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10 Jan, 2017

Lebanon to launch first Beirut Restaurants Festival

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 09 January 2017 (11 Rabee’ al-Thaani 1438). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.



Win FREE trips in Malaysia by entering this Photography And Short Video Competition

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia is organising a photography and short video competition on social media with the sub-theme #MyCuisine from 1 January 2017 to 28 February 2017. To enter, participants need to submit a creative photo or short video related to the uniqueness and diversity of the food and beverage of Malaysia’s multicultural society via Instagram or Facebook. For the short video competition, participants need to upload a 30- to 60-second short video on Instagram with the hashtags #SayangMalaysia and #MyCuisine. The competition offers various attractive prizes for the top three winners and five consolation prizes, which include domestic flight tickets, accommodation at popular domestic destinations, theme park tickets, shopping vouchers, and many more. In the #Sayang Malaysia Campaign, the public will get the chance to participate in six photography and short video competitions throughout 2017 under six sub-themes, which are as follows: i. #MyCuisine – January to February; iv.#MySports- July to August; vi.#MyFamilyFun – November to December.

The competition is to make Malaysia a premier tourist destination and to encourage both domestic and international tourists to use social media to share all their beautiful and unique holiday experiences in Malaysia. The #SayangMalaysia Campaign is an initiative under Malaysia’s National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) between Government Departments/Agencies and the private sector, including the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia, National Service Training Department, iM4U, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), and tourism industry players.

Further details: http://www.motac.gov.my/en/sayangmalaysia

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.




LEAD STORY: Lebanon to launch first Beirut Restaurants Festival

Beirut, 7 Jan 2017, (NNA) – In spite of the failure of officials in Lebanon to provide the minimum of tourism and hospitality requirements, Beirut has managed to prove that it is an ancient city that was and still an attractive tourist milestone for people from all over the world, especially after it has won during the summer the best global city for food, knowing that food is a basic feature that encourages tourists to visit a particular country.

To celebrate this victory, the owners of restaurants, nightclubs, and cafés will organize for the first time Beirut Festival for restaurants, as follows: Fridays from five in the afternoon until midnight and on Saturday and Sunday from noon to midnight in the Mar Mikhael area – the railroad.

Tonight (Friday) Tourism Minister, Michel Pharaon, and the Governor of Beirut, Ziad Shabib, will open the festival in participation of Beirut hospitality.

It is worth to note that the festival includes all kinds of restaurants and tastes, as well as entertainment shows for children. The entrance fee is LL5000 for adults and free for children under ten years.

The head of the union, Tony Rami, told the “National News Agency”, “The festival was the result of Beirut winning the first place regarding the food. We have organized it so that Beirut will be a permanent beacon in this field”.

He pointed out that the festival comprises about 70 exhibitors from different restaurants and kitchens, the Lebanese, French and Asian cuisine, as well as fast food.

“These restaurants will offer their best in terms of quality, but in small size, and the prices are reduced to allow visitors to taste more than one dish,” Rami stressed.

He said that the restaurant owners’ aim is to participate in this event not to make profit but to show the best quality.

“The parking is available at an affordable price,” he noted. “The catering sector is still vital in these dark days, thanks to the Lebanese residents and expatriates, as well as visitors and tourists.”

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Retirement Index cites Malaysia for World’s Best Healthcare

PUTRAJAYA, 7 Jan 2017, (Bernama) — 05th January 2017, International Living in its Annual Global Retirement Index 2017 honoured Malaysia for the third consecutive year of being named the country with the “Best Healthcare in the World” (source:www.internationalliving.com)

This is indeed a praiseworthy international recognition received as Malaysia tops the list out of 24 countries in the world for best healthcare system in the world. The ranking is based on:

• the price of medical procedures

• facilities available

• excellent hospitals

• highly trained doctors

• affordable care

The 24 countries in the listing by International Living were: –

  1. Malaysia
  2. Mexico
  3. Panama
  4. Ecuador
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Columbia
  7. Spain
  8. Nicaragua
  9. Portugal
  10. Malta
  11. Honduras
  12. Thailand
  13. Italy
  14. Peru
  15. Belize
  16. France
  17. Cambodia
  18. Bolivia
  19. Philippines
  20. Dominican Rep.
  21. Ireland
  22. Guatemala
  23. Uruguay
  24. Vietnam

This accomplishment is testament to Malaysia’s well-developed healthcare system which is highly accessible, with competitively affordable rates, and of world-class quality. The government through the Ministry of Health ensures stringent and rigorously regulation is put in place to safeguard impeccable standards of quality, safety and ethics in Malaysian healthcare services as a whole whilst also ensuring that healthcare in Malaysia remains accessible to everyone who needs it.

The Ministry of Health is humbled and inspired by this recognition and shall continue our commitment in providing the best quality healthcare for our patients.

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Malindo Air Introduces Direct Kota Kinabalu-Taipei Flights

KOTA KINABALU, Sabah state, Malaysia, 6 Jan 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Taiwanese tourist arrivals into Sabah state are expected to increase with the commencement of Malindo Air’s four times weekly direct flight from Kota Kinabalu to Taipei effective Jan 25.

The flights from Kota Kinabalu depart on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays; whereas the flights from Taipei are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

In conjunction with the launch, the airline is offering introductory fares from Kota Kinabalu to Taipei from RM299 one way all-inclusive for economy class and RM999 one way all-inclusive for business class.

Malindo Air Chief Executive Officer Chandran Rama Muthy said they are working closely with the Sabah state Tourism Board and Taiwan Tourism Bureau in promoting this newly introduced connectivity to travelers in both countries.

“We are expecting at least 25,000 tourists (from Taiwan for this year) to come to Kota Kinabalu on this new flights,” he told press conference here yesterday.

Meanwhile, Sabah state Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun in his speech said there had been double digit growth in Taiwanese visitors to Sabah, by 26 per cent or 45,367 for the first ten month of last year compared to 36,011 for same period in 2015.

Taiwan was currently the top four market source for Sabah state for the past six years together with China, South Korea and Brunei, he added.

The text of his speech was read out by Sabah Culture, Tourism and Environment Assistant Minister Kamarlin Ombi.

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Study on Chinese Temples in Caves will put Perak State on World Map

IPOH, Perak state, Malaysia, 6 Jan 2017, (NNN-BERNAMA) – Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) Kampar and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences yesterday signed an agreement to publish a study on Chinese temples in caves around Ipoh which is put Perak state on the world map.

State Health, Transport, National Integration, Non-Muslim Affairs and New Villages Committee chairman Dr Mah Hang Soon said the study would be conducted by UTAR and the Academy.

“Among temples selected are Nam To Ngam and Loong Thow Ngam Tao temples at Gunung Lang, Sam Poh Tong and Nam Thean Tong temples at Gunung Rapat,” he told a press conference after the signing here, yesterday.

Dr Mah said he was confident that the publication, expected to be released in July, could attract more Chinese tourists to Perak state, especially Ipoh.

“Before this tourists from China will just stop over at two or three temples before travelling to other states. But with this book I am sure they will be attracted to see more and will spend a night in Ipoh,” he said.

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Making Kupang city a flamboyant tourist area

Jakarta, 4 Jan 2017, (ANTARA News) – Tourists planning to visit the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial city of Kupang in Indonesia are advised to consider embarking on their journey in November and December when the magnificent Flamboyant trees are in full bloom.

As these trees are in full bloom every late November to late December, the Kupang landscape, especially along the Herman Johannes Penfui Street, becomes a cascade of red and orange.

Locally known as Pohon Sepe, the Flamboyant trees are hugely popular in Kupang City. In addition to their breathtaking beauty, the trees provide shade on a sunny day.

For the city of Kupang, Flamboyant has a distinctive appeal and is second to none in the other areas.

Flamboyant trees require a tropical or near-tropical climate and can tolerate drought and salty conditions, such as those found in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, where the flowers are adored for their beauty.

In light of this, the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agencies (Asita) of the East Nusa Tenggara branch is developing a special area in Kupang to serve as a Flamboyant tourist location for visitors who love flora and foliage.

Flamboyant trees can typically reach 15 feet in height but can grow as tall as 40 feet. It has a wide-spreading umbrella-like canopy and can take up to a decade to mature. The tree has fine, lacy, soft and delicate leaflets.

Asita East Nusa Tenggara spokesman Jetty M. Abineno-Masu remarked in Kupang on Wednesday that the area along the Herman Johannes Penfui Street is being developed into a Flamboyant tourist site in the city.

To increase the aesthetic appeal of the area, Asita will plant more Flamboyant trees along the street as a testament to the sincerity and commitment to transform it into a special Flamboyant tourist site.

According to Jetty, simultaneous planting of more than 200 Flamboyant trees will be conducted on January 7, 2017, to coincide with the 46th anniversary of Asita and to serve as momentum to boost tourist arrivals in Kupang and East Nusa Tenggara, in general.

Tourism has become a new source of income for East Nusa Tenggara to help improve the welfare of all citizens, since this area has various tourist attractions.

Hence, the priority of East Nusa Tenggara Creative Economy and Tourism Office this year is to increase the number of both domestic and foreign tourist arrivals in the province.

“Our priority for 2017 is to boost the number of tourist arrivals in the province, so that it surpasses that of last year,” local Creative Economy and Tourism Office Chief Marius Ardu Jelamu remarked in Kupang on Tuesday.

Jelamu believes that by boosting tourist arrivals, more money will be spent in the tourism areas, and this will certainly be economically beneficial for both the local government and communities.

To this end, Marius affirmed that he will continue to implement all programs and policies in 2016, taking into account that tourism is a promising economic sector to increase foreign exchange and create jobs in the province.

“Moreover, the development of tourism in East Nusa Tenggara is one of the flagship programs of the government to boost local economic growth,” Marius stated, adding that the number of both domestic and foreign tourist arrivals in the province in 2016 had reached more than 100,000, or rose by 20 percent.

However, he noted that the number of tourists visiting the province of ten thousand islands in 2016 was not enough, as it was still below the national target of 15 million tourists in 2017.

In order to support the increased flow of tourists, the local government will develop a variety of infrastructure and facilities at the tourist sites.

One of the tourist sites in East Nusa Tenggara is a white-sandy island, locally known as Pulau Pasir Putih, in the Meko waters in East Flores district.

This island is worth developing into a new tourist destination in the province, because its underwater beauty, along with a cluster of small islands with no occupants in the vicinity, is something that both domestic and foreign tourists will savour.

For tourists who want to go snorkeling, or just enjoying the beautiful moments while leisurely lying on the sand the whole day long, Pulau Pasir Putih is the best option.

Exploring this white-sandy island and the other small ones in the vicinity, visitors will see crystal clear sea water at various depths once they approach the area.

Even Marius Ardu Jelamu and East Nusa Tenggara Governor Frans Lebu Raya have visited the Pulau Pasir Putih in East Flores and admired its marine and underwater beauty.

Marius admitted that the white-sandy island had great potential to be developed into a major tourist destination in East Flores for it has magnificent underwater beauty that is good for diving.

“The Meko waters until Tanjung Bunga in East Flores has underwater beauty no less attractive than that in other areas such as in Alor,” Marius remarked in Kupang some time ago.

For that, he said, the local government has been encouraged to develop the island as one of the leading tourist destinations in East Flores.

Pulau Pasir Putih itself is a newly popular tourist location in recent years. This island is situated in line with other tourist destinations such as Bani and Lewobuto beaches, overlooking Lembata island.

East Flores District on the eastern tip of Flore island is also endowed with various scenic tourist destinations and, therefore, the government has been called upon to develop them to boost the welfare of the local community.

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Indonesia to expand sea toll routes

Jakarta, 5 January 2017, (ANTARA News) – The government will open seven more sea toll roads bringing the total to 13 routes to support logistics distribution.

“Currently we have six sea toll routes and the number would be increased to 13,” Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi told reporters here on Thursday.

The minister said the new routes include Route T-7 of Tanjung Priok-Enggano-Mentawai- Nias island-Sinabang-Nias island-Mentawai-Enggano-Tanjung Priok.

He said the government will continue to improve all facilities, adding sea transport is not yet up to expectation such as in Natuna.

The Indonesian government has launched a program called the “Sea Toll Road” as part of the maritime ambitions of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi)in boosting the economy by improving connectivity between its islands.

Jokowi has since his presidential campaign vowed to turn Indonesia into a global maritime axis partly by building and modernizing the archipelagos ports, which will in turn improve maritime connectivity and commerce.

The Sea Toll Road program is expected to lower the price gap between the more developed western region of the country and its backward eastern region.

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Govt to study establishment of new agencies: VP Kalla

Jakarta, 7 January 2017, (ANTARA News) – The government is considering the possibility of establishing some new agencies, including one on national unity, Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla announced.

“The National Unity Agency is still in its preliminary stage. We will study it further, including the urgency to have one,” Kalla said here Friday.

Similarly, there is a plan to establish a new presidential working unit on the national ideology of Pancasila, he added.

“If it (the board) is established at the ministerial level, then the official handling it will have to follow the same protocol as a minister. However, it does not mean an additional cabinet (minister),” Kalla said.

Earlier, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had agreed on the establishment of a National Unity Board, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Wiranto said.

The board will help settle conflicts in the society out of court, Wiranto confirmed.

In addition to the National Unity Agency, the government has also studied the plan to establish a National Cyber Agency (BSN), as currently, the National Crypto Agency was handling matters related to cybercrimes.

The government will speed up the establishment of the BSN in 2017, he stated.

President Jokowi had instructed Wiranto to immediately establish the BSN. He directed that the agency be formed at the earliest to curb the spread of false news that could threaten people and harm their interests.

The BSN would be established in January and serve as a coordination body among the Cyber Defense Agency at the Defense Ministry, Cyber Intelligence at the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and Cyber Security of the National Police, Wiranto said.

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Indonesia to get Japanese help for Megaprojects

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 6 Jan 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – Indonesia expects to further boost its cooperation with Japan on several megaprojects during the visit of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Indonesia on January 15.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said Prime Minister Abe would be received by President Widodo at the Bogor presidential palace, where bilateral talks between the two leaders are scheduled to be held.

The senior minister said that among the matters to be discussed during the high-profile talks of the two leaders are the cooperation between Indonesia and Japan in the development of the Masela gas block, the Jakarta-Surabaya high-speed train transport project, and the Patimban seaport in West Java province.

Luhut expects that the two leaders would sign the joint study cooperation document on the Jakarta-Surabaya high-speed train project. He said that the government is finalizing the project’s financing mechanism.

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Indonesia must focus on South Asia

Jakarta, 7 January 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia, particularly its foreign policy experts, do not pay enough attention to South Asia, which has been developing significantly, founder of Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) Dino Patti Djalal stated.

“Often, we focus on East Asia or other regions, but there is significant development in South Asia,” a former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic Indonesia said, during a discussion on international politics here Friday (Jan. 6).

One major development can be seen in India, which is the largest country in this region and has been improving its economy and defense power, Djalal noted.

“The Indian economy has been growing rapidly, supported by its overseas companies,” a former Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia in United States said.

“In the defense sector, India already has an aircraft carrier,” he added.

Further, the South Asian countries are located in the Indian Ocean, which is important to Indonesias security, and hence the national foreign policy experts must take this region seriously, he asserted.

Importantly, Indonesia can use its chairmanship (2015-2017) of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to establish more stability in the region, which is seeing interstate and inter-regional conflicts such as the India-Pakistan border dispute over Kashmir and India-China attempt to exert geopolitical influence in the Arabian Sea, Djalal explained.

“We must play a role to maintain security there (South Asia),” he said.

Currently, as the chair of IORA, Indonesia is working to finalize the IORA Concord and the Action Plan 2017.

Both documents are technical and include a practical code of conduct for good governance to help countries face new challenges in the Indian Ocean region.

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Indonesia Tourist Arrivals Grow 10%

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 3 Jan 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – The number of foreign holiday makers visiting Indonesia from January to November last year expanded 10.46 percent to 10.41 million people, compared with the same period at the previous year, national statistic bureau said here on Tuesday.

For November, the foreign tourist arrivals rose significantly 19.98 percent to 1 million people from a year earlier, said Suhariyanto, head of the bureau.

“Going forwards, tourism sector is expected to be a new locomotive for Indonesia’s economy,” he told a press conference at the bureau headquarters.

Indonesia expects 12 million foreign holiday makers coming into the country in 2016.

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Indonesia considers three grounds to evaluate visa-free facility

Jakarta, 7 January 2017, (ANTARA News) – The government is considering three grounds to evaluate and revoke its visa-free entry facility for some countries, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said.

The decision to revoke the facility, however, was not prompted by violations of immigration laws recently, Panjaitan clarified here Friday (Jan. 6).

“We will evaluate the benefits of providing visa-free entry facility to some countries. If there is no benefit for us, why should we give it to them,” he asserted.

“Secondly, we will evaluate the potential to abuse this facility. Thirdly, we will consider what added value can we get from this? If we have nothing, why should we give them (the facility),” he asked.

The evaluation would be conducted randomly and is expected to be completed within a month, he said. “The evaluation will not be finished in a day. We need at least a month to recheck everything,” he said.

Earlier, the government said it would evaluate its visa-free policy, which gives tourists from 169 countries free entry to Indonesia.

“However, it would be too early to disclose the details. Let the immigration directorate general and other related institutions conduct the evaluation,” he declared.

The visa-free policy should be evaluated if it has failed to significantly contribute to the countrys economy, he explained.

The facility, could be revoked for some countries, considering the possibility of violation of Indonesia’s law, he revealed.

However, based on preliminary evaluation, so far, only few foreigners had used their visa to work in Indonesia or stay longer, he reiterated.

“Those who have said that the number of illegal foreign workers has reached thousands or hundreds of thousands, I would like to meet them. Show me the data, where such workers were found and we can go there,” he said.

Since 2015, the government has provided visa-free entry policy to 169 countries.

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Indonesian ministry to intensify coffee plantation

Jakarta, 7 January 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesia Agriculture Ministry, through its Plantation Directorate General, will carry out a coffee intensification program on 8,850 hectares (ha) of land at the countrys coffee production centers.

The activity aims to increase the plantation productivity and national coffee production, Plantation Director General Bambang said Friday (Jan. 6).

“We have allocated Rp35.5 billion from the state budget for the Plantation Directorate General toward these activities,” he declared.

The intensification of plantation will be carried out in the form of improvement in the Robusta coffee plants on an area of 4,900ha in 22 districts, spread across nine provinces.

The improvement will also be carried out for Arabica coffee plants, covering an area of 3,750ha in 17 districts, spread across 10 provinces. There will also be an expansion in plantation area by 200 ha in two districts of Central Kalimantan.

Through improvement in plantation and expansion of its area, the directorate general has targeted national coffee production of 637,539 tons in 2017, with the total plantation area covering 1.227 million ha, Bambang revealed.

The target is lower than in 2016 where the coffee plantation acreage in the country had reached 1.228 million ha with a production of 639,305 tons, he added.

In addition to crop intensification and expansion, the directorate general will also handle plant pests, make provision for post-harvest processing tools and quality seeds to improve national coffee production, he affirmed.

The national coffee production, in the last five years, experienced a real growth of around 1.29 tons per year during the 2010-2015 period, while the productivity was 1.24kg per ha, Bambang stated.

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Indonesian Economy will be managed professionally: Sri Mulyani

Jakarta, 4 January 2017, (ANTARA News) – Despite lingering global challenges, the countrys economy will continue to be managed professionally, accountably and transparently, Indonesias finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said here, Tuesday .

“It has not yet been perfect but we will continue improving it professionally, accountably, and transparently while continuing to develop mutually respectful relations,” she said in connection with the governments decision to cut its partnership with JPMorgan Chase Bank.

She said any partnership with financial institutions will be based on good and mutually beneficial relations, but building a positive climate is important under the current circumstances.

“We do not close ourselves, we will be open to all criticism and assessments, which is important for improvement. However, institutions with a big reputation also have a big responsibility to create positive psychological conditions instead of misleading,” the former World Bank director said.

In view of that she hoped that all government partners will be able to complete each other in managing and preserving national economic fundamentals through continuous and positive cooperation.

“We respect all products of research institutes in terms of their accuracy, credibility, methodology or assessment. We wish all stakeholders have the same message. Let us work positively,” she said.

Sri Mulyani assured that the government had listened to voices within the economic community as well as institutions that have high credibility and had made improvements from within, for example, with regard to tax reform.

“If we think the national budget is the problem we correct it. We will not hesitate to do it because we believe professional, accountable, credible, and beneficial relations are important,” she said.

The Indonesian government has decided to cut its partnership with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. in connection with the results of the US banks research, which is believed to have the potential to disrupt the stability of the countrys financial system.

The director general of risks and financing management of the finance ministry, Robert Pakpahan, said the partnership with the bank was cut because it had doubted the quality of Indonesian companies assets.

“The results of its research are questionable because it seems they are not based on accurate and credible assessment. Therefore, we decided to just cut it as we considered it unprofessional,” he said.

With the decision, JPMorgan Chase Bank will no longer be a selling agent for government bonds, a participant in bidding of government securities (SBSN) bidding, joint lead underwriter for global bonds, and a perception bank for state receipts.

“There used to be 20 SUN (state bond) dealers. The number is now minus one and totally there are now 19. Total participants of SBSN (shariah bond) bid is 22, now there are 21 left. We have also revoked its position as a partner in joint lead underwriter. With regard to perception banks, we now have more than 50. So, it would be no problem,” he said.

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Karachi Circular Railway project included in CPEC

ISLAMABAD, 5 Jan 2017, (APP) – Minister for Railways, Khawaja Saad Rafique Thursday said Karachi Circular Railway project had been included in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) by the Joint Cooperation Committee held in Beijing on December 29.

Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Railways here, he said the KCR project had been delayed for years due to flaws in the project.

The minister said that earlier, this project was to be completed in collaboration with Japanese donor agency JICA but the model proposed by JICA was not implementable.

He said under the direction of the prime minister, the proposal of including KCR in CPEC was presented in the JCC meeting which was agreed by the Chinese side.

The meeting also discussed latest status on the issue of Royal Palm Golf and Country Club, Lahore and was informed that the summary of getting back the Railways land had already been sent to the chief minister of Punjab for approval.

The minister asked the committee to visit the Royal Palm Club to witness the reality.

The committee also received briefing on the implementation status of the recommendation made by the committee with regard to Railways land occupied by Shalimar Hospital and Railways land illegally given to the DHA, Bahawalpur by Punjab government.

The meeting was also attended by Chairman of the Committee Senators sardar Fateh Muhammad Hassani, Maulana Hafiz Hamdullah, Rozi Khan Kakar, Lt. Gen ® Salahuding Tirmizi, Taj Haider, Samina Abid and Muhammad Javed Abbasi.

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2017 declared “Zarb e Qalm” to promote soft image of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, 7 Jan 2017, (APP) – Advisor to Prime Minister on National History and Literary Heritage Irfan Siddiqui Saturday said Year 2017 has been declared as Zarb e Qalm to highlight soft image of country.

Addressing third day of 4th International Literary Conference, “Language, Literature and Society,” he said the objective of this conference is to promote tolerance, counter extremism and give chance to literary people of different countries to sit together.

He informed that on the directives of Prime Minster, a number of steps have been taken to nurture literary culture and norms in the country, adding on his request, the PM has increased endowment fund for welfare of literary people from Rs 300 million to Rs 500 million.

More than 1000 literary figures, scholars, university faculty members, students and people from different walks of life are attending the forth International Conference, being organized by Pakistan Academy of Letters from January 5 to January 8.

Intellectuals from Afghanistan, Iran, Singapore, the Maldives, Finland, Azerbaijan, China, Omen, Nepal, Lebnan, Uzbakistan and various other countries besides representatives from all provinces and regions of the country are attending the conference.

Irfan Siddiqui said they have increased the accidental death grant for literary figures from Rs. 2,00,000 to one million while the health cover has been increased from Rs. 1,00,000 to Rs. 2,00,000.

The Advisor to PM informed that they have also increased number of scholarship for literary people from 500 to 1000 while the monthly stipend from Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 13,000.

He stated that a television programme has also been launched to give voice to literary issues among the hard core problems related politics, economics or other current affairs.

Irfan Siddiqui also stated that the government has also planned to support writers who could not have resources to publish their literary writing. For the purpose, he added, a committee would be formed which would analyze the transcript and take decision to publish it on government funding.

He urged that artists community to feel free for taking onboard their genuine issues so that a possible solution may be worked out in less possible time.

He said it is time to focus on nurturing intellectual health of younger generation through producing quality literature and apprising them with the achievements of national heros in various walks of life.

The concluding session of the conference would be held on Sunday, followed by a ‘Sufi Night’ organized at National Library to entertain honourable guests with music.

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Exhibition of “The Legendary Book” at Chughtai Home

LAHORE, 5 Jan 2017, (APP) – An exhibition titled “The Legendary Book” will begin here at the premises of Chughtai Art Home,Garden Town from January 17.

This exhibition would include art works,’naqashi’,designs, calligraphies–all related to the book Amal-e-Chughtail (Iqbalian themes) by M.A Rehman Chughtai national artist of Pakistan, and modern master painter of Muslim civilization. The exhibition

is being held to mark 42nd death anniversary of the artist,stated the organisers.

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PAL finalizes preparation for holding Int’ conference on literature

ISLAMABAD, 3 Jan 2017, (APP) – Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) has finalized all preparations to organize a four-day “International Conference on Language, Literature and Society” (ICLLS) in collaboration with various universities from January 5.

The four-day international conference will start on January 5 and conclude on January 8.

This was stated by Chairman PAL Prof. Dr. Muhammad Qasim Bughio, while talking to APP on Tuesday.

He said that the purpose of the said conference is to explore the contribution of literature and academia in bringing about positive changes in the society.

“Writers, linguists, research scholars and academics from across the globe will participate in the said conference to exchange their research work and developments in the field,” he said.

He said that the conference aims to deepen understanding of contemporary literature being produced in context of peace building and social development of different countries around the globe.

He said that Pakistan has rich legacy of literature with multi-lingual diversity, adding that the literature being a part of cultural heritage of any country plays a vital role in projecting

country’s soft image at home and abroad.

He said that the main goal of the conference is to seek and explore new and innovative trends and challenges of research in Language and Literature across the world and its impact on society.

Prof. Dr Qasim Bughio said that the Conference will promote studies in the field of languages, linguistics and society and will serve as an international forum for researchers, scholars,

educators, practitioners, postgraduate students and experts in relevant fields to exchange ideas, research results and good practices.

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S.African investors keen to invest at Gwadar Port

KARACHI, 4 January 2017, (APP) – South African investors are keen to invest at Gwadar through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and have demanded allotment of 100 acres of land to set up state of the art industries there.

Chairman, Pakistan South Africa Business Forum Rafiq Dawood Memon, in a statement here on Wednesday, said the South African business community wants Pakistan government to immediately take the required steps for making sixty three African states as economic partners of Pakistan like China. They should be included in CPEC as well.

He said Pakistan South Africa Business Forum was very powerful platform to motivate the business community there and this included the prominent businessmen from both the sides.

He said South Africa is the gateway to all these 63 states and Pakistani exporters could benefit by increasing their exports .

There was a big demand for Pakistan’s textile, rice, food items, confectionery, surgical and sports goods etc. Pakistani businessmen there were not only promoting soft image for their country but were doing aggressive marketing of Pakistani goods in coordination with Pakistan High Commission there, he said.

Their efforts have resulted in mobilizing South African investors and traders and promoting bilateral trade and investment.

This forum was working on setting up Pakistan community centre and trade centre at Jhansberg. He sought the government’s help in this regard. At this trade centre, Pakistani goods would be displayed which would help capture good share in African markets.

He said that in a meeting with Chief Executive Officer of Trade Development Authority (TDAP) S.M.Muneer who desired to hold a Pakistan-single country exhibition at Jhansberg in April 2017 and for this purpose a delegation of Pakistani businessmen would visit there soon.

Rafiq Dawood Memon said President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shamim Ahmed Firpo had also assured to send a high profile KCCI delegation to South Africa.

He said through its proactive role Pakistan’s Commerce Ministry could bring South African Ministers and top officials to Pakistan which would give boost to bilateral economic ties.

He mentioned that the visiting Pakistani businesspersons complained that South African Embassy was giving them visas in ten to fifteen days and that Pakistan Foreign Office should take up the issue with South African government for issuance of the visas at the earliest.

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Musical film ‘Mousiqar’ to be screened

ISLAMABAD, 5 Jan 2017, (APP) – National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa) Mandwa film club would organize screening of musical movie “Mousiqar” on Saturday (Jan 7) at Media Centre.

Film ‘Mousiqar’ is a 1962 romantic musical film with great musical score.

The film has 16 very beautifully written songs with voices of Noor Jehan, Naseem Begum, Maala, Saleem Raza, Muneer Hussain, Nazakat Ali & Salamat Ali.

The actors in this old black & white are Sabiha, Santosh, Meena Shori, Abbas Nosha, Nusrat Kardar, Saaqi, Laddan and M.D Shaikh. The film was Directed by Qadeer Ghori and produced by Rashid Atray.

The writer of the film was Malik Hafeez and the music composed by Rasheed Atray.

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Ferry service resumes on Shimulia-Kawrakandi route

MUNSHIGANJ, 7 Jan 2017, (BSS) – The ferry service on Shimulia-Kawrakandi route resumed this morning after 11.15 hours suspension due to thick fog on the route.

Manager of Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) of Shimulia Giasuddin Patwary said the ferry movement was suspended from 11 pm due to poor visibility.

About 800 vehicles, including buses, trucks and cars, remained stranded at both ends of the important route, he added.

However, the ferry service resumed around 10.15 am as fog started disappearing with the sunrise.

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Month-long flower fair begins in Rajshahi

RAJSHAHI, 7 Jan 2017, (BSS)- A month-long flower fair-2017 began at Seroil Horticulture point here today aimed at meeting the gradually increasing demands of the flower-loving people.

Rajshahi City Corporation (RCC) organized the fair displaying a wide range of blossoms.

The fragrance of different types of roses, marigolds, gerberas, orchids, lilies, tulips, daffodils, petunias, sunflowers, morning glories, poppies, gardenia, gougainvillea, snapdragons, dahlia, nasturtium, begonia, evening primrose, clematis, knight queen, daisies, chrysanthemums, winter flowers, bleeding hearts, cosmos, hollyhock and many others wafting through the air has been attracting throngs of people to the fair.

Commissioner of Rajshahi Metropolitan Police (RMP) Shafiqul Islam inaugurated the fair as chief guest.

‘Flower is a gift that cannot be measured with money and that’s the beauty of it’, said RMP Chief Shafiqul Islam while addressing the ceremony with Acting Mayor of RCC Nizam Ul Azim in the chair.

He suggested boosting cultivation of indigenous flowers to reduce import dependence as the demand for flowers has witnessed a sharp rise in recent times in the region.

“Due to variation in climate, topography and vegetation, the region has a diversity of ornamental plants which need to be scientifically cultivated to promote export,” he added.

Talking to BSS, some of the visitors said various species of flowers grow in the region and measures should be taken to cultivate more so that flowers can be turned into an export-oriented industry.

Dr Bidhan Chandra Das, a senior professor of Rajshahi University, said flowers are the most beautiful gifts of nature and people of all ages love flowers, so farmers should be encouraged to promote flower farming in the region. Farmers need tuber resource center here from where they can collect and purchase those by easy means.

He demanded storage facilities for preservation of flowers which are procured from the countryside.

Prof Bidhan Das said such facilities will benefit flower cultivators as well as provide avenues for introducing flower-based industries.

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Week-long book fair at SC starts tomorrow

DHAKA, 7 Jan 2017, (BSS) – The curtain of week-long book fair organized for the third consecutive year by Supreme Court (SC) Bar Association will be raised tomorrow on the premises of the apex court.

“From 2015, we are holding this fair with much festivity and it is drawing more and more crowd each year,” SC Bar Association general secretary AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon told BSS.

Stalls are being built in the open space on the ground-floor and in the balcony on the south side of the bar building. Stall-owners and their staffs are giving finishing touch to make their stalls appealing to the crowd.

“As many as 23 stalls were raised in the first year of the fair and in second year the number rose to 40. We are hoping, this year the number of stall will be even more,” Khokon added.

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Fruit bagging banana farming begins in Rajshahi

RAJSHAHI, 5 Jan 2017, (BSS) – After mango and guava, fruit bagging banana farming has been started here for the first time in order to make the cash crop farming hygienic and profitable.

In limited scale, Sujammel Haque and some of his neighbouring farmers of Birhasthail village under Paba Upazila began banana farming in fruit bagging technology this year commercially hoping additional income. Sujammel earned extra money from mango farming through using the modern technology.

Dr Sharof Uddin, Senior Scientific Officer of Regional Horticulture Research Centre, visited the farming practice yesterday urging the fellow farmers to be habituated with the modern technology.

On the occasion, Dr Sharof told BSS that banana is one of the best fruits in Bangladesh. It’s tasty, easy accessible and nutritive. Fruit bagging technology is being widely used in commercial banana farming in many countries like Philippines and Thailand.

The country produces around 77.5 lakh metric tonnes of banana from 46,734 hectares of land every year. Rajshahi district contributes 35,000 metric tonnes from around 2,000 hectares of land.

He opined that there are enormous scopes of promoting the technology in Rajshahi region and across the country as well. Diversified research activities are being carried out for production of best quality and spotless banana.

If the bags were used substantially, use of harmful chemical insecticides and pesticides could be reduced to a greater extent on the huge trees.

Thereby, the technology will open up a new door of exporting banana of the district to various foreign markets.

Mango and Guava farming through using fruit bagging technology has gradually been gaining popularity in the region including its vast Barind tract for the last four to five years.

In the field of protecting the cash crops from pest attack besides getting quality yield, fruit bagging technology is being adjudged as very much beneficial to commercial fruit farming, Dr Sharof added.

Dr Alim Uddin, Principal Scientific Officer of Fruit Research Station in Rajshahi, says banana is one of the commercially important fruit crops in the region but the important cash crop is prone to attacks of insect pests and diseases in all stages of development.

In this field, the technology has created a high hope among the growers and traders towards removing the menace.

One management practice which can help address these problems is fruit bagging because it is another way of preventing contact between the host and insects and diseases as well as minimize mechanical injuries thus improving quality.

The initiative aimed to determine which of the bagging materials and forms gave the best quality of fruits, determine the effect of the bagging materials and forms on pest incidence and find out which of the bagging materials and forms gave the highest yield and net income.

If the technology was used, there will be no spot on banana in the bagged ones.

Besides, the fruit could be protected from all kinds of diseases and pests that will boost the volume of exportable banana. Apart from this, as the market price of the bagged banana is lucrative the growers can sell their produce in high price.

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Afghanistan to stress Tourism Development, Increase In Revenues

Kabul, 4 Jan 2017, (BNA) – Dr. Kamal Sadat, Acting Minister and Deputy to the Youth Affairs of the Ministry of Information and Culture said the other day that domestic and foreign tourism should be expanded and the revenues should be increased.

In a meeting held in the National Archive compound, he said in order to help the country’s terrorism sector get developed and the revenues get increased, there is a need for close coordination of the private tourism firms, BNA reported.

“Eases should be restored in the tourism sector, a plan would help revenues get increased,” said the acting minister. Deputy to the tourism firms, Jalal Fakhri said more than 300 million Afghanis had been collected during the past ten years, while during the outgoing year (1395 solar year) the revenues have now reached to 24 million Afghanis, the agency said.

According to another report, Dr. Kamal Sadat, the acting minister of information and culture visited different offices of the National Archive and instructed the staffs for doing their best to improve their daily affairs, the agency added.

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Afghanistan Univ Students’ Creativity Exhibition Opened

Kabul, 24 December 2016, (BNA) – Speaking in an exhibition opened to praise the country’s university students’ creativities, the country’s First Lady said.

Holding it was a positive step toward development and tranquility of Afghanistan, said a statement from the ministry of higher education said. While conferring cash prizes to the elite students of the computer-sciences faculties of the country’s universities, Rula Ghani said youth were the country’s talented and dynamic force of the country and should be used enough in development and advancement of the country, said the statement. She thanked minister of higher education and head of the creativity and information technology renovations for their efforts in this field and encouraged the youths for more efforts and activities for the country through sciences and knowledge. The minister of higher education said much had been done in this field to provide the university students with practical projects to help them not only enjoy motivation and dynamism, but access work markets and encouraged to their favorite fields of education, said the statement.

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Herat, Shirkhan Port Connection Planned

January 07, 2017, Kabul (BNA) President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, in a meeting with a number of elders and influential figures of Kunduz called for a plan to connect Herat with Sherkhan port, his office said in a statement Thursday.

The president also called for evolving an effective plan to develop Afghanistan’s economy, according to the statement.

The president, while hearing complaints about some key problems faced by the people in Northern Province of Kunduz, made the remarks during a meeting with the tribal elders and influential figures, the statement added.

The problems, the elders shared with the president included security, education, agriculture, healthcare and nomads’ issues, the statement added.

Likewise, the provincial elders suggested reforms in the Kunduz government and provision of essential facilities for the investors of the private sector, with the president seeking cooperation from tribal elders, religious scholars and other people with an efforts leading to reform.

He said identifying all its aspects was necessary for putting an end to the conflict in the country, and added that coordination among security organs had improved as a result of reforms.

President blamed some individuals for misusing the available opportunity for promoting their own interests, something he said led the country plunge into crisis for the past four decades, as according to him, the crisis has been the source of their income, said the statement.

He said Afghanistan had been converted into an integral part of Asia, helping regional cooperation improved and that China was convinced that the Silk Route must pass through Afghanistan.

In the next three years, Herat province would be connected with Kunduz’s Sher Khan Port, a plan would help stabilize the country’s economic situation, the president promised.

“Paying serious heed to building railway line and supplying it with electricity in the province, is our main focus,” said the president adding his administration was planned to convert Afghanistan into the center of regional gravity.

The statement quoted the president as saying the government was committed to reforms, implementation of uplift projects and providing basic facilities for the private sector and the port province, Kunduz would be connected with Iran, Turkmenistan and China.

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Airbus A321 to be delivered to Iran in days

Tehran, Jan 8, IRNA – Managing Director of the Civil Aviation Organization of Islamic Republic of Iran Farhad Parvaresh has announced that the first French Airbus passenger plane bought by Iran will be delivered to the country in the next few days.

Now, an Iranian pilot, co-pilot and crew are in France to fly the Airbus A321 to the country, Parvaresh told IRNA here on Sunday.

The preliminary contract between Iran and France’s Airbus for purchase of 100 passenger planes was signed during the historic visit of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Paris in January.

A group of officials and experts of the Civil Aviation Organization of Islamic Republic of Iran, who had been sent to France to take part in the training courses, will come back home by the Airbus A321, Parvaresh noted.

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Iran, Australia agree to launch direct flight: Diplomat

Kuala Lumpur, Jan 7, IRNA – Iran’s Ambassador to Australia Abdolhossein Vahaji announced that Tehran and Canberra have agreed to establish direct flights in the near future.

Talks on implementation of the agreement will be held within the next month between Iran’s Mahan Air and the Australian side, Vahaji told IRNA on Saturday.

The launch of direct flights between Iran and Australia will lead to development in their bilateral relations, the diplomat noted.

About the July 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and world powers, the diplomat stressed that the travel of the Australian nationals to Iran has grown after the deal.

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Ukraine provides business chances to Iranians

06 January 2017, (MENAFN) – Ukraine offers many investment chances to Iranians, especially in the agriculture sector.

Additionally, Iran’s merchants and business people should take advantage of the chance to work on almost 300 projects that Ukraine is handing over to the private sector.

Referring to Ukraine’s gricultural machinery, fertile soil, high precipitation levels and low cost labor, the ambassador emphasized the good grounds for agriculture in Europe’s 2nd largest country.

Moreover, industries in Gilan Province can start marketing programs to sell pharmaceutical products in Ukraine.

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IFC to invest $85M bond in next gen Turkish health

Ankara, 8 December 2016, (Anadolu Agency) – The International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced Thursday it would invest €80 million ($85.3 million) in a project bond to support construction of next-generation health care facilities in Elazig, eastern Turkey.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Turkey offers new credit guarantee for industry

Ankara, 06 January 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – Lawmakers are on the verge of approving a 25 billion Turkish lira ($6.94 billion) credit guarantee fund to boost bank loans to businesses, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek said Friday.

The fund is being increased from 2 billion liras ($555 million) in a bid to boost domestic spending and stimulate the economy.

Speaking at a meeting of company heads in Istanbul, Simsek said the bill was expected to pass through parliament on Friday night and would cover non-performing loans at up to 7 percent of all loans — an increase from the current 3 percent.

“This is a really serious boost to the real sector,” Simsek said, referring to both the agricultural and industrial sectors.

He added: “The bill, which will go through today, will have the impact of providing collateral of up to 250 billion liras ($69.40 billion). This is a very serious figure.”

However, he said cheap credit could only be provided in the long term if savings increased.

“The thing we should do is clear the way for the real sector by implementing structural reforms,” he said.

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Turkey’s Erdogan releases message honoring Hanukkah

Ankara, 25 January 2016, (Anadolu Agency) – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Sunday extended holiday greetings to Turkey’s Jewish citizens and to all Jews on the occasion of Hanukkah, the winter Festival of Lights.

In the message, released by the Presidential Press Office, Erdogan said that Turkey places great importance on the freedom of everyone to observe their own religion and traditions.

“My best wishes for the Hanukkah festival of all Jews, especially the inseparable part of our society’s Jewish citizens, with whom we have co-existed peacefully for centuries, and I wish them peace.”

Also marking the holiday, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told how throughout history Turkey has embraced all races, religions, and beliefs.

“My best wishes for the Hanukkah festival of our citizens and all Jews, and I wish them health and goodness,” he said.

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday marking the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem — the Holy Temple in the 2nd century B.C.

Hanukkah lasts for eight days and nights, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, falling sometime from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.

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Turkish Airlines to fly to Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Ankara, 05 January 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – Turkish Airlines will begin operating flights from Istanbul to Ukraine’s Kharkiv — an industrial, educational and cultural destination — by the end of March, the national flag carrier said in a written statement on Thursday.

Kharkiv will be the airline’s 296th worldwide destination and the seventh in Ukraine. Turkish Airlines already offers flights to six Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kiev, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Zaporizhia, Lviv and Kherson.

Flights between Istanbul and Kharkiv will be four days a week — Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday — at costs as low as $109 all-inclusive, starting on March 30.

The airline is planning flights to Kharkiv seven days a week, starting from May 30.

Turkey’s flag carrier has over 330 aircraft and flies to 119 countries around the world to almost 300 destinations, more than any other airline, according to the company.

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China plans to build major agro-industrial park in Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek, 6 Jan 2017, (Kabar National News Agency) – Today, Minister of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic Arzybek Kozhoshev got acquainted with the agro-industrial park for cooperation Iskra Asia.

The total area of agricultural cooperation zone is 4.6 square kilometers, it is located near Iskra village in Chu valley, 60 km east of Bishkek. The completion is scheduled for 2020.

“This project is the largest investment of China this year, for us, of course, it is important and significant, we will make every effort to implement it to the maximum benefit for our country,” said Minister Kozhoshev.

The co-operation area is located along the highway Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan.

It is planned to build a perfect system of veterinary medicine and to ensure full traceability of agricultural products by involving full agricultural potential of Kyrgyzstan and China’s capital.

It is assumed that after 6 years, it will become an international center on three areas: cultivation, production and supply of meat products.

To date, the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic and Iskra Asia signed an agreement on strategic cooperation in financing and implementation of the project “Development of agricultural cooperation zone” Asian Star “in Kyrgyzstan.”

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Kyrgyz leader declare 2017 Year of Morality, Education and Culture

Bishkek, 5 Jan 2017, (Kabar National News Agency) – Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev signed a decree “On declaring 2017 the Year of Morality, Education and Culture.”

The Kyrgyz President’s press service reports that the decree says that global trends and modern technologies offer to the Kyrgyz Republic the prospects for greater opportunities, but along with positive changes they generate new challenges.

“Achieving the strategic development goals of the country in these conditions depends largely on the ability of the state and society to focus directly on the person, his morality and spirituality.

Implementation of the 2016 Year of History and Culture has received broad public support and has shown the importance of preserving historical and cultural heritage, the presence in these areas, a huge potential, which creates the basis for the formation of the modern Kyrgyz society.

The interest of citizens of Kyrgyzstan to the history of their country and nation is increased. The development of culture and processes of revival of spirituality received a new impetus. There is an understanding of the importance of preservation and development of ancient and original culture of Kyrgyzstan,” says in the decree.

The document states that the main wealth of the country is its citizens. And special efforts should be focused on children and youth. Kyrgyz citizens in the age of 25 make up more than half the country’s population, this is a key resource of the Kyrgyz Republic, the foundation of its future prosperity.

The decree also say that in order to Kyrgyzstan was successfully developed, citizens, representatives of the younger generation should have a high internal culture, be well educated, brought up in the spirit of tolerance for different views and opinions and, of course, to know the history and culture of the native people.

“Therefore, the most important task of the state at the present stage is the formation of modern educational, cultural and information policy, education system based on their own history and culture,” says in the text of the decree.

The decree also assigns the Government of Kyrgyzstan to form an organizing committee and develop a plan of activities.

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Azerbaijan to develop concept of digital education

Baku, 05 Jan 2017, (IINA) – A concept of digital education will be developed in Azerbaijan under the Strategic Road Map for the development of information and communication technologies, Azer News reported Thursday.

In order to apply the system “Electronic school” in all schools of Azerbaijan, relevant government agencies will consider the possibility to establish a plan of activities, coordination of these activities from a single center and creation of a single database.

Under the document, for the development of digital education, courses, used at all levels of education, will be improved on the basis of high-quality electronic products (e-books, e-seminars, etc.) and related methods (distance learning, etc.).

Teachers and students will be provided with digital learning resources and equipment.

In order to provide technical support in the field of education, according to the Road Map, representatives of educational institutions will be kept informed about the educational technologies, and refresher courses will be organized in this framework.

During the planning of digital education activities, mechanisms for evaluation of students’ skills in the field of ICT, and the results of the assessment will be considered as a major factor.

The recent decree endorsing “Strategic roadmaps for the national economy and main economic sectors” signed by President Ilham Aliyev is aimed at defining the development goals and priorities and ensure their proper and timely implementation.

The strategic road maps cover almost all sectors of the economy, including, development of the oil and gas industry, the manufacture and processing of agricultural products, the manufacture of small and medium entrepreneurship-level consumer goods, development of heavy industry and machinery, tourism, logistics and trade, vocational education and training, financial services, communication and information technologies and utilities.

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Football Federation of Kyrgyzstan to build soccer fields in Karakol

Bishkek, 4 Jan 2017, (Kabar National News Agency) – Governor of Issyk-Kul oblast Askhat Akibaev met with President of the Football Federation of the Kyrgyz Republic Semetei Sultanov, where they discussed the construction of two large soccer fields and two mini sites with spacious hotel complex in Karakol, the press service of the Issyk-Kul oblast state administration reports.

“We are committed to a comprehensive approach to the development of team sports,” the governor said.

President of the Federation of Football proposed to create a football team under the auspices of the local government.

“This is a very good proposal that should be discussed with the mayors and local authrities and consider the possibility of funding,” said Akibaev.

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Azerbaijan to have airlinks with 100 European cities by 2025

Baku, 17 December 2016, (AZETAC) – Azerbaijan plans to have direct flights with 100 major European cities until 2025 as the country endorsed “Strategic road maps for the national economy and main economic sectors”.

One of the key priorities set by the strategic road map is increasing the number of direct flights between Baku and major European cities from 49 to 100.

Under the road map, it is planned to raise the number of low-cost charter flights in winter and summer seasons with the aim of boosting tourist flow.

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Baku to host 5th Int’l Book Exhibition and Fair

Baku, 6 January 2017, (AZERTAC) – The 5th Baku International Book Exhibition and Fair will be held in September. The event will be organized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

It will bring together more than 150 local and 30 foreign publishers and other related organizations.

The event is aimed at developing publishing industry in Azerbaijan, encouraging local publishers to build cooperation with their foreign counterparts, and promoting the country`s culture and literature.

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Baku to host 2018 World Judo Championships

Baku, 6 January 2017, (AZERTAC) – “The 2018 World Judo Championships will be held in Baku,” IJF President Marius Vizer told journalists.

“Baku has an excellent tradition of organization of international events,” President Marius Vizer said.

He also thanked the Azerbaijani government for the excellent organization of the IJF Referee and Coaching seminar in Baku.

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Makkah Governor inaugurates development projects worth SR1.2 billion

Jeddah, 06 Jan 2017, (IINA) – Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, governor of Makkah and adviser to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, inaugurated development projects worth almost SR1.2 billion ($320 million) during his visit on Thursday to Al-Kamil and Khulais regions in Makkah province.

Four of the projects are for Jeddah University’s Al-Kamil branch and 11 for Al-Kamil municipality, including staving off dangers of rainwater flooding and sewage draining, fencing the cemetery, establishing a cultural center, implementing concrete protection blocks for roads, and establishing public gardens and asphalted playgrounds.

The prince also inaugurated a project for the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance, and 16 for the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture involving the digging of wells.

Prince Khaled also toured ongoing projects in Khulais, including the Wade Gharan Bridge project, establishing a market and asphalting roads. He inaugurated a number of projects, including the improvement and rehabilitation of old neighborhoods.

Projects also involve improving the primary healthcare center in Satara, two primary healthcare buildings in Khulais, and primary healthcare centers in Al-Thabia and Al-Jomaa. The governor said the projects in Al-Kamil are valued at SR788 million ($210 million), and in Khulais at SR370 million ($98.6 million).

He highlighted the importance of these projects, adding that the rapid pace of development in the Kingdom will continue, and that the road between Khulais and Al-Kamil will be developed and expanded to a double-lane road.

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Emirates celebrates International Day of Braille

DUBAI, 5 January 2017, (WAM) – The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development celebrated the International Day of Braille by holding a series of events to raise awareness about the rights of the visually impaired and ways to communicate with them.

One of the aims was to propagate the use of the Braille writing system to help impart education to the visually impaired.

The events were held at the Ajman Cultural Centre, in co-operation with the Emirates Association of the Visually Impaired, Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children and Nattiq Technologies.

The event featured a painting exhibition for the visually impaired affiliated with the Al Jalila Centre, and a technology exhibition organised by Nattiq Technologies. A number of advanced devices and software meant to assist the visually impaired to read were showcased at the exhibition.

The ministry reiterated its keenness to pursue its role to raise awareness about issues impacting various sections of the community.

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Indian researcher dazzled by Fazza Championship for Falconry

DUBAI, 6 January 2017, (WAM) – The Fazza Championship for Falconry Al Tilwah, organised by the Hamdan bin Mohammed Heritage Centre (HHC) in Dubai, has become a subject of research for an Indian professor.

The competition continued on Thursday, 5th January.

The largest and most popular among falconry championships, the Fazza Championship for Falconry – Tilwah will continue until 12th January in the Ruwayyah area at a site dedicated for it.

Many elite contenders in various categories and groups are participating in the contest.

Juma Rashid Al Maqoudi’s falcon clocked the fastest time of 18.295 seconds in the Pure Jeer Farkh (General Public) category on the fourth morning of the competition as contestants competed to qualify for the finals.

Ms. Suad Ibrahim Darwish, Director of Championships at the HHC, proudly noted that the UAE has become a hub for tourists and researchers in falconry.

“We are glad that heritage tourism is playing a vital role and the Fazza Championships, specially the Falconry event, is attracting a lot of tourists, researchers and students from universities around the world. We are sustaining this culture through innovative methods through this championship. Heritage sports will continue to be propagated similarly in future,” she said.

A researcher from India, Dr Zubair Medammal from the University of Calicut, lauded the Fazza Championships and was amazed by the importance given to falconry in the UAE in particular and the region in general.

“This championship is the first of a kind. I came here to complete my research on falconry through this championship. I am surprised to see the high level of organization and participation. Studying the way these falcons are trained for racing has enriched my research about falconry,” he said.

The race to be among the top 10 qualifiers was intense despite Juma Al Maqoudi having three contestants in the finals of the Pure Jeer Farkh (General Public) category. His top entry clocked 18.295 seconds while two others recorded timing of 19.119 and 19.148 seconds.

Saeed Suhail Sultan’s falcon clocked the fastest time of 18.101 seconds in the Jeer Tabaa Jernas (Sheikhs) category in which all qualifiers were from Team F3K, including seven entries from Khalifa Ahmed Mijrin whose best falcon clocked 18.434 seconds.

Khalifa Ahmed Mijrin had the satisfaction of seeing his contestant clock the fastest time of 18.609 seconds in the Jeer Tabaa Farkh (Sheikhs) category which saw all but one qualifier representing F3K. The entry of Mohammed Matar Markhan, representing MRM Falcon, was the ninth fastest qualifier, clocking 19.639 seconds.

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Kuwait to Take Centre Stage at Dubai Expo 2020

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 5 Jan 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Kuwait’s participation in the Dubai World Expo 2020, will be the focal point of the exhibition, Undersecretary of Kuwait’s Ministry of Information, Tarek Al-Merzem said, on Wednesday.

Al-Merzem, who is the commissioner of Kuwait’s pavilion at the expo, made the remark in a meeting with Emirati Minister of State for International Affairs and Director of the Dubai World Expo 2020, Reem Al-Hashimi.

On the meeting, Al-Merzem said that, it tackled preparations to showcase Kuwait’s pavilion at the expo, in the most optimal way, adding that, UAE officials have welcomed Kuwait’s participation in the event with open arms.

Moreover, he noted that Kuwait aims to depict a highly civil and favourable image of the nation, in an exhibition set to centre on recent challenges faced by the international community, including economic and environmental ones.

“We are sparing no effort to ensure that a very pleasant image of Kuwait will be brought to the limelight,” the Kuwaiti official said, highlighting the magnitude of an event set to attract visitors from all across the globe.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Kuwait’s Consul General in Dubai, Theyab Al-Rashidi, said, the meeting yielded a consensus over Kuwait’s participation in the event.

He also added that, through this expo, Kuwait’s ties with the UAE will be evident, as both nations work towards the “common goal” of ensuring the success of this cultural gala.

Bringing together more than 180 nations and an international audience of 25 million visitors, the expo is touted to be one of the greatest shows in the world.

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$100,000 Dedicated from Sharjah to Unsung Heroes of Refugees

SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates, 5 Jan 2017, (Bernama-BUSINESS WIRE) – In a first-of-its-kind effort to recognise people’s outstanding efforts to the forcibly displaced people in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the ‘Sharjah International Award ‎for Refugee Advocacy & Support’, a $100,000 humanitarian award, was launched by The Ruling family of Sharjah, the third largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children and Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), launched the award as a tribute to those who have worked relentlessly to improve the lives of millions of refugees and displaced families.

“Once every year, the Sharjah International Award ‎for Refugee Advocacy & Support will recognise an individual’s or organisation’s enduring commitment to ending the suffering of refugees. Through its recipients, the award aims to build a legacy of selfless perseverance that will inspire greater numbers to bring a smile to the faces of those displaced by war and crises,” said Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi.

“The award is a reaffirmation of the UAE’s continued commitment to global philanthropy, and has been set up as a continuation of the approach of goodness and philanthropy as established by the nation’s munificent leaders,” Her Highness added.

The award, launched under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, will be organised by TBHF and UNHCR, and will highlight how the work of certain people has instilled confidence and hope in the hearts of hundreds of thousands of refugees through provision of food, shelter, healthcare, education and social solutions.

The General Secretariat of the Sharjah International Award ‎for Refugee Advocacy & Support welcomes award entries from across the globe, for relief work carried out for refugees only in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Efficient management of financial and human capital, good governance, and transparency and accountability during the implementation of humanitarian work will be the award’s special focus areas. An annual orientation programme for individuals and organisations outlining the award’s vision, goals and terms of participation will also be organised.

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Dubai Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed has 15 million followers online

DUBAI, 6 January 2017, (WAM) – Followers of Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, on various social media platforms now exceed 15 million.

His Highness’ followers on Twitter has reached 7.2 million, and he has 3.3 million followers on Facebook, 2.1 million on Instagram and 950,000 on Google Plus.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s followers on LinkedIn doubled in 2016, reaching 1 million. Sheikh Mohammed is deemed one of the five most influential global political leaders in terms of the number of followers on the platform, which has about 400 million users in total.

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Inaugural Month-long Shop Qatar fest kicks off

MENAFN, 05 Jan 2017, (The Peninsula) – Doha: The inaugural month-long Shop Qatar festival kicks off on Saturday with an elaborate opening night at Mall of Qatar’s Oasis featuring local standup comedian Hamad Al Amari and Qatari singer Fahad Al Kubaisi.

Al Amari will provide a preview of the upcoming Doha Comedy Festival while Al Kubaisi will perform live at the opening night along with other entertainment segments.

Public celebrations will continue on January 12 to 14 along the Doha Corniche where several food trucks and stalls will be serving delicious treats to the public from 4pm to 10pm, ahead of a spectacular fireworks display near the Mourjan restaurant.

Mashal Shahbik, Director of Festivals and Tourism Events at Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) said, ‘Shop Qatar showcases the best Qatar has to offer in retail and entertainment while capitalising on the country’s pleasant winter weather. We are very grateful for the collaborative spirit our partners in the public and private sectors have shown as we build a brand new tradition through the first edition of this festival.

She added, ‘Initial bookings for accommodation and entertainment ticket sales so far show that the festival programme is popular and caters to the needs of Qatar’s visitors and residents.

The festival will run from January 7 to February 7, offering residents and visitors discounts on popular brands, and raffle draws with cash prizes worth QR4mn.

Retail outlets around the country will provide discounts of up to 50% on clothes, electronics, cosmetics and accessories for men, women and children. Shop Qatar has ten retail partners includong Mall of Qatar, Ezdan Mall, Hyatt Plaza, Al Khor Mall, Lagoona Mall, Gulf Mall, Landmark, Dar Al Salam Mall, The Gate and The Pearl-Qatar.

Shop Qatar will also feature 30 pop-up shops spread across Mall of Qatar, Ezdan Mall, Landmark Mall, The Gate Mall & Lagoona Mall. Regionally acclaimed designer brands such as Maryam Aldarwish, HZ by Hissa Zainal and Fanilla Couture will showcase their latest collections.

Shoppers who spend QR200 at participating retailers can enter a weekly raffle draw for a chance to win cash prizes and a jackpot prize of QR1mn.

QTA has partnered with Qatar Airways to offer 25% discount on flights to Qatar from within the GCC region booked on the airline between January 7 and February 7. Members of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club will receive double Q-miles on their bookings during Shop Qatar.

Visitors can also avail of accommodation offers when booking throughExpedia.com.

The festival also offers cultural shows, performances by singing sensations and family-friendly entertainment.

The public can enjoy the African Circus evening shows daily between January 8 and 21 at Hyatt Plaza’s outdoor area. On weekdays, shows begin at 6.30pm and 8pm and on weekends, shows will be at 5.30pm, 7pm and 9pm.

Family-friendly entertainment can also be found at Magical Festival Village a Shop Qatar partner – located close to Katara.

Music sensations Majid Al Muhandes and Hussain Al Jassmi will serenade their fans at the ‘Arabic Night’ and ‘Khaleeji Night’ concerts on January 20 and 27 respectively at Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) theatre.

Broadway’s longest-running musical, CATS will be staged at the QNCC Theatre from February 1 to 4.

From February 2 to 4, Shop Qatar presents the first winter edition of Doha Comedy Festival, bringing together 15 stand-up comedians from nine countries.

Tickets range from QR120 to QR1,250 and are available at Virgin Megastores and through the store’s website. Tickets for the concerts can also be purchased at platinumlist.net.

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Doha Airport to launch major expansion this year

6 Jan 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – A major expansion to enhance the Hamad International Airport’s annual capacity to more than 65mn passengers will start this year, Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar al-Baker has said.

‘The government has approved the expansion of the airport. There is a new steering committee that has been formulated under the chairmanship of Abdullah bin Nasser Turki al-Subaey. The aim is to complete the expansion work as soon as possible, al-Baker said at a media event yesterday. The expansion is being designed by British architects Foster and Partners.

Because of Qatar Airways’ growth, the airport is already beyond its current capacity. Qatar is hosting the prestigious FIFA 2022 World Cup for which additional airport capacity will become absolutely essential.

The HIA is home to national carrier Qatar Airways, which is one of the ‘fastest growing airlines in the aviation history, with the country’s flagbearer now serving more than 150 destinations following the inauguration of 14 new destinations in 2016 alone.

Currently, the capacity of the HIA is about 50mn. It features two runways with dual capacity, among the longest in the world, a state-of-the-art air traffic control tower, a stunning passenger terminal, over 40,000 square metres of combined retail, food and beverage facilities, and a uniquely shaped public mosque.

The HIA is an award-winning airport with services d facilities, which include the Qatar Duty Free, a premium shopping emporium with more than 40,000 square metres of combined retail and dining with more than 70 boutiques and 30 cafés and restaurants.

The airport also boasts an airside hotel, two airside squash courts, a gym, a 25-metre swimming pool and spa, all within easy reach of the departure gates.

The HIA also features one of the largest free span maintenance hangars in the world, a cutting-edge two-storey cargo facility and one of the world’s largest self-contained catering facilities.

The Hamad International Airport yesterday joined the ‘top tier of global airports after becoming the sixth airport in the world to receive the ‘5-Star Airport’ designation by Skytrax, the London-based aviation institute. This makes HIA the first ever airport in the Middle East to earn this acclaimed title.

The highest rating five stars has previously only been awarded to five other airports worldwide: Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo-Haneda and Munich.

With just three years of operations, the HIA has garnered world-class awards and recognition, including ‘Skytrax Middle East’s Best Airport’ in 2015 and 2016, ‘Skytrax Best Staff Service in the Middle East’ (2016) and previously ‘Best Airport Award’ at the Future Travel Experience (FTE) Asia Awards in 2015.

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Qatar Honey festival attracts larger number of farms, visitors

06 January 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – The three-day honey festival, which began Thursday at Al Mazrouah Yard, under the auspices of the Agricultural Affairs Department of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), has attracted a larger number of visitors and farms, compared with the previous editions of the event.

The festival is being participated by 130 local farms, which produce honey and other agricultural products of very high quality. When the project was launched in 2012, only 30 farms took part and 50 participated in 2014.

Yousef al-Khelaifi, director of the Agricultural Affairs Department, stressed that the MME has given farmes more support to encourage them to increase their honey production and help them compete with other producers from outside the country.

“The production of honey in Qatar amounts to four tonnes during a single season, which is considered a significant amount compared to the imported products,” he stated.

Besides, the MME aims at establishing and enhancing such local farm industries, and supplies farmers with the necessary support. The event will also be held at Al Khor from January 12 to 14, and Al Wakrah from January 19 to 21, from 7am to 5pm.

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Gulf Bank sets Guinness record for cash award

KUWAIT, Jan 5 (KUNA) — The Guinness World Records cited Dana cash prize, offered by the Gulf Bank of Kuwait, as the world’s largest award for a bank account.

The award, valued at KD one million (nearly USD 3.259 million), is far bigger than the world’s previous largest cash prize of USD two million, Guinness World Records arbiter Hoda Khashab said in statements to KUNA on Thursday.

The Bank has met all requirements needed for citation as record breaker, she said, noting that Kuwait set 35-40 Guinness records so far. (end) fnk.jk.gb

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Royal Opera House Muscat celebrates Oman’s “Great Journey”

MUSCAT, Jan 5 (KUNA) — The Royal Opera House Muscat marked its fifth anniversary by presenting an exclusive production entitled “Celebration Oman: The Great Journey.” The show, which is held from January 5-7, is designed by Paolo Dalla Sega and Namaste Group. It is a dedication to Oman’s Renaissance with special storytelling, featuring artists and performers from Oman and around the world. Italy, France, Singapore, the UK, the US, Argentina, Mexico, Switzerland and Hungary have participated in the performance.

More than 100 persons, 40 Omani children, 30 orchestra musicians in addition to 3 camels are part of the show.

Royal Opera House Muscat is the leading arts and culture organization in the Sultanate of Oman.

Its construction was completed in 2011 and was built on the royal orders of Sultan Qaboos of Oman.

The Royal Opera House reflects contemporary Omani architecture, and has a capacity to accommodate maximum of 1,100 people. (end) ahr.nfm

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Abu Dhabi Police launch smartphone app, website

ABU DHABI, 4 January 2017, (WAM) – Major General Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Commander-in-Chief of the Abu Dhabi Police, launched on Wednesday the ‘Abu Dhabi Police Services’ application, accessible via smartphones, along with the official website of the General Command of the Abu Dhabi Police.

The application can be downloaded from Play Store and other App Stores.

The Abu Dhabi Police announced it has launched more than 35 police services for users, three services for its personnel and seven innovative services, apart from the new version of its website.

Major General Mohammed Al Rumaithi signed the ‘customer service charter,’ indicating the commitment of the Abu Dhabi Police to provide exceptional services to the users to ensure their satisfaction at all times.

He said the force needed to stay up to date and deploy the latest technologies for effective communication with the public.

The launch of the phone application, Abu Dhabi Police Services, reflects the keenness of the leadership of the UAE to use all latest available technologies to interact with the public. The new services will ensure guaranteed and instant delivery of messages regarding awareness, security and police related issues.

He said the Abu Dhabi Police seeks to ensure that people in the province feel safe and secure, and have access to the best police services.

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Qatar issues First Report on Rights of Persons with Disabilities

DUBAI, 4 January 2017, (WAM) – The first report regarding the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in GCC countries was released in Qatar.

The UAE participated in this initiative. The launch of the report was attended by Wafa Hamad bin Sulaiman, Director of Rehabilitation of Disabled Department in the Ministry of Community Development, and Dr. Ahmed Al Omran, advisor in the ministry.

Wafa Hamad bin Sulaiman termed the report as an outstanding initiative to assess the reality on the ground when it comes to people with disabilities in the GCC countries. It covers legislation, policies and specialised services.

The report will help formulate a regional mechanism for co-operation and exchange of knowledge to fulfil the rights of people with disabilities and end discrimination against them.

The report presents an analytical vision for legislative action and underlines the reality in the GCC countries, she added.

It identifies challenges and provides solutions and recommendations that would contribute towards establishing a regional framework to implement the convention.

She noted that the report allows the GCC countries to carry out a comprehensive review of legislation and policies concerning people with disabilities at the national level.

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Sharjah Ruler Sets Up Archaeology Authority

SHARJAH, 6 January 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, issued a law on the organisation, objectives, liabilities and specialisations of Sharjah Archaeology Authority, SAA.

According to Law No. (2) of 2017, Sharjah Archaeology Authority enjoys corporate body status and full legal capacity to enable it to carry out its duties and activities in order to achieve its objectives.

The new law states that Sharjah Archaeology Authority will be based in the Emirate of Sharjah and may, based on the approval of the Sharjah Executive Council, SEC, establish affiliates, branches and representative offices within the emirate.

SAA will be tasked with researching and investigating archaeological sites in the Emirate of Sharjah and putting these sites on the archaeological map besides supervising all archaeological sites and providing due and necessary protection to these sites in co-ordination with the concerned authorities.

Carrying out excavation works, organising excavation works for foreign archaeological missions, studying, analysing, restoring and maintaining movable and immovable archaeological discoveries, preparing scientific and archaeological researches and reports, and spreading awareness about archaeological significance are among SAA’s specialisations.

The articles of the law also stipulate that SAA will carry out its duties and activities so as to achieve its objectives, which include but not limited to, suggesting the general policy of excavation, co-ordinating and co-operating with concerned local, regional and international archaeological entities, and exchanging expertise with them, advising legislations, restituting any Sharjah-owned antiquities by all legal means, overseeing antiquities and following up their maintenance, preparing, organising and participating in local and global archaeology-related conferences and workshops, and any other duties or specialisations vested in the authority by the Ruler of the emirate or the Executive Council.

SAA will have a director-general, appointed by an Emiri Decree, who will be assisted by highly experienced staff. He will have the needed powers that will help him run the affairs of SAA. He will also enjoy the right to take all appropriate decisions to achieve SAA’s objectives.

The financial resources of SAA will include endowments, aids, authority-generated revenues, investment revenues or any other resources approved by the Executive Council.

The law also states that the authority will have an annual financial statement starting from January and ending on the last day of December.

The authority will be exempted from all taxes and local fees of all sorts and forms.

The law is effective from the date of its issuance and shall be published in the Official Gazette.

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Emirates and Etihad are among safest airlines in 2016

HAMBURG, Germany, 5 January 2017, (WAM) – JACDEC, the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre, has announced that Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airways are among the safest airlines in the world.

According to JACDEC’s Airline Safety Ranking 2017 study, airlines based in Asia and the Middle East continued to dominate the list of carriers with the best safety track record in 2016.

Emirates and Etihad were among the top ten safest airlines with Emirates Airlines ranked in 7th place, and Etihad Airways ranked in 8th place.

Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, topped the list as the carrier with the best safety record, followed by Air New Zealand as the second, Hainan Airlines (Third), Qatar Airways (Fourth), KLM from the Netherlands (Fifth), Eva Air from Taiwan (Sixth), followed by Emirates and Etihad; Qantas from Australia (Eighth) and Japan Airlines (Tenth).

The Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre is a global source for professional and accurate aviation safety information for the benefit of companies, aviation professionals and individual travellers.

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Theatrical adaptation: Algerian experience on agenda of colloquium in Sharjah

ORAN, 04 January 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – The Algerian experience in the theatrical adaptation will be presented in an international colloquium, scheduled from 15 to 19 January in Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) under the theme “Novel and theatre,” said on Wednesday, in Oran, dramatist Mourad Senouci.

Invited to this event by the Arab Theatre Institute, in Sharjah, Senouci will lead a conference highlighting the Algerian experience in the field of the adaptation.

In a statement to APS, the dramatist said that he will broach the development of the different techniques of adaptation, while explaining the ones that he implemented to treat the texts of the Algerian novelists, like Yasmina Khadra and Wassiny Laaradj.

Mourad Senouci has several successful adaptations, including “Essadma” (The Shock) which was adapted from “L’attentat” (The attack) by Yasmina Khadra, “Imraa min warak” (A woman of paper), adapted from “Ountha essarab” (Mirage female) by Wassiny Laaredj and “Hadjret Essabr” (The stone of patience) from “Syngué sabour” by Afghan Tariq Rahimi.

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Saudi Arabia launches USD360mn development projects

06 Jan 2017, (MENAFN) – Saudi Arabia has launched USD306mn development projects in Makkah region, involving a scheme for beautification of entrances to the city. Furthermore, the projects will comprise the governorates of Kamil, where USD210mn has been allocated for the purpose.

Additionally, a total of 16 rojects for digging wells and four projects of the Kamil branch of Jeddah University were also inaugurated.

Prince Khaled also unveiled many key projects including the development of old and unplanned districts, public squares and work related to beautification of entrances to the city.

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Sharjah Budget 2017 provides more jobs for young Emiratis

SHARJAH, 2 January 2017, (WAM) – Dr. Tariq bin Khadem, Chairman of the Human Resources Department, HRD, observed that the Sharjah Government’s budget for 2017 is the largest in the history of the emirate and it enhances the HRD’s role in providing more job opportunities for young citizens in both public and private sectors.

He expects the budget will enable Sharjah to provide 3,500 jobs to Emiratis.

In an exclusive statement to Sharjah 24, Bin Khadem stressed that the budget’s approval by H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, is the fruit of the government’s prudent financial policies, and noted that the 2017 budget has been prepared in accordance with the highest international standards and genuine scientific rules of financial policies, thus providing more confidence to various sectors in the emirate and contributing to the continuing growth achieved in Sharjah, thanks to the emirate’s wise leadership.

The 2017 budget also underlines vigorous local economy and perpetuates the emirate’s trends, he added.

He also stressed that the efforts of the Sharjah Ruler are the key drivers of overall development process and the primary supporter of providing happiness and prosperity to Emiratis, adding that the budget reflects Sharjah’s solid economy and income diversification, thereby placing the emirate at an advanced global position.

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DSCE promotes Emirates Energy Award 2017 in Oman

DUBAI, 6 January 2017, (WAM) – Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, DSCE, recently held a press conference in Oman to promote the 3rd Emirates Energy Award, EEA 2017, that will be held under the patronage of Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, under the theme ‘Innovative Solutions for Clean Energy’.

The press conference, held at Grand Hyatt in Muscat, was attended by representatives from the Omani energy sector specialising in energy, environment and water technology. These organisations were updated on the award’s importance, categories and eligibility criteria.

“It is our honour to hold the EEA 2017 under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. EEA is one of the most important and prominent platforms for shaping the future of energy and water sectors in Middle East and North Africa region. It focuses on parameters to facilitate best practices in energy management and efficiency. This is aligned with the UAE Vision 2021, Dubai Plan 2021, and the long-term national initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to build a green economy in the UAE. The award aims to nurture innovative practices in conserving energy and encouraging clean energy in public and private sectors alike. It also serves as a unique platform to exchange ideas, insights and solutions that contribute to reaching new solutions and methods to achieve sustainable development in clean energy, environment and water to ensure a sustainable and safe future for us and for generations to come,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, DSCE, and President of the Emirates Energy Award.

The conference was attended by Omar Al Qurashi, Vice Chairman of EEA Marketing and Events and Naser Al Shaiba, Director of Environment, Health, Safety and Climate Change, DSCE, as well as representatives from universities, institutes and research centres and officials in charge of environment-related and power generation projects in Oman.

In their opening speech, representatives of the council underlined the role of Emirates Energy Award, EEA, in supporting and rewarding best energy-saving practices that are applicable, innovative and cost effective at the same time.

The conference aimed at attracting private, public institutions and research centres in line with the projects currently being implemented in Oman to achieve a green economy. It is also in line with Oman’s Vision 2020, which aims to meet 10 percent of electricity requirements from renewable energy sources by 2020.

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Dubai To Build Middle East & North Africa’s Largest Marina

DUBAI, 3 Jan 2017, (NNN-AGENCIES) – The Gulf emirate of Dubai has announced plans to build the largest marina in the Middle East and North Africa with 1,400 berths.

The “Dubai Harbour” will also feature a cruise ship port and a terminal that can accommodate 6,000 passengers at a time, a government statement said.

Home to Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, Dubai said the new project will include a 135-metre lighthouse featuring a hotel and observation deck.

The marina will expand Dubai’s yacht capacity by around 50 per cent from its current 3,000 berths, the statement said. The project will be located off the upmarket Dubai Marina neighbourhood and next to the man-made Palm Island.

Dubai has evolved into a regional business hub and an attractive tourism destination, thanks to huge investments in luxurious resorts and shopping malls.

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UAE non-oil private sector continues growth momentum

DUBAI, 4 January 2017, (WAM)- Growth momentum in the UAE’s private sector non-oil activity continued to strengthen in December 2016, driven by improving economic conditions, according to Emirates NBD.

Output rose at the “sharpest” pace to a 16-month high on back of new orders backed by growth of new export businesses, the bank’s latest purchasing managers’ index (PMI) revealed on Wednesday.

On the price front, a further rise in input costs was registered but competitive pressures and promotional offers lead to decline in output prices, it said.

The survey, sponsored by Emirates NBD and produced by IHS Markit, contains original data collected from a monthly survey of business conditions in the UAE non-oil private sector.

“The Emirates NBD PMI indicates a solid expansion in the non-oil private sector in Q4 2016. Strong gains in output and new orders have been hard-won however, with firms continuing to offer discounts and promotions in order to secure orders. Overall, the PMI averaged 53.9 in 2016, well below the 2015 average of 56.0, reflecting slower growth this year,” said Khatija Haque, head of MENA research at Emirates NBD, in a press release.

The PMI rose to 55.0 in December from 54.2 in November, signalling a marked monthly improvement in the health of the non-oil private sector and “one that was the strongest since July”.

Higher new orders, improving economic conditions and marketing activities all contributed to output growth. Activity rose substantially over the month and to the greatest extent since August 2015.

New business rose at a sharp pace that was broadly in line with that seen in the previous month with improving client demand and the efforts of sales teams contributing to the rise, the bank said.

Meanwhile, new export orders increased, ending a five-month sequence of decline. Efforts to secure sales in a “competitive environment” have meant that output prices fell in December in spite of a further rise in cost burdens. Charges have now declined in each of the past 14 months. Purchase prices have risen in three successive months, with the latest increase the fastest in this sequence.

There were signs that operating capacity was sufficient to deal with current workloads despite a marked increase in new work during December.

Backlogs of work declined for the first time in 32 months, while the rate of job creation remained modest as 96 percent of the respondents opting to leave their staffing levels unchanged, the bank said.

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Al Noor Island to host International Storytelling Festival 2017

SHARJAH, 4th January, 2017 (WAM) — Al Noor Island in Sharjah is gearing up to showcase its first ever International Storytelling Festival, to be held under the theme, ‘Tales on the Island’ in January, 2017.

Taking place from Thursday to Saturday on three weekends from January 12th to 28th, the festival will showcase renowned storytellers from the Middle East, UK, Europe and Southeast Asia, who will offer a plethora of dreamscapes and myths celebrating traditions and cultural diversity in Arabic and English.

Marwa Obaid Al Shamsi, Al Noor Island Manager, said, “Everyone, irrespective of their age, gender, social status or cultural backgrounds, enjoys listening to a memorable story. The tradition of community storytelling has, however, been somewhat forgotten in the modern-day world. The festival is Al Noor Island’s attempt to revive the storytelling cultural movement by engaging young and adult audiences across the UAE with skilled storytellers and artists from around the world.”

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Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah, Capital of Islamic Tourism 2017

SESRIC Date : 05 January 2017 – Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah was selected the ‘Capital of Islamic Tourism 2017’ during the 9th Session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) held on 21-23 December 2015 in Niamey, Niger.

Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah is home to more than 200 sites and tourist places, including historical buildings and archaeological sites of religious importance, such as the Prophet’s Mosque and mosques from the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as well as historic buildings such as the Urwah ibn Zubayr Palace, Castle of Quba and the Hejaz Railway Museum.

Local media reported that more than 300 events will be held at over 40 destinations, presenting interesting and attractive cultural and touristic programs.

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Workshop held on “Multiculturalism in Azerbaijan and Indonesia”

Baku, 23 December 2016, (AZERTAC) – The “Qafqaz” University hosted an international seminar entitled “Multiculturalism and social life in Azerbaijan and Indonesia”. The event was organized by the Baku International Center of Multiculturalism and “Azerbaijani multiculturalism” Science and Education Center of the “Qafqaz”, Chuan University of Indonesia, State Islamic University of Surakarta, Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University and the Embassy of this country in Azerbaijan.

Addressing the event, rector of “Qafqaz” University Havar Mammadov stressed that great leader Heydar Aliyev had always attached great importance to the education and his policy is confidently is being continued by President Ilham Aliyev. The rector also recalled that President Ilham Aliyev has declared 2016 the Year of Multiculturalism.

Seyfal Hasanov, senior advisor to the state service on interethnic, religious and multicultural issues of the Republic of Azerbaijan, spoke of the development of multicultural in Azerbaijan.

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Algerian Wins National Qur’an Recitation contest

BLIDA, 29 December 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – Reciter Bouchlouch Abderaouf from Blida won the first prize of the National contest of Qur’an Recitation, which wrapped up Wednesday evening in Algiers, the Director of Religious Affairs and Waqfs told APS on Thursday.

The National Contest of Qur’an Recitation was organized in parallel with the 18th National Qur’an Week.

This prize will enable the winner to take part in the International Qur’an Competition, which will take place in November 2017 in Saudi Arabia or Egypt.

The second prize in this national contest went to a student from Sidi-Bel-Abbes and the third to a student from Relizane, according to the same official.

The National Contest of Recitation of the holy Koran began on November 1st in Blida with the participation of about 200 reciters. 45 competed during the last three days (December 26, 27 and 28) at the Culture Palace and Dar el Imam in El-Mohammadia.

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Algeria to Focus on sub-contracting in 2017

SETIF, 6 January 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – “The year 2017 will be that of subcontracting,” Industry and Mines Minister Abdeslam Bouchouareb said Thursday in Setif.

The minister also recalled the numerous incentives included in 2017 Finance Act to investors in the subcontracting sector.

Paying an inspection visit to a tire production unit under construction in Setif industrial zone, the minister stressed that this unit with a production capacity of 2 million units per year for a national market of 6 million units “will shift to subcontracting for the automotive industry.”

Bouchouareb said that his visit to this unit is intended to help it reach the production phase as soon as possible and contribute to the economy diversification process and the reduction of dependency on hydrocarbons.

In 2017, Algeria will be self-sufficient in phosphate and will direct its surplus towards the export especially to China and India, he said.

Concerning the export of cement, the minister said that platforms are being developed in ports.

He also recalled the government’s decision to boost the industrial investment to transform Algeria by 2019 into an “emerging country”.

The minister focused on the government’s interest in addressing investor concerns, including those related to industrial land with the creation of 22 industrial zones.

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Egyptian company to invest in New Cairo hotel

Egypt, 05 January 2017,(MENAFN – Daily News Egypt) – Pickalbatros Holding for Financial Investments Company has bought a plot of land for the establishment of a new hotel facility in Fifth Settlement, New Cairo. The hotel is also expected to include an aqua park.

The company is now going through rounds of negotiations with banks to secure funding for its projects.

Kamel Abou Aly, the chairperson of the company, said that the size of the land is 50,000 sqm.

He told Daily News Egypt that studies are conducted entirely from within the company, with no assistance from external firms. He added that the company aims to attract tourists from all over the world.

Abou Aly noted that the studies for the project will be completed by the first quarter of 2017, with construction to follow within the second quarter.

Moreover, he pointed out that the company is also working to complete the Hotel Beach Albatros in Marsa Alam. He said that the hotel costs up to EGP 400m and would include 320 rooms. The hotel is also expected to be completed within the first quarter of 2017.

Pickalbatros, has established tourism projects on roughly 2m sqm in Sharm El-Sheikh, Safaga, Marsa Alam, and Hurghada, according to Abou Aly

He said that the company has three more projects on the table, which are expected to be initiated following the completion of the three currently being built. He added that allocations for current projects exceed EGP 2.5bn, with the possibility to increase them even more.

He said that the company is in ongoing negotiations with banks to secure funding for projects. The most prominent of these banks are the Commercial International Bank (CIB), QNB Alahli, and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi. Collectively, these banks have funded 30% of the company’s projects.

Abou Aly refuted rumours circulating about disputes between the company and these banks over delaying payments.

In a different context, he noted that Pickalbatros has 14 subsidiaries working under the parent company, which has a capital of EGP 300m and investments of over EGP 8bn.

He pointed out that his company established some 12 hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurghada, Safaga, and Marsa Alam. These hotels, he said, have a combined occupancy of 6,500 rooms.

In addition, the company has two entertainment projects and three hotel facilities with 1,054 rooms up for consideration.

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Algeria, Russia set to intensify partnership in 2017

Moscow, 02 Jan 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – The Algerian-Russian economic partnership is expected to grow in 2017 through the numerous bilateral agreements signed in 2016, a year marked by several visits of the two countries’ officials, notably Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal’s visit to Moscow, last April.

Based on their willingness to pursue the implementation of the Strategic Partnership Declaration signed in 2001 during President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to Russia, Algiers and Moscow have given new impetus to their bilateral cooperation and should, in 2017, benefit from the multiple agreements signed in various sectors of activity.

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal’s official visit to Moscow was the highlight of 2016, since it has been culminated by the signing of several agreements in the fields of housing, atomic energy and new technologies, culture and communication.

The important goal is to boost trade that amounted to $ 885 million in 2015.

Concerning investments and trade, the bilateral partnership gained new momentum with the holding of a Business Forum, on the sidelines of Sellal’s visit, in the presence of nearly 500 economic operators.

A Memorandum of Understanding and of Economic Cooperation between Algeria and Russia was signed, reaffirming the two countries willingness to establish a lasting and mutually beneficial partnership on a solid basis.

During Moscow forum, Algerian businessmen were able to deepen the talks with their Russian counterparts on projects defined previously in the previous forums or business councils held in the two capitals.

Those projects are covering the sectors of agri-food, health, infrastructure, real estate, transport, heavy and light industry as well as high technologies.

Last February, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov paid a visit to Algiers, during which he said that Russia and Algeria “have drawn up concrete plans and projects in the field of the commercial, economic and military-technical cooperation, and proposed concrete forms of cooperation between the ministries and business circles of the two countries.”

On the political level, Algeria and Russia have a strong convergence of views on various issues through close coordination.

Sellal had clearly expressed it during his Russia visit, noting that the two countries “share the same views on the majority of questions,” highlighting “the long history of friendship and solidarity which characterizes the Algerian-Russian relations.”

The two countries indeed coordinate their positions on regional and international issues of common interest, as illustrated during the first session of the Bilateral Strategic Dialogue Political and Security Issues between Algeria and Russia held in Moscow, last July.

This dialogue session confirmed both countries willingness to move forward in their relations and their cooperation in the political, economic, trade and cultural domains.

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2016 marked launch of El Hamdania commercial port project

Tips, 04 Jan 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – The year of 2016 was marked by the launch of the project of the central commercial port in El Hamdania (Tipasa, 70-km west of Algiers) with the aim to strengthen trading between Africa and the rest of the world via Algeria.

The western province has been chosen following the technical study carried out by a South Korean engineering firm and approved by the Council of Ministers in December 2015.

The 20m water depth in the region of El Hamdania (east of Cherchell), as required for the project, would allow the province to have a key role in the economic development of the country.

Minister of Transport and Public Works Boudjemaa Talai said that the commissioning of El Hamdania commercial port would “connect Algeria to southeast Asia, and also to the two Americas and Africa.”

The launch of the construction works is scheduled for the first half of 2017, he added.

According to the agreement signed in January 2016, the project has been entrusted to an Algerian company of the public port services group and two Chinese companies: China State Corporation and China Harbour Engineering Company.

During the Council of Ministers’ meeting of December 2016, President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika instructed the Government to launch the project within the framework of a partnership, based on 51/49 rule, between Algerian public and private companies and a renowned foreign partner.

The project, worth US$3.3 billion, will be financed through a long-term Chinese credit. It is due to be commissioned within 7 years.

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Tunisian olive oil production estimated at 100,000 tonnes

Tunisia, January 4, 2017 – The national olive oil campaign (2016/2017) comes to an end, and estimates of national production are 100 thousand tonnes, down over 55%, compared to the national average of 180 Thousand tonnes).

The reasons for this decline are mainly the drought recorded last year which had a direct impact on production, Chokri Bayoudh, CEO of the National Oil Office (ONH), said in an interview with TAP Wednesday.

“80% of the domestic olive oil production comes mainly from the irrigated sector, which saved this campaign, started in November 2016 and is expected to be completed by the end of January 2017,” he said.

Answering a question on the reasons for rising olive oil prices during this campaign, Bayoudh said the drop in domestic production, due to low rainfall last year and the increase of export of Tunisian olive oil that can sometimes reach 80% of the domestic production are behind rising olive oil prices for local consumers.

The export of olive oil, which also started in November 2016 and reached 15 thousand tonnes until mid-December 2016, has also declined. “The forecast for exports is of nearly 70 thousand tonnes for the entire 2016/2017 season, with revenues of up to 60 million dinars.

We are preparing a new vision for the next national campaign, especially after the heavy rainfall recorded this winter, “he said, expressing hope to see domestic production increase and return to its average and its international influence.

He reminded that Tunisia produced 340 thousand tonnes during the national campaign of 2014/2015 and was the world’s top olive exporting country and second producing country in the world after Spain. Tunisia is also the second largest exporter to the European Union and ranks fourth among olive oil producing countries.

Concerning packaged olive oil, ONH’s CEO said that Tunisia currently exports 20 thousand tonnes of packaged oil, while ten years earlier it exports only 2 thousand tonnes, placing emphasis on the state’s commitment to develop its production of packaged olive oil and to promote its export to foreign markets in recent years.

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Tunisian-Iranian cooperation and friendship strengthens

Tunisia, January 5, 2017 – Speeding up the holding of the Tunisian-Iranian joint Commission and strengthening the exchange of visits between the two countries were at the centre of Wednesday’s meeting between Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui and ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Tunis, Mustapha Boroujerdi.

The meeting also discussed means to consolidate bilateral cooperation and exchange of views on regional and international issues of mutual interest, a statement of the Foreign Affairs Ministry indicates.

The Iranian diplomat stressed his country’s interest in strengthening the cooperation and friendship relations with Tunisia, reiterating his invitation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make a working visit to Tehran.

For his part, Jhinaoui stressed Tunisia’s will to hoist Tunisian-Iranian relations to a higher level given the partnership opportunities that exist in the two countries in various fields, the statement said.

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Hotel visitors in Tunisia reach over 5.4 million

December 22, 2016 – Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts Salma Elloumi Rekik reported that Tunisian hotels have accommodated more than 5.4 million visitors during the previous period of 2016, including two million Tunisian tourists, highlighting the importance of domestic tourism which has accounted for about 30% of the market.

The tourist sector will recover, in 2017, since 2016 has been saved, in view of the great decline in 2015, she told TAP correspondent on the sidelines of her visit Wednesday afternoon to a hand-crafted gift fair in Nabeul.

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‘Tunisia sings Africa’, cultural event at Habib Bourguiba Avenue

Tunisia, January 2, 2017 – “Tunisia sings Africa”, a festive cultural event held on Saturday at Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis, by the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Association of African Students and Trainees in Tunisia (AESAT) to express Tunisia’s solidarity with the African students residing in Tunis especially after the aggression perpetrated last December 24 against three Congolese students.

This event, held in the presence of Minister of Culture Mohamed Zine el Abidine and representatives of associations and forums of African students and young people, is an opportunity to show the strong ties between Tunisia and the African countries.

The minister stressed in a statement to the media the importance of solidarity between Tunisians and Africans and denounced any form of racism or mistreatment against Africans in Tunisia.

President of AASAT called on the Tunisian government to ensure the improvement of conditions for African students and trainees in Tunisia and to strengthen the bonds of friendship between Africans and Tunisians.

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Moroccan tourism revenues reach MAD 59.4 billion by end of November

Rabat, 3 Jan 2017, (IINA) – Moroccan tourism revenues reached 59.4 billion dirham (MAD) by the end of November 2016, making Morocco “the top African country attracting tourists,” said Director of the Moroccan National Tourist Office (ONMT) Abderrafie Zouitene.

In an interview with Morocco’s Les Inspirations ÉCO, Zouitene stated that since July 2016, the rates of increases have started becoming higher than that of the first months.”

He noted that this significant increase follows Morocco’s policy of waiving its visa requirements for Chinese nationals entering Morocco beginning in June of 2016.

“Before that Morocco received on average 800 to 1000 tourists per month, today it is at more than 6,000 a month. The Russian market has also progressed. In Agadir, it reaches more than 300 percent,” Zouitene added.

Zouitene continued his remarks, noting that this “increase of 4.1 percent is a very important indicator. It contributes significantly to foreign exchange reserves.”

In maintaining its 2020 Vision initiative, the ONMT is attempting to boost Morocco’s tourism industry by making Morocco the preferred vacation destination for Chinese and Russian tourists.

In December, Morocco World News reported that the UAE’s national airline Etihad Airways “will partner with the ONMT to attract 100,000 Chinese visitors each year by 2018.”

Labeled as “1,000 Chinese Visitors to Morocco,” the newly launched joint campaign between Etihad and the largest Chinese tour operator, specializing in tourism to the Middle East and Africa, Beijing Yougo World International Travel Service Co. Ltd. (Uniway) is set to carry 1,000 Chinese travelers with Etihad Airways to Morocco between February and June 2017.

In an attempt to reach its goal of attracting 800,000 Russian, Scandinavian, Turkish, German and Chinese tourists by 2020, the ONMT recently invited 41 Russian journalists to tour Marrakech, Ouarzazate, and Agadir to explore Morocco’s renowned landmarks to report on services that could prove attractive to Russian tourists.

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2016, an “exceptional” year for Algerian cereal production

Mila, 04 Jan 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – Known as the land of the cereal and dairy industry, the province of Mila is the receptacle of grains farming of ancient Cirta, like some regions which once made Algeria the granary of Rome through the abundance of its production.

In Mila, it is undeniable that 2016 was a turning point in the relaunch of the agriculture sector in Algeria, going to “a phase of excellence” which coincides with the decline in hydrocarbon revenues, following the fall in oil prices on the global market.

Having recorded a cereal production never equaled in the history of the province, amounting to 2 688 000 quintals, the 2015-2016 season shows the “strategic” importance of the agricultural sector in Mila which however, still needs support, according to local farmers.

Satisfied with the results obtained, the director of agricultural services Rabah Ferdas said that the wheat harvest reached 1,548510 quintals, against 540 639 quintals of soft wheat, 529554 quintals of barley, and 69285 quintals of oats.

This production also experienced record numbers in profitability, reaching 70 quintals/hectare of soft wheat and barley in certain regions, while the average production reached 35 quintals/hectare in the north of the province, known for its heavy rainfall, against 25 quintals/hectare in the south.

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30% of Iraq’s new city project completed

06 Jan 2017, (MENAFN) – Korean firm Hanwha Engineering and Construction proclaimed that work on Bismayah City in Iraq was progressing well with almost 30 percent of the project completed.

Moreover, 18.3mn square meters development located 10 km southeast of capital Baghdad will boast 100.000 houses and almost 300 institutions, involving schools and hospils.

The new city will contain 8 towns, while almost 5.000 households have moved into the first town, which had clinched USD8bn deal from the Iraqi government in 2012.

In addition, the two sides agreed an extra deal to build social infrastructure for USD2.1bn in April 2015, taking the value of the total deal to USD10.1bn.

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97 converted to Islam at Al-Aqsa in last 2 years

Jerusalem, 04 Jan 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – Almost 100 people from 17 western countries have formally converted to Islam at East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque over the past two years, according to mosque imam Sheikh Ekrima Said Sabri, a former grand mufti of Jerusalem.

“Ninety-seven people of 17 western nationalities have announced their voluntary conversion to Islam by repeating the Shahada (at the Al-Aqsa),” Sheikh Sabri said in a statement issued this week.

According to the tenets of Islam, would-be converts must recite the Shahada, or “testimony”, repeating in Arabic: “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah; I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

According to the former grand mufti, most of the westerners to have recently converted at the mosque hailed from the U.S., France, Germany, Britain and Finland.

“Islam is the religion of justice and tolerance,” Sheikh Sabri declared. “It is a comprehensive religion; the distillation of all previous divine messages.”

He went on to stress that, according to the Quran, conversion had to be done on a strictly voluntary basis.

“As God Almighty says: ‘There shall be no compulsion in (the acceptance of) the faith,” Sheikh Sabri, who is also head of Jerusalem’s Supreme Islamic Council, asserted, citing the holy book.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world visit the iconic Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is located in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

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Nigeria to Build Dams for Irrigation nationwide

ABUJA, 6 Jan 2017, (NNN-NAN) – Nigeria’s Federal Government has announced that it will construct no fewer than 10 lakes and dams in each of the country’s 36 states to boost irrigated farming in 2017.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Chief Audu Ogbeh, disclosed the plan here Thursday in Abuja while highlighting some of the proposed 2017 plans to boost agricultural production in the country.

He noted that Oyo State had no fewer than 22 dams which were not utilised, while Ogun state had 12, Kano state 23 and Imo state had many moribund lakes and dams, which would be cleaned up and put to use in 2017.

The minister added that the Goronyo, Bakalori, Shagari dams, which had been abandoned, would be cleaned up and used for irrigation farming.

Ogbeh said the government would also distribute fertilizer and chemicals to farmers for dry season farming, adding that the Federal Government was expecting the delivery of a large tonnage of fertilizer within the next few weeks.

Some other agricultural activities to be embarked upon this year would include improving cattle breeds, establishing cattle colonies in states to confine cows in a place, procuring rice for distribution to communities, vegetable oil mills, tractors and improved seeds.

Cashew nut processing factories would also be established in the country to facilitate the export of cashew nuts.

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Chinese Firms Turn to Sudan to Tap Mining, Industrial Sector

KHARTOUM, 5 Jan 2017, (NNN-(SUNA) – Sudan’s Higher Committee for Supervising Relations with China, Russia and India has held a regular meeting at the Republican Palace here chaired by the committee’s deputy chairman, Dr. Awad Ahmed Al-Jaz.

In a media statement issued after Wednesday’s meeting, Dr. Al-Jaz said a big number of Chinese companies had come to invest in Sudan in the mining and industrial sectors.

He added that a delegation was sent to China to discuss completion of the new Khartoum Airport, adding that another mission would leave for China shortly to present a number of projects, top of them being the Rahad Agricultural Scheme.

Dr. Al-Jaz said Sudan had drawn up a list of its exports to China to ease the process of trade between the two countries.

He also revealed that a Sudanese delegation would leave to Russia to discuss implementation of a number of joint projects.

He added that a delegation from India would arrive in Sudan soon to discuss ways of enhancing the partnership between the two countries.

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Chinese FM’s African tour to boost decades-long friendship

Beijing, 7 Jan 2017, (Xinhua) – Following a nearly three-decade-long diplomatic tradition, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is making Africa his first overseas destination in 2017.

On Sunday, Wang will embark on a six-day official visit to five African countries, namely Madagascar, Zambia, Tanzania, Republic of Congo and Nigeria.

The visit is an extension of a much treasured diplomatic tradition for China. Since 1991, five foreign ministers have visited Africa during their first foreign trip each year.

The foundation of the China-Africa friendship was laid by former generations of the two countries’ leaderships, who have supported and cooperated with each other during struggles against imperialism and colonialism for national independence and liberation in the 1950s and 1960s.

Since then, thousands of Chinese workers and engineers have arrived in Africa to assist in the infrastructure construction of the war-torn continent.

Major projects undertaken or sponsored by China such as the Tanzania-Zambia railway, the Friendship Harbor in Mauritania and the conference hall for the African Union in Ethiopia constitute a solid groundwork for Africa’s economic development. These projects are also tokens of the China-Africa friendship.

For China, an old acquaintance is never forgotten. Relations with Africa have been deepened and broadened as the world undergoes profound changes and the Asian country grows into the world’s second-largest economy.

In a reflection of the two sides’ modern efforts to forge a community of common destiny, China and Africa have been cooperating on new, high-tech projects including the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway, the first electrified railway in Africa, and the 680-meter-long Nyerere Bridge in Tanzania, the first of its kind in East and Central Africa.

Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out 10 major plans to boost his country’s cooperation with Africa based on principles of sincerity, practical results, affinity and good faith in a keynote speech at the second summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation held in Johannesburg in 2015.

The big package covers the areas of industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.

A batch of early successes related to the summit were achieved in 2016, including the opening of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway and progress on the Mombasa-Nairobi line, as well as the development of industrial parks and special economic zones.

During the visit, Wang will discuss the further implementation of Xi’s consensus with African leaders and the outcomes of the forum to help the revival of Africa.

“China hopes to comprehensively upgrade cooperation with Africa in 2017,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang announced at a news briefing ahead of the visit.

The visit will also help enhance solidarity and common development among developing countries, Geng added.

Africa is home to the most developing countries in the world. China’s decades-long interaction with the continent testifies to the country’s determination, as a major player on the world arena, to promote a fairer and more rational global governance system.

In that sense, China-Africa cooperation means more than growth and prosperity. It benefits the whole world in the long run by helping create a fairer, more balanced and harmonious world order.

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SESRIC Training Course on ‘Int’l Trade Statistics’ in Afghanistan

Date: 08-11 January 2017 Venue: Kabul Afghanistan

In accordance with its 2016 Annual Work Plan and within the framework of Statistical Capacity Building (StatCaB) Programme, SESRIC will organise the Training Course on ‘ International Trade Statistics’ at Central Statistics Organization (CSO) of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan on 8-11 January 2017.

The Training Course will be conducted by Mr. Azizallah FARHADI, Leader of Group for Regional Accounts and Expenditure at the Statistical Centre of Iran (SCI), with the participation of relevant officials of CSO of Afghanistan.

As defined in the Classification of Statistical Activities (CSA Rev. 1 – October 2009;http://goo.gl/olg3Tz);International trade and balance of payments – deals with statistics on all cross border transactions recorded in the balance of payments, includes topics like trade in goods and services, external positions and debt, foreign direct investment, foreign affiliated trade, tariffs, market access, foreign aid, development assistance, and resource flows to developing countries.

The Training Course on ‘International Trade Statistics’ will include discussion activities with a focus on the following topics:

-Definition of terms, concepts and phrases

-Review of related manuals (BPM, SNA)

-Classifications and conversions

-Trade types

-Commercial transactions

-Units involved in trade

-Payment methods

-Statistical sources

-Special issues (smuggling)

-Trade valuation

-Trade at constant prices

-Working with real data(case: I.R.IRAN)

Sign up for an account at OIC-StatCom Forum (http://forum.sesric.org/) to join the group discussion on the Training Course on ‘International Trade Statistics ‘’ in Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is available at: http://forum.sesric.org/?p=30232

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SESRIC Training Course on ‘Banking, Insurance Statistics’ in Bangladesh

Date: 08-11 January 2017 Venue: Dhaka Bangladesh

In accordance with its 2016 Annual Work Plan and within the framework of Statistical Capacity Building (StatCaB) Programme, SESRIC will organise the Training Course on ‘Banking, Insurance, Financial Statistics’ at Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) of People’s Republic of Bangladesh on 8-11 January 2017.

The Training Course will be conducted by Ms. Moorashin JAVAN, Expert on Financial Statistics at the Statistical Centre of Iran (SCI), with the participation of relevant officials of BBS of Bangladesh.

As defined in the Classification of Statistical Activities (CSA Rev. 1 – October 2009; http://goo.gl/olg3Tz)); Banking, insurance, and financial statistics-covers money, banking and financial market statistics, including financial accounts, money supply, interest rates, exchange rates, stock market indicators, securities, bank profitability, private sector insurance and pension fund statistics, and financial soundness indicators.

The Training Course on ‘Banking, Insurance, and Financial Statistics’ will include discussion activities with a focus on the following topics:

-Institutional units & sectors

-Production dccount

-Valuation of output

-Financial sectors and sub-sectors

-Financial production

-Classification of financial assets and liabilities

-Valuation of transactions

-Measurement of FISIM

-Head offices and holding companies

-Issue of the Central Bank

-Life and non-life Insurance and Re-insurance

-Social Security: pension and non-pension schemes

-Standardized guarantees

Sign up for an account at OIC-StatCom Forum (http://forum.sesric.org/) to join the group discussion on the Training Course on ‘ Banking, Insurance, and and Financial Statistics ‘ People’s Republic of Bangladesh is available at: http://forum.sesric.org/? p=30233

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Chinese Vice President Meets with Foreign Minister of Maldives

BEIJING, China, 7 Jan 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao met with the Maldives Foreign Minister Mohamed Asim in Beijing Friday.

Li said that China regarded the Maldives as an important partner in building the 21st century maritime Silk Road.

Li called for boosting bilateral talks on a free trade agreement, and facilitating the joint project of China-Maldives Friendship Bridge, which connects Maldives’ airport island to Male, the capital.

Li also called for closer tourism cooperation and cultural exchanges between the two countries.

Asim said the Maldives sticks to the one-China policy and hopes to cement cooperation with China within the Belt and Road Initiative.

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Manila’s Golden Mosque enriched with carpets from UAE

MANILA, 6 January 2017, (WAM) – In a gesture of generosity, the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC, has donated carpets to furnish the Philippines’ Manila Golden Mosque and Cultural Centre.

Hamad Saeed Al Zaabi, the UAE’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of the Philippines, on Thursday supervised the laying of the carpets, the final touch in the furnishing process at the mosque and cultural centre.

The donation was in line with the embassy’s diplomatic efforts in the social sphere in the Philippines.

The local Muslim community and the mosque’s administration welcomed the gesture, and said that they hoped the Emirati charitable organisations will continue their humanitarian and charitable efforts to support the Muslim community in the Philippines and other countries.

Worshippers and the mosque’s supervisors also thanked the ERC for its humanitarian initiatives and the UAE’s government and people for providing humanitarian aid across the globe.

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Dates of GTDW Halal Trade Exhibitions

Manufacturing & Logistics

27th – 28th February 2017

InterContinental Jakarta MidPlaza, Indonesia

25th – 26th September 2017

Tower Hotel, London, United Kingdom

Stimulated by the growing needs of Halal products in Muslim community, the theme for GTDW 8.0 revolves around the trade element in 4 major industries of Halal products namely Food and Beverages, Pharmaceuticals, Meat & Livestocks and Cosmetics and how they incorporated Halal development in their manufacturing procedures. In conjunction of the new implementation of regulation by MUI, GTDW 8.0 will feature a presentation by MUI in details about the new regulation and updates of Halal industry in Indonesia. GTDW 8.0 will also feature a case study by the Head of Corporate Affairs Mondelez regarding the Cadbury issues in 2014 and how they tackled the issue in their favour.

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