Ministers for speaking at the seminar and said it was very useful in terms of creating awareness about CPEC among Pakistani community.

Dr Sohail Chughtai, President WCOP gave an overview of the organization’s activities. Naveed Ahmad of WCOP also spoke on the CPEC.

Dr Arif Anees, a leadership and management expert, moderated the seminar.

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Pakistan food, shopping, cultural festival held in Sri Lanka

SRI LANKA, 28 November 2016 – Sri Lankan Minister for Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine, Hon. Dr. Rajitha Senarathne and the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Maj. Gen. (R) Syed Shakeel Hussain jointly inaugurated Pakistan’s Food, Shopping and Cultural Festival with painting and photographic exhibition at Waters Edge Hotel.

The event was attended by several important personalities from the Sri Lankan business and trade sectors along with Sri Lanka based diplomatic corps and a large number of people from different walks of life.

The exhibition will remain continue till Nov 29, a message received here Monday said.

Pakistan High Commissioner speaking on the occasion said that Pakistan has a rich cultural diversity as the country was largely multilingual, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.

The primary aim to organize the festival was to introduce rich Pakistani food, diverse goods and commodities being produced in Pakistan, he added.

He emphasized that such exhibitions would not only promote the soft image of the country, but also promote the national talents in the field of paintings, photography and other forms of art at the international level.

Shakeel reiterated that the Government of Pakistan was making all out efforts to multiply the volume of two-way trade between the two regional countries.

Minister for Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Rajitha Senarathne said the exhibitions and festivals were a proven tool to promote bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries.

He said the large participation of public in the festival was enough to make the point that the people of Sri Lanka were great lover of Pakistani products and food.

The festival in the vibrant city of Colombo would be remembered for a long time. Pakistani cuisine is a specialty of the event as Sri Lanka has

a big majority of eastern food lovers and Pakistani food and its taste was not new to their taste buds.

Painting and photographic exhibition was also a component of this colourful event.

The exhibition showcased masterpieces of famous painters and photographers who had flown to Sri Lanka to highlight the real image of Pakistan.

The festival is also displaying Pakistani quality products including home textiles, footwear, garments and apparel, handicrafts, traditional food, rice, fashion wear etc.

Concurrently, the High Commissioner and the Minister for Health attended an induction ceremony of Dr. Lakkumar Fernando as the new President of Sri Lanka College of Pediatrician.

The congratulatory video message of Chief Minister of Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif was also played on the occasion.

Through his message the Chief Minister not only congratulated D. Lakkumar Fernando as being inducted as new President of the college, but also offered his gratitude for the services Fernando rendered along with a team of Sri Lankan doctors to control Dengue outbreak in Punjab Province during 2010-2011.

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World’s top physicists to come together in Baku

Baku, December 1, AZERTAC-Top physicists from all corners of the world will gather in Baku for the Asia-Pacific Conference and Workshop on Quantum Information Science to be held on December 3-5.

The event will be co-organized by the Institute of Physics of Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), ANAS Presidium, and Science Development Fund under the President of Azerbaijan.

The conference will hear nearly 50 lectures from local and foreign scientists.

The conference has been previously held in Singapore, Republic of Korea, Australia, China, Israel, Malaysia, Taiwan and New Zealand.

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World Bank loans US$ 5 mln to Kyrgyz Republic to upgrade dairy farms

Bishkek, 2 December 2016, (Kabar) – A new project designed to improve the productivity of dairy farms in the country will reach approximately 24,000 households. The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved US$ 5 million in financing for the Kyrgyz Republic Integrated Dairy Productivity Improvement Project. It is aimed at enhancing dairy animal productivity and milk quality on farms in the country’s Issyk-Kul region. US$ 2.75 million of the financing is a concessional credit, and US$ 2.25 million is a grant.

Agriculture is an important sector for the Kyrgyz Republic’s economy, representing about 15 percent of the country’s GDP. The accession of the Kyrgyz Republic to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) in 2015 has presented new opportunities as well as challenges for the country’s livestock production sector. Kyrgyz dairy products have a reputation for being organic and tasty because of the production model based on natural pastures. However, most local milk producers and processors are finding it difficult to capitalize on new market opportunities due to their inability to meet the animal health, food safety and quality standards of the EAEU.

“The Integrated Dairy Productivity Improvement Project will increase production and make the export of Kyrgyz dairy products more sustainable, increase incomes of dairy farmers, and create new jobs along the dairy supply chain”, said Jean-Michel Happi, World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic. “In the future, once total output of milk is increased and its quality is upgraded, exporting to other neighboring countries, such as China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and beyond, should become possible.”

To help address the industry’s constraints, the project will work to improve public and private services in the sector, enhance on-farm productivity, and promote farm-level investments. Specifically, the project will support cattle identification and registration in Issyk-Kul region, initiate establishment of a so-called “zone free of animal diseases,” and provide better artificial insemination services to improve the breed stock of dairy cows. The project will also introduce a concept of “model dairy villages” — to share good dairy farming practices, and facilitate access to finance for small farmers for equipment purchases.

“The project will benefit 12,000 household farms during its first phase of implementation, and another 12,000 households are expected to be reached as indirect beneficiaries. The starting point is linking farmers to processors through a milk collection agent and those who are interested in adopting new technologies,” said Sandra Broka, World Bank Senior Agriculture Economist and Task Team Leader for the Project.

The World Bank’s overall mission in the Kyrgyz Republic is to reduce poverty and promote economic growth and shared prosperity. Forty-five percent of the World Bank’s assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic is in the form of grants. The other 55 percent is credits with no interest and a 0.75 percent service charge. Credits are repayable in 38 years, including a 6-year grace period, while grants require no repayment. The Bank’s financial assistance to the Kyrgyz Republic since 1992 amounts to over US$ 1.3 billion in the form of grants and highly concessional credits.

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W. Nusa Tenggara, S. Korea cooperate on forest management

Mataram, 28 November 2016, (ANTARA News) – The West Nusa Tenggara provincial administration and the National Institute of Forest Science (Nifos) South Korea have established a partnership for forest management in the area.

The cooperation is in line with the provincial forestry development which is based on institutional strengthening, West Nusa Tenggara governor M Zainul Majdi said here Monday.

“Of course, we need assistance from experienced entities such as Nifos so that our forests can be used and maintained at the same time, and bring maximum impacts for the people,” the governor said after meeting Nifos president Nam Sung Hyun in Mataram.

Nifos has been working with West Nusa Tenggara provincial administration in the forestry sector through West Rinjani forest management unit for five years.

The width of critical lands in the province are currently very extensive, nearly 500 thousand hectares, consists of forest and soil as well as areas where rainfall is very little, the governor said.

“Korea has best practices in dealing with critical lands and we very open to working together,” the governor added.

Meanwhile, Nifos President Nam Sung said he was very proud of the cooperation between West Nusa Tenggara and the institution.

“I am proud to be associated with, and cooperate in research projects for five years in the fields of forestry, socio-economy, culture and community institutions,” Nam Sung said.

The partnership is undertaken in the form of a survey involving local people, he added. “We hope this cooperation can continue to run and be sustainable,” Nam Sung said.

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Abu Dhabi hosts conference to Protect Endangered Heritage Sites

ABU DHABI, 2 December 2016, (NNN-WAM) — The International Conference of the Safeguarding of Endangered Cultural Heritage got underway in Abu Dhabi Friday morning at the Emirates Palace.

With the support of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and French President, Francois Hollande, the UNESCO-sponsored event was opened by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority Chairman, Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Jack Lang, President of the Institut du Monde Arabe, along with UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova.

In his speech, Mohammed Al Mubarak said that he was delighted to see representatives from over 40 countries coming together to discuss this important topic. “Here in the UAE, we have a history of growth that combines urbanisation with protecting our cultural heritage, and we have an archaeological site recognised by UNESCO as one of the oldest cradles of humanity in the world,” he said.

“Conflict causes irreparable damage to valuable heritage sites in Syria, Iraq, Mali and many others. Today, we establish a US$100m fund to focus on protecting and rebuilding these sites, and build a system of protecting them for future generations. This will be a historical initiative to pass down our legacy of tolerance and value of heritage,” Al Mubarak said.

Jack Lang, the President of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, said that he was delighted to be part of what he called a “chance to be united in our contributions to preserve and support the work being carried out by the United Arab Emirates under the guidance of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.”

In his opening speech, Lang added, “This is an historical event – the fruit of the friendship that links our two countries – but we are short of time – the problem is getting worse and it is becoming harder to protect this heritage in times of war and terrorism. We work hand in hand with UNESCO to protect heritage and we are sharing responsibility with the UAE in this fight – the UAE is a role model for the rest of the world in our quest to implement this initiative, and I want to thank the UAE and its leadership for their contributions.”

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, said that she welcomed the initiative of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed and the French President for their leadership and support in this struggle.

“It is my pleasure to support these efforts to safeguard heritage from deliberate crimes, war crimes, in conflict zones where great and rare items are being destroyed. Without tolerance, without heritage, society is also destroyed. Too many people have died in their efforts to protect heritage, and now is the time to unite for heritage,” she said.

“UNESCO is the only United Nations agency tasked with the protection of culture and heritage, and we have a long history of working on the protection of both tangible and intangible heritage, in places like Mali, Cambodia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, where UNESCO is supporting governments to protect global heritage, along with a broad coalition of partners, including important international organisations, government bodies and the private sector.

“Today, with our important partners – France and the UAE – we are gathering to create an international fund to ensure the protection of culture, to re-build, protect, and unite for heritage,” she added.

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Indonesian should expand “social forests” managed by cooperatives

Tuban, 28 November 2016, (ANTARA News) – Tree planting for social forests, managed by both private parties and cooperatives, need to be explored more, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has said.

“Let us not give large concessions entirely to corporations, if it could be beneficial for the people, then by any means, go for it,” President Jokowi said during the commemoration event of National Tree Planting Day and National Planting Month in Tasikharjo village, Tuban, East Java, on Monday.

When corporations fail to pass on the benefits to the public, then social forest management concessions will be given to cooperatives or private entities, Jokowi further said.

“I believe that this model can be followed and I will be sure to check it. We hope that it could be a good model to be explored in other provinces and regions,” he stated.

The government will support programs that incorporate farmers, fisherman and cooperatives in managing large-scaled economic schemes, he continued.

“I would like to incorporate farmers, fisherman and cooperatives, and without a model involving them it would be challenging for small entities to grow. It needs to be done on a large economic scale,” he remarked.

He also advised his ministers to support the program so that they receive the tangible economic benefits and improve the economic movement.

“I have warned the cooperatives minister to involve the cooperatives, and I have also said to the maritime and fisheries minister to incorporate fishermen. The same goes for the agriculture minister whom I have advised to incorporate farmers,” he reiterated.

He will keep an eye on the program and it will be evaluated in the next 3 to 4 months to a year, the president assured.

If the evaluation shows positive results in a way that it affects the economy, it will then be implemented in other cities and provinces in Indonesia.

Tree planting in Tasikharjo village, involving the Green Earth Endowment Producers Cooperative, need to be followed by other parties, the president said.

“I see this as a well initiated format and I will continue to follow its progress, because there is an environmental value to it, but on the other side, there is also a community value and that can also be beneficial for the peoples economy,” he stated.

Every month people can obtain earnings from maintaining the trees and again during harvest season, he explained.

“This is the kind of Pancasila (five ideologies) oriented economic processes that we would like to explore more,” he concluded.

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Sharjah Ruler Sets Up Falconry Club

SHARJAH, 2 December 2016, (NNN-WAM) — Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, has issued Emiri Decree No. 80 for 2016, setting up the Sharjah Falconry Club.

The new club aims to conserve and promote the tradition and sport of falconry, build relations with local sports clubs and institutions, promote Sharjah in the UAE and abroad as a destination for falconry, develop legislation for the sport, encourage relevant initiatives to develop the sport and provide a haven for falcons and live preys.

The club may represent the emirate at relevant events, associations, unions and any entity for falconry, as well as conclude agreements with these entities.

According to the decree, the new club will have a head office in the central area of the emirate of Sharjah, while branches can be set up in other cities and areas within the emirate.

The club will be tasked with developing polices to improve the safety of falconers in the emirates, conducting training for involved individuals and promotional campaigns, and sponsoring sports teams, among other responsibilities.

The club’s chairman, deputy chairman and the members of the board of directors should be Emiratis and will be named by the Ruler of Sharjah, or anyone representing him.

The club is exempt from all government and customs fees.

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