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27 Feb, 2017

Maldives to host its first Int’l Travel Trade Show 12-13 July

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 27 February 2017 (30 Jumada Al Awwal 1438). Pls click on any of the headlines below to go to the story.



Islamic Travel Newswire, an influential and widely-read weekly compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam, seeks sponsors to fund its continued publication. Due to budget cutbacks, Tourism Malaysia has been forced to discontinue its 10 years of invaluable support. Executive Editor Imtiaz Muqbil will self-fund this publication in February and March 2017. After that, in the absence of sponsorship support, it will be shut down. If anyone is interested in providing sponsorship support, please email at imtiaz@islamic-travel-newswire.com.


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.





Maldives to host First Int’l Travel Trade Show 12-13 July

The first international Travel Trade Show of Maldives (TTM) is to be held on 12-13 July 2017 at Dharubaaruge, Male’, Maldives.

The TTM is designed to connect the travel trade community of the Maldives to the global network of travel trade professionals. It is being positioned as “a vibrant must-attend, business-to-business event presenting a diverse range of hoteliers to local & International travel industry professionals.”

TTM aims to facilitate the tourism industry of Maldives to reach the target of 2 million tourists with over USD 3.5 billion in receipts by the end of 2020. More than 300 hoteliers, suppliers, related industries and travel industry professionals from Maldives and abroad are expected to visit TTM to network, negotiate and discover the latest industry opinion and trends in Maldives.

Maldives recorded 1.2 million tourist arrivals in 2015 with a total of receipts around USD 2.5 billion. With the rapid changes in global travel markets, Maldives continues to strengthen its foothold as one of the leading tourist destinations in the world. While tourism still remains the leading economic industry in the country by far, innovative new approaches in marketing are required to ensure the sector remains at the top.

TTM will host over 100 exhibitors, including top resorts, hotels, airlines and other key stakeholders of the tourism industry. It will attract over 150 buyers, which includes top tour operators, DMCs and OTAs across the globe. Speed networking sessions will bring together exhibitors and selected buyers in one-on-one meeting sessions.

TTM is be the first travel industry event where MATI, MMPRC and MATATO participates as Associate Partners.

There will also be interactive talk sessions presented by the leading industry stakeholders of Maldives and the international travel market.

Organised by:


Founded in 2010, Maldives Getaways is a leading PR & marketing agency in Maldives. In addition, Maldives Getaways also offers various other services such as graphic design, content writing, web design, event management, publishing, photography & videography and market research & consultancy. www.getaways.mv


The Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) is a non-governmental, non-profit organization formed in 1982, for the purpose of promoting tourism in the Maldives. www.matimaldives.com

The Maldives Marketing & Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) is the national tourism office of Maldives. MMPRC is the flagship organization of Maldives responsible for promoting and selling Maldives as the most favored island destination in the world. www.visitmaldives.com

Maldives Association of Travel Agents and Tour Operators is the voice of the travel agents in Maldives. The mission of the association is “Taking travel and tourism industry of the Maldives forward through unity, empowerment and co-operation”. www.matato.org


www.champacentralhotel.com. Dharubaaruge, Male’ Maldives.

Registration Deadline: 31st March 2017

Further info: ttm@traveltrademaldives.com www.traveltrademaldives.com

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Malaysia’s Healthcare Eyes RM5 Bln In Contribution To 2017 GDP

KUALA LUMPUR, 20 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The healthcare industry is eyeing a revenue contribution of up to RM5 billion to Malaysia’s 2017 gross domestic product.

This is on the back of an estimated one million healthcare travellers visiting the country this year.

In 2016, the industry’s contribution to the GDP exceeded RM1 billion, said the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) in a statement here.

It said the prime market comprises travellers from ASEAN, but Malaysia’s healthcare segment has also seen steady growth with visitors from China and India.

MHTC said Malaysia’s medical travel sector, already a much sought-after choice in Asia, added another feather to its cap when one of its key drivers was honored on the international stage for outstanding contributions to global healthcare.

MHTC Chief Executive Officer Sherene Azli, joined the distinguished company of 50 other women from all walks of life, in beind recognised among “Outstanding Women in Healthcare” at the World Health and Wellness Congress 2017 recently.

The Malaysian healthcare travel sector has seen tremendous growth in recent years.

Sherene’s recognition will help drive Malaysian healthcare to even greater heights.

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Malaysia Galeri Petronas Showcases Creativity Of Indigenous People

KUALA LUMPUR, 23 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – GALERI PETRONAS Wed launched its first exhibition for 2017 titled Manah: A Living Legacy.

This exhibition features the artistic and creative expressions of Malaysia’s indigenous communities and their strong connection to the rainforest.

Manah, which means ‘ancient’ or ‘old way’ in the Temiar language, aims to feature the unique aesthetics of the country’s indigenous people which remain intact despite the influences of modernity, to reflect their identity and origins which are strongly linked to the ecology of the land they inhabit, a statement said.

Speaking at the exhibition launch, PETRONAS’ , the national oil corporation Chairman Sidek Hassan said, “This exhibition seeks to re-represent indigenous aesthetics in a new context, challenging the notion of indigenous culture as something that is mysterious, inferior or backwards.

One of the exhibition’s highlights are artworks from a new generation of young indigenous artists, namely Alena Ose’ Murang (Kelabit, Sarawak), Shaq Koyok (Temuan, Selangor), Kendy Mitot (Bidayuh, Sarawak) and Kaleb Anyie Udau (Kenyah, Sarawak). These contemporary art pieces are uniquely infused with their ancestral culture and heritage.

Curated by Associate Professor Dr. Baharudin Arus from University Malaysia Sabah’s Faculty of Humanities, Art and Heritage, the exhibition and documentation of Manah is a testimony to GALERI PETRONAS’ continuous commitment since the last 25 years in developing, promoting and preserving the nation’s visual arts heritage.

The exhibition is open for public viewing at GALERI PETRONAS on Level 3, Suria KLCC from 14 February 2017 until 16 April 2017. Admission is free. GALERI PETRONAS is open from Tuesday – Sunday, from 10:00am – 8:00pm.

GALERI PETRONAS is located at Level 3, Suria KLCC. It was established by PETRONAS with the aim to promote, develop and preserve contemporary art in Malaysia by providing a versatile, world-class platform for Malaysian and international artists to display their works and inspire industry thought leadership.

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Malaysia Airlines To Offer 25% Discount For China Flights

KUALA LUMPUR, 20 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) is offering 25 per cent discount for economy flights to Chinese cities of Nanjing, Haikou, Fuzhou and Wuhan for bookings made today until Feb 28.

In a statement, the national carrier said the promotion was valid for travel between Feb 22 and Aug 20, 2017, and fares included complimentary 30kg baggage, inflight meals and entertainment.

“The all-in return fares from here to Hong Kong (from RM559), to Haikou (from RM999), to Fuzhou and Wuhan (from RM1,099) and to Nanjing (from RM1,259) are valid for a limited time only.

“Guests travelling from Kota Kinabalu to Shanghai can enjoy all-in return fare from RM1,029,” it added.

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Malaysian Women More Advanced, In Forefront – PM Najib

PEKAN, Malaysia, 25 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Women in Malaysia are considered more advanced and in the forefront compared those in developing countries or other Muslim countries, said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

He said the achievement was the outcome of continued commitment and agenda that was given priority by the government in addition to the women’s attitude of being resilient, courageous, determined.

“Our agenda is still not over and more will be carried out. This is the ingredient for us to achieve more success. Women are not only to sit at the kitchen corner or lulling children or simply to run a household.

“But women are capable of multi-tasking besides being a mother and wife,women can add value to the family either in terms of economy or supplementing family income,’ he said when opening the annual general meeting of the Pekan Women Institute at Pekan UMNO building here today. (UMNO is a component party of ruling Barisan nasional)

He said women could provide valuable advice to their children so that grow up to be commendable and have good manners.

Also present was Pekan WI chairman Melati Ali.

Najib then referred to the implementation of the Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia and Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga (Tekun) Nasional which he described as one of the successful mediums which had helped empower women.

“Since 2009, almost 2.5 million women have received micro credit loans amounting to RM13.5 billion and, what is most interesting, is that 98 per cent of the women have been able to fully repay the loans.

“That is what is special about women. They can be depended upon or as the Kelantanese say, they are ‘juruh’,” he said.

Najib, who is also Pekan Member of Parliament, added the WI was close to his heart and that of his wife Rosmah Mansor because it was active in numerous activities that benefited its almost 2,500 members.

He hoped this would be emulated by other non-governmental organisations so that they could attract the people to join in the activities.

Meanwhile, in her speech, Melati said Pekan WI had implemented various programmes to empower women especially single mothers, including organizing tailoring and bakery courses with the cooperation of government agencies.

She said that the WI could also be described as the backbone of the prime minister’s programmes in Pekan as its members would be involved in the preparations.

“This is our way of helping the government in return for all that it has given us,” she said.

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# Malaysia To Have First Gamma Knife Centre

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia’s first Gamma Knife Centre, a non-invasive neurosurgical procedure which uses powerful doses of radiation to target and treat diseased brain tissue will benefit more than 40,000 patients every year.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said as the treatment focused
on the abnormal lesion, there was a greatly reduced chance of damage to the
surrounding tissue or nearby structures.

“It is only a one-day treatment and does not require hospital stay and most
patients will return to normal activities within a few days,” he told reporters
after the ground-breaking ceremony for the launch of the Gamma Knife Centre and
Crystal Ward at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) (National University) Medical Centre here.

Also present were UKM vice-chancellor Professor Dr Noor Azlan
Ghazali and UKM Kesihatan chairman Muhamad Ibrahim.

Gamma Knife, despite its name, involves no knife or scalpel but refers to a
radiosurgery where the ‘knife’ is some 192 precise beams of radiation that
attacks tumours and abnormalities, shrinking them over time or stopping their

The modern technology allowed physicians to operate on brain lesions often
considered inoperable, said Dr Subramaniam, adding that the centre was expected to be opened by year-end.


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Saudi King’s Visit To Bali To Boost Indonesian Tourism

NUSA DUA, Bali, Indonesia, 24 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s planned visit to Bali is expected to boost national tourism, according to Tourism Minister Arief Yahya, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported.

“If the king comes to Bali, then the people will visit too,” he stated after addressing the Regional Investment Forum 2017 here on Thursday.

According to Yahya, a visit to Bali is a royal family holiday.

King Salman is scheduled to arrive on a state visit in Jakarta on March 1-2 and will be holidaying in Bali on March 4-9, Antara reported.

“This is a golden opportunity for Indonesia to promote tourism,” Yahya said.

King Salman’s visit to Bali for a vacation is expected to have a positive influence on other people, especially those from the Middle Eastern countries.

Arief explained that travellers from the Middle East are premium-class tourists, with a high spending capacity of approximately US$2,000 in a single visit.

However, the number of Middle-East visitors to Indonesia is still low, at under 200,000, or still less than 300,000 and 600,000 tourists, respectively visiting Malaysia and Thailand.

King Salman’s visit is also a historic moment for Indonesia since the last visit of a Saudi King to the country was in 1970, or 47 years ago.

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Indonesian President meets 13 major Australian investors

Sydney, 26 February 2017, (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) held a business meeting here on Saturday (Feb. 25) with 13 major Australian investors during his state visit to Australia.

“Today, the president has begun his state visit and has held a business meeting with 13 major business players in the fields of mining, hospitality, and other fields,” Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said in Sydney.

She said that during the meeting, the Australian business players expressed their confidence to expand businesses in Indonesia.

According to the minister, one of the investors directly conveyed their expression of confidence (in the business climate in Indonesia).

Last year, they conducted a survey and found that Indonesia was among the top five countries which won the trust of investors and was given priority for their business expansion, Retno stated.

“I think it is very good if we are in the top five position of the Australian business players in Indonesia,” the foreign minister added.

In the meeting, the investors expressed their commitment to create business expansion in the coming years. “This is the first agenda, and in a few moments, the president will meet the New South Wales premier,” she noted.

New South Wales (NSW) has an important meaning for Indonesia, because in the Australian state, some 41,435 of the 68 thousand people are Indonesian citizens.

There are 20 thousand Indonesian students of whom half of them live in NSW.

“With NSW, the Indonesia-Australia trade will also be significant ,” Retno remarked.

Hence, the president will meet NSWs Premier Gladys Berejiklian to discuss the cooperation that could be established between NSW and Indonesia.

Jokowi will also join for dinner at the residence of Australian Prime Minister Turnbull. “This shows the closeness between the prime minister and the president,” she added.

The next day, Jokowi will have a tight agenda, including talks with Turnbull, which will begin as a one-on-one meet followed by a bilateral meeting, and the signing of a MoU on the maritime and creative economy sectors.

There will also be a state reception by the Governor General, which will be followed by a meeting and a lunch hosted by the governor general.

The final agenda includes a meeting between the president and the Indonesian society in Sydney.

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Training Course on ‘Labour Cost Statistics’ in Indonesia

Date :06-07 March 2017

Venue :Jakarta Indonesia

In accordance with its 2017 Annual Work Plan and within the framework of Statistical Capacity Building (StatCaB) Programme, SESRIC will organise the Training Course on ‘Labour Cost Statistics’ at BPS-Statistics Indonesia on 6 – 7 March 2017.

The Training Course will be conducted by Mr. Mehmet Akif Davarci, Expert of Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) of Republic of Turkey, with the participation of relevant officials of the BPS-Statistics Indonesia.

As defined in the Classification of Statistical Activities (CSA Rev. 1 – October 2009; http://goo.gl/olg3Tz); Labour cost – covers statistical activities on labour cost, earning and wages, both for structural and short-term statistics.

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

•   Introduction to Labour Cost Statistics:

◦   Concepts and Definitions of Labour Cost (ILO and SNA concepts)

◦   Deeper Presentation and Discussions of the Labour Cost Statistics

•   Discussion of Problems in Compiling Labour Cost Statistics

•   Data Sources and Compilation Methods

•   Data Processing of Labour Cost

•   Data Validation and Dissemination

•   Presentation of National Methods Practice and Approaches

Sign up for an account at OIC-StatCom Forum (http://forum.sesric.org/) to join the group discussion on the Training Course on ‘Labour Cost Statistics’ in Republic of Indonesia available at: http://forum.sesric.org/?p=30236

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70% of Indonesian villages have access to internet

Jakarta, 31 January 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian Ministry of Village, Disadvantaged Region Development and Transmigration stated that approximately 70 percent of more than 74 thousand villages in the country had access to the Internet.

“Only 30 percent of the total villages in Indonesia have not had access to the Internet. We hope that all villages across Indonesian territory will have access to the Internet this year,” Indonesian Minister of Village, Disadvantaged Region Development and Transmigration Eko Putro Sandjojo stated after the launch of an application for discussing ways to develop the village on Tuesday.

The application is android based and can be accessed as a forum of communication between village officials and facilitators for rural development. The application was created under cooperation between the ministry and the Australian government.

Through the application, village officials and facilitators can share information about the management of the village. As many as four provinces have become models for implementing the application, namely Aceh, West Java, East Java and West Nusa Tenggara, the minister said.

“In future, this application will be accessed by the local community, so that they can also monitor the management of the village,” he noted.

Sandjojo added that the application was expected to enable the facilitators to provide support and ideas more efficiently and effectively for rural development. The application will particularly provide the latest data and information to the ministry.

“Using the right data, it is expected to establish the right policy anyway,” he added.

The ministry can also use the application to monitor and analyze problems faced by every village to be discussed further. Through the application, the ministry can identify villages that require further support in implementing the Village Act.

The ministry can also use the application to provide guidance, regulatory updates and information to the village facilitators and authorities directly.

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Indonesia targeting to reduce plastic waste by 70%

Nusa Dua, Bali, 24 February 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian government aims to reduce 70 percent of the approximately nine million tons of the total plastic waste a year, as a contribution to protecting the environment.

“We have set such a target in our medium-term plan,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya stated during a campaign against plastic waste as one of the side events of the “World Ocean Summit” in Samuh Beach, Nusa Dua, on Thursday.

Taking into the account the fact that 14 percent of the total 65 million tons of waste in Indonesia is plastic and has detrimental effects on the environment, Nurbaya has encouraged greater synergy between the central and local governments to uphold the same commitment of reducing plastic waste.

According to the minister, communities that work for environmental protection and preservation cannot do their duty optimally if there is no support and commitment from the government.

At the same time, the ministry is still discussing and evaluating the plan to continue imposing the tariff trial on using plastic bags, which was earlier implemented in shopping centers and modern shops.

Nurbaya pointed out that such a policy has indeed helped to significantly reduce plastic waste. However, the government should also take into account the aspirations and interests of the merchants, retailers, and producers of plastics.

At a discussion with some related stakeholders, the use of biodegradable plastic emerged as one of the best solutions.

While the businessmen are taking some time to carry out the packaging process, if the policy to reduce plastic is implemented, they can also seek another opportunity by recycling the plastic waste.

The total ban on the use of plastic bags will also have an effect on the social outlook, mainly because plastic bags can still be used in traditional markets.

“Hence, the government must be able to negotiate by discussing with several stakeholders,” Nurbaya added.

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Jakarta MRT North-South Line Tunnel Completed

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 24 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The first phase of the Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) North-South Line tunnel has been completed, President Joko Widodo has stated, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported.

“The MRT is scheduled to be operated on March 2019. However, the MRT is expected to be ready for the 2018 Asian Games,” he said during his inspection here on Thursday.

The first-phase, stretching 15.7 kilometres from Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta, to the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in Central Jakarta, is part of the Jakarta MRT North-South Line from Lebak Bulus to Kampung Bandan in North Jakarta with a total length of 23.8 kilometers.

The North-South Line is expected to accommodate 433,000 passengers per day. The president expected the project to be completed on schedule.

With regard to funding, the head of state pointed out that funding sources could be created.

“State and local budgets can be combined to fund the project. In addition, the government can cooperate with business entities to fund the project,” the president pointed out.

The combination of funding should conducted to accelerate the development of infrastructure in the country.

“I think there is no complaint from ministries and state-owned enterprises on the issue of financing,” he affirmed.

During his review, President Joko Widodo was accompanied by Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono and Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

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Indonesian economic delegation departs for Iran

Kuala Lumpur, 25 February 2017, (IRNA( – Indonesia’s 46-member economic delegation departed Jakarta on Saturday for Tehran to kick off talks with Iranian officials in the field of trade, energy, banking and agriculture.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution is heading the delegation.

During 2-day visit to Tehran, the Indonesian delegation is to follow up agreements reached during the visit by President Joko Widodo to Iran last December as well as approvals of the 12th joint economic commission meeting.

Deputy Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Acandra Tahar is accompanying Coordinating Minister Nasution in this visit to follow up the negotiations on cooperation in the fields of oil, gas, petrochemical and electricity with Iranian officials.

Continuation of gas import by Indonesian State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Company (PERTAMINA) from Iran is one of the main subjects for discussion.

Considering Indonesia’s neighbors like Malaysia and Australia are among gas exporters, so price of liquid natural gas (LNG) is important for Jakarta and its officials are to discuss and consult on this issue in Tehran visit.

Nasution had recently said that LNG price in the Persian Gulf region currently is between 3 to 3.5 dollars for every cubic meter and considering geographical distance between Iran and Indonesia we hope it cost less than 6 dollars for the country.

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Indonesia Tourism to be prioritized for promoting investment

Jakarta, 26 February 1027, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian government has realized that investing in the tourism industry is a means of stimulating growth over the long term and enabling the poor to share in the economic gains.

Indonesia has huge potentials in the tourism sector that has yet to be optimally tapped. The country is blessed with serene natural beauty, unique and rich culture and local traditions, and one of most mega-biodiverse regions in the world.

The government has set a target to receive 15 million foreign tourists this year and 20 million by 2019. To achieve this goal, better infrastructure and facilities in the tourism industry are needed.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya and Chief of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Thomas Lembong delivered presentations on the country’s tourism potentials before some 400 investors attending the 2017 Regional Investment Forum (RIF) held in Nusa Dua, Bali, which is one of the world’s most famous tourist resort island, on Feb 23, 2017.

The tourism sector is the most inexpensive and easiest means for the government to boost economic growth and foreign exchange as well as create jobs, according to the minister.

Indonesia’s growth in the tourism sector in 2015 was far above that of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and also across the world, he noted.

“In general, Indonesia’s tourism sector grew by 10.3 percent, above the five percent growth recorded in the ASEAN and 4.4 percent in the world,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, the BKPM has promoted investment potentials in the tourism sector and its supporting infrastructure.

“The tourism sector and its supporting infrastructure, which is no less important, will become a priority to attract foreign and domestic investors,” BKPM Chief Thomas Lembong stated after opening RIF 2017.

The tourism sector is the new spearhead to boost investment for the Indonesian government, he noted.

Investment growth in the tourism sector reaches 18 percent annually, and hence, investors should capitalize on the growth, he remarked.

During the forum, representatives of the local administration and companies were scheduled to hold one-on-one meetings with potential investors.

The tourism sector has contributed Rp51.2 trillion, or around 2.2 percent, of the total investment realization over the past five years.

In 2016, domestic investment in the tourism sector was recorded at Rp2.2 trillion, while foreign investment reached Rp12.8 trillion, thereby totaling Rp15 trillion of investment in the tourism sector.

In fact, the BKPM has designed the Direct Construction Investment Service (KLIK) program for businessmen keen on investing in the tourism sector.

KLIK is a mechanism that allows investors to begin construction even as the application process for building permits, environmental licenses, and other regional licenses is still underway.

“The BKPM has, so far, made intensive coordination with the Tourism Ministry, as several developments need to be carried out. So far, we have been more responsive,” Lembong stated.

Previously unknown regions in Indonesia have now started receiving tourists, hence adequate infrastructure facilities, such as hotels, are needed to support the tourism industry, he noted.

He cited Manado in North Sulawesi as an example of a city experiencing a significant increase in tourist arrivals. Some 12 thousand Chinese tourists annually visited Manado, and now, the city receives 12 thousand Chinese visitors monthly.

The agency will offer the KLIK program to investors to build hotels in Manado and other regions, such as West Sumatra and Belitung.

Being relatively close to Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, as well as several Middle Eastern nations, West Sumatra and Belitung are potential tourist destinations, as compared to Bali and Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara.

Besides this, the government also plans to build an airport in North Bali, since the existing Ngurah Rai International Airport is quite crowded, and Bali remains the country’s main tourist destination.

The agency has launched 18 KLIK industrial zones in 16 districts and cities located in 10 provinces across Indonesia, bringing their total number to 32.

Most of the projects in the KLIK industrial zones are in the manufacturing sector.

The agency is expanding the coverage of the KLIK program to include the tourism and commercial sectors.

Synergy between the central government and local administrations in needed to speed up licensing services for the implementation of the program.

Meanwhile, investment realization in Indonesia had reached Rp612.8 trillion in 2016, surpassing the set target of Rp594.8 trillion.

“The realization of investment from January to December 2016 had reached Rp612.8 trillion, increasing by 12.4 percent, as compared to Rp545.4 trillion in 2015,” Azhar Lubis, the deputy for capital investment implementation control of BKPM, stated recently.

Lubis explained that the realization of domestic investment was recorded at Rp216.2 trillion, up 20.5 percent, while foreign investment realization reached Rp396.6 trillion, or an increase of 8.4 percent.

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Young Pakistani wins “Best Documentary Award” in Int’l Film festival

ISLAMABAD, 25 February 2017, (APP) – Sohail Asghar, a young documentary filmmaker of the Department of Media and Communication Studies of International Islamic University, Islamabad (IIUI) brought fame to the university by clinching Best Documentary Award in “LUMS International Film festival 2017” for his documentary titled Punishment for the crime not committed which was based on the subject “Swara or Wanni”.

The documentary focuses on heinous issue “Wani” through which women are punished for the crimes of their relatives, it takes you through as case study of a women, who fell prey to Swara when she was just 11 year old, Sohail told while talking to the IIUI Public Relations Officer, said a press release here on Saturday.

This festival was one of the largest film festivals in South Asia and the largest in Pakistan which gathered amateur and professional filmmakers from all over the world to express their creativity through film he added.

The student, at the Media and Communication Studies, was awarded a shield by Dr. Zafar Iqbal, Chairman of the department in recognition of his services.

He hailed his talent and said that Sohail had set an example for rest of the bright students of the department that hard work and passion could lead one to the destination of success.

Sohail has also won Best Documentary Award from International film and entertainment festival Australia 2016.

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Pakistan Arts Council to start music classes March 1

ISLAMABAD, 23 February 2017, (APP) – Pakistan National Council of the Arts
(PNCA) has scheduled classes of Music to impart training of basic
music to music lovers.

The six months course of music education will start from March 1. Training will be imparted in singing, key board, guitar and violin.

An official of PNCA told APP that the lower age limit for admission is 12 years.

He said that admission forms could be obtained from PNCA office,
plot No. 5, Sector F-5/1, Islamabad during office hours or can be
downloaded from the website, www.pnca.org.pk.

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Ship recycling contributing significantly to Bangladesh economy

DHAKA, 22 February 2017, 22, (BSS) – Industries minister Amir Hossain Amu today said ship recycling is contributing significantly to the national economy as the sector is supplying raw material to the steel and re-rolling mills.

“As a labour intensive industry, ship recycling is contributing 
significantly to the national economy by creating jobs and increasing 
earnings,” said Amu while speaking at the closing session of a workshop here.

Industries ministry organized the workshop titles ‘Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling/SENSREC’ with additional secretary Begum Parag in the chair.

Joint secretary Begum Yasmin Sultana, Norwegian ambassador in Dhaka Ms Sidsel Bleken and Dr Stefan Micallef of International Maritime Organization also spoke on the occasion.

Amu said the government has already taken steps to ensure a safe working place for ship recycling industry. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared the ship recycling as industry in 2011 as part of the government move to ensure green growth and green economy, he said, adding that the industries ministry has been implementing safe and environment friendly environment for the ship recycling.

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Bangladesh minister plans Anatomy Park in Chittagong

CHITTAGONG, 25 February 2017, (BSS) – Housing and Public Works Minister Engineer Mosharraf Hossain today advised the authority of Chittagong Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (CVASU) to take initiatives for setting up an anatomy park on the university premises.

He said there is much land in the university area which should be used for developing an anatomy park so that the people can enjoy their free time visiting the park.

“Take initiatives for an anatomy park and I will cooperate in this regard. I will fight for getting your project approved by the ECNEC (Executive Committee of the National Economic Council)”, the minister asserted.

Mosharraf said this while inaugurating the day-long Livestock Exhibition.

To mark the Livestock Week, Chittagong Divisional and District Livestock Office arranged the open exhibition on CVASU premises.

Addressing the inaugural ceremony as the chief guest, the minister said Bangladesh, though a small country, has achieved a major rank in fish production.

“We have won maritime boundary from Myanmar and India and there are huge resources within this boundary, which should be utilized”, he added. The minister also said Bangladesh is now self-reliant in food production and exports of foods to foreign countries.

Deputy Commissioner of Chittagong Mohammad Shamsul Arefin presided over the function while District Livestock Officer Dr Mohammad Reazul Hoque, among others, addressed it.

A total of 40 stalls have been set up in the exhibition.

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Bangladeshi expatriates to get Machine Readable Passports

DHAKA, 26 February 2017, (BSS) – Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal yesterday said Bangladeshi citizens abroad would receive their Machine Readable Passports (MRPs) within maximum seven days.

“The government would send the MRPs to Bangladesh missions abroad within two to three days through FedEx for quick delivery,” he said this as the chief guest, while addressing Passport Week at the Immigration and Passport Office in the city.

Asaduzzaman Khan said the Department of Immigration and Passports signed a contract with the Federal Express, a global courier service, for quick delivery of passports.

Director General of Department of Immigration and Passports and Managing Director of Federal Express signed the contract on behalf of their respective sides.

The minister said Bangladeshi nationals abroad usually receive their MRPs in two to three months after submission of their applications, as the passports were sent by diplomatic bags. Reading police verification and harassment of passport seekers, the minister said verification for passports by Special Branch (SB) is necessary, but harassment should be stopped.

He said the government has undertaken initiatives to stop harassment along with online verification process for quick verification.

Apart from this, Bangladesh has taken steps to launch e-passport service to curb corruption in making passports, the minister said.

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Bangladesh working to promote trade, business

RANGPUR, 24 February 2017, (BSS) – Officials of the Ministry of Commerce at a meeting here have said the present government has been working relentlessly to promote international trade and business for economic advancement of the nation.

They disclosed the information at the views-sharing meeting organised by Rangpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) at its auditorium in the city with Additional Secretary (FTA) of the Ministry of Commerce on Thursday night.

With RCCI President Abul Kashem in the chair, Members of RCCI Executive Committee and Board of Directors, leaders of Rangpur Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, businesspersons and industrialists, exporters and importers participated in the meeting.

Additional Secretary (Free Trade Area- FTA Wing) of the Ministry of Commerce Md Shafikul Islam and its Joint Secretary Md Badrul Hassan Babul attended the meeting as the chief and special guests respectively.

General Secretary of District Flour Mill Owners’ Association Alhaj Moyen Uddin, noted exporter Alhaj Mogreb Ali, former RCCI President Mostafa Sohrab Chowdhury Titu, its Senior Vice-president Mostafa Ahmed and Vice-president Mozammel Haque Dambel, importer Mesbahul Haque, President of Rangpur Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry Anwara Ferdousi Poly, addressed, among others.

The local businesspersons and industrialists discussed about the 
prevailing prospects and problems being faced by them in the international trade and commerce with Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) countries and Myanmar.

They urged for removing tariff and non-tariff barriers for exporting Bangladeshi goods to India, upgrading the Land Ports at Burimari, Banglabandha, Bangasonahat, Moghalhat and Chilahati to full-fledged Land ports like Benapole for expanding trade and commerce with the BBIN counties.

They also requested the Ministry of Commerce for formulating time- befitting policies for consumers’ product services, sales and marketing, establishing a special economic zone at Rangpur and continuation of providing 20 per cent cash incentives on potato export.

In reply, the chief guest said the present government through the Ministry Commerce had taken massive programmes for infrastructural development, modernisation, expansion and up-gradation of all 23 Land Ports of different dimensions in the country.

“The people of Rangpur region will start to enjoy the benefits within the next 5 to 7 years,” he said adding that the Ministry of Commerce would take effective steps to resolve the prevailing problems and issues in the export and import sectors.

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Japan Provides $3.3 Million For City Resilience Project

Kabul, 25 February 2017, (BNA) – The Government of Japan has announced a new project to assist the National Unity Government of Afghanistan to make Afghan cities safe, resilient and sustainable by reducing disaster risk, human and economic losses, a statement from the Japanese diplomatic mission said on Thursday.

The project would be executed through the technical assistance of UN-Habitat, and in collaboration with Independent Directorate of Local Governance/Deputy Ministry of Municipality (IDLG/DMM), Kabul Municipality, Ministry of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH) and Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), the statement said. The project would have special impact on the life of women and girls and vulnerable people in cities of Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif.

The relevant documents for “The Project for City Resilience” were signed at the Embassy of Japan in Kabul on February 22, 2017 between Mr. Kenji EONOSHITA, Charge d’ Affaires ad interim of Embassy of Japan to Afghanistan and Mr. Tim McNair, Country Program Manager of UN-HABITAT with the witness of H.E. Minister of MUDH Sayed Sadat Mansour Naderi, H.E. State Minister for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Affairs Wais Ahmad Barmak, H.E. Acting Director General of IDLG/Deputy Minister of Municipality Abdul Baqi Popal, and H.E. Acting Mayor of Kabul Municipality Abdullah Habibzai.

The project, approximately worth USD 3.3 million, would benefit about 4.2 million citizens in two cities through developing and implementing City Resilience Action Plan. City resilience would be enhanced through the analysis of city risk and resilience, disaster risk reduction campaigns and improvement of critical infrastructures, such as improving canal/river bank, drainage system, and vulnerable bridges and shelters.

The project would directly benefit about 54,000 people in target communities by implementing Community Resilience Action Plan which will strengthen the capacity of targeted urban communities, to prevent and reduce risk, and to prepare for disaster.

Communities will enhance its resilience through community-led activities, such as disaster drills, making schools/clinics resilient to earthquake and reinforcing vulnerable housings. It would also support capacity development of Afghanistan government for city resilience including developing building code and technical guidelines for housing.

“The expected start date of the project is April 01, 2017 and will be completed on March 31, 2019.” Japan has been assisting Afghanistan’s nation building efforts in various fields including security, health, culture, humanitarian assistance, agriculture, infrastructure and its capacity development.

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Afghan Historians uncover unique 19th century manuscript

24 February 2017, (Khabar Agency) – Historians have found a unique manuscript of the 19th century related to the the legendary Kazakh Khan Kenesary. All these years, the document was stored in the State Historical Museum in Moscow. It was discovered by scientist Ilya Zaytsev.

The manuscript was written in the Kazakh language in the Arabic script. It contains the memories by Ahmet Kenessarin about his father Kenesary Kasymov and his brother Sultan Sadyk. This document was translated into Russian and published almost 130 years ago in Tashkent.

However, the fate of the original manuscript was unknown for a long time known. The find was a landmark event for the orientalist, and its publication is a continuation of the large-scale work on the discovery of the new pages of the Kazakh history. The unique document was published in Moscow with the support of the Kazakh Embassy .

Ilya Zaytsev, Orientalist, Russia: Now we have the original manuscript. This is a very important piece of the Kazakh historiography of the 19th century. This is a memoir by Ahmed Kenesarin, son of the famous khan Kenesary Kassymov, who based on his own memories, and the memories of his brother Sadyk, described in detail the story of his father and his brother.

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Youth Play Key Role In Rehabilitation of Afghanistan

Kabul, 26 February 2017, (BNA) – Acting Minister of Information and Culture Dr. Kamal Sadat in a meeting with Member of Youth and Health Commission of Parliament Mujibul Rahman Samkani discussed related to improvement of youth condition.

In the meeting. Dr. Sadat briefed related to programs organized by deputy ministry of youth affairs for improvement of youth condition in the country as well as five years’ youth strategy encompassing training, health, sports, employment opportunity and capacity building.

He asserted that most of the country’s youth had high talents, could play effective role in development of the country and show merit if proper opportunities to be provided to them in training, higher education, vocational trainings, sports and other. Dr. Sadat stressed that participation of youth in various affairs would cause development of the country and asked youth to spend much of their time in higher education and studying and make use of active force for reconstruction of their country.

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Girls Futsal Competitions To Be Launched In Kabul

Kabul, 26 February 2017, (BNA) – To salute 8th March “Women Day” Afghanistan Futsal Committee will be launched girls futsal competitions as soon in Kabul city.

Abdul Sabour Walizada in-charge of futsal committee in football federation today told BNA reporter, the competitions to be conducted between 8 girls’ futsal teams in football federation gymnasium.

According to another reporter, Shaheen Asmayee football team after participation in Shaikh Kamal cup had returned home today.

Shams Amini member of publication in football federation said BNA, Shaheen Asmayee football team in the mentioned cup had three matches with Bangladeshi and Nepali football teams, in which won a match and lost two other matches.

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ADB lays plans for Afghanistan Development Projects

Kabul, 25 February 2017, (BNA) – Eklil Hakimi, Minister of Finance met Thomas Panella, Director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in his office here on Wednesday, a statement from the ministry said.

Both sides discussed projects of Asian Development Bank in 2017, implementation of developing project considering efficiency and effectiveness, review of project progress, annual meeting of Asian Development Bank in Japan and some other important subjects, the statement added.

According to another report, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) shareholders meeting was chaired by Eklil Hakimi, Minister of Finance on 21 February 2017 with the participation of the General Assembly of Shareholders, Ministers of Urban Development and Housing, Energy and Water, Economy, and the head of DABS.

Both sides discussed proceedings of the meeting of general assembly dated 1st April 2015, Approval of the financial statements of the years 2013 and 2014, Annual report of the board about the last fiscal year, appointing of new members, extension of the serving period of the company’s board of supervisor and some other important subjects and necessary decisions were made, the statement added.

In Addition, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) is a government company established and works based on the rules of Stock and limited companies of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. It aims to supply low-cost energy for economic ease in an efficient, certain, transparent and accurate way. It is responsible to run, tune, transmission and sale of Energy at the country, the statement concluded.

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Afghanistan Cricketers Create History at IPL Auction

Kabul, 21 February 2017, (BNA) – Afghanistan cricket broke a new barrier when Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan became the first from the war-torn nation to be picked in the Indian Premier League Player’s Auction, in Bengaluru, on Monday.

Both Nabi and Khan players were bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad, for Rs 30 lakh and Rs four crore respectively after five cricketers from Afghanistan were included in the auction for the first time. It was a bit surprising that seasoned all-rounder Nabi was snapped up at his base price while leg-spinner Khan got the benefit of a bidding war between Sunrisers and Mumbai Indians and was eventually sold for eight times his base price.

Both players are currently with the national team in Zimbabwe. “Feeling on top of the world, being selected for Team @SunRisers @IPL auction. Tnx for your love & support,” Nabi tweeted shortly after getting the big news.

N Nabi, a batting all-rounder who is also effective with his off-spin, was keenly tracking the auction alongside Khan and the rest of the players. While Khan doesn’t have experience of playing T20 leagues, Nabi has played in Pakistan Super League (PSL) and for Sylhet Royals in Bangladesh. 18-year-old Khan, known for his goodly, has 62 international wickets to his name, 31 each in ODIs and T20 Internationals.

Nabi is one of the senior most Afghanistan cricketers, having represented the country in 72 ODIs and 52 T20 Internationals. Afghanistan’s entry into the cash-rich IPL is a reflection of their gradual growth in international cricket. The team qualified for the World T20 in the last four editions and made its 50-over World Cup debut in Australia two years ago.

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Economic Development & Achievements In Afghanistan

Kabul, 26 February 2017,(BNA) – Peace, stability and security are the phenomena which can bring development and lead the country towards economic development and self-sufficiency.

Our country, suffered by three decades of continued war, needs now to be secured and renovated as by bringing security and peace we can lead the country towards economic development and stability.

Economy which can play vital role in development of a country and betterment of life condition of the people will bring considerable changes in current situation of the country if we have big infrastructural projects, a regular plan for agriculture, irrigation system and extraction of the country’s valued mines as well as plans for implementation of future economic plans in the country.

In coming solar year, the people of Afghanistan have lots of hopes and pray to have a peaceful and secured environmental to work for development of their country. This year, the government has a considerable achievement in peace process as by efforts of the government and the people Hebz-e-Islami Hekmatyar joined the peace process and the people of Afghanistan hope that other groups will join peace process in coming solar year and reach to lasting peace and the continued war in the country will end forever.

Currently, Afghanistan economy is getting better day by day as the government is making effort to address current security problems, implement big economic projects, end unemployment and poverty, prevent poppy cultivation and continue counter corruption effort in the country so that such efforts and developments will bring big changes in life condition of the people.

For further economic development in the country, the government should pay much attention to private sector and support them so that domestic products would be ready for exports to neighboring and other countries of the region as the private sector can play positive effective in economic development of the country.

On the other hand, security which can play key role in economic development of the country should be maintained because no steps would be taken towards better economic development without security and stability.

In Afghanistan, located in heart of Asia, stability is a key element for economic development. If there is peace and stability in the region, Afghanistan is a good place for regional transit and opportunity for implementation of big regional projects. Eventually, political and economic experts say and believe that the government by paying serious attention to government and private sectors, support industrial companies and their products and improvement of agriculture can bring considerable changes in life condition of the people and will lead the country towards economic developments.

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Iran to highlight maritime heritage of Caspian Sea

Tehran, 25 February 2017, (IRNA) – A plan for the identification of ancient ships and trading ports in the Caspian Sea in Gilan Province was launched on Saturday, the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) reported.

RICHT Public Relations Office quoted head of the plan and in charge of the operation of the archeological team under water Hossein Towfiqian as saying in the one-month plan coastal areas of the Caspian Sea in the vicinity of Gilan Province will be surveyed and archeologically identified for possible remains of the historical ships and ancient trade ports.

The archaeologist stressed that given the maritime navigation between the Iranian ports and the destination ports in the western coasts of the Caspian Sea, which had been a common practice since 500 years ago to date, the possibility of the existence of remains of historical ships in the Iranian coastlines of the Caspian Sea is not beyond expectation.

He further said that given the strategic position of the Caspian Sea in northern Iran, the study of navigation and maritime trade in this largest world lake, will play a significant role in the identification of trade and cultural relationships between the ever-green plains in northern Iran and economic and trade centers in the surrounding area such as the land of the Tsarist Russia.

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Iran Hits Oil Products Export Record

BAKU, 25 February 2017,(NNN-Bernama) – For the first time in Iran’s 100-year plus oil industry history, the country’s oil product exports reached 450,000 barrels per day (b/d) in 10 months of the current fiscal year (started March 21), CEO of the National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company (NIORDC) Abbas Kazemi said Friday, Trend news agency reported, citing Iran’s IRNA report.

The volume is expected to reached 600,000 b/d in the next fiscal year, IRNA reported him as saying.

Iran exports fuel oil, gas oil, kerosene and LPG. The country plans to commence the first phase of the Persian Gulf Star Refinery, with 120,000 b/d capacity to produce 12 million liters of gasoline and 4.5 million liters of gas oil per day.

Iran plans to increase its oil refining capacity from the current 1.8 mb/d to about 3.1 mb/d by 2021. The export of gasoline and gas oil is also expected to increase at least four times.

Iran has imported above 11 million liters per day of gasoline during the current fiscal year, but it is expected to be stopped in spring after commencing the first phase os Persian Gulf Star Refinery.

Kazemi said that the share of liquid fuels in Iran’s power plant fuelling was 48 percent in 2013, but the figure stands at 10 percent now.

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Iran has invested $2.7bn in Azerbaijan’s economy

Baku, 26 February 2017, (AZERTAC) – “Iran has invested 2.7 billion US dollars in Azerbaijan’s economy so far,” Minister of Economy, co-chair of the Azerbaijan-Iran State Commission on Economic, Trade and Humanitarian Cooperation Shahin Mustafayev has told a press conference.

“538 Iranian companies are engaged in various spheres of Azerbaijan`s economy. Azerbaijani companies operate in Iran as well. Iran is an important trade partner of Azerbaijan and the bilateral trade increased 70 per cent in 2016,” Mustafayev said.

He note that President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attaches great importance to relations with Iran. “The presidents of the two countries have met seven times, Azerbaijani and Iranian delegations have paid around 100 reciprocal visits, 40 documents have been signed and three meetings of the State Commission have bene held over the last three years,” the minister added.

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Iran, Indonesia stress commonalities, opportunities for cooperation

Kuala Lumpur, 24 February 2017, (IRNA) – Iran and Indonesia as two developing Muslim countries in Western and Southwestern Asia, respectively have many commonalities and such commonalities have created thousands of opportunities for the two countries, specially in the field trade and energy.

Indonesia as one of the main poles of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) experienced a six percent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) between 2008 and 2013 and is considered a newly-emerge economy with vast capacities for cooperating with other countries.

Iran also as one of the most notable Middle Eastern countries after the West lifted its unilateral sanctions is now in a path that Indonesia experienced in terms of growth in gross domestic product over past few years.

Iran’s conspicuous difference from Indonesia is in Iran’s access to vast energy resources, abundance of natural resources, population in proportion to paving the path of development and gaining access to it, having educated and skilled manpower as well as have varieties of climates which have created relative advantages for country.

The Iranian and Indonesian officials by knowing these capacities have increased their interactions since Indonesian President Joko Widodo took office concurrent with President Hassan Rouhani’s second year in office.

The visit by President Rouhani to Indonesia in May 2015 and the reciprocal visit by President Widodo to Iran in December 2016 as well as exchange of visits by the two countries’ other officials shows their political will to boost their interactions.

The capacities and advantages of the two countries will pave the way for broadening of cooperation in different sectors, including trade and energy, and this can eventually accelerate the pace of the two countries’ developments.

The development of cooperation with Indonesia for importing Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from Iran, the first step of which was agreeing with the purchase of over 500,000 metric tons of gas from Iran as some shipments have been exported as well as Iran’s commitment to conduct research on construction of an oil refinery in Eastern Java and a 5,000-megawatt in Indonesia are examples which further underline the need for mutual cooperation.

Iran’s first LPG shipment arrived in Indonesia in October last year which was regarded the first step in supply gas to Indonesia by Iran.

Indonesia is presently producing 817,000 barrels of oil per day and imports exactly the same amount, but the estimates say that Indonesia will be able to produce only 550,000 barrles of oil per day by 2020.

The two sides’ cooperation in operationalizing Ab Teymour and Mansouri oilfields in Iran can be considered as another positive step by the two strategic partners in the energy sector.

In spite of Iran-Indonesia cooperation in the energy sector which is needed by the two sides, their collaborations are not restricted to this field.

Some figures indicate that Iran’s non-oil export to Indonesia surpassed $50 million in the first six months of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2016-September 20, 2016) showing a 40-percent growth as compared with the previous year’s corresponding period.

Indonesia also exported different products such as palm oil, paper, coffee, tuna fish, auto parts and wood pulp for paper industry amounting to 117,800 tons.

The Indonesian ministers of economic affairs coordination and energy and mining resources will lead a 25-strong delegation to Tehran to negotiate with Iranian officials in the field of boosting mutual cooperation.

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Iranian film festival held in Lahore

Islamabad, 26 February 2017, (IRNA) – The Iranian Cultural Centre in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore is holding a two-day film festival at ‘Royal Palm’ and ‘Country Club’ centers.

Iranian films including ‘The Kingdom of Solomon’, ‘A Cube of Sugar’, The Painting Pool’, The Willow Tree’, are being screened in the festival.

Iranian cinema has been one of the main enthralling and appealing cinema industry in the world and has gained special status among the world’s cinema industry with its unique and innovative film directing techniques.

Earlier Iranian film director Sheyrar Behrani addressing the media said that Iranian cinema has full of energy and potential and collaboration with Iran and Pakistan film industry will pave the way to make innovative film direction in the world of film industry.

Iranian films are regularly shown in different Pakistani cities in which people show keen interest.

Two months back, an Iranian film festival was also held in Rawalpindi city which was attended by good number of people.

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Kyrgyzstan, Iran strengthen agriculture relationship

Bishkek, 24 February 2017,(Kabar) – The delegation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Land Reclamation of the Kyrgyz Republic, headed by Minister Nurbek Murashev visited Teheran from 19 to 23 February.

The press service of the Ministry reports that, the purpose of the visit was to discuss the prospects of bilateral cooperation in agriculture, private sector support to expand and diversify exports.

This trip is a continuation of the visit of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Kyrgyzstan in December last year, when the agreement was reached to strengthen relations between the two countries in the field of agriculture.

Minister Nurbek Murashev met with Minister of Agricultural Jihad, Mr. Mahmoud Hodzhati. During the meeting, the current Kyrgyz-Iranian relations in the sphere of agriculture, the possibilities of expanding and deepening cooperation were discussed. In addition, the sides discussed the potential of Iran’s consumer market to supply Kyrgyz processed products of meat, fruit and vegetables and the possibility of creating and maintaining agribusiness in the two countries, as well as to attract Iranian investments in the agricultural sector of Kyrgyzstan.

In addition, the Kyrgyz delegation met with the relevant Iranian businessmen to establish business contacts, visits to private facilities directly processing industry and research organizations.

The delegation included representatives of the business environment in areas such as the cultivation and export of beans, livestock.

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Kuwaitis Third Biggest Buyers Of Turkish Properties

ANKARA, Turkey, 25 February 2017, (NNN-KUNA) – Kuwaiti entrepreneurs came third, after Iraqis and Saudis, in property purchase in Turkey last Jan, according to statistics.

Turkish Statistical Institute said, in freshly released reports, that Kuwaiti citizens bought 115 plots in Jan, coming third after the Iraqis who topped the list with 279 purchased units, followed by the Saudis, 144, then came the Afghans, 107, followed by the Russians, 60.

Property sales to foreigners in Turkey dropped in Jan, by 5.2 percent, compared to the same month of the past year. Total sales amounted to 1,386 plots.

Realty sales in general climbed by 12.8 percent in Jan, compared to the same month of 2016. Number of plots sold in Jan amounted to 95,389, throughout the nation.

Istanbul ranked first in terms of plots’ sales, in Jan, where up to 15,807 units were sold, followed by Ankara, 10,686 and Izmir 5,665.

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Turkish Economy Hit By Fall in Tourism – IMF Study

ANKARA, 24 February 2017, (NNN-IMF) – Turkey’s previously booming tourism sector was gravely hit in the wake of a series of terrorist attacks and domestic political turmoil.

The dwindling number of visitors has hurt connecting sectors, chopping off about one percentage point of GDP from the country’s growth in 2016, according to a recent IMF study.

Just before 2016, Turkey grew into one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The growing network of the national air carrier, infrastructure development, hotel construction, and country marketing fueled the expansion.

To ease entry, only 3 percent of foreign tourists needed visas, diverting visitors from competitors in the Mediterranean, such as Egypt.

The thriving tourism brought in revenues equivalent to 3.7 percent of GDP and generated 600,000 jobs, or 2.3 percent of total employment. Another million jobs sprung up in related sectors, including restaurant and leisure industries.

The turn came in 2016, with a sharp rise in terrorist attacks coupled with political uncertainty.

Terrorist attacks – 400 in just 2015 from an average of 70 annually between 2010 and 2014 – resulted in a more than 30 percent fall in the number of European tourists who used to make up over half of the visitors.

The inflow of another important cohort, Russian tourists fell dramatically due to sanctions, including restrictions on charter flights and sales of travel packages.

According to staff estimates, a 10 percent decline in foreign arrivals translates into a 0.3–0.5 percent fall in GDP. Beyond hotels, restaurants and transportation, industries as diverse as telecommunications, retail trade, and textiles have felt the shock.

Studies show that the recovery is likely to be slow as repeated incidents of violence tend to have long-lasting effects on tourist arrivals.

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Qatar and Papua New Guinea to Establish Diplomatic Ties

New York, 23 February 2017, (QNA) – The State of Qatar and Papua New Guinea held today at the headquarters of Qatar’s permanent committee to the UN a signing ceremony for establishing diplomatic relations.

Qatar’s permanent representative to the United Nations HE Ambassador Sheikha Alia Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani signed the agreement represented in Qatar in the signing, while Her Excellency’s counterpart Max Hufanen Rai represented Papua New Guinea in the signing.

The two sides highlighted their commitment to enhancing cooperation in the political, economic, commerce, scientific, technological, and cultural fields. They also said they intend to establish bilateral ties in accordance with the UN Charter.

The two sides expressed their confidence that establishing diplomatic ties will contribute to developing bilateral cooperation.

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Qatar Tourism’s Direct Impact On GDP Reaches US$439 Milliion

DOHA, Qatar, 22 February 2017, (NNN-QNA) – The direct impact of tourism on the country’s GDP, during Qatar Shopping Festival, is estimated at QR1.6 billion (about US$439.4 million), the Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA), said.

Meanwhile, the direct impact of tourism, during Qatar Summer Festival, in Aug, 2016, is estimated at QR639 million (about US$175.4 million).

Speaking at the Festival’s closing ceremony on Tuesday, Director of Tourism Festivals and Events, at QTA, Mashael Shahbik, said that, the Qatar Shopping Festival also witnessed an increase in the number of visitors coming to the state, by 16.8 percent, compared to the same period last year.

Hotel occupancy rate in the hospitality sector reached 70.5 percent, during the Festival days.

She noted that, the growth was the result of promotions, recreational activities, and the events, which accompanied the Qatar Shopping Festival, in addition to other attractive festivals, held in the same period, such as Souq Waqif Spring Festival, Al Wakra Festival and others.

The Festival period recorded significant growth in the number of visitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), she said.

Total visitors from GCC citizens reached 188,513 visitors, during the period from Jan 7 to Feb 7, representing an increase of 23 percent over the same period last year.

Visitors from Saudi Arabia amounted to 133,849 visitors, during the Festival.

The half-term holiday in Jan, also witnessed a significant increase of 43 percent, in the number of visitors from Saudi Arabia, compared to the same holiday in 2016.

Meanwhile, Head of Tourism Development Sector, at QTA, Hassan Al Ibrahim, said, festivals and events are a key component of Qatar’s urban and family entertainment portfolio, which the country has taken great strides in developing, in line with the Qatar National Tourism Sector Strategy, and the needs of our visitors.

Forty-two small businesses took part in the festival, which exhibited locally designed and produced goods. The festival helped entrepreneurs gain exposure to visitors and residents.

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Shopping Mall For Women And Children Opens In Oman’s Salalah

SALALAH, Oman, 25 February 2017,(ONA) – “Ladies Mall” Complex, the first shopping mall, fully dedicated for women and
children, opened in Salalah, under the auspices of Dr. Rasheed bin Al Safi al-Huraibi, Chairman of the Tender Board.

The complex, which is located in the business district in Awqad, includes multiple services and activities for women, including a special section for children, theatre, restaurants, shops and a nursery, along with ATM and electronic payment services, as well as, services of some government institutions.

“Ladies Mall” Complex is designed to provide an opportunity for women, to work in commercial, economic and cultural activities, besides supporting producers in the field of entrepreneurial families, and enhance their role in society.

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Doha To Host Fine Arts Arab Forum In March

DOHA, Qatar, 23 February 2017, (NNN-QNA) – The Arab Forum for Fine Arts will kick off in Doha next Mar, with a wide Arab participation of elite Arab artists and critics, in different fields of Fine Arts.

The week-long event is organised by Qatar Fine Arts Association.

President of Qatar Fine Arts Association and the official sponsor of the forum, Adel Ali Ali, said that, the forum is a tribute to the pioneers of fine art movement, who exerted their art abilities and intellectual creativity, to improve the quality of art through their ideas and accumulated technical expertise, reflecting the social reality and the intellectual situation of the Arab World.

He said that, organising such cultural event comes in the context of the cultural renaissance and the artistic, cultural and creative prosperity, which Qatar has been witnessing.

Chairman of Qatar Fine Arts Association, Artist Yousif Al Sada, said that, the forum will include several activities, most notably a technical workshop and intellectual platforms concerned with fine arts.

The forum will conclude its activities with an exhibition, featuring products of the workshop.

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Sport facilities a key part of Kuwait vision ’35

KUWAIT, 26 February 2017,(KUNA) – Sport facilities and buildings are considered without a doubt one of the main elements in Kuwait Vision 2035 and through taking care of youths in Kuwait due to its tremendous benefits.

Among the most noticeable facilities in Kuwait is Kuwait’s Jaber International Stadium, which can hosts more than 60,000 fans.

Other sport facilities are spread in various clubs and swimming pool centers, in addition to Saad Al-Abdullah covered hall arena, Salem Sabah Squash hall and Kuwait Bowling Sport Club.

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More Needs To Be Done to Attract Chinese visitors to Gulf

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 23 February 2017, (NNN-WAM) – A Dubai-based tourism expert, said that, tourism hubs in the Gulf region should maximise their reach into China, the so-called travel mega-market, by offering more Chinese-oriented tourism goods and services.

Simon Press, senior exhibition director of the Middle East’s biggest tourism fair, Arabian Travel Market (ATM), which is to take place here at the end of Apr, made the remarks in an e-mailed statement.

The expert said, the Gulf Arab private sector is employing more and more Mandarin and Cantonese speaking staff, to help ease the language barrier and more Chinese businesses are operating their Middle East and Africa operations from the UAE.

“Chinese travellers like to spend their vacation in places abroad, where their language is spoken by hotel staff, tourist guides and retail salesmen,” said Amit Dhamani, CEO of UAE-based gold and diamond chain, Dhamani, whose branches were the first jewellry outlets employing Chinese staff, over a decade ago.

“With 4,000, mostly Chinese outlets, Dragon Mart retail centre in Dubai is a fine example of this,” added Press.

In the UAE metropolis, Dubai, home of the famous seven-star hotel Burj Al Arab, 540,000 tourists arrived from China in 2016, up from 450,000 in 2015, according to the official government-controlled Dubai tourism body DTCM.

Elsewhere, the Sharjah commerce and tourism development authority is preparing to welcome as many as 200,000 Chinese visitors to the emirates by 2021.

“There is every reason to believe that China will maintain its position as a top source market, moving forward,” said Press.

“Currently, 13 Chinese cities, including Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as, Hong Kong and Taipei, are connected to Dubai with more than 100 weekly flights,” he added.

Initiatives such as the Qatar-China 2016 Year of Culture, have also helped boost the profile of Arab states, with arrivals into Doha from Asia and Oceania reaching 342,976 in the first half of last year, he said, adding that, “it’s crucial that tourist hubs throughout the Middle East maximise their reach into mega-markets such as China.”

The UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, plans to attract 600,000 Chinese tourists a year by 2021. If realised, it would represent a 265 percent increase on the figures recorded for the first nine months of 2016, according to data from the emirates’ Tourism and Culture Authority.

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Kuwait launches TV channel to preserve heritage

KUWAIT, 25 February 2017, (KUNA) – Kuwait on Saturday launched the popular heritage television channel, Al-Gurain, coinciding with the national days’ celebrations.
 The new channel promotes Kuwait’s popular and genuine heritage, the country’s history and civilization.

Kuwait Television, umbrella of the new channel, feeds it with various items from its rich and precious archive, including works of stalwarts of the Kuwaiti arts and journalism.

Information Ministry Undersecretary Tareq Al-Mezrem has indicated that the launch of the new channel asserts the fact that Kuwait has turned into a key regional “media school,” noting necessity of safeguarding the national, historic and heritage’s identity, amid soaring competition among diverse TV channels and networks.

Name of the channel is Kuwait’s old name, he said, affirming that it will totally depend on the Kuwait TV archive and documentaries.

Meanwhile, Majid Al-Jazzaf, the assistant information undersecretary, indicated that the new channel’s program would be a blend of old and new movies, documentaries and drama works, adding that there would be coordination with other GCC TV stations.

Al-Gurain will broadcast round the clock on 11055 Nilesat and 12523 Arabsat.

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Madinah Al-Munawwarah seen as heritage, eco-tourism hub

19 February 2017, (OIC) – The Secretary General of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen stressed that Madinah Al-Munawwarah has the potentials to become a regional hub for heritage and eco-tourism, considering its peculiar ecological attractions, historical landmarks and opportunities for desert safari.

This was contained in his statement on the occasion of the inauguration of Madinah Al-Munawwarah as the capital of Islamic Tourism 2017 on Saturday 18 February 2017 under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, President & Chairman of the Board of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and was attended by His Royal Highness, Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Medina province and head of Tourism Development in the province.

The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has organised flurry of activities to celebrate Madinah as the capital of Islamic Tourism 2017 in addition to commissioning about 30 projects designed for the occasion among them launching of a tourist bus service to transport tourist across the historical sites of Madinah Al-Munawwarah in addition to commissioning a railway project and the launch of a program to preserve, restore and rehabilitate the historic mosques contained in Madinah Al-Munawwarah.

The OIC Secretary General felicitated with the Government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the decision of the OIC to grant Madinah Al-Munawwarah the award of capital of Islamic Tourism for the year 2017, stressing that the granting of the third edition of the award to Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah is indeed a clear testimony to the importance of the holy city in the realm of heritage and eco-tourism, in addition to its character as a preferred destination for Muslim pilgrims.

Al-Othaimeen also noted that the objective of establishing the award is to bring to the fore the growing importance of tourism in the cooperation framework of the Organisation, highlighting the OIC’s strategy for scaling up Islamic tourism through the development of tourism infrastructures, new investments in family-friendly hotels and leisure facilities.

It is worth noting that Al-Madinah al-Munawwarah was selected the ‘Capital of Islamic Tourism 2017’ during the 9th Session of Islamic Conference of Tourism Ministers (ICTM) held in December 2015 in Niamey, Niger, and was confirmed by the 43rd Session of the council of Foreign Ministers Of the Organization held at Tashkent, the Republic of Uzbekistan in October 2016.

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Abu Dhabi Hosts Middle East Investment Conference

ABU DHABI, 24 February 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Middle East Investment Conference, organised by Informa in co-operation with the UAE Chartered Financial Analyst Society (CFA), kicked off on Thursday at the Abu Dhabi Rosewood Hotel, under the patronage of Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court.

The conference brings together regional and international investment professionals to consider the most pressing issues facing investors today under the theme “Beyond Borders: MENA’s Role in the Global Economy.”

Amer Abdulaziz Khansaheb, President of the UAE CFA Society, said that the annual Middle East Investment Conference offers a forum for major specialists in the investment field to meet and discuss many topics and available opportunities in the current market.

He highlighted the UAE CFA Society’s commitment to maintaining the highest moral standards of investment practices to develop the sector in the UAE. Khansaheb said that an elite group of leading economic and monetary thinkers, both international and regional, will give their opinions about a wide range of topics that affect the Middle East.

Todd Buchholz, Former Director of Economic Policy, The White House & Economics Professor, Harvard, delivered the opening speech in which he recounted his personal experiences during his service at the White House. He summarised his views on the possible effects on regional policy of the latest events in the West.

Pippa Malmgren, Author, Economist & Co-Founder H Robotics, participated as speaker in the Middle East Investment Conference and gave the event’s main closing speech. She is also a previous member of the US President’s Money Market working team.

The event attracted over 300 international intellectual leaders, regional and international investment specialists who listened to more than 20 monetary and policy experts, including Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Global Market; Dr. Hatem Samman, Chief Economist and Economic Advisor, SAGIA, and Tim Fox, Executive Vice President, Group Chief Economist & Head of Research, Emirates NBD.

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‘Shop Bahrain’ Enhances Tourism, Retail Sectors

MANAMA, Bahrain, 20 Feb 2017, (NNN-BNA) – The organising committee of the third-edition of ‘Shop Bahrain’ has announced the success of the 30-day Festival, which ran from Jan 19 till Feb 18.

The Festival, co-organised by Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority and Tamkeen, and held in partnership with stakeholders from the public and private sectors, including Batelco, Gulf Air, and YK Al Moayyed & Sons, was able to enhance the Kingdom’s tourism and retail sectors, by providing a unique shopping experience filled with family entertainment and fun activities.

‘Shop Bahrain’ objectives were to attract families coming from around the GCC, to take part in the Festival’s various events and activities, which coincided with the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority strategy of increasing tourism revenues and contributing to the national economy.

The Festival has also welcomed more than 20,000 visitors in its first week, which is an increase of 7% in comparison to last year. The ‘Festival City’, the main event held during ‘Shop Bahrain’ at Bahrain Bay, witnessed more than 45,000 visitors over a period of 17 days.

Shop Bahrain was successful in attracting a large number of tourists from the Gulf region, which was a direct result of a Gulf-wide roadshow held in Jeddah, Doha, and Kuwait. The roadshow aimed to promote the Festival as part of the build-up to the launch and to encourage intra-tourism between Gulf countries. During the Festival, 80% of the tourists were from Saudi Arabia followed by Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates.

Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority revealed that, the occupancy of the 4- and 5-star hotels reached BD 9 million (USD 24 million), during that period, and that the occupancy totalled 73% across the serviced apartments sector, largely due to the attraction of family travellers.

The ‘Taste Tour’ that was held across 29 restaurants around Bahrain also attracted visitors.

Shop Bahrain’s various events and activities also attracted shoppers to join the events held at the participating shopping malls and enter the weekly raffle draws, with an increase in the number of registered shoppers to 70,000 in the Festival’s Loyalty System. The value of transactions during Shop Bahrain reached BD 8 million (USD 21 million) and the number of transactions made by shoppers increased to 130,000, in comparison to 60,000 posted last year.

“We are delighted to witness the success of the third edition of the Bahrain Shopping Festival ‘Shop Bahrain’ which further enhanced its position as a unique regional event that contributes to the Kingdom’s national economy and further positioning Bahrain as a welcoming family destination with close proximity,” Shaikh Khaled bin Humood Al Khalifa, the Chief Executive Officer of Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority, said.

“We also look forward to hosting the upcoming edition with better activities and events, as well as, provide them with more chances of winning.”

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Sword Equestrian Festival held in Doha

Doha, 25 February 2017, (QNA) – HH the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani patronized this afternoon the closing of HH the Emir’s Sword equestrian festival at the Racing and Equestrian Club, Al Rayyan.

The final races were attended by Sudanese President’s Assistance Abdulrahman Al Sadig Al Mahdi and Prince Abdulaziz bin Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia.

The festival closing was also attended by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalifa Al-Thani, HE Sheikh Jassim bin Khalifa Al -Thani, HE the Advisory Council’s Speaker Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khulaifi and a number of Their Excellences Sheikhs and ministers in addition to heads of diplomatic missions, horse owners and equestrian sport enthusiasts.

Following the races, HH the Emir handed over the Golden Sword to HE Sheikh Khalifa bin Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani, owner of the horse (Ebraz) the winner of the main (Eighth) race and handed HH the Emir’s award to Maher Ibrahim Lutfallah, owner of the horse (Chopin) winner in the seventh race.

HH the Emir also handed the Silver sword to Khalifa bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Attiyah, owner of the horse (AJS Gannas), winner in the sixth race.

HH the Emir also crowned the winners in the Showjumping Grand Prix held today as part of the Festival, where the winners were HE Sheikh Ali bin Khalid Al-Thani, first place, Abdullah Al Sharbatly – second, and Derin Demirsoy – third.

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Celebrated Iraqi Musician Named UNESCO Artist For Peace

PARIS, 23 Feb 2017, (NNN-UNESCO) – Iraqi composer and oud virtuoso Naseer Shamma has been named as a UNESCO Artist for Peace.

Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, announced the appointment in a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on Thursday Feb 23.

Shamma is appointed “in recognition of his commitment to support the musical education of young people in Iraq and beyond, his unfailing efforts to promote the message of peace through his performances and his dedication to the universal ideals and aims of the Organization”.

In his capacity as a UNESCO Artist for Peace, Shamma will support UNESCO’s work on education for peace among young people as well as the safeguarding of cultural heritage in Iraq and in the region.

Born in El Koute (Iraq) in 1963, Naseer Shamma is celebrated both as an oud performer and as a composer of music for film, television and the theatre. A graduate of the Baghdad Music Academy, Shamma heads the Arab Oud House in Cairo, which he founded in 1999.

Through his numerous tours, discs and publications, Shamma has won appreciation for the oud and for the rich repertoire of Arabic music well beyond the Arab world. He has also worked in association with leading western artists such as US jazz musician Wynton Marsalis.

Naseer Shamma is also renowned for his commitment to peace, a theme he promotes during musical performances, particularly with young audiences. He has created humanitarian associations such as “The Flower Road” and Ahlma to help children and displaced people. Since 2012, he has organized many concerts in Baghdad, particularly during the International Day of Peace celebrated on Sept 21.

UNESCO Artists for Peace are internationally renowned personalities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote UNESCO’s message and programmes. UNESCO works with these distinguished personalities to heighten the public’s awareness of key development issues and inform it of the Organization’s action in these fields.

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China to Implement Large Investment Projects In Babylon

Hilla, 15 February 2017, (NINA) – The governor of Babylon Sadiq Madlool al-Sultani announced that China approved to establish large investment projects in the governorate in housing, industry and agriculture areas in the coming period after obtaining the approval of the competent authorities.

He said, during a joint news conference with Chinese Ambassador to Iraq Chen Wei Qing on Wednesday and was attended by the reporter of the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / that “Chinese companies have proven ability and experience and high accuracy in implementing projects, including the sewage project in Hilla, which has arrived in its final stages and stop because of the economic crisis experienced by Iraq,” noting that “the Chinese ambassador announced his country’s readiness to complete the project through a loan and then pay it through pay on credit.

He noted that the project after its completion will actually improve the service in the province and rid many residential areas from heavy water and rain water.

He added that “China has made Offers to the local government for industrial investments in North Babylon to produce chemicals in addition to the development of the automotive assembly plant, pointing to the acceptance of bids concerning the establishment of residential complexes of 290 housing units with payment by installments.

For his part, Chinese Ambassador Chen Wei Qing said that the Chinese government considers Iraq important economic partner and it is seeking to open the doors of Chinese investors in Iraq and Iraq has a variety of economic and human resources.

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“Timeless book” marks 150 years of American Univ of Beirut

Beirut, 22 February 2017, (NNA) – “This was a labor of love,” said President Khuri at the book launch for Lead, Innovate, Serve: A Visual History of the American University of Beirut’s First One Hundred and Fifty Years. This is the culmination of years of work by internal and external teams whose vision was to tell the remarkable story of AUB in pictures, historical documents, and essays.

Trustees, friends, faculty, and staff stood in line to be the first ones to purchase the book and get it signed by the President and several of the contributors. After the official launch, Lead, Innovate, Serve will be available for purchase at the AUB Press in College Hall (B2) and at local bookstores. It will also be possible to order it from the AUB Press website.

Following the introductory section of this 273-page book, there are five chapters covering the different eras of AUB, from its founding to the dawn of a new millennium. Each of these chapters is preceded with one or two essays from an array of contributors, six of whom were present at the event to have personal conversations with attendees and co-sign the book.

President Khuri began by thanking the contributors for essays he described as “spectacular”: Nora Boustany on the foundation of the Syrian Protestant College, Kamal Badr on early medicine at the Syrian Protestant College, essays on the academic awakening at AUB in the sciences and the humanities after WWII from Makhluf Haddadin and Samir Khalaf, essays on the 1970s and 1980s from Makram Rabah, and a testimonial to the Medical School and Medical Center during this period from Joseph Simaan. In addition, Betty Anderson and John Waterbury wrote essays, but were unable to attend the launch event.

The President went on to thank Ada Porter, editor of the volume and Assistant Secretary of the University, explaining that he initially had reservations about this project when Ada told him she was making a coffee table book.
”My first instinct was to say ‘no, we don’t need another coffee table book’,” said President Khuri who added that he changed his mind when Ada told him “what this would encompass: the people, the places, the moments in history which were extracted from one hundred and fifty really timeless years.”

The book includes not only pictures but many reproductions of historic documents, letters, speeches, maps, journal entries, and snippets from campus life such as songs, student publications, and yearbook photos, offering a rare glimpse into the treasures held in the AUB Archives and Special Collections of the University Libraries.

After thanking the research teams, the Archives and Special Collections, and the AUB Press for their tireless work on this book, President Khuri commended Nour Kanafani and his team from Communication Design, who shepherded this project from initial concept to printing and binding.

“Nour Kanafani, who is our graduate, really slaved over this like it was his baby. I mean, every page, every graph, every photograph really was perfection,” said President Khuri. “He showed an alumnus who is deeply touched and loyal and inspired by his institution. I really think he did a magnificent job.”

All proceeds from the sale of the book go directly to the “150 for 150 Endowed Scholarship Fund,” which is only possible because this project was fully funded by the Strategic Partners for AUB’s 150th anniversary.

“This project was, along with other projects and all the celebrations, funded by our Strategic Partners,” said the President. “They allowed us to celebrate without taxing our students or our resources. So I really want to thank our Strategic Partners”

This is the second major publication for AUB’s 150th anniversary, joining One Hundred and Fifty, which includes academic essays examining the University’s history from diverse perspectives and points of view, published in February 2016. Together, these books will serve as a lasting testimony to the extraordinary influence of AUB in its first 150 years and will set the stage for the next 150 years.

“To the editors, designers, essayists, and contributors: thank you for this timeless book,” concluded President Khuri.

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23rd European film festival awards for Lebanese students

Lebanon, 03 February 2017, (EU) – At the closing of “La soirée des courts métrages libanais” organised in the framework of the European Film Festival, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Lebanon, Ambassador Christina Lassen, awarded the Lebanese Students Best Short Film Prize to two short films:

“Lam7a – A Glimpse” by Michele Tannous a graduate from the Lebanese American University. The jury praised the film for its originality in treating a very important subject and its maturity in dealing with archival footage. Michele Tannous will be invited to the 2017 Cannes Film Festival by Institut Français du Liban.

“Ombre” by Krystel Abou Karam, a graduate from Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA). The film impressed the jury by the unexpected turnout of the story. It succeeded in transporting the spectator to a different place from where it started.

Krystel Abou Karam will be invited to the 2017 Oberhausen International Short Film Festival by Goethe-Institut Lebanon.

Twelve short films, presented by twelve Lebanese audiovisual schools, were screened at the European Film Festival (Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts, Al Kafaat University, American University of Technology, American University of Science and Technology, Lebanese American University, Lebanese German University, Lebanese International University, Notre Dame University, Université des Pères Antonins, Université Libanaise, Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik and Université Saint-Joseph).

The jury was composed of: Mani Pournaghi, Director of Goethe-Institut Libanon; Theo Caillat, Chargé de mission cinéma at Institut Français du Liban; Jim Quilty, Culture Desk Editor at The Daily Star; Nayla Rached, Culture journalist; and Nisrine Wehbe from Metropolis Association.

After congratulating the two winners, Ambassador Lassen said that “the purpose of the European Film Festival is to strengthen ties between Europe and Lebanon and to send our guests on a journey of cultural discovery. This journey has allowed us to discover, alongside dozens of European films, a new generation of Lebanese filmmakers who have impressed us with their talent and creativity.” She wished good luck to all the graduates of the Lebanese audiovisual schools “who are the future of film making in Lebanon.”

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46 Jordanian companies take part in Gulfood in Dubai

AMMAN, Jordan, 25 Feb 2017, (NNN-PETRA) – Some 46 Jordanian food processing companies will take part in Gulfood 2017, which will kick off in Dubai next Sunday, said head of Jordan Exporters Association, Omar Abu Wishah.

In a statement, released on Friday, Abu Wishah said that, the Jordanian companies taking part in the event include, meat processing, dairy, poultry, drinks, refreshments and other companies.

The Jordanian stand, he added, will extend over 700 square metres.

“The association is keen to take part in the event, every year, to allow Jordanian companies, to network with traders taking part in Gulfood, in order to exchange expertise and sign business deals,” the head of the association said.

Gulfood is the region’s biggest food exhibition, which is held annually, with the participation of many countries.

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Int’l Palestinian diaspora conference held in Turkey

ISTANBUL, 25 February 2017, (KUNA) – The first international conference of the Palestinians in exile opened here on Saturday, with a broad participation.

“The conference reflects a sincere expression that our people abroad are determined to get their rights, achieve fair demands, liberate territories, end the Israeli occupation and establish an independent state,” Hisham Abu Mahfouz, the head of the organizing committee, said in his opening speech. He added that Palestinian people abroad seek to be engaged in different Palestinian platforms.

The event is an embodiment of cohesion amongst Palestinians live at home and abroad, he said, indicating that Palestinians staying overseas are a main pillar in supporting their brothers at home.

Abu Mahfouz underlined the necessity of coordination amongst Palestinian communities and unions all over the world, and launch common projects to serve the Palestinian cause.

He further said that “we are here to send a message to the Palestinians at home to end the current division so as to unify efforts in resisting the Israeli occupation.” Meanwhile, the conference’s chairman, Anees Qassim, said “we have passed through many tragedies, but the worst one is the Oslo Accords so we must work together to destroy it.

He called for restoring the rights of the Palestinian diaspora from Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

Up to 5,000 Palestinians headed to Istanbul to take part in the two-day event.

The number of Palestinians live outside Palestine, mainly in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Gulf, is estimated at five million.

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Jordan Tourism Minister Visits St Joseph Monastery In Lebanon

BATROUN, Lebanon, 21 February 2017, (NNN-NNA) – Jordan’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister, Lina Enab, currently in Lebanon, visited on Monday, the Jrebta St. Joseph Monastery, where the St. Rafka shrine is situated, in the district of Batroun, where the Minister was greeted by Monastery head, Melanie Maksoud.

After touring the various sectors of the Monastery and St Rafka’s shrine and museum, Minister Enab listened to a briefing on the life of St. Rafka and the history of the Monastery.

Speaking to reporters afterwards, Enab said that, she is currently on a visit to Lebanon, to have a closer look at the significant religious sites across Lebanon, saying, “The visit comes in the framework of bolstering exchange between Lebanon and Jordan, at the level of religious tourism.”

“Tourism means to build bridges of love and peace, and there is nothing as beautiful as the religious spirituality bridge, which can connect people to each other,” she said.

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Jordan holds global healthcare travel forum

25 February 2017, (AMMONNEWS) – Prime Minister Hani Mulqi Saturday opened the Global Healthcare Travel Forum under the theme “Globalization of Healthcare”, which is organised by the Private Hospitals Association in cooperation with the Global Healthcare Travel Council (GHTC), currently headed by Jordan.

The opening ceremony was attended by HH Princess Ghaida Talal, chairperson of the King Hussein Cancer Foundation, and HH Princess Dina Mired, President of the Union for International Cancer Control, as well as ministers, parliament members, heads of diplomatic missions and hospital directors.

The three-day gathering of more than 500 sector representatives from about 40 countries aims to highlight Jordan as a premium global healthcare travel hub and a key destination for many Arab and foreign nationals.

In opening remarks, Mulki conveyed the King’s wishes to the conference to achieve the aspired-for goals, stressing medical tourism, not only as a healthcare sector, but a key contributor to the national economy and to many other sectors.

He said the Kingdom had built an integrated healthcare system, which was second to none, through investment in national human resources and continued cooperation between the Health Ministry, Royal Medical Services and university and private hospitals.

Over the last decades, Mulki pointed out, the Kingdom had become a role model with tremendous achievements in the various sectors, namely healthcare, which had made major leaps despite limited resources and the difficult conditions in the region.

Jordan, he said, had maintained its stability and resilience as it weathered the wars and catastrophes surrounding it, forged ahead with comprehensive political, economic and social reforms and made long strides to become a bright spot that won it admiration by all.

The prime minister commended the “noble services by our doctors and hospitals to Jordanian and Arab and foreign patients”, and hailed the Private Hospitals Association for marketing the Kingdom as a distinguished healthcare and medical travel destination at global forums.

He pledged to take down all barriers and take various measures to promote the country’s healthcare status, support investment, expand the health sector and sign international agreements in that respect in order to build on achievements.

HH Prince Ghada said that, thanks to its Hashemite leadership’s vision of development and modernisation, Jordan had become a leading healthcare model, stressing the need to upgrade medical service to patients and maintain excellence.

She said that the Al Hussein Cancer Centre had in 15 years gained the most important international accreditations as a specialised cancer treatment facility offering treatment to patients from Jordan and Arab countries according to the highest international standards.

Minister of Health Mahmoud Sheyab said the health sector, which had the direct support of His Majesty King Abdullah, had in the last years made quantum leaps that gained it its reputation at the local, regional and international levels. He noted the highly-qualified human resources, internationally-accredited hospitals and medical centres and their low-cost treatment.

The minister said the medical accountability legislation is in the process for endorsement by parliament.

Private Hospital Association and GHTC president, Fawzi Al-Hammouri, said healthcare travel is a key economic sector, noting that studies pointed that medical tourism around the world accounts for over $100 billion annually with a growth rate of 5 per cent, which prompted more world nations to endeavour to become healthcare destinations.

“We look through hosting and organising this forum in Amman to put the spotlight on the enormous potentials and the many qualities of the Jordanian medical sector”, said Hamouri, noting the Kingdom’s qualified medical and nursing cadres and its friendly investment climate which encourages investment in the private hospital sector, which accounts for 60 per cent of the county’s hospitals.

The Global Healthcare Travel Forum’s agenda includes a host of topics, including global medical tourism destinations, legislations, regulations and accreditation, buyers and patients perspective, excellence in medical care and medical tourism education and research, medical tourism marketing and branding and expanding the scope of healthcare travel.

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Jordan Queen Hails Schools for Promoting Healthy Practices

AMMAN, 23 February 2017, (MENAFN – Alghad Newspaper) — Her Majesty Queen Rania honoured 67 schools as recipients of the Healthy Schools National Accreditation for the academic year 2015-2016.

Under the patronage of Her Majesty, the Royal Health Awareness Society (RHAS) held an interactive two-day workshop at Al Bayader Secondary Vocational School for Girls to publically recognize the past academic year’s accredited schools.

The project aims to foster health conscious environments within Jordanian schools by ensuring their adherence to national health standards.

In the presence of the Minister of Health, Mahmoud Sheyab, and Minister of Education, Omar Razzaz, the Queen congratulated the accredited schools, commending their efforts in elevating their students’ well-being and positively impacting their home and learning environments.

Her Majesty said that the program’s success has been a collaborative effort resting on several parties, including, schools, parents, the local community, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, and RHAS.

She also underlined the importance of continuously reviving these accomplishments and enlarging the circle of success to encompass a greater number of participating schools.

The Queen commenced her visit with a stop at a healthy food preparation station headed by Chef Jamie Oliver’s Super Ambassador, Chef Mira Jarrar. Her Majesty observed Chef Jarrar introduce the girls to basic healthy food preparation methods, and arbitrate a friendly comptition between them.

The school’s teachers were invited to join Her Majesty in a brief and informal discussion on the necessity of promoting healthier practices within Jordanian schools, voicing their support of RHAS’s accreditation program and the benefits reaped as a result.

Parents and guardians also partook in a separate discussion with The Queen. A number of member-parents of the school’s health committee highlighted their roles in advocating the program’s objectives and complementing the school’s efforts by maintaining similar health standards at home.

The school’s principal, Amneh Qazaa, delivered remarks followed by a video reflecting back on the program’s milestones. Attendees including teachers, local community members, and school staff were given the opportunity to share their personal experiences with the program, and encourage others present to consider adopting its practices.

The Healthy Schools National Accreditation program was first implemented by RHAS in 2008 in partnership with the ministries of health and education.

Depending on their overall accreditation scores and the duration of their participation in the program, schools are recognized as recipients of either the bronze, silver, or gold levels of accreditation.

Of the 67 schools that were honoured, 8 received the gold accreditation, 19 received the silver accreditation, and 40 received the bronze accreditation.

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Lebanon launch tourist circuit between Jbeil and Batroun

21 February 2017, (NNA) – United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ministry of Tourism, the Municipality of Jbeil, and PRODES Association launched today the new touristic circuit “Rural Routes Between Jbeil and Batroun” linking together 20 villages from the districts of Byblos and Batroun. This project aims to expand economic opportunities, particularly for women, and create jobs in these villages.

The launching ceremony, organized by PRODES Association (Promotion et Developpement Social), and the USAID-funded Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD) project, in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism, brought together more than 80 experts and stakeholders from Lebanese rural communities.

“The launch of the Rural Routes circuit is an important step for the socio-economic development of the 20 villages included in this touristic circuit. It is within the aim of the Strategy for Rural Tourism Development for Lebanon launched in February 2015 and implemented by the Ministry of Tourism in partnership with civil society,” said Ms. Nada Sardouk, the Ministry’s Director General.

USAID’s representative voiced the importance of promoting the rural tourism sector as a key driver of the rural economy and the importance of partnering with local stakeholders and the private sector to enhance economic growth.

“Rural Routes between Jbeil and Batroun is a pioneer project that enables socio-economic growth in the region. It will be linked to ‘La Maison du Tourisme’ that will be launched in 2017 for it to be known on a larger scale,” said Mr. Ziad Hawat, President of Jbeil Municipality.

“Our main objective is that the families living in these villages improve their living conditions which can be done by expanding job opportunities and activating tourism in the area. Having such great potentials of cultural heritage, diversity, activities, make these villages a pole for touristic activities,” said Juliana Najem, head of PRODES Association.

This new circuit promotes the touristic attractions of each village by focusing on general and historical information, touristic sites, available rural activities, and services including lodging, food and beverages, as well as local products.

Information on Lebanon Industry Value Chain Development (LIVCD)
With funding from the presidential initiative “Feed the Future”, LIVCD is a five-year USAID project created to improve Lebanon’s economic stability and generate income for small businesses while creating jobs for the rural population, in particular women and youth.

The project provides financial support, facilitates access to markets, introduces new technologies, improves marketing, and creates ties between producers, suppliers, processors, and others to help small businesses network and become more efficient. A major component of the project is to increase competitiveness, increase incomes, and create job opportunities in rural areas.

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Palestinian from Bethlehem wins Arab Idol title

BEIRUT, 26 February 2017, (WAFA) – Palestinian finalist Yacoub Shahin Saturday won the Arab Idol title in the fourth season of the biggest singing show in the Arab world.

Shahin, 24, from the city of Bethlehem, the occupied West Bank, became the second Palestinian to win the title after Mohammad Assaf, from the Gaza Strip won the second season of the show in 2013.

Shahin competed against Amir Dandan, a Palestinian from the Israeli village of Majd al-Krum, and Yemini national Ammar al-Azaki.

After being crowned as winner, Shahin dedicated his victory to his fellow contestants and the Palestinian people in Palestine and abroad.

“The title is just a name for me and I dedicate it to my real idols, Ammar and Amir,” said Shahin as he wrapped up a powerful performance of the famous song “Wein A’ Ramallah” with Dandan and Assaf after his won.

Thousands of proud Palestinians including Shahin’s family and friends gathered in Bethlehem’s Manger Square where a big display screen was set up for people to watch the final episode and enjoy both Friday’s performances and watch the live announcement.

Large screens were also set up in Dandan’s hometown where thousands gathered to cheer for Dandan who managed to build an immense fan base in a very short time.

Yasser Abbas, son of President Mahmoud Abbas, General Manager of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation Ahmad Assaf, and Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun attended the final performance in Beirut on Friday.

The show’s host, Egyptian singer and actor Ahmad Fahmi, said the fourth season had the largest number of votes cast yet in all four seasons.

As winner of the show, Shahin will join a trip with other Arab singers and celebrities on the entertainment cruise ship ‘Stars On Boards’ and will be signed to Platinum Records label to launch his music career.

“Arab Idol” is the Arabic version of the American singing show “American Idol”.

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Experts Gather At UNESCO On Safeguarding Heritage In Iraq

PARIS, 23 Feb 2017, (NNN-UNESCO) – A meeting at UNESCO on Feb 23-24 will bring together Iraqi and international experts to examine the condition of cultural heritage in the liberated areas of Iraq, determine priorities for its preservation, identify initiatives to protect archaeological sites, urban heritage, religious monuments and places, museum collections and historical manuscripts, and prevent looting and illicit trafficking.

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, will open the International Coordination Conference on the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Liberated Areas of Iraq with Mohammad Iqbal Omar, Iraq’s Minister of Education, and Feryad Rawnduzi, Iraq’s Minister of Culture.

Some 80 participants will meet in working sessions focused on protecting archaeological sites and preventing their looting, focusing on sites such as Nimrud and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) and Hatra.

Other major concerns to be addressed include the condition of museums and their collections, and preventing illicit trafficking of objects. Sessions will also focus on the current condition of historical buildings and religious heritage, and their conservation needs.

The meeting will conclude with the adoption of a prioritized action plan of emergency and mid-term safeguarding projects which will be shared with UNESCO Member States in an information session destined to garner support for their execution.

The meeting is organized by UNESCO and the Iraqi Ministry for Culture, with financial support by the government of Japan in the framework of the project Preventive Conservation of Iraq’s Museum Collections and Cultural Heritage at Imminent Risk, carried out by the UNESCO Iraq Office.

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Algeria to hold 49th National Carpet Festival 21 – 24 March

GHARDAIA, 23 February 2017 (Algeria Press Service) – The National Carpet Festival will take place from 21 to 24 March in Ghardaia (600-km south of Algiers), said Thursday the province.

This festival aims at developing the expertise of craftsmen and weavers and highlighting the cultural, economic and tourism assets of the region of Ghardaia, known for its heritage potentialities, said the source.

It is an opportunity to raise the awareness for the preservation of the cultural heritage related to craft trades, said the source, stressing the need to develop cultural heritage passed down from generation to generation.

Through this event, the local authorities seek to shed light on the wealth and cultural diversity of this region, by presenting the various artistic creations conveyed by the carpet, to strengthen the identity of the region and promote its attractiveness in economic investments, according to the source.

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EgyptAir unveils guiding prices for season’s Umrah tours

23 February 2017, ((MENAFN – Daily News Egypt) – EgyptAir penned its guiding price lists for Umrah tours this season, with the Islamic months of Rajab and Sha’ban including four segments depending on travel date and route.

The first segment is priced at EGP 5,570 to Jeddah, while the second comes at EGP 5,780 to Medina.

The list indicated that if travel and return dates come on Thursdays or Fridays, the prices to Jeddah increase to EGP 5,660 from Cairo and EGP 5,850 to Medina.

Moreover, for flights taking off from the Borg El-Arab airport in Alexandria, the prices are EGP 5,660 to Jeddah and EGP 5,780 to Medina.

As for tickets from Luxor, the prices to Jeddah come at EGP 4,950, while tickets from Aswan to Jeddah register EGP 5,050.

Umrah flights are set to begin on 29 March.

A senior source at EgyptAir said the decline in the foreign exchange rate will not impact the prices of tickets.

He explained that EgyptAir did not price its tickets according to the highest exchange rate, but rather the average rates.

He added that the company may consider cutting the prices if the exchange rates remain low on the official market.

EgyptAir had earlier posed a 25% discount from 20 to 23 February on Umrah tickets.

EgyptAir will rely on a fixed schedule of flights, with ten flights to Jeddah and five to Medina. The company will manoeuvre the models of the planes according to needs.

The source pointed out that the company has been receiving requests from tourism companies to book flights.

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Egypt – Toyota alliance plan Suez Gulf wind farm

23 February 2017, ((MENAFN – Daily News Egypt) – Toyota, Orascom, and GD France alliance awaits the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) to complete the land allocation agreement for the Gulf of Suez wind farm and to complete financial closure and sign the power purchasing agreement with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC).

Sources at the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy said that the terms have been agreed upon, that the land will be allocated soon, and that the power purchasing agreement is to be signed within two months.

The sources noted that the ministry agreed to moving arbitration outside of Egypt, but have not decided on a location yet.

The sources pointed out that the ministry will buy the energy at EGP 4.6 per kw/h, which is the cheapest price for wind energy.

The sources explained that the ministry agreed to move arbitration as the alliance did not change the price following flotation.

The Ministry of Finance had approved the government’s guarantee of payment in case of dispute over the establishment of the Gulf of Suez wind farm, which sports a capacity of 250MW.

Basedon the ministry’s decision, the state will be responsible for providing official financial guarantees to pay the companies’ dues if the Ministry of Electricity fails to pay the price of produced energy. Such guarantees are always provided for projects agreed to be implemented by the private sector.

The Ministry of Electricity will buy energy produced from the station for 25 years at a price that was agreed upon in accordance with the offer made in the tender. Furthermore, the ministry will sell the produced energy to the distribution companies.

The ministry had started negotiations with GD France, Toyota, and Orascom after its negotiations with Lekela Power-Actis—which had presented the lowest prices—were stalled, because the company did not complete the procedures and requirements announced by the ministry.

The ministry seeks to produce 20% of the total national electricity grid through new and renewable energy by 2020, as part of the ministry’s plan to diversify its sources of energy production and sustainable development in the sector.

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Agricultural Museum Documents Egyptian-Chinese Friendship

Cairo, 24 February 2017, (Xinhua) — Occupying a massive area of land with eight premises separated by large gardens near downtown the capital Cairo, Egypt’s Agricultural Museum is a distinguished destination for those seeking knowledge and entertainment at the same time.

Despite the name suggestion, the museum is not only about the history of Egyptian agriculture, but also an encyclopedia of sculptured and stuffed objects portraying the Egyptian life from the time of the Pharaohs until the modern age, including the agricultural tools, the habits and traditions as well as the animals, reptiles and birds of different times.

“The museum is considered the first one worldwide specialized in agriculture. It portrays the history and development of Egyptian agriculture throughout ages. It was established in 1930 and was opened to visitors in 1938 by King Fouad I at the estate of Princess Fatma Ismail. So it was a palace turned into a museum,” Mamdouh Mostafa, the general manager of the museum, told Xinhua.

In the middle of the museum lies the Scientific Collections Museum, the central one of its eight sections, where the first floor depicts the everyday life and social habits of the Egyptian countryside, and the second contains a collection of scientific objects including skeletons of whales, camels, sheep and other mummified mammals, reptiles and birds.

The main hall on the first floor displays statues of a wedding procession, where a bride on a camel’s back is leaving her parents’ house to her husband’s. The left and right sides show a variety of rural craftsmen such as basket makers, glass furnace workers, tattoo makers, candy sellers and others.

“The museum is one of Egypt’s forgotten landmarks although it contains a lot of interesting pieces for those seeking knowledge and also enjoyment. We came from Fayoum province especially to visit the museum and we have really been impressed by the skeletons of animals and reptiles,” said Ahmed Gibreel, a 37-year-old teacher.

His veiled wife Nagwa said she liked the rural life part most.

“It depicts exactly the wedding in the countryside. When my cousin was a bride, she left her parent’s home to her husband’s on a camel’s back compartment just as portrayed in the museum,” she told Xinhua.

Of the rest of the seven premises, the recently-established Egyptian-Chinese Friendship Museum is most worth mentioning.

The Egyptian-Chinese Friendship Museum is located right near the main gate of the Agricultural Museum, with a 3×2 meter ceramic painting of the Great Wall of China at the entrance which leads to black-and-white and colored photos of meetings of Egyptian and Chinese leaders.

“I like the museum so much, especially the part about Egyptian-Chinese friendship, because it displays beautiful and attractive Chinese photos, paintings and ceramic works. The museum is generally amazing as it features artifacts that we cannot see anywhere else,” said Tasneem Mohamed, a prep school female student.

Many of the contents of the Egyptian-Chinese Friendship Museum have been furnished by the Chinese side, and the displayed Chinese paintings were granted to the museum as a gift after China joined an art exhibition in Egypt.

“This special section was initiated by the Egyptian-Chinese Friendship Association and it was opened to the public in 2013,” said Gamal Ramadan, the manager of the Egyptian-Chinese Friendship Museum.

“It is meant to document with photos and arts the depth of the Egyptian-Chinese ties and emphasizes the cultural interaction between the Egyptians and the Chinese as nations of two ancient civilizations,” the manager told Xinhua.

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Egypt garners global attention thanks to Messi’s visit

23 February 2017, (MENAFN – Daily News Egypt) – On Tuesday, Argentinean football star Lionel Messipaid a visit to Egypt to promote the ‘Tour n’ Cure’ campaign.

Prime Pharma is the company which organised the campaign, which primarily aims to motivate patients of Hepatitis C worldwide to consider treatment in Egypt.

After arriving in Egypt, Messi headed to the Pyramids, which he toured in the afternoon. Furthermore, a photo shoot for the campaign took place there.

After his visit there, he went to launch the campaign at the Mena House Hotel, where several prestigious figures attended.

On Wednesday, international newspapers and news websites focused on the news, including the ‘Daily Mail’, which wrote about the visit under theitle ‘Lionel Messi takes a break from Barcelona troubles with trip to Egypt.’

The Daily Mail explained that the football star is supporting a campaign that aims to fight Hepatitis C, as well as promoting tourism to Egypt. The country offers efficient and relatively cheap treatment of the virus.

In addition to English newspapers and websites, Spanish ones also focused on the visit, including ‘La Vanguardia’ and ‘El Mundo Deportivo.’

It seems that the presence of Messi achieved its goals, as Egypt managed to portray itself as a safe country. It was also promoted as a country that is efficiently able to treat patients with Hepatitis C.

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Air Algerie To Launch Oran-Montreal Flights In June

ORAN, ALGERIA, 24 Feb 2017, (NNN-APS) – Air Algerie intends to launch services between Oran and Montreal in June, says the national flag carrier’s Regional Director (West), Kara Tourki Arslane.

Kara Tourki said this in a media statement issued here Thursday on the sidelines of the 8th International Tourism and Travel Fair, SIAHA 2017, which was opened earlier by Minister of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry Abdelwahab Nouri.

Three Oran-Montreal flights a week will be scheduled after completion of studies and compliance with the necessary procedures in force, said the official, who noted that Oran already had direct flights to Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Air Algerie has offered discounts on fares for flights on its domestic and international networks ranging from between 50 and 55 per cent in conjunction with the SIAHA 2017 exhibition.
The discounts will apply to tickets purchased from Feb 23 to 25 and will be valid for travel until Oct 28, 2017.

The 50 per cent discount applies to flights from Oran to Paris, Lyon, Marseilles, Lille, Metz, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Alicante, Frankfurt, Brussels and Casablanca while the discount of up to 55 per cent will apply to flights from Oran (via Algiers) to Amman, Beirut, Dubai, Lisbon, London, Tunis, Rome, Milan, Vienna, Montreal, Beijing, Moscow, Abidjan, Bamako, Dakar), Niamey, Nouakchott and Ouagadougou.

Tourist groups from northern regions of Algeria will also benefit from a 50 per cent discount on domestic flights to Adrar, Ghardaïa, Timimoun, Tamanrasset, Djanet, Illizi, Béchar, Ouargla, El Oued and from the south to Algiers, Annaba, Oran, Constantine and Tlemcen.

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“Photo marathon d’Alger” exhibition inaugurated

ALGIERS, 26 February 2017, (Algeria Press Service )- A collective photo exhibition dedicated to the province of Algiers kicked off Saturday at the literary café “Le sous-marin” in Algiers.

Entitled “Photo Marathon Alger 2016,” the exhibition includes the works of the winners and finalists of the eponymous event that took place for the first time in Algiers in October 2016, which brought together nearly 70 professional and amateur photographers.

This major photo exhibition, which took place simultaneously in seven other towns including Marseille (France), Beirut (Lebanon), Naples (Italy) or Naples (Italy), encompassed more than 3000 photos illustrating 12 themes related to immigration, work, dreams or traveling.

The winner of this photon marathon “Wiame Lasri” exhibits a series of photos reflecting a travel perspective in a photo of railways boarding the town.

Photographer Dihia Gacia, finalist of the competition, illustrated the works and efforts of those she called as “The hero of the society”, namely dustmen.

Photos of the winners of others towns have been exhibited like the work of French Jean Michel Melat Couhet, a portrait of Maghreb immigrants in Marseille and Lebanese Wissam Andros’s one showing a master craftsman at work in addition to several other award-winning photos in Italy and Slovenia.

The closing ceremony of this exhibition will take place on 4 March and will be marked the screening of Tariq Taguia’s “Revolution Zendj” movie, said organizes.

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Algeria investing in renewable energies to diversify national supply

ALGIERS, 24 February 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – Algeria, which celebrates the 46th anniversary of the nationalization of hydrocarbons, continues to invest in fossil energies while launching a massive development programme of renewable energies to diversify the national supply and carry out its energy transition successfully.

For the next five years, oil production will record a rising curve reaching 75 million tonnes in 2017 and 2018, and 77 million tonnes in 2019 to set at around 82 million tonnes in 2020.

Sonatrach has devoted annual investments of more than USD9 billion between 2015 and 2021 in exploration projects, whose first results allowed recording an increase in the production since 2016 after several years of decline.

The primary hydrocarbon production increased to 196 million tonnes of oil equivalent (TOE) in 2016 against 191 million tonnes of oil equivalent in 2015, while the marketed volumes reached 163 million tonnes of oil equivalent with 108 million for exports and 55 million tonnes of oil equivalent to meet the demand of the local market.

The national production of natural gas will reach 141.3 billion m3 in 2017 then 144 billion m3 in 2018, 150 billion m3 in 2019 and 165 billion m3 in 2020.

In terms of refining, Sonatrach has launched a programme to construct four (04) refineries with a capacity of five million tonnes each, in Hassi Messaoud, Tiaret, Skikda and Arzew.

For the optimization and development of products coming from the refinery of Skikda, two other projects have been launched, namely the complex of cracking of fuel with a capacity of 4.5 million tonnes for the maximization of diesel oil, and two complexes of reforming of naphtha with a global capacity of 3.4 million tonnes for the maximization of petrol production.

In petrochemistry, Sonatrach is, currently, in discussions with various international technologist partners for the execution, in partnership, of five (05) petrochemical projects.

Placed by the government as a national priority to preserve fossil resources, extend permanently the country’s energy independence and diversify the sources of electricity, the National Renewable Energy Development Programme provides for the production, by 2030, of 22,000 megawatts of electricity from renewable sources, destined for the local market, in addition to 10,000 megawatts to be exported.

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Algeria Tourism office at ITB Show in Berlin

ORAN, 25 February 2017, (Algeria Press Service) -The National Tourism Office (ONAT) will take part in the International Trade Show of Berlin -ITB- (Germany) on 8-12 March, ONAT announced Saturday in Oran.

ONAT will lead a delegation made up of 10 public and private trade agencies and two craftsmen who will exhibit Algerian traditional crafts, the Office’s director of Administration and means Medjdoub Mourad said on the sidelines of the SIAHA 2017 exhibition, which will wrap up Saturday evening in Oran.

As part of a program draw up for the year 2017, ONAT’s will partake in several international tourist events in Milan (Italy), Tunis and Paris (France) with a view to promoting “the Algeria destination,” stated the same official.

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50 theatrical works at Algeria’s National Single Show Days

ORAN, 04 November 2015, (Algeria Press Service) – About fifty theatrical works are scheduled at the National Single Show Days which will held from 20 to 25 December in Oran, said the event’s organizers.

Organized by the cultural association “El Amal” of Oran under the slogan « Tomorrow’s theatre,” this event will be marked by the participation of specialists in monologue, one man show, monodrama and stand up, according to the association’s president.

The performances produced by dramatists from the west of the country will take place in the auditorium of the small theatre “El Amel” of the association and in Oran’s conservatoire “Ahmed Wahby” of Oran, said dramatist Mohamed Mihoubi.

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Algerian President calls for speeding up reform programmes

DJELFA, 24 February 2017, (Algeria Press Service)- President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika called Friday for carrying on and speeding up the execution of national reform programmes.

“The State must carry on and speed up the execution of our national programmes and the reforms initiated by the different economic and administrative sectors,” the head of State said in a message on the occasion of the double anniversary of February 24, which marks the creation of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) and nationalization of hydrocarbons, read on his behalf by the adviser at the presidency of the Republic, Mohamed Ali Boughazi.

President Bouteflika said “the State should also bring more harmony between its commitment to preserving workers’ purchasing power and assisting the destitute, on one hand, and regulating the market and protecting consumers from speculation, the erosion of their income and the deterioration of their living conditions, on the other.”

“Algeria remains the country of pride and dignity for all its children, a country that guarantees the right to a decent living to all its citizens, a country committed to protecting the rights of its workers and retirees, a country anxious to preserve the future of the rising generations.”

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UAE Opens Visa-Issuance Centre At Embassy In Tunisia

TUNIS, Tunisia, 25 February 2017, (NNN-WAM) – A visa-issuance centre, for the UAE Embassy, in the Tunisian capital, was inaugurated by Ambassador of the UAE to Tunisia, Salim Eisa Al Qatam Al Zaabi.

The UAE, led by its President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has a keen interest in promoting and enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries, the ambassador said, in a speech delivered at the opening ceremony, attended by Tunisian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Khemaies Jhinaoui, heads of Arab diplomatic missions and Emirati diplomats.

The opening of the centre will facilitate the issuance of visas and provide good services, he noted.

Jhinaoui hailed the opening of the centre, describing it as a significant step, towards promoting the solid UAE-Tunisian relations, and supporting trade and economic co-operation between the two countries.

Omar Al Tenaiji, head of the visa-issuance centre, Mohammed Juma Al Ghafli and Sultan Obaid Al Kaabi of the UAE Mission in Tunis, and Awadh Al Ketbi, Charge d’Affaires of the UAE Embassy in Libya, attended the ceremony.

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Algerian Union to encourage consumption of local products

DJELFA, 23 February 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – Secretary General of the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) Abdelmadjid Sidi Said underlined, Thursday in Djelfa, the union’s pride in defending the national economy and encouraging the consumption of local products.

In a statement on the sidelines of the 3rd ordinary session of UGTA national executive committee, Sidi Said stated that the results of the public authorities’ policy for the promotion of national economy and the support of local production “have begun to be visible on the ground, through the willingness expressed by citizens to consume local products, following the decisions to ban the import of many products.”

UGTA chief said that the “development of national economy remains dependent on the support and the improvement of local production, through the solidarity between the State, UGTA and employers’ organizations.”

He also praised the State’s investment policy, which aims at making of Algeria “a politically and socioeconomically strong country,” and hailed the stability restored thanks to “the well-guided policy of President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the architect of the Charter for Peace and the national reconciliation.”

The official festivities marking the 61st anniversary of the UGTA creation and the 46th anniversary of the hydrocarbon nationalization, observed on 24 February every year, will be held this year in the province of Djelfa (275-km south of Algiers).

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Kyrgyzstan Medical Academy to cooperate with Kuwait Univ

Bishkek, 24 February 2017, (Kabar) – Kyrgyz State Medical Academy is considering cooperation with the University of Kuwait. The 3rd year student of Kyrgyz State Medical Academy Alikhan Ibraimov handed over the corresponding proposal of Rector of the Kyrgyz State Medical Academy Indira Kudaibergena to Kuwait University rector, Professor Hussein Al-Ansari, the press service of the Ministry of Education and Science reports.

The Kuwait rector said that it is time to establish contacts with colleagues from Bishkek for the exchange of students and professors, to organize joint bilateral and multilateral scientific conferences and symposia.

Alikhan Ibraimov has visited Kuwait with a delegation of Kyrgyzstan on the all-Arab ethnographic games, at the invitation of the President of the Committee of these Games, Sheikh Hussein Eldavas.

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Tourists visiting Azerbaijan grew 12.1% in 2016

Baku, 25 February 2017, (AZERTAC) – A total of 2,248,000 foreigners visited Azerbaijan last year, a 12.1 percent growth against 2015, according to the State Statistical Committee.

Official figures suggest that the majority of visitors were from neighboring countries, including 33.1 percent from Russia, 22.5 percent from Georgia, 14 percent from Turkey, 11.1 percent from Iran, and 19.3 percent from other countries.

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Alicante tourism officials seek to attract Azerbaijani tourists

Madrid, 19 February 2017, (AZERTAC) – Tourism officials of the Spanish city of Alicante seek to attract tourists from Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan.

A tourism delegation of Alicante has recently visited Baku and Almaty to explore opportunities for increasing tourism numbers.

Vice president of Alicante tourism council Eduardo Dolon told local portal diarioinformacion.com that both Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have rapidly growing economies. “Their people have high purchasing power, and are interested in making tourism visits,” he added.

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Astana hosted traditional folk music concert “Zhyr Bastau”

23 February 2017, (Khabar Agency) – Astana hosted traditional folk music concert ‘Zhyr Bastau’. It was performed by the soloists of Astana State Academic Philharmonic, traditional folk music team ‘Korkyt’ and Folk Dance Ensemble ‘Shalkyma’.

Spectators plunged into the atmosphere of ancient Kazakh traditions. Kazakh folklore had been formed over the centuries. The combination of different genres was observed in all stages of Kazakh musical art development. Remarkable ancient pieces of oral folk art are still extant.

Seken Syzdyk, Head Of Section, State Academic Philharmonic: Kazakh folk songs have great power. Performing them, singers demonstrate the richness and beauty of the Kazakh language. We give concerts every month. This time performance held across the country featured such genres as “terme” and “zhyrau”.

Kazakh national folklore is the unique national heritage. According to organizers, the audience will enjoy more of the Astana State Academic Philharmonic performance.

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Azerbaijan, U.S. universities sign cooperation memorandum

Baku, 22 February 2017, (AZERTAC) – Azerbaijan Technical University and the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) have signed a memorandum of cooperation.

The document was signed by acting rector of Azerbaijan Technical University Khalig Yahudov and chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley Nicholas Dirks.

The memorandum gives Azerbaijani teachers and students the opportunity to study and conduct researches at UCB in 2017-2020 academic year.

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Kyrgyzstan, Guangdong province to boost business deals

Bishkek, 24 February 2017, (Kabar) – Consul General of Kyrgyzstan in Guangzhou (China) Maksat Tentimishov held a meeting with executive director of the Logistics Association of Guangdong province Ma Zhenhun, the press service of the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry reported.

At the meeting the sides discussed the issues of establishing business relations between Kyrgyzstan and the Logistics Association Guangdong province, transit of Chinese goods through Kyrgyzstan to other countries in the region.

In order to promote exports of Kyrgyz goods to the market of Guangdong province, the Chinese side will provide accommodation for the goods from the Kyrgyz Republic at the exhibition complex of the Association.

Following the meeting, the sides agreed to organize a trip to Kyrgyzstan in May and June of this year of a delegation of representatives of state institution of Guangdong province, the Association of logistics companies, educational institutions and producers that are interested in exploring business opportunities.

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Kyrgyzstan’s export up 5.1% in 2016, to Europe by 44.3%

Bishkek, 24 February 2017, (Kabar) – Exports in 2016 increased by 5.1%, including to Europe by 44.3%, Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic Sooronbay Zheenbekov told at the ceremony of awarding the winners of the National Award “Best Exporter of the Kyrgyz Republic” on the results of 2016, the governmental press service reports.

“Export takes a crucial role in economic development and is one of the main factors of growth. To support and develop the export potential the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic approved the export development program for 2015-2017.

Within the program it is planned to launch a project on financing export-oriented enterprises, providing for the allocation of budget funds to subsidize interest rates on concessional lending of export-oriented companies. The final interest rate for exporters would be significantly lower than the commercial – 10% per annum,” the Prime Minister said.

Zheenbekov stressed that Kyrgyzstan has the most favorable conditions for tax exemptions for exporters, the fundamental condition – the zero tax rate on sales.

“These circumstances provide a competitive advantage to domestic exporters.

To improve access to information about the export potential and export opportunities a trade portal will be created, information campaigns be conducted. However, it is necessary to continue systematic work to improve the quality level of production management in order to bring them to the level of international quality standards.

Since August 12, 2017 EEU technical regulations on food safety shall come into force. Exporters need to be prepared for the new requirements of the standards and quality control,” the Prime Minister said.

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Kazakhstan exports 960 types of goods to 117 countries

24 February 2017, (Khabar Agency) – Kazakhstan exports more than 960 types of goods to 117 countries. This was announced by the Kazakh Minister of Investment and Development Zhenis Kassymbek.

According to him, the investment climate is improving in the country in accordance with the OECD standards. As a result, there is an increase in exports of electrical engineering, metal, rubber and plastic products, building materials and other products, the minister said.

This year, the Ministry of Investment and Development also intends to intensify efforts to support domestic producers, exporting their goods to the markets of Russia, China, Iran, Turkey and the European Union, through organization of trade missions, financing of export transactions and reimbursement.

Zhenis Kassymbek, Kazakh Minister Of Investment And Development: In the first 9 months of 2016 the gross inflow of direct foreign investments increased by 27.3%, amounting to 14.5 billion dollars. There is a positive investment trend in the economy.

Kazakhstan will soon develop its National Strategy to attract investment. It will identify priority sectors and niches for foreign businessmen, as well as systemic measures to improve the investment climate. The World Bank experts will be attracted to this type of work. A list of prospective projects will be formed before the end of March, specifying financing needs in various sectors and regions of the country.

Zhenis Kassymbek, Kazakh Minister Of Investment And Development: We will intensify the work on the implementation of joint projects. In particular, with Russia we are looking at 18 projects. There are other promising projects with Iran, France, Japan, South Korea, Poland, and China. Overall, we have about 300 of these proposals and projects.

Meanwhile, the agency intends to attract multinational companies. To do this, a national company “Kazakh invest” will be created in the country. Its representatives will hold talks with major investors on behalf of the government.

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South Korea plans to export goods to Europe via Kazakhstan

24 February 2017, (Khabar Agency) – South Korea plans to export goods to Europe via Kazakhstan. For a country of morning freshness the route through Kazakhstan is the shortest route to Europe. Incheon seaport in the Yellow Sea is South Korea’s second largest harbor. Goods bound to Kazakhstan have already been shipped from here. From Incheon the ships will sail to the Chinese port of Lianyungang.

From there, the containers will be delivered by rail to the border with Kazakhstan. There is also another route. From Busan the sea cargo arrives in the Russian port of Vostochnyi, then by rail to Novosibirsk and from there to Kazakhstan. The volume of shipments of the two seaports is about 50 containers per day.

The freight includes car parts, electronics and plastics for bottles manufacturing. Our country is interested in these goods coming through China and for this purpose Kazakhstan has built a terminal in the Chinese port of Lianyungang. The South Korean exporters are planning to send their cargo through these routes.

RYU JAE EP, PRESIDENT LOGISTICS COMPANY: Transportation of goods by sea from Korea and Japan to Europe is about 45 days, and by rail through China and Kazakhstan it only takes 21 days. We are negotiating with representatives of the countries. If the costs, in general, are reduced from $ 4,000 to $ 2,000, we can send freight twice per week, which makes up 82 containers. It is beneficial for all countries involved in the project.

The first block of forty-one containers from South Korea and Japan to Europe via Kazakhstan is planned to be sent from the Chinese port of Lianyungang on the first of April this year.

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Arab-Indian Partnership Conference to be held in December

Muscat, 8 Nov 2017, (ONA) — Said bin Saleh al-Kiyoumi, Chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) announced in a press conference held today in OCCI building that OCCI will organize on December 14th the 2-day 5th Arab-Indian Partnership Conference at Barr al Jissah Resort under the theme “Partnership towards Innovation and Cooperation in Information Technology”.

Said bin Saleh al-Kiyoumi said that Sayyid Kamil bin Fahd al- Said, Assistant Secretary-General at the office of the Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs will patronize over the opening ceremony of the conference.

He explained that the trade and investment exchange between the Sultanate and the Republic of India continues to grow, as there are a lot of Indian investment in the Sultanate, top on these is the Jindal Steel Factory, stressing that Omani businessmen and companies should play a mediator role between the African and East Asian markets due to the large size of these markets.

Eng. Ridha bin Juma al- Saleh, OCCI Deputy Chairman for Administrative and Financial Affairs, said that the conference aims to expand the volume of trade and investment between the Sultanate and Arab countries and India and increase areas of cooperation between the Arab and Indian sides, in addition to urging Arab States and concerned organizations to participate in Arab-Indian Partnership Conference to exchange views on issues of common interest and to encourage the signing of commercial contracts and cooperation in the field of information technology, scientific research and biotechnology and to strengthen trade and economic relations by encouraging investment in infrastructure , basic manufacturing, food industries and medical tourism services.

He added that it is expected that more than 500 government and academic officials, businessmen, businesswomen and investors from the Arab countries and India will participate in the conference, saying that the conference will focus on renewable energy, clean technology, food security, tourism, health welfare, technology, innovation, higher education, skills development, adding that the conference targets businessmen and investment companies and industrial companies related to financing investment projects and travel and tourism companies.

He noted that the sessions of the conference will come within the orientations of the Sultanate for economic diversification, as the first session of the conference will discuss technology and innovation sector, the second session will deal with renewable energy and clean technology, the third meeting will deal with health and pharmaceutical industry, the fourth will discuss higher education and skills development issues and the fifth session will deal with food security and tourism sectors.

Eng. Ridha bin Juma al- Saleh added that the conference will serve to strengthen the existing partnership levels between Arab countries and India in various fields, especially since India is a business partner and economically significant for many of the Arab countries in general and the Sultanate in particular, adding that this importance multiplies in the current economic situation of the drop in oil prices and the search for alternatives for economic diversification by encouraging domestic and foreign investment and encourage the growth and prosperity of other production and service sectors.

The 4th Arab-Indian Partnership Conference was held on November 26th-27th in New Delhi under the theme “New Horizons in Investment, Trade and Services”, in implementation of the memorandum of understanding and the executive program of the Arab-Indian Cooperation Forum. Two memoranda of understanding were signed between the Arab and Indian sides and bilateral meetings were held between Arab businessmen and investors and their Indian counterparts.

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EU Grants US$21.3 Mln For Tourism Development In Albania

TIRANA, 20 February 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – The European Union (EU) will assist the development of the tourism sector in Albania with grants totaling 20 million euros (21.3 million U.S. dollars) since 2018, EU Ambassador to Albania Romana Vlahutin said.

During a visit to the southeastern city of Korca, Vlahutin said that the bloc will provide the funds to four municipalities, namely, Korca, Berat, Fier (central Albania) and Shkodra (north Albania).

Four pilot projects will be carried out in the four municipalities. Through these grants, the EU aims at further tapping the tourism potential in these areas, the head of the EU delegation told reporters.

Accompanied by Korca mayor Sotiraq Filo and Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi, the EU ambassador met with Korca entrepreneurs and local administrators to discuss ways to enhance cooperation.

During the meeting, Vlahutin presented the upcoming EU-funded competitiveness program for the municipality of Korca.

Strengthening capacities in the tourism sector, applications for EU funding, the improvement of Korca’s tourism marketing and branding were some of the main topics which EU ambassador and local representatives talked about, EU delegation said in a press release.

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AfDB pledges development support for Sudan

KHARTOUM, 26 Feb 2017, (NNN-AfDB) – The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, will make an official three-day visit to Sudan from Feb 26.

He will meet top Government officials, including President Omar Al-Bashir; Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Badr El-Din Mahmoud Abbas; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Sudan, Hazim Abdelgadir Ahmed Babikier.

The visit will provide an opportunity to reaffirm the Bank’s support to the country’s social and economic development efforts and to explore opportunities to enhance future cooperation on the Bank’s High 5 priorities, focusing on institutional capacity to improve social service delivery and agricultural value chains.

The High 5s are Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Cooperation between the Bank and Sudan dates back to the founding of the AfDB in 1964 in Khartoum. The Bank portfolio in the country comprises 12 projects with a total commitment of US $200 million.

The Bank’s interventions range from technical assistance to capacity building and targeted operations to reduce poverty and boost socioeconomic development in the country.

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Brunei Celebrates National Day In New York

NEW YORK, 25 Feb 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Brunei celebrated its 33rd National Day in New York on Thursday night at its Permanent Mission, with a reception hosted by Abdul Ghafar Ismail, Brunei’s permanent representative to the United Nations, and his wife Aishah Husain.

A number of ambassadors and senior diplomats of permanent missions to the UN including Datuk Muhammad Shahrul Ikram Yaakob, the Malaysian permanent representative, attended the reception.

The small talk between the diplomats of various missions, concentrated invariably on the changing atmosphere in the US, which has in the past four weeks seen a radical change in the style of government.

The recent ban order on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries as well as protectionist tendencies discerned among the government figured as much as the US relationship with the UN.

“Do you think Washington will cut funding for the UN, as we read frequently in the media?” an Arab diplomat was overheard asking a European colleague while Shahrul Ikram, who had on Feb 22 presented his letter of accreditation to UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, exchanged greetings with the Brunei permanent representative and other ambassadors and senior diplomats.

UN sources told Bernama that Shahul Ikram had a “good discussion” with Guterres on a range of issues of mutual interest, including on ways to further augment the cooperation between Malaysia and the UN.

Malaysia was until the end of last year a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for a two-year term starting January 2015.

Malaysia’s work at the Security Council has, generally, been praised by the UN and the remaining Security Council members.

Besides the Palestine issue which led to the adoption of Resolution 2334 against Israeli settlements, Malaysia also espoused the cause of children caught in conflict situations.

The 56-year old Shahrul Ikram, is a senior career diplomat who has served in the Malaysia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 1988.

Prior to his new appointment as Malaysia’s permanent representative to the UN, Shahrul Ikram served as the Deputy Secretary-General of the Department of Bilateral Affairs from 2016-2017.

He also held the post of the Director-General of the ASEAN-Malaysia National Secretariat from 2013 to 2016.

Besides holding key positions at the Ministry, he has had postings in Vienna, Doha and in Vienna, Austria and was posted once before as Second Secretary at the Malaysian Embassy in Washington DC.

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Official Website For Arab Summit 2017 Launched

AMMAN, Jordan, 23 February 2017, (NNN-PETRA) – The Media Committee, in charge of preparations for the Arab Summit, which Jordan will host on Mar 23-29, launched the Amman Summit’s official website (http://www.arabsummit2017.jo).

The website offers information on the Arab League and its member states, as well as, the latest news on preparations for the Summit. It also includes a media guidebook for journalists covering its activities.

The English version of the site will be launched soon.

Through the website, delegations, the media and interested site visitors, can follow the Summit’s news as it occurs, with press releases, photos, and videos that will be made available. They can also access the Summit’s official social media channels.

The website offers online registration for the official delegations participating in the Summit and its preparatory meetings. Moreover, members of the media wishing to cover the Summit can submit their applications for media accreditation through the website until Feb 28.

The website will continue to be updated with information related to the Arab Summit, throughout the period of Jordan’s presidency and until the following Arab Summit is convened.

Last week, the Media Committee launched the Amman Summit’s official social media channels on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, complementing the website and reaching out to the largest number of potential followers, especially young Arabs.

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Emirates To Fly To Phnom Penh From July 1

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 21 February 2017, (NNN-XINHUA) – Emirates Airline, the Dubai-based international carrier of the United Arab Emirates, said on Tuesday, in an e-mailed statement, that it will start flying to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, from July 1.

The indirect flight from Dubai via Yangon to Phnom Penh, will be done with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, in a two-class configuration, said the government-controlled carrier.

Emirates Airline said, the rise of tourism in Cambodia triggered its decision to add the capital to its networks.

“There were more than 4.7 million foreign tourist arrivals to Cambodia in 2015, with a forecast to rise to eight million by 2020,” said the airline.

The carrier will also introduce a direct, non-stop route between Dubai and Vietnam’s capital Hanoi on the same day, it added.

As a geographical focal point, Dubai International Airport has become the busiest civil aviation hub in the world, connecting major destinations between the east and west, such as the flight from Dubai to Beijing, Johannesburg and London.

“Emirates has to expand where the growth opportunities are, and these opportunities we see in Asia,” said Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive, Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum.

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