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6 Feb, 2017

“Russia–Islamic World Kazan Summit 2017” set for 18-21 May

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 06 February 2017 (09 Jumaada al-Awwal 1438). Pls click on any of the headlines 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 may have to 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.





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“Russia–Islamic World KazanSummit 2017” set for 18-21 May

The 9th International Economic Summit “Russia – Islamic World: Kazansummit 2017” will be held between 18-21st of May, 2017, in Kazan, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia,

The summit is designed to be an outstanding celebration of economic and ecological issues, culture, arts, sports and music.

Kazan is the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, and one of the largest and most beautiful cities of Russia, which is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage cities. Kazan is one of the leading Russian cities by the number of nationalities and various world religions represented.

Over the millennium history of the city of Kazan it has accumulated rich experience of different nationalities and religions living together, has reached interethnic harmony. About 1.2 million people – representatives of over 100 nationalities – live in Kazan in the atmosphere of cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.

The religions balance is maintained by the respect for the rules of interfaith dialogue. These trends have caused a scientific interest in relevant projects, which are supported by government bodies: Kazan Spiritual Seminary, Russian Islamic University, Higher Muslim Madrasah Muhammadiya, higher Muslim Madrasah named after 1000 anniversary of adopting the Islam, various Sunday schools.

Presentation of special economic zones infrastructure and possibilities, innovation projects, leading industrial actors and unions, finance institutions and Russian regions’ investment potential.

The line-up of topics at the dozens of events, plenaries and working sessions include:

(+) “Russia Halal Expo – Kazan” Exhibition
(+) “Islamic World Countries Treasury” photo exhibition
(+) 3rd Kazan OIC Youth Entrepreneurship Forum
(+) “Corporate Strategies – Geoeconomics Trends Basis”
(+) “Social Entrepreneurship As A Driver Of Positive Changes”
(+) “Civil Forms Of Islamic Banks Investment Activities”
(+) “Products Development For Islamic Financial Institutions”
(+) “Financial Engineering And Islamic Financial Services”
(+) “Islamic Education: Yesterday, Today And The Day After Tomorrow”
(+) “Healthcare System Strategic Development In The Oic Member Countries: Halal Health”
(+) “Crowdfunding: Economics Of Conscience As An Answer To Future Challenges”
(+) “Business According To Sharia Framework”
(+) “Cluster-Based Policy As An Instrument For Increasing The Level Of Cities Investment Attractiveness”
(+) “Hand-Made World: Personal Responsibility For Human Wellbeing As The Driver Of World Growth”
(+) “Islamic Banking In The Age Of Globalization”
(+) “Products Development: Approaches , Process, Obstacles And Ways To Overcome Them”
(+) “Ecology And Economics: Face To Face”
(+) “Projects Financing Instruments: Partnership Banking”
(+) “Investment To Russia: New Laws For The Investors And Entrepreneurs”
(+) OIC Young Diplomats Networking-Session
(+) Media Online: “Media-Pluralism In Digital Space”
(+) 9th International Conference Waqf: “Up-To-Date Waqf Funds”

One important session will look at “Inclusive Economics And Corporate Social Responsibility. Balance Between Profit, Planet And People.”

A major objective of the Russian hosts is to attract more investment into Kazan. According to the organizers, Middle East countries have gained not only considerable resources, but also their experience of investing in different markets — both within the region and in global companies. In periods of volatility and instability, they not only become coveted by investors, but also able to obtain attractive returns.

“The competence acquired by them can also add a unique experience in the implementation of infrastructure projects, launch of modern production and management of differentiated portfolio. All this makes the «smart money» of the economies of the Gulf desired investment resources for the implementation of the economic potential of Russian regions.

The roundtable is expected to discuss what products are interesting for investment of sovereign funds in the Middle East, what requirements they make to the projects and their initiators, which forms of cooperation with them can be considered successful.

There will also be meetings of the business councils of Russia with Tunisia, Egypt, and Qatar. A TEDxBaumanSt will also be delivered on the topic of “New world challenges and my answers to them”

At The Tatarstan Republic Investor Club Meeting, top-managers whose companies invested in Tatarstan can discuss questions of present interests concerning the project realization in informal atmosphere and try to find the way out. The meeting aims at friendly investment climate formation and development assistance for domestic and foreign investors.

Delegates will also be treated to a Kazan historic and cultural sightseeing tour, an All-Russian Qur’an Reading Competition and the 30th International classic ballet festival named after Rudolf Nureyev.

Friday prayers, Jumu’ah, will be held at the Qolşärif Mosque visit , one of the most beautiful symbols of Kazan.

The Strategic Vision Group Chairman Rustam Minnikhanov will hold a Prize Award Ceremony for the best article, report, film, TV or radio show in which religious tolerance and justice are highlighted. The prize fund is 500,000 rubles.

Youth will be a special focus of attention with the 3rd Kazan OIC Youth Entrepreneurship Forum, with young people from Russia and the Islamic world. During the Summit the number of youth events such as Summer international youth camp, 3rd OIC member-countries youth entrepreneurs Kazan Forum, OIC Youth forum government meeting, OIC member-countries youth entrepreneurs association Council and Social entrepreneurship International OIC youth award will take place. 30 Islamic countries and Russian business community representatives will be the participants of the Forum. The 15 best start-up creators will get the opportunity to present their projects in order to find investors and get some practical recommendations.

An “OIC Tourism Olympiad”, delegates from the travel and & tourism sector will discuss what role does tourist destination play and how to make tourist business a sustainable development formula under the consumer market turbulence? Also on the agenda is “New attraction and recreation areas competitiveness factors.”

Other important items on the agenda are an “Islamic world Beauty: Halal Fashion” festival, an “Islamic world cuisine competition” International competition-festival, and a cultural program including a demonstration of handicrafts, Muslim commodities and Islamic literature. Delegates will also be taken on a river cruise of Kazan.

The 30th International classic ballet festival named after Rudolf Nureyev is the biggest and one of the oldest Russian ballet festivals. It has been held annually from 1987 in May, in the Tatar Academic State opera and ballet theatre named after Musa Dzhalil. It has become a widely known international event and is significant theatrical and musical point in the cultural life of Tatarstan, Russia and Europe.

On the last day, May 21, 2017, fitness enthusiasts will take part in a Kazan marathon 2017 comprising of a full 42.2 kilometers, a half-marathon distance run (21.1km), 10K run and business-run for 3km distance.

For further information: https://kazansummit.com/

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“Halal snack pack” Named Australia’s ‘People’s Choice Word of the Year’

CANBERRA, Australia, Feb 1 (NNN-XINHUA) – “Halal snack pack” (HSP) has been announced as Australia’s People’s Choice Word of the Year for 2016, edging out political terms “alt-right” and “fake news” to win, according to the Macquarie Dictionary on Wednesday.

The snack pack, which is a “a fast food, comprising layers of hot chips, grated cheese, halal doner kebab meat, garlic sauce, barbecue sauce and chilli sauce,” shot to fame in 2016, after a social media group called the “Halal Snack Pack Appreciation Society” rapidly gained media attention for attracting more than 150,000 members.

Following extensive media coverage and also made famous by Iranian-born Labour Senator, Sam Dastyari, who invited anti-halal politician, Pauline Hanson, to “share a snack pack” with him, the HSP quickly became Australia’s fast food of choice in 2016.

“The significance of halal snack pack is that, it tells us about something once confined largely to the Muslim community, that is now surfacing throughout the broader Australian community,” the Macquarie Dictionary committee said, after announcing winner on Wednesday.

The dictionary’s editor, Susan Butler said, she was moved to eat her first snack pack to celebrate the HSP’s win. “How can you write the definition of HSP with enthusiasm, if you have never sampled it? So today I ate my first HSP,” Butler told The Canberra Times on Wednesday.

“I can understand why this dish has become the fast food item of the day. It is carbohydrate-loaded, calorific sinfulness. Once started on it, you cannot stop.” According to Fairfax Media, some kebab shops were selling in excess of 400 snack packs every day, at the height of the HSP’s popularity, with lines forming at the “best reviewed” kebab shops, according to members of the appreciation society.

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Alpine Club Malaysia Confident Of Completing Mission To Scale Seven Summits

SEPANG, Malaysia, 4 Feb 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The Alpine Club Malaysia is confident that its team will be able to complete the Malaysian Grand Slam Expedition 2020 to scale seven summits in seven continents after their success in conquering Mt Aconcagua in Argentina last month.

Its president, Muhammad Illaham Ishak, he was proud and grateful that the team, which includes himself, had managed to reach the summit of Mt Aconcagua, which meant a lot in their # climbforpeace and # waterforsyria mission. Other members of the team are Wan Azman Wan Mahmud, 39, Zainudin Lot, 40, and Ayob Yahya, 53.

“We are also proud to have been able to fly the Malaysian flag on the highest summit in South America in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of Malaysian independence,” he told reporters upon the team’s arrival at the KL International Airport here yesterday.

With their latest success, only two summits were left for the team to scale, namely Mt McKinnley in North America and Mt Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

The team had so far scaled Mt Everest, which is the highest summit in Asia, Mt Kilimanjaro (Africa), Mt Elbrus (Europe) and Mt Kosuizcko (Australasia).

The expedition to scale Mt Aconcagua was the third in their #climbforpeace and #waterforsyria mission after the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the club and Aman Palestin Bhd last April.

The MoU was to promote efforts to raise fund to build a clean water well in war torn areas in Syria. Donations can still be made to Aman Palestin’s Maybank account number 562263010787.

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Malaysia Sends Economic, Technical Missions To Iran, India

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 4 Feb 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Mah Siew Keong, will lead the Economic and Technical Missions on Palm Oil, Timber and Rubber Products to Iran and India from Feb 5-9, 2017.

In a statement today, the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities said, the delegation would comprise representatives from the ministry, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Malaysian Rubber Board, Malaysian Timber Council and the private sector.

“The missions aim to promote and strengthen exports of palm oil, timber and rubber products to Iran and India and strengthen business linkages between the private sectors of both countries with Malaysia,” it said.

The ministry said Mah would officiate the opening of MPOB’s regional office as well as Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar (POTS Iran 2017) in Teheran, Iran and Palm Oil Networking Seminar in Mumbai, India. “It will hold bilateral discussions with the ministers responsible for trade and agriculture and health in Iran during the visit from Feb 5-7,” it said.

The ministry said the meetings would focus on, among others, issues related to the safety and nutritional benefits of palm oil and areas of cooperation to strengthen bilateral trade. Meanwhile, during the visit to India on Feb 8, Mah would officiate the Palm Oil Networking Seminar and convene a Roundtable discussion with the Solvent Extractor’s Association of India. “These meetings will focus on areas to strengthen palm oil trade,” it said.

For the period of January-November, 2016, total trade with Iran was valued at RM2.59 billion. Total exports were valued at RM1.97 billion and out of these, commodity products contributed RM1.55 billion (78.7 per cent total exports). The major commodity products exported for the same period were palm oil products, which were valued at RM1.21 billion, timber products (RM33.76 million) and rubber products (RM268.94 million).

For India, for the period of January-November 2016, total trade was valued at RM44.48 billion. Total exports were worth RM29.24 billion and out of these, commodity products contributed RM9.57 billion (32.7 per cent). The major commodity products exported for the same period were palm oil products (RM7.8 billion), timber products (RM1.42 billion) and rubber products (RM279.53 million).

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125-metre Waterfall Latest Attraction For Thaipusam In Batu Caves

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 2 Feb 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – A 125m natural waterfall or as long as the 272 steps at the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple in Batu Caves will be the latest attraction for devotees, visitors and tourists during Thaipusam this year.

Temple committee chairman R. Nadarajah said the committee had carried out upgrading works to beautify the waterfall and its surroundings to give the thousands of Hindus who visit Batu Caves on Feb 9, a cooling effect. Nadarajah added that the temple committee had also completed the 
construction of a 272-step fourth lane in December to add on to the three lanes in existence earlier, he told BERNAMA.

“The fourth lane would ensure a smooth journey for devotees who make their way to the Temple Cave and climb the flight of stairs. Devotees use the wider centre staircase while worshippers and onlookers throng up and down those balustrades on either side,” he said.

Hindu devotees throng Batu Caves by the thousands in a colourful fusion of faith, thanksgiving, and hope to mark the Thaipusam religious festival and pay homage to Lord Murugan. Nadarajah said of the four lanes, two would be used by visitors while the third one is reserved for those carrying ‘Kavadi’ and ‘Pal Kudam’ while the fourth one would be solely for those coming down.

He said 1.5 million devotees, visitors and tourists are expected to throng Batu Caves which is known as an iconic place of worship among the Malaysian Indian community. A 42.7m (140ft) statue of Lord Murugan, reputed to be the tallest statue of Lord Murugan in the world, stands at the main entrance as a symbol to welcome devotees to start their climb up the 272 steeps.

The 166th year Thaipusam festivity starts in earnest on Tuesday (Feb 7) when the silver chariot procession begins at the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Jalan Tun H S Lee bearing the idols of Lord Murugan and his two consorts, Valli and Theivanai at 10pm.

“About 100,000 devotees plus 1,500 police personnel are expected to accompany the silver chariot which takes about 16 hours to reach Batu Caves,” he said adding that the temple in Batu Caves will be operating 24 hours on Feb 8, 9 and 10 to cater for the thousands of devotees who carry the ‘Kavadi’ or ‘Pal Kudam’ and pay homage to Lord Murugan.

Nadarajah said the temple committee had introduced a set of guidelines to be followed by worshippers during Thaipusam. In Malaysia, Thaipusam will also celebrated at a grand scale at the Sri Arulmigu Balathandayuthabani Temple in Penang, Arul Subramaniar Temple in Ipoh, Perak and Johor.

Thaipusam is a festival celebrated mostly by the Indian community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February), mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, South Africa, Guadeloupe, Réunion, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica, and other parts of the Caribbean. The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam.

This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when his mother Parvati gave Murugan a Vel “spear” so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman and the auspicious day is believed to be Murugan’s birthday.

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Malindo Air Obtains IATA Operational Safety Audit Registration

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 2 (Bernama) — Malindo Air, recent winner of CAPA’s 2016 Asia Pacific Regional Airline of the Year, is pleased to announce the airline has successfully obtained the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA), a voluntary safety audit programme aligned with global best practices valid from June 4 2016 until June 3, 2018.

The IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) is an internationally recognized and accepted evaluation system designed to access the operational management and control systems of an airline, which occurs every two years once the airline successfully completes the first audit.

Chandran Rama Muthy, Malindo Air’s CEO said, “Obtaining the IOSA registration is a valuable operational benchmark for Malindo Air as this further validates that safety is paramount for us.

This programme contributes to increased emphasis on improving safety management, and aligning us with global best practices, promoting a convenient and safe travel experience for our travellers. It is absolutely vital as it helps ensures our sustainability and continuous development according to IATA standards, regulatory requirements and industry best practices within our operations.”

“As safety remains our number one priority, I would like to congratulate all our employees for their hard work in maintaining this international and highly recognized standards for Malindo Air, setting us at par with the international aviation industry requirements,” said Chandran, celebrating yet another significant milestone for the young vibrant airline.

For updates on Malindo Air’s latest activities and promotions, please connect with us via Twitter (twitter.com/Malindo_Air), Facebook (facebook.com/MalindoAirMalaysia) or Instagram (instagram.com/malindoair).

About Malindo Air

Malindo Air is a Malaysian airline with main hubs at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the convenient KL downtown city airport Subang Skypark in Selangor, Malaysia. The airline took to the skies in March 2013 with domestic flights and has since grown to operate routes to all major airports in Malaysia and across the continents of Asia and Australia.

The fleet itself has grown exponentially to 16 ATR72-600 and 28 Boeing 737NG as of 31 January 2017.

Today, the airline operates over 800 flights weekly across a continuously growing network of about 41 routes in the region. More recently, the airline won CAPA’s 2016 Asia Pacific Regional Airline of the Year, Airline of the Year (Passenger) at the KLIA Awards 2014 and Top Performing Airline 2015 by Travelport.

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PT INKA to export 340 railway carriages to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka

Madiun, E Java, 4 Feb 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia’s state-owned railway manufacturer PT Industri Kereta Api (INKA) is preparing to produce 340 railway carriages for exports to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. “The process is now underway. All necessary requirements have been fully met.

A total of 250 carriages will be exported to Bangladesh and 90 others to Sri Lanka,” the company’s president director, Agus Purnomo, informed newsmen here on Saturday.

He said the total value of export contracts from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka reached US$200 million.

He expressed hope that the products would clear technical tests, with confirmation about them from Bangladesh expected in March or April and by the end of this month from Sri Lanka.

Purnomo expressed optimism that the two projects would be grabbed by PT INKA, considering the fact that the company had earlier successfully completed orders from both nations.

PT INKA exported 150 railway carriages to Bangladesh worth $72 million last year.

“INKA has also met orders from Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Australia before,” he noted.

Purnomo admitted that PT INKA had faced stiff competition from China in the two projects. He remarked that INKA had competed in terms of price, as the interest rate in China was lower.

“In terms of quality, I believe products from INKA and China are at par with each other. It is only about price,” he stated.

He noted that the local content in the carriages, to be exported to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, reached over 60 percent and could represent domestic products.

“Some components are indeed imported, but they reach only 25 to 30 percent, he pointed out.

He expressed hope that the government would lend complete support, so the two projects could be secured to further boost the companys export market.

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President Jokowi urges agencies synchronize Indonesian branding

Jakarta, 04 Feb 2017, (ANTARA News) – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has urged all ministries and state agencies to synchronize efforts to boost Indonesian branding at the international level.

“I urged all ministries and agencies to synchronize efforts to promote Indonesia and Indonesian products,” Jokowi stressed here on Friday (Feb. 3).

Jokowi held a closed door meeting with several ministers at the Presidential Office in Jakarta where they discussed efforts to promote Indonesian branding in the global market.

According to the president, each ministry and state agency has its own tagline to promote national branding.

The Indonesian brand power, says Jokowi, should be enhanced in various domains, including trade and investment as well as tourism sector.

The government recorded that the Indonesian branding grade in trade and investment was ranked 6.4 percent, behind Singapore and Thailand.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian branding power in tourism was ranked 5.2 percent, behind Thailand’s 9.4 percent and Singapore’s 8.6 percent.

“These ranks should be improved. I noticed that there were many countries that strongly promote their national branding rankings,” Jokowi added.

Improving the Indonesian brand power strategy, Jokowi hoped, would help increase Indonesia’s competitiveness when it comes to trade, investment and tourism sector.

The president said some countries build their image by conducting soft diplomacy through means such as a cultural approach, film screenings, culinary and sports promotion.

The agencies and ministries, underlined Jokowi, should also comprehend Indonesia’s strengths and weaknesses to redesign their promotion strategies.

He urged all Indonesian envoys abroad to consolidate efforts to ensure effective promotion in order to compete with other countries.

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Indonesia Offers To Supply LNG To Bangladesh

DHAKA, 30 Jan 2017, (NNN-BSS) – Indonesia has offered to supply liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Bangladesh to meet its (Bangladesh) growing energy demand. The proposal came when Indonesian Ambassador to Bangladesh Iwan Wiranata-atmadja paid a farewell call on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Jatiya Sangsad office here.

After the meeting, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters. The Indonesian ambassador highly appreciated visionary and dynamic leadership of Hasina and said Bangladesh achieved stunning success in socioeconomic field under her able stewardship. 
In this connection, he mentioned over seven percent GDP growth achieved by Bangladesh and said it is a sign of its “robust development”.

“Bangladesh could not now be considered as a Least Developed Country (LDC) in terms of UN declaration as the country achieved over 7 percent growth,” the ambassador observed. Praising quality of Bangladeshi various products, Iwan Wirnata Atmadja said these are highly competitive and are capable of competing with the commodities of any other country in the world.

The ambassador pointed out that the power of domestic markets is also a strength for both Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Iwan Wirnata Atmadja said his primary idea about Bangladesh has been changed after witnessing huge development in the country. The Indonesian envoy expressed gratitude to Hasina for extending cooperation in discharging duty during his tenure in Dhaka.

Highlighting Bangladesh’s stunning success in different fields, the prime minister said her government has taken various measures over the last eight years to develop the country in a faster pace.

The premier said there is a huge market in Bangladesh and Asean countries and put emphasis on unlocking the market. “The socioeconomic condition of the people of these countries would improve further if we can tap this huge market,” she said.

Pointing out construction of coal-based power plants in the country, Hasina said Bangladesh could import coal from Indonesia alongside other countries to run these power plants.

Mentioning her government’s steps to ensure food security, the premier said Bangladesh has been turned into a food-surplus country from a food-deficit one due to these measures. Referring to the construction of Paira Port in Patuakhali, she said a shipyard would be built there.

While talking about the initiatives for formation of BBIN and BCIM-EC groupings, the premier said huge economic activities would be generated with the functioning of the two forums. Expressing satisfaction over the existing bilateral ties between the two countries, Hasina said Bangladesh always values its relations with the close neighbors.

The prime minister also appreciated the Indonesian ambassador’s efforts to boost bilateral trade and commerce between the two countries.

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Indonesian tourism industries support visa-free policy

Jakarta, 5 February 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesian tourism industries have expressed support to the adoption of visa-free policy by the government so far citing positive impact on the tourism sector.

The general chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tourism Industries (GIPI), Didien Junaedy, said here on Saturday (Feb. 4) that the adoption of the policy is essential to boost tourism in the country.

He said that the policy has been proven to significantly increase the arrival of foreign tourists in their countries.

Through Presidential Regulation Number 21, 2016, the Indonesian government has provided visa-free facility to visitors from 169 countries for a short visit.

The regulation was produced in March 2, 2016, and so it is not yet a year old. According to me, the evaluation should be done after two years of its implementation,” he said, adding that it would take several months to familiarize.

Junaedy added that tourism industrialists grouped in GIPI have seen and felt the positive impacts of the policy.

He stated that consistency in the implementation of the policy would be needed with regard to building public trust in foreign countries.

Supervision on the other hand, however, is also needed to minimize possible violations of the regulation, he noted.

“GIPI has planned to gather tourism industrialists eight times in the first semester this year to strengthen its support for the implementation of the Presidential Regulation Number 21,” he asserted.

Junaedy admitted that there had also been negative excesses coming from the policy, such as visa overstay problem and illegal worker problems.

“Their number however is relatively small compared to millions of foreign tourists visiting Indonesia legally, like in other countries that implement the same policy,” he added.

He also said that the negative impacts of the policy must be overcome, and solution to the problems must be found through joint efforts.

“We must not blame each other over trivial problems but must cooperate to overcome them,” he stated.

He said that the visa-free policy has so far been one of the strong factors that has played a major role in meeting the target of foreign tourist arrivals, which was set at 15 million this year and 20 million by 2019.

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Bank Indonesia improves MSME access to financial services

Manado, 4 Feb 2017, (ANTARA News) – Bank Indonesia plans to increase local micro, small and medium enterprises access to the financial services industry.

“One of the efforts aimed at encouraging the development of MSMEs is to increase their capacity, and improve their access to financial services,” Head of BI Office in North Sulawesi Province, Soekowardojo, said here on Friday.

If MSMEs have access to financial services, they will continue to grow, he stressed.

“In principle, financial services are inseparable from the business world. However, (banks) must exercise caution in channeling credits,” he underlined.

He assured that he will always encourage banks to increase the amount of loans channeled to the real sector.

In addition, the central bank will also help MSMEs find regional and international markets, minimize information disparities and increase coordination and cooperation with stakeholders, he observed.

“As we all know, MSME is one of the sectors that can encourage the national economy. In total, MSMEs make up 99.9 percent of the total business units. They contribute up to 57 percent of the gross domestic product,” he explained.

The MSMEs can also become a highly competitive sector that can even resist foreign and domestic upheavals, he pointed out.

The MSMEs also play a bigger role in creating jobs, and currently account for 97.2 percent of the total jobs.

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Conservation agency estimates only 17 Sumatran tigers left

Bengkulu, 23 Jan 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of Bengkulu Province has estimated that only 17 Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris sumatra) exist in the provinces forest.

Coordinator of Forest Ecosystem Control of BKSDA Bengkulu-Lampung Said Jauhari stated here on Monday that based on last years observation and data gathered from human-animal conflict reports and patrol, it was estimated that the population of Sumatran tigers in Bengkulu reached 17.

The government has set a target to increase the population of Sumatran tigers by three percent every year, Jauhari noted.

However, fragmentation of the forest area due to illegal logging to make way for plantation areas and rampant poaching activities have become major challenges in the preservation of the Sumatran tiger population, Jauhari remarked.

Moreover, the conflict between humans and the big cat species is also high. Seluma District has recorded the highest incidents of human-tiger conflict, followed by North Bengkulu District.

“To increase the population of this critically endangered animal, we are prioritizing the protection of forests, which serve as their habitat,” Jauhari pointed out.

Taman Buru Semidang Bukit Kabu, which covers an area of 9,000 hectares in Seluma District, is considered to be the home of the Sumatran tigers.

The BKSDA has prioritized a program to restore 1,500 hectares of land in the conservation area into a forest to provide a suitable habitat for the wildlife.

The local authority also proposed to the government to declare Taman Buru Semidang Bukit Kabu as a wildlife reserve area.

“Since there are other protected animals apart from the Sumatran tigers, such as siamang (an arboreal black-furred gibbon) and sun bears in the area,” Jauhari stated.

By offering the right habitat, the population of the critically endangered species would increase and prevent them from becoming extinct, Jauhari added.

The Sumatran tiger is a rare sub-species that inhabits the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The big cat has been listed as a critically endangered animal on the IUCN Red List, as its population is showing a declining trend.

The Sumatran tiger is the only surviving member of the Sunda Islands group of tigers that included the now extinct Bali tiger and Javan tiger.

Several studies have estimated that around 400 Sumatran tigers survive on the island of Sumatra.

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Tourism Key To Indonesia’s Investment Growth

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 2 Feb 2017, (NNN-Bernama) — The Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) said Indonesia remains an attractive destination for investors, with tourism considered key contributor to investment growth, Vietnam news agency (VNA) reported.

BKPM Chairman Thomas Lembong said based on nearly US$44 billion of investment recorded last year, a higher target could be set for 2017. He pointed to tourism as a major earner, adding that investors were expressing their interest in the promising but underdeveloped sector. In 2016, tourism contributed 172 trillion Rp (US$13 billion) to state revenue. Indonesia is aiming to welcome 15 million visitors this year.

The country expects to lure 20 million tourists annually by 2019, almost double the current figure of approximately 12 million visitors on average. The Indonesian Ministry of Tourism has announced that it will build ten destinations dubbed “new Balis” to boost the tourism industry.

The destinations include Lake Toba (North Sumatra), Seribu Islands (Jakarta), Borobudur Temple (Central Java) and Mount Bromo (East Java).

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Banyuwangi awarded as best festival city in Indonesia

Banyuwangi, 5 Feb 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Tourism Ministry has awarded Banyuwangi District as the best festival city in Indonesia.

Tourism Ministry Arief Yahya gave the title to Banyuwangi, while lunching Banyuwangi Festival 2017 in his office in Jakarta on Friday, the Banyuwangi administration said in a statement here on Saturday.

“Judging from various festivals organized in Indonesia, I declare Banyuwangi as the best festival city or the best festival organizer. Banyuwangi ranks first,” Yahya was quoted as saying in the statement.

Since 2012, Banyuwangi has successfully organized annual festivals. Besides, the implementation of the annual festival has improved quantitatively and qualitatively, the minister asserted.

This year, Banyuwangi has planned 72 activities to enliven the 2017 Banyuwangi Festival.

He lauded Banyuwangi for organizing the annual festival that helps in preserving the local culture and traditions and boosting the local economic conditions.

Thanks to the festival, Banyuwangi dubbed as “the Sunrise van Java,” has attracted some 80 thousand foreign tourists and 3.2 million domestic tourists last year.

If every foreign tourist spent an average of US$500 per visit, Banyuwangi would earn some Rp500 billion in total.

“For domestic tourists, the average spending is Rp1 million each. So from domestic tourists, the earnings could reach Rp1 trillion. Hence, money circulation from tourism is Rp1.5 trillion in Banyuwangi,” he added.

He suggested that Banyuwangi promotes maritime tourism, as foreign yachts could generate a lot of income.

“If some 1 thousand yachts visit Banyuwangi, we could earn at least Rp1 trillion from their spending,” the minister stated.

On September 15, 2017, Banyuwangi will organize the Banyuwangi Sail Yacht Festival as part of the annual festival.

The Government of Indonesia has set a target to attract 20 million foreign tourists by 2019.

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Painter Khaled Karim transfers “Algeria spirit” to Paris

PARIS, 04 Feb 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – Young painter Khaled Karim has transferred, through an exhibition of 15 works staged in the Algerian Cultural Centre in Paris, “Algeria spirit” conveying its culture, history and the deeds of its men.

The 40 year-old self-taught artist, constantly in search of creations and techniques, offers to the visitors a mosaic of themes representing large episodes of Algeria’s history.

Karim Khaled, who is also an urban draftsman, presents large-format paintings (fresco), drawings on the walls in relief in which he uses improbable recovery accessories.

He uses polystyrene panels to shape 3D reliefs, embellishing them with recycled accessories or materials like in “Ancient Algiers”, “Al Hayek” or “The Bridge of Sidi Rached”.

“Usually, I begin my works in the street by recovering materials I can use for my creations,” this artist passionate about the Kasbah of Algiers, told APS.

In his exhibition, the first of its kind, the painter, living in the Paris region, did not exclude the national revolution. “Long live Algeria” and “The glory of my brothers in arms” are works among many others to pay tribute to Algeria’s history.

Art also has its share in Karim’s exhibition with portraits of “Rouiched” and “Inspector Tahar,” famous comedians who have marked entire generations of Algerians.

The exhibition «Un Air d’Algérie» (Algeria spirit) is open for the crowd until February 24th.

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Pakistan’s rising security, economic profile luring huge foreign investment

WASHINGTON, 5 Feb 2017, (APP) – Pakistan’s remarkable economic turnaround and its historic success against the menace of terrorism in the past
three years is luring international businessmen which now see the country
as an investment hub with rising opportunities, Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms, Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said here on Saturday.

In an interview with APP, the Minister said that Pakistan has made a tremendous progress under the leadership of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, and its success against terrorism and its economic progress have been duly acknowledged by the international community.

“Three years ago, terrorists were holding the country hostage and the state was under siege, but today, by the Grace of Almighty Allah,
terrorists are now under siege and on the run,” the Minister said, adding that the number of terrorist incidents have fallen 10 fold in the past
three years. “We have achieved a success with our own resources, and we
have achieved a success which has no parallel in the world”.

Prof. Ahsan Iqbal expressed the strong resolve of the government to purge the society of every sign that promote any kind of hatred and violence. He said that Pakistan is a country where all people regardless
of their cast and creed have the right to live peacefully according to
their religious faith.

He said that three years ago, international media had a negative view
of the country. Three years after, the same media is now praising Pakistan which is among the fastest growing economy in the world.

Comparing the economic situation today to that of three years ago,
Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said that the economic growth was stuck at 3 to 3.5 percent on average between 2008 and 2013. “I am happy to say that last
 year, we achieved 4.8 percent growth and we are expecting 5.5 percent
 growth in the current financial year. Next year, Inshallah, we will touch the 6 percent growth”.

He also highlighted the historic gains in the foreign exchange reserve which has risen to $24 billion today from $8 billion three years ago.
 “This is a record that a country has been able to increase its foreign exchange reserve in such a manner,” he added.

The Minister recalled that when the government of Prime Minister 
Muhammad Nawaz Sharif took over after winning a landslide victory in the 2013 election, the country was facing its worst energy crisis and people were forced to live without electricity for 18 hours a day. Today, the 
power outages have reduced to 6-8 hours a day. “This is the kind of 
efforts that the present government is putting in for the progress of the country,” he added.

The Minister said that between 1947 and 2013, Pakistan only managed to produce 16,000 MW to 17,000 MW of electricity per day. “As a result of relentless efforts of the present government to deal with the energy 
crisis, the country will have 10,000 MW by 2018.”

Prof. Ahsan Iqbal said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a game-changer and will Pakistan a regional hub of trade. Referring to huge investment under the CPEC, he said that as much as $35 billion is being spent alone on improving country’s energy sector.

“As a result of the huge economic turnaround; tremendous improvement
 in the security and the CPEC have changed Pakistan’s profile and international investors have now started to come to Pakistan in a big way,” the Minister said.

He said that recently a Dutch company acquired Engro for $440 million which was the biggest acquisition by a foreign company in the country’s history. French auto giant Renault and a German truck-maker are coming to Pakistan to set up automobile factories. All investors are coming to Pakistan as they now see opportunities.

“Now the time has come that we start taking pride in a rising Pakistan,” the Minister said while adding that the overseas Pakistanis have an important role to play. He said they are the country’s brand managers and should sell their country’s brand by highlighting its positive attributes and the facts. “We will make Pakistan great”.

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PNCA to organize Kashmiri Folk Culture show on Feb 5

ISLAMABAD, 4 Feb 2017, (APP) – Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA)
in collaboration with Ministry of Kashmir Affairs & Gilgit-Baltistan has scheduled a programme of Kashmiri Lok Geet and Dances in connection with Kashmir Solidarity Day on February 5.

The event would be held at PNCA auditorium, F-5/1, Islamabad.
The folk artists from Azad Jammu Kashmir would perform on the occasion.
The artists of PNCA would also present folk dances of Kashmir.

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Young Pakistani filmmaker to participate in Talent Campus

ISLAMABAD, 5 Feb 2017, (APP) – The young Pakistani filmmakers would participate in the Talent Campus 2017 to be held in Tehran,
Iran from April 19 to 26.

According to an official of Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) the main purpose of the Talent Campus is to primarily familiarize young filmmakers with the different aspects of the New
Iranian Cinema as well as the development and training of the future generation of filmmakers.

In addition, it is an event that aims to serve as a platform for boosting cinematic relations with young filmmakers and introducing them to influential figures in the cinema as well as for
discovering young talents in the region and the world.

A total 110 students would be selected for the courses, sixty Iranian students and 50 international students 20 from region and 30
from other countries would be enrolled after scrutiny in the Talent Campus 2017.

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Bangladesh Eyes Middle Income Country Status By 2021

BHOLA (BANGLADESH), 5 Feb 2017, (NNN-BSS) – Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said the government has been working tirelessly to turn Bangladesh into middle income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041.

“The country is going ahead under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh will be a middle income country by 2021 and a developed one by 2041,” he said while speaking as chief guest at a function here.

Tofail said the government has a plan to generate 24,000 megawatt (MW) electricity by 2021 and if this plan is implemented, the government will be able to bring all people under the electricity connective. He said Bangladesh is ahead of Pakistan in terms of forex reserves, exports and remittance earnings.

Bangladesh exports goods worth US$34 billion while Pakistan exports products worth US$21 billion, he said, adding that Bangladesh’s forex reserves have stood at US$32 billion against Pakistan’s US$19 billion. Tofail Ahmed said the next parliament elections will be held in any day before Jan 19, 2019 under the present government.

Speaking at the programme as special guest deputy minister for forest and environment Abdullah Al Islam Jacob said country’s southern region witnesses a massive development when Awami League comes to power.

He said thousands of leaders-activists of Awami League faced torture and repression during BNP-Jamaat rule. But Awami League did not carry out any repression and torture on political opponents in Bhola.

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Commercial sheep farming on the cards

DHAKA, 2 Feb 2017, (BSS) – The government has planned to introduce commercial sheep farming to explore the vast opportunity of developing a wool-based textile industry and produce more meat and milk, which will also help meet the country’s nutrition demand.

The plan was mooted at an inter-ministerial meeting on the findings of a research work on development of blended yarn and fabrics from jute, cotton and native sheep wool, held at the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock here today.

“We should develop commercial sheep rearing, which can help meet the nutrition demand besides providing valuable wool for expediting the huge opportunity of developing wool-based textile,” Fisheries and Livestock Minister Mohammad Sayedul Haq said while presiding over the meeting.

The meeting discussed the findings of the research, carried out between 2007 and 2011 by the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) under the project for conservation and improvement of native sheep through community and commercial farming.

M Habibur Rahman, director of the project, told the meeting that the scientists of DLS and the Bangladesh Livestock Research Institute (BLRI) have developed and produced different types of woolen fabrics and bed-sheet and suiting by using 30 percent sheep wool, 30 percent jute and 40 percent cotton.

“Demand of these products is huge in local market that could be met by farming of sheep commercially,” Rahman said. Currently, the country is producing 3,000 tonnes of wool from 34 lakh sheep that are being used to make blanket, shawl, bed-sheet and some other winter clothing in a small scale. The meeting observed that the amount of wool would increase significantly if commercial sheep farming is introduced in a planned way.

Official data provided at the meeting showed that the number of sheep in the country is now only 34 lakh while the intake of wool from each of the sheep is 700-900 grams, a low amount compared to other wool producing countries.

The minister and the participants of the meeting observed that the number of sheep could be increased manifold, rearing sheep commercially when the wool intake from each sheep could also be steered to 1200 grams and more.

Referring to Taka 200 crore microcredit at 5.0 percent rate of interest for encouraging dairy farming, the meeting observed that sheep farming should also be given similar funding support. State Minister for Textile and Jute Mirza Azam, Textile and Jute Secretary Shubashish Basu, Livestock and Fisheries Secretary Maksudul Hasan Khan, among others, were present at the meeting.

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Millions of children to get polio shots in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan, 30 January 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – A nationwide three-day polio vaccination drive kicked off in Afghanistan on Monday in an effort to vaccinate millions of children in high-risk areas.

Along with Pakistan and Nigeria, Afghanistan is one of the three remaining countries where polio is endemic.

According to the officials at the country’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), more than six million children in the southern and southeastern provinces bordering Pakistan are at risk of contracting polio.

Maiwand Ahmadzai, director of the ministry’s polio eradication program told Anadolu Agency that a comprehensive plan worth some $60 million had been designed to vaccinate up to 9.5 million children in 2017.

“Our primary focus is on high-risk areas, and we will strive to ensure the elimination of the polio virus from the country”, he said.

According to the MoPH, only 13 cases of polio were recorded at the beginning of 2016 in Paktia, Helmand, Kunar and Kandahar provinces. However, in the past 6 months, no such case has been registered in the country.

On Sunday, Melisa Corkum, program communication specialist at UNICEF Afghanistan, told journalists in Kabul that the country was very close to eradicating the disease, urging citizens to cooperate with health workers.

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Time ripe for Europe’s business in Iran

Copenhagen, 2 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – Very good conditions have been prepared in the post-JCPOA era for European countries to be present and compete in Iranian economic field.

Head of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture (TCCIM), Masoud Khansari, made the remarks in an address to the Iran- Denmark trade session on Thursday.

Khansari said sound implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has prepared the ground for the European countries play an active role in Iran’s economy.

Grounds are now well prepared for a sound competition in the Iranian marketplace and the role of European countries could be of high importance, he said. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signed between the TCCIM and Danish Industries Confederation last year, prepared the ground for a broad-based economic cooperation between the two countries.

Economic relations between Iran and Denmark date as back as about one century ago, he said, adding that the first pasteurized milk factory was established in Iran by Denmark, while they have also been playing active role in other industries such as pharmaceuticals as well as cement, he said.

Many Iranian nationals immigrated to Europe in the past and gained high- ranking social and economic positions, he said. After implementation of the JCPOA, Iran turned into a new economic power, welcoming active presence of the world countries, the European ones in particular, he said. Industrial infrastructures, suitable geographical condition, geographical proximity with seven countries surrounded with arid regions and as secure Middle East country have made it a suitable place for foreign investors, he said.

With a population of 80 million, Iran can provide access to some 400 populations in the region for economic purposes, Khansari said. Iran ranks first in the world in terms of gas reserves and is also among the countries rich in oil as there are more than 50 minerals in the country and they account for suitable ground for broadening cooperation with other countries, he said.

Iran requires some dlrs 50 billion foreign investment to hit its target of six percent economic growth this year, he said.

Over 200 economic delegations visited Iran last year and many of the deals, signed during the visits, for example the deals signed with with the French, Italian and Austrian companies, are now in force, he said.

Iran continued cooperation with such countries as India, China and South Korea, which did not stop economic cooperation with the country during economic sanctions, he said. Banking problems have not been resolved yet and it is expected that Denmark will take initiative to remove the barriers, he said.

A 30-member Iranian delegation, headed by the TCCIM head, Masoud Khansari, arrived in the Czech Republic and Denmark to confer with the countries’ businessmen and industrialists, he said. The Iranian economic delegation will leave Copenhagen for Tehran on Friday night.

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Islamic world must capitalise on its youth dividend

Shiraz, 4 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular, Majlis and Iranians Affairs Hassan Qashqavi said on Saturday that introducing Shiraz as capital of Islamic world youths is an exceptional opportunity to introduce our cultural data to the world.

He made the remarks in inauguration ceremony for Shiraz as the capital of the Islamic world youths. The senior diplomat said that Shiraz as the capital of the Islamic world youth may offer Iran and Islam cultural values, including peace , friendship and love to the world.

He added that the opportunity may remove misconceptions about Iran, which negative propaganda had created them. The Deputy FM said that Shiraz 2017 programs are in several axes like sport, religion, art and media.

On October 6, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey, at the final meeting of the third ministers of the Islamic world, Shiraz was introduced as the new capital of the Islamic world youths. Istanbul was the capital of the Islamic World of youth in year 2015-2016.

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Tehran to host first English Teachers convention

Tehran, 4 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – The first ever international conference of Iran English Language Teachers Association (IELTA), themed “Global Innovation to Local Implementation”, is to be held at Parsian Azadi Hotel in Tehran from Feb 8-11, the IELTA Secretary, Dr. Bita Rezaei, said on Saturday.

The IELTA 2017 won support of world class organizations such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), she said.

A number of internationally recognized and domestic university lecturers and top experts in language learning are to present latest scientific achievements and common techniques in local implementation of the language learning and teaching that will help relieve any boredom, spike motivation and stimulate progress.

Iranian English language teachers across the country are to attend the three-day conference to utilize specialized workshops and have the chance to brainstorm and exchange views on their experiences and knowledge in the field, she said.

Dissemination of news and augmenting the knowledge of Iranian language teachers nationwide on latest English language methodologies and their attendance at the international events could be defined as parts of the goals of the conference, Rezaei said.

Setting up such international seminars and conferences help English teachers/instructors be acquainted with the latest views, achievements, approaches, procedures, techniques as well as methodologies, leaving direct impact on language learning procedure, Rezai said.

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Zarif says Iran will grant visa to American wrestlers

Tehran, 5 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif announced that visas will be granted to the American wrestlers to travel to Iran to attend the 2017 Freestyle World Cup.

Iran will do so after an American judge suspended the visa ban imposed by the US President Donald Trump on seven Muslim countries including Iran and also due to the requests from the International Wrestling Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran Wrestling Federation, Zarif said.

‘Following the court ruling suspending Muslim ban and the requests from Iranian Wrestling Federation and FILA, US Wrestlers’ visa will be granted,’ Zarif tweeted.

After Trump’s 27 Jan visa ban, a special committee was formed in Iran to look into the entry of the American wrestlers who were to participate in the 2017 World Cup slated for Feb 16-17 in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah. 
During the past days, the committee opposed the travel of the American wrestlers to Iran. That was while the US, last week, did not issue visa for the Iranian archers who were to attend the Archery World Cup 2017 in that country.

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Iran artists enthralls audience at Lok Virsa

ISLAMABAD, 2 Feb 2017, (APP) – Iranian artists on Thursday enthralled audience with performance of traditional music here at National Institute of Folk and Traditional Heritage (Lok Virsa).

The event was organized by the Cultural Consulate, Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in collaboration with Lok Virsa on the occasion of 38th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of
Iran (National Day).

The Cultural Counselor Embassy of Iran Shahaboddin Daraei was the chief guest on the occasion.

Addressing the participants, Iran Cultural Counselor Shahaboddin Daraei thanked the Government of Pakistan, particularly Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage for their cooperation in organizing the Iran Traditional Music and culture.

He said that the leading element of the Iranian traditional tunes and melodies is soul pleasing and refreshing.

He expressed the hope that the people of Iran would also get a similar opportunity to witness the traditional music of Pakistani artists. The evening ended with performance by Iranian classical music
group ‘Kook’ which was highly appreciated by the audience.

Iran renowned artists including Syed Ali Sohofi, Zaman Khairi, Saeed Jalalian, Amir Parveez Ahmadi, Muhammad Baqir Zenali and AmirMardaneh performed on the occasion and got big applause from the audience.

A large number of people from different walks of life also attended the traditional music performances.

The event was also streamed live on official website: of Lok Virsa www.lokvirsa.org.pk.

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Iran Owns World’s Largest Tanker Fleet

TEHRAN, Iran, 02 Feb 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – New Managing Director of National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) Sirous Kianersi, while noting that Iran possessed the largest tanker fleet in the world, expounded on plans to renovate and expand the existing fleet, reports Iran’s Mehr News Agency (MNA).

He pointed out that presently, the capacity of vessels belonging to NITC has climbed to over 15.5 million tonnes per year. He said that following removal of international sanctions, Iran’s tanker fleet have directly served the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) for crude oil exports.

He added that given the removal of sanctions and certain limitations, a number of Iranian tankers have been lent out to giant European oil companies like Spain’s Cepsa, Eni of Italy as well as the Netherlands; “nevertheless, renewal and development of the current tanker fleet has been put on the agenda.”

When asked whether domestic manufacturers were capable of building new tanker ships, Kianersi explained that expansion of tanker fleet would be carried out on the basis of Resistance Economy policies. He said that domestic capacities will be exploited if Iranian manufacturers were able to build ships in accordance with international standards.

Commenting on the emergence of a crisis in transport of crude since global oil prices plummeted, he reiterated that “overall, incomes of NITC have been reasonable in the meantime.”

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Iran Seeks European Investments In Petrochemical Industry

TEHRAN, Iran, 4 Feb 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – Iran is negotiating with major European enterprises from France, Germany and Britain on developing its petrochemical industries, Iran local media reported on Thursday.

Iran is in talks with French oil and gas company Total, German chemical company BASF and Britain’s oil major Shell on investment in the country’s petrochemical projects, Managing Director of Iran’s National Petrochemical Company (NPC) Marzieh Shahdaei was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency.

Shahdaei said that a new round of talks was held with representatives of Total on Tuesday, who were accompanying France’s foreign minister in his visit to Tehran.

Talks with Total were focused on construction of a petrochemical plant for producing ethylene and polyethylene, she said. She added that talks with BASF and Shell are also underway. Reports said that German major oil and petrochemical companies have offered to invest in the Iranian oil and petrochemical sectors.

A total of 12 billion U.S. dollars in finance have been offered by the German companies, including BASF. BASF, whose managing director visited Iran last year as a member of a delegation accompanying German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, has offered to invest 6 billion dollars project in a petrochemical project in the south of Iran.

Wintershall Holding GmbH, Germany’s largest crude oil and natural gas producer, is another company that has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) to make studies on four oil fields in the west of Iran. One year after the sanctions against Iran were lifted, several international companies have started negotiations to establish themselves in Iran’s oil and gas projects. Iran possesses one of the world’s largest oil and gas reserves.

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Iran, Lebanon agree to develop tourism cooperation

Beirut, 5 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – The chairman of Tehran Hotels and Hotel Apartments Union Mohammad Ali Farrokh-Mehr and the Lebanese Tourism Minister Avadis Kadanian agreed to develop cooperation especially in attracting tourists.

According to Lebanese media, the meeting was held on the verge of Lebanese Minister’s upcoming trip to Iran. Both sides agreed to develop cooperation between Lebanon Tourism Syndicate and Tehran Hotels and Hotel Apartments Union. Lebanese Tourism Ministry also agreed to contribute Lebanese tourists’ travel to Iran.

Ways to take advantage of Lebanese side’s experiences in tourism and training tourism department staff were also reviewed. Unpon an invitation by Head of Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization Zahra Ahmadi, Kadanian is scheduled to have a trip to Tehran today.

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Iranian caricaturist receives Colombian Int’l Contest Award

Kerman, 5 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – Iranian caricaturist, Mohammad Saleh Razm Hosseini, has received award of the 3rd International Cartoon Contest and Graphic Humor, Noticartun, which was held with the theme of peace in Colombia.

The cartoon refers to Daesh presence and role in jeopardizing security and peace.

Hosseini has so far been awarded by festivals in Italy, China, Croatia, South Korea, Russia and Turkey. He also received Honors Diplomas of the festivals of South Korea, Ukraine, Croatia, Bulgaria, etc. Colombian award was Hosseini’s 29th award for drawing caricature.

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Iranian, Italian archeologists to reconstruct Burnt City

Tehran, 5 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – Iranian and Italian archeologists are studying animal and plant remains in an effort to reconstruct the nature of the Burnt City in the third millennium, the Public Relations Office of the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism (RICHT) reported.

RICHT Public Relations Office quoted Iranian head of the joint project Hossein Moradi as saying the first season of interdisciplinary studies and review of the precinct and privacy of the Burnt City has been launched in cooperation with of the Italian group under the supervision of Enrico Ascalone from Salento University of Italy.

“Survey of the archeological materials such as skeletons, animal bones and plant samples is underway in the Burnt City in the presence of a group of Iranian and Italian archeologists and interdisciplinary experts,” he added.

According to Moradi, the researchers plan to conduct study on the human remains collected from the cemetery of the Burnt City and in addition to understanding part of the way of life in the third millennium BC in this area, also deal with issues such as racial diversity by focusing on studies related to the genetic knowledge on human bones unearthed from the Burnt City.

“In this project the first season of which is being conducted in the current year with the aim of providing preliminaries for a widespread study, Italian researchers while inspecting the Burnt City have been familiarized with the cultural material and ancient remains that have been obtained in the course of 15 exploration seasons by the Iranian group under the supervision of Seyed Mansour Seyed Sajjadi in the Burnt City,” the archaeologist said.

Based on the findings of archaeologists, the Burnt City has a span of 280 hectares and its remains show that the city had five basic parts, including the residential part located in the northeast of the Burnt City, central parts; the industrial area; historical monuments and the cemetery that are located as successive hills attached together. Eighty hectares of the Burnt City formed the residential part.

One of the most amazing findings of the Burnt City is the discovery of the signs of the most ancient brain surgery in the City. The skull of a 12 or 13-year-old girl in 4800 years ago parts of which had been removed by doctors of that area for the treatment of hydrocephalus (collection of liquid in the skull) and undergone surgical operation. The girl had stayed live long after the operation.

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ATR aircraft maker representatives due in Tehran on Feb 5

Tehran, 4 Feb 2017, (IRNA) – Deputy minister of roads and urban development announced that the representatives of ATR – the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer – are to be in Tehran on Sunday.

Speaking to reporters here on Saturday, Asghar Fakhriyeh-Kashan said that ATR will deliver three or four passenger planes to IranAir – the Airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran – by the end of the Iranian calendar year on March 20.

After finalization of the deal valued at 400 million dollars for 20 passenger planes, the aircraft will be delivered to Iran, the official said. On Jan 11, French Airbus also delivered the first plane to Iran under the deal between Iran and Airbus to purchase 100 passenger planes from the French manufacturer of civil aircraft, Fakhriyeh-Kashan went on to say.

He hoped that two other Airbus passenger planes would be delivered in March. After announcement of ‘Implementation Day’ of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPAO) between Iran and six major world powers on January 16, 2016, the Iranian airlines started direct talks with the global aircraft manufacturing companies.

The preliminary contract between Iran and France’s Airbus for purchase of 100 passenger planes was signed during the historic visit of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to Paris in January, 2016.

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Islamic finance is for the benefit of humanity, says IsDB Vice President

Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 30 January 2017: Islamic finance is meant to benefit the entire humanity, rather than just Muslims, according to the Vice President of Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Mr. Sayed Aqa.

The Vice President (Cooperation and Country Programming) stated this when he received a delegation of Rwandan Muslims, led by Shaikh Salim Hitimana, the Mufti of Rwanda.

Mr. Aqa stated that countries like Luxemburg, the United Kingdom and Japan are adopting Islamic finance.

He added that Islamic finance has several instruments like Sukuk (Islamic bonds), Awqaaf (endowments) and Islamic banking.

“Connecting countries through businesses and private sector development is a top priority for IsDB. We are ready to support Rwanda by linking the country with investors and entrepreneurs in IsDB member countries. The most important thing is the conducive atmosphere for business,” stated the Vice President.

In his remarks, Shaikh Salim Hitiman thanked IsDB for the projects it supported in Rwanda, and assured the Vice President that the business climate in Rwanda is one the best in Africa. He added that IsDB and Rwanda can work together in different sectors of development such as health, education and Islamic finance.

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Paper museum draws visitors to Yalova

YALOVA – Anadolu Agency, February 5 2017 – The İbrahim Müteferrika Paper Museum, which was opened in 2013 in the northwestern Turkish province of Yalova, has received 252,000 visitors over the course of three years. Thanks to the museum and its atelier, various pieces of Ottoman paperwork has begun to be revived.

The papers produced in the museum and atelier particularly stir the interest of calligraphers, illuminators and marbling artists. The goal is to spread the use of local papers when producing artworks in Turkey.

Art historian Aytekin Vural, an official at the museum, said he had worked as a volunteer consultant for the development of the paper business and the establishment of many other ateliers.

“Our goal is the creation of Turkish Islamic art with papers produced with Kahramanmaraş cotton and Sinop linen rather than Indian, Chinese or Japanese papers,” Vural said.

“The museum has fallen short in meeting this goal so far. We need new people dealing with paper production. It is our biggest goal to produce Ottoman-style paper again with local materials. We want to make Yalova the center of traditional paper production just like it was 300 years ago. We have worked with very important people and reached this goal. We claim that we are producing hand-made papers that are of higher value than the ones produced abroad,” he added.

Watermarked papers in the museum draw particular interest from foreign visitors as the technique was only used in the Ottoman Empire, Vural stated.

Visitors to the museum have the chance to produce their own paper for free.

“As the museum completes its third year, 252,000 people have been recorded visiting so far. Including unrecorded visitors, we have a visitor number of 300,000 in three years. We worked on specific projects in 2016, not on visitors. So 52,000 people visited the museum last year and we believe we will see more people this year.

But quality is more important than visitor numbers. People dealing with fine arts come here. We have visitors from Istanbul, Ankara, İzmir, Bursa as well as from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. Very important paper historians and artists have come from Britain and the U.S.,” Vural said.

Vural said people come to learn how to make paper in the museum’s atelier but they need to make reservations for this.

“Sometimes we make reservation for future dates. For example, we get reservations for April from Turkey and abroad. Those who see the production process at first get excited. They think we produce paper with recycling method. They can see here how a plant turns into paper with all processes. It is very hard to produce paper and they can see it here. This creates environmental awareness for children,” he added.

The museum in Yalova can be visited every day of the week apart from Mondays.

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TV tower with panoramic views of Istanbul to open in June

Istanbul, Anadolu News Agency, February 5 2017 — A new television tower with panoramic views of Istanbul will be completed within a month and open to visitors in June, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said on Feb. 4.

Speaking at the site of the new Küçük Çamlıca Radio-TV Tower, Yıldırım said the facility is due to open to public by Eid al-Fitr, a holiday which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

He said the tower, which is located in Istanbul’s Asian side overlooking the Bosphorus Strait, will feature panoramic terraces. “The people of Istanbul and visitors from outside will be able to see all parts of the city from these terraces. The tower will attract around 4.5 million people a year,” he said.

Çamlıca is reputed for being a site where most of Istanbul’s antennas and transmitters are. The new tower is expected to consolidate 125 transmitters.

“As of today, we have completed 153 meters of (the tower’s) 220.5 meters. It will be completed within a month,” he said.

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Kick-Off Meeting for the SME Development Project

Date : 06-07 February 2017 Venue : Istanbul Turkey

SESRIC will hold the Kick-off Meeting for the SME Development Project under the “BINA INITIATIVE” in collaboration with the Libyan Programme for Reintegration and Development (LPRD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) on 6-7 February 2017 in Istanbul, Turkey.

The main objective of the meeting is to come out with an implementation plan for building a Libyan SME Incubator which will help developing the Libyan economy through supporting entrepreneurships. The development of the Libyan SME Incubator is an essential part of the Bina Initiative which is a partnership program between SESRIC, LPRD and IDB.

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Turkish firms to boost USD200mn Iraq real estate project

MENAFN – 01/02/2017 – Iraqi businessmen in talks with Turkish firms to develop USD200mn real estate project at the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi business group is now in Istanbul to enhance mutual trade ties and also discuss key business proposals.

Moreover, Turkey’s exports to the country have plunged by 50 percent from USD14bn to USD7bn.

On the other hand, another Turkish delegation may visit Iraq in the coming days to take the Green Zone project talks forward.

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Turkey aims to boost tourism revenues to $50B: Erdogan

ANKARA, 02 Feb 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – Turkey aims to attract 8 million more tourists in the first stage of a campaign to boost the nation’s tourism earnings to $50 billion, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday.

“I believe that we can increase our short-term national income (from tourism) to $50 billion and increase it further to $86 billion by 2023,” the nation’s centennial, Erdogan said after meeting with representatives of leading Turkish tourism companies at the presidential palace.

By using the Turkish tourism sector’s quality of service, product range, cultural and historical wealth, and human resources, Erdogan said, Turkey aims to become one of the world’s top three tourism destinations.

Turkey is currently the world’s number six tourist destination, attracting more than 30 million tourists annually and continuing to show positive growth year-on-year, according to Turkey’s Investment Support and Promotion Agency.

Aiming to reach the top three, Turkey Thursday kicked off a new campaign called “Bring your neighbor and come”, encouraging Turkish citizens living abroad to spend their holidays in Turkey as well as bring their foreign neighbors with them on holiday.

According to Erdogan, there are currently 5 million Turkish-origin individuals living abroad, most of them in European countries such as Germany, France, Belgium, and Britain.

Moreover, there are also 3.5 million Turkish-origin individuals who once lived abroad and returned to Turkey but still maintain ties with the countries they once lived in, Erdogan added.

“We consider all our citizens living abroad as our voluntary tourism ambassadors. So I invite our citizens living abroad to spend at least one week of their holidays in Turkey (at tourist destinations) in addition to visiting to their families,” Erdogan said.

“I also ask them to bring their neighbors and friends with them for holidays to Turkey. In that vein, we’re launching the ‘Bring your neighbor and come’ campaign.”

Saying that Turkey is home to a wealth of natural beauty with gorgeous mountains, winding rivers, as well as historical beauties and a rich cuisine, Erdogan said that people who choose to holiday in Turkey can experience Turkish hospitality firsthand and meet the “real” Turkey.

Celebrations at home

As part of the campaign, Erdogan also invited Turkish citizens living abroad to hold special events such as engagements or weddings in Turkey rather than in the countries they live in.

“Every year more than 50,000 wedding events of our citizens living abroad take place in the countries where they live,” he said.

“My brothers living in Germany, France, Belgium, Britain and other countries, let’s be sensible and celebrate all the special events in our country.”

The campaign also urges foreigners working in Turkey to spend at least one week of their holidays in Turkey.

Saying that there are some 50,000 companies funded by foreign capital in Turkey, Erdogan called on foreigners living and working in Turkey to seize the opportunity and “learn about the real Turkey” by spending at least one week of their holidays in Turkey.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry “along with our tourism companies are providing attractive new opportunities for these foreigners. We also invite these companies’ employees living abroad to come and spend their holidays in Turkey,” he said.

According to Erdogan, over the last 14 years, under Justice and Development (AK) Party rule, the number of tourists visiting Turkey rose from some 13 million to 40 million. Over the same period national earnings from tourism more than doubled from $12.5 billion to $31.5 billion, he added.

Despite smear campaigns claiming that Turkey is no longer a safe place for tourists or investments, Invest in Turkey figures say the growth of Turkey’s tourism industry in recent years has beaten the global average.

Its latest statistics say that the industry’s direct contribution to the current account deficit in 2015 was 80 percent, while its contributions to GDP the same year reached 4.37 percent.

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Turkey to launch direct flights to Mexico

MEXICO CITY, 04 Feb 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – Turkey’s flag carrier Turkish Airlines is planning to launch direct flights to Mexico City, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday, stressing the importance of improved access between Mexico and Turkey.

Speaking at a joint press conference following a bilateral meeting with his Mexican counterpart Luis Videgaray in Mexico City, Cavusoglu said direct flights and a free trade agreement now in the works would help boost economic ties.

“We are determined to increase bilateral trade volume and speed up negotiations on free trade agreements,” he said.

“We live in a difficult region as Turkey and we are doing our best to resolve these crises and to find a diplomatic solution. We never turn a blind eye on humanitarian crises. Mexico is also supporting us in this regard,” he added.

Videgaray, for his part, said Mexico was “today more open to the world than ever” and “wants to develop ties on trade and investment issues with all other countries free from all geographical distances”.

Expressing his expectation for more Turkish investors in Mexico, especially in the fields of construction and agriculture, Videgaray said there are also investment opportunities for Mexican businessmen in Turkey.

The minister pointed out that there were common targets for the two countries and said his government was aware of the problems Turkey is facing in the region and the role it was playing.

“Turkey and the Turkish people are playing an important role in humanitarian aid by opening its doors to more than 3 million refugees in a complex territory.

“Mexico hopes that the efforts for peace and human rights will be successful,” he added.

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Turkey’s tourism revenues drop by 30pct

01 Feb 2017, (MENAFN) – Turkey tourism revenues dropped almost 30 percent in 2016, after visitors stayed away following many terror attacks and a failed coup.

Last year income from tourism dropped by 29.7 percent compared to the previous year, dropping to USD22.1bn.

However, the country has been hit by attacks blamed on Islamic extremists and Kurdish militants, while tourists were more spooked by Erdogan attempted overthrow.

Additionally, the economy in the third quarter contracted for the first time year-on-year since 2009, shrinking 1.8 percent.

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Turkish firms to boost USD200mn Iraq real estate project

01 Feb 2017, (MENAFN) – Iraqi businessmen in talks with Turkish firms to develop USD200mn real estate project at the Green Zone in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, an Iraqi business group is now in Istanbul to enhance mutual trade ties and also discuss key business proposals.

Moreover, Turkey’s exports to the country have plunged by 50 percent from USD14bn to USD7bn.

On the other hand, another Turkish delegation may visit Iraq in the coming days to take the Green Zone project talks forward.

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Turkish markets stabilise as central bank measures bear fruit

02 Feb 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) The Turkish central bank’s unorthodox efforts to support the lira are breathing life into the nation’s battered markets even as some investors remain concerned about the effectiveness of the policymaker’s approach.

The lira has bounced from a record low reached earlier this month as the central bank’s efforts to tighten liquidity through daily funding operations pushed up funding costs to an almost five-year high. The currency’s volatility has also been damped by foreign-exchange swap auctions, while the nation’s bonds have jumped.

The monetary authority is walking a tightrope between government pressure to keep interest rates low to support growth and criticism from analysts and investors for not raising them fast enough and instead focusing on liquidity management, which they say remains opaque and unpredictable.

While the markets have far from recovered from a rout spurred by political risk, climbing US yields and mounting inflationary pressures, the charts below show how central bank measures have achieved some stabilisation, in the short term at least.

At about 3.7781 p dollar, the lira has climbed more than 4% from the record low reached earlier this month. A 2.4% rally on Monday has also left it on course for its first weekly gain since early December.

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Mexico, Turkey To Pursue Free Trade Deal

MEXICO CITY, 4 Feb 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – Mexico and Turkey agreed to work towards a bilateral free trade agreement, according to Mexico’s Finance Ministry. The move is in accordance with Mexico’s push to diversify its export markets as the United States, its biggest trade partner, assumes a more hostile and protectionist stance under President Donald Trump.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray met with his visiting Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to review bilateral ties and install a High-Level Binational Commission to follow up on pledges to bolster cooperation. Both countries share a special interest “to continue talks to forge a free-trade agreement between Mexico and Turkey”, said Videgaray following the meeting.

“Today more than ever, Mexico is open to the world, and Mexico wants to strengthen trade and investment ties with all countries we have friendship with, regardless of our geographical distance,” Videgaray added.

Two-way trade between Mexico and Turkey amounted to 884.4 million U.S. dollars in 2015. The two officials also agreed to cooperate within the framework of the G20 and MIKTA, a political and trade forum comprising Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey and Australia, to promote free trade, combat climate change and build a more solid international financial system.

Cavusoglu’s visit also marked the opening of a branch office of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency in Mexico, the first of its kind in Latin America.

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Qatar Airways inaugurates longest route in world

Baku, February 4, AZERTAC – When Qatar Airways flight 920 takes off tomorrow from Doha on its 16 hour 20 minute journey to Auckland, it will take the title of the world’s longest route, according to flightradar24.com. The return flight, at 17 hours 30 minutes, will be the longest flight in the world. The Boeing 777-200LR operating the round trip flight between Doha and Auckland will cover 29,066 kilometers.

The difference in flight time between the flight to Auckland and the flight back to Doha is thanks to prevailing high-altitude winds. The outbound flight is able to take advantage of favorable tail winds, while the return flight isn’t so lucky. Air India faced a similar quandary with its Delhi-San Francisco flights, but the location of both cities enabled them to come up with a novel solution: add 1,000 km to the flight, but arrive over 2 hours earlier.

Qatar’s Doha-Auckland route will surpass Emirates’ from Dubai as the longest route in world by a combined 600 km, as measured by the great circle distance between the airports. Qatar’s previous longest flight is currently the 8th longest flight in the world between Doha and Los Angeles.

The Boeing 777-200LR is specifically designed for ultra-long-range flights, with a maximum range of 17,445 kilometers. Qatar Airways uses its fleet of nine 777-200LRs on many of its longest routes, including Los Angeles (13,346 km), Houston (12,932 km), and Atlanta (11,984 km). Qatar has also used the aircraft on its shortest route, the 148km flight between Doha and Bahrain.

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KFAED loans, grants to Sudan exceed USD one bln benchmark

SETIT, Sudan, 3 Feb 2017, (KUNA) – The loans and grants offered by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) to Sudan have totaled KD 306 million (over USD one billion), KFAED official has stated.

“What have been offered and what will be offered by KFAED to Sudan, is an embodiment of the strong friendship between the two nations,” KFAED Deputy Director General Hamad Al-Omar told KUNA Friday.

He pointed out that the first KFAED loan to Sudan dates back to 1962 and was used to finance a railway project.

Al-Omar made these remarks to KUNA after participating on Thursday in a ceremony for signaling the operation of the first turbine of the power generation station at the Upper Atbara-Setit Complex at Al-Gaddarif for its finance, the KFAED has provided a KD 50 million (USD 168 million) loan.

“Despite the global economic crisis, KFAED is doing its utmost, with the help of God and directives of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to maintain its ability to deliver it mission related to cooperation with 106 countries around the world,” he said.

He noted that the Upper Atbara-Setit Complex aims to support the development of Eastern Sudan, through enhancement of agriculture production, generation of hydropower and provision of potable water to the city of Port Sudan and its suburbs at the Red Sea District and the city of Al-Gaddarif.

For his part, Kuwait Ambassador to Sudan Bassam Al-Qabandi lauded KFAED’s contributions to the mega development projects in Sudan in the past 55 years.

He pointed out that Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir has expressed appreciation of the KFAED’s crucial role in development in Sudan.

He stated that Kuwait was the first backer of development in his country and KFAED first’s loan to a foreign country was offered to Sudan.

The complex would lead to a quantum leap in the services in Eastern Sudan Province, develop agriculture sector and provide electricity and potable water, the president clarified.

The Upper Atbara-Setit Complex project includes the construction works and provision of equipment for a Dam complex comprising Rumela Dam at Upper Atbara River and Burdana Dam at Setit River.

The project site is located 20 KM upstream the joining of the rivers and about 80 KM south of the Khashm Al-Qurba Dam. The Dam complex will have a joined reservoir with a storage capacity of about 3.7 billion cubic meter of water.

It includes the construction of hydropower station on Rumela Dam with an installed capacity of 320 MW capable of producing 843 GWH per year and the civil work for anotherhydropower station on Burdana Dam with a provision capacity of 15 MW, in addition to the rehabilitation of 15 MW at the existing Khashm Al-Qurba Damcapable of producing 41 GWH per year.

It includes the construction of a new water intake at the right bank to irrigate by gravity Eastern Agricultural lands downstream of the dam in Kasala District. As well as construction a hydropower station at the intake with an installed capacity of 17 MW capable of producing 72 GWH per year in addition to the rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure in New Halfa area of about 190 thousand hectare.

The project also includes the development of new agriculture areas in the eastern bank of Upper Atbara River in Kassala State.

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Kuwait Airways receives 4th Boeing 777-300ER

KUWAIT, 4 Jan 2017, (KUNA) – Kuwait Airways, the official national carrier, on Saturday announced the arrival of its fourth aircraft of a family of long-range twin-engine jets, the Boeing 777-300ER (Kubbar), which is part of a 10-planes deal expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2017.

Kuwait Airways Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Rasha Al-Roumi said in a press statement that the new plane represented a clear success story which supported plans for development adopted by the government of Kuwait to become an attractive financial and commercial center for investment.

She added that the aircraft’s name Kubbar came from one of the most significant islands in the country, which lies south of the capital Kuwait.

Al-Roumi also attributed recent progress to the diligence of Kuwait Airways’ workforce, adding that the company aimed to earn the trust of Kuwaiti citizens.

One of the oldest airlines in the Gulf region, the Kuwaiti government acquired full ownership of Kuwait Airways in 1962.

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Qatar emerges topper in Mideast outbound M&A by value in 2016

02 Feb 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – Fast-growing Qatar, which has embarked on diversification, emerged topper in the Middle East outbound merger and acquisition (M & A) by value in 2016, mainly on account of its sovereign wealth fund-led consortium’s multi-billion dollar investments in Russian oil company, according to Baker McKenzie.

‘Qatar topped the full-year 2016 by value with deals worth 13.35bn, driven by the 11.27bn investment in Russia’s Rosneft Oil Company by a consortium led by Qatar Investment Authority, Baker McKenzie Habib Al Mulla said in a report.

The Rosneft deal value alone constituted more than 84% of the total deals value in 2016, it said.

However, the UAE drove four of the top five outbound M & A deals by value during the fourth quarter (Q4) in 2016, it said.

The report found that outbound cross-regional M & A deals fuelled by the Middle East totalled 74 in 2016 (compared to 72 in the previous year) with the UAE constituting 36 transactions, followed by Qatar and Bahrain with 16 and 9 deals respectively.

The top sector by value for 2016 outbound Middle East M & A was the energy and utilities sector with 12.2bn worth deals, and the top sector by volume was the consumer sector with 12 deals.

The Middle East region saw robust cross-border M & A, particularly on inbound deals, even as the global M & A activities were on the decline in 2016, the report said.

Despite being a long way off Q4 2015’s record-breaking Middle East Index figure of 591.5, the Q4 2016 Index of 181.6 doubled that of the third quarter (91.2) and underlined the continued strength of cross-regional M & A activity in the region, with the UAE as the dominant country fr both inbound and outbound deals in Q4 2016, it said in a report.

‘Cross-border M & A activity in the Middle East has seen a robust year of deal making in spite of investor uncertainty and market instability, Will Seiverwright, Corporate/M & A partner at Baker McKenzie, said.

The ‘remarkable increase in cross-regional transaction value and steady flow of deals for 2016 bodes well for M & A in the coming year, according to him.

George Sayen, Head of Corporate Practice Group at Baker McKenzie’s associated firm in Riyadh, said cross-border M & A in the region has fared relatively well in 2016, notwithstanding global political and economic volatility.

‘Looking forward, we expect Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 to generate considerable deal activity in specified sectors such as technology, healthcare, education and transport, he added.

The value of inbound Middle East M & A deals more than doubled year-on-year to 10bn in 2016 mainly on a few mega deals in the transportation and energy and utilities sectors. Inbound cross-regional deal volumes, however, remained flat at 29 in 2016.

The UAE was the standout target country by volume for both Q4 and full-year 2016 with 18 of the 29 deals in 2016, followed by Oman with three deals and Saudi Arabia with two. On the other hand, Kuwait was the top target country by value for 2016 with Hapag-Lloyd’s 5.4bn acquisition of Kuwait’s United Arab Shipping Company.

The Transportation sector was top by value for 2016, with deals valued at 5.53bn, and the energy and utilities sector was top by volume for the year, with six deals valued at 3.6bn, the report said.

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Qatar To Participate In Arabic Language Olympiad

DOHA, Qatar, 31 Jan 2017, (NNN-QNA) – Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education, will participate in the second Arabic Language Olympiad, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Mar 1. The competition aims to strengthen the bond between children and the classical Arabic language, since, it is one of the main features of the national identity. It will also develop the abilities of the participating students, in the Arabic language.

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$330bn govt spend makes GCC ripe for alternative forms of project finance

02 Feb 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – GCC government spending on projects may be about 330bn, a S & P report said, and noted the region will be a fertile ground for alternative forms of project finance, favouring the capital markets.

The projects include infrastructure contracts awarded for the 2016-2019 period, the report said.

S & P expects corporate entities’ refinancing needs will remain significant, with 23.6bn in capital market financings — 11.9bn of corporate sukuk and 11.75bn of corporate bonds — coming due between 2017 and 2019.

‘Because of the need for infrastructure funding and refinancing on the one hand, and potential Basel IV constraints on the other, we believe the Gulf will be fertile ground for alternative forms of project finance, favouring the capital markets, S & P said. Still, the repricing of traditional bank loans to corporates has so far been limited due to stiff competition in the sector, partly fuelled by international lenders that are becoming more active in loan deals in the Gulf.

According to various market sources, loans as a proportion of total GCC corporate and infrastructure funding (including loans and bond issuance) increased to represent about 90% of total funding for the first eight months of 2016, up from about 74% in 2013.

‘Time will tell whether full adherence to Basel IV by the GCC financial sector will prove to be the tipping point that begins to favour a greater mix of capital market financing for infrastructure, S & P said.

GCC banks, the report said, traditionally operate with high levels of capital, but S & P expects Basel III to make less of it available for project finance.

Implementation varies across the region and the final form of macro-prudential regulation as such will significantly differ depending on how each national regulator will choose to implement the framework.

Nonetheless, irrespective of the national choices regarding implementation, higher capital requirements will render capital more expensive to deploy while risk weights applicable to different asset classes, including for off-balance exposures through the conversion factor mapping are expected to rise in the region.

Specifically, implementation of the framework could reduce tenors for long-term project financing and the involvement of European financial institutions in long-term lending to the region. In what was probably a response to a reduction in available long-term debt from other regional lenders, French bank Natixis and Abu Dhabi’s First Gulf Bank supported a winning bid last summer for the construction of a solar park in Dubai.

The consortium, which includes Spanish companies Fotowatio Renewable Ventures and Gransolar Group, bid for the third phase of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park slated to be operational by 2020, to coincide with World Expo 2020 in Dubai. It was among the lowest bid worldwide.

This, S & P said, raises the question of what assumptions creditors may have made about refinancing costs down the line, and more importantly the overall cost of bank financing on an expected short term-term refinancing basis, compared to a similar bond option.

Tighter capital rules for banks are kicking in at a time when liquidity for Gulf banks is declining on the back of lower oil prices, which is slowing deposit growth. Gulf banks traditionally generate the bulk of their funding from locally raised deposits, the report said.

‘Given our expectations for continued weakness in deposit growth, we believe banks will be more selective in their balance sheet allocations, particularly toward longer-tenor lending facilities, and we generally expect the cost of bank borrowing to increase in the GCC) S & P said.

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Qatar- Agriculture Research Centre to get new building

Doha, 01 Feb 2017, (MENAFN – The Peninsula) – A new building for the Agricultural Research Centre will be constructed next year in three phases and will be completed by 2020, an official of the Ministry of Municipality and Environment said.

Masoud Jarallah Al-Murri, Director of Agricultural Research Department at the Ministry, said that the building will be constructed on an area of 270,000 square metres at a cost of QR300m.

It consists of a main dome, an administrative integrated building, a theatre to host events, exhibitions and lectures in addition to about nine specialized labs including the Thermal Resistance Laboratory, Pthology Laboratory and Tissue Cultivation Laboratory. The building will also have accommodations for experts, researchers and guests, among other facilities.

The design phase has been completed and will be approved before mid-2017. The project will start in early 2018 and will end by 2020. He also said that the Department has taken over the Livestock Production Research Station in Al-Shaihaniya, which was established at a cost of QR29m, pointing out that the station, which includes a number of important facilities, will be opened during the first quarter of this year.

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Etihad woos S Asia travellers with extra luggage allowance

02 Feb 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – Etihad Airways has launched a campaign offering economy guests travelling from Doha to the subcontinent an extra 10kg of baggage allowance.

The airline operates flights to 11 cities across India, three destinations in Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

The offer is valid for tickets booked and for travel by March 31, the airline has said in a press statement.

Guests can avail of the offer when travelling to Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Colombo, Cochin, Delhi, Dhaka, Hyderabad, Islamabad, Jaipur, Karachi, Kathmandu, Kozhikode, Lahore, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram, the statement notes.

Houssam Weiss, Etihad Airways general manager – Qaar, said: ‘As part of Etihad Airways’ continued efforts to offer guests added-value services, we are delighted to introduce this promotional additional baggage allowance to our key markets across the subcontinent.

‘With convenient transfers through Abu Dhabi, we are able to offer guests a choice of over 175 connecting flights each week to 11 cities across India, as well as our network of destinations in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Further, Weiss noted that the offer ‘not only provides more value to guests, but also removes some of the stress of travelling, making it easier to carry items, particularly gifts for families and friends.

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Saudi Finance Minister Says Efficiency Initiative Save $21 Billion

RIYADH, 3 Feb 2017, (NNN-AGENCIES) – Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan said a government efficiency office created last year to review state projects has saved the kingdom 80 billion riyals ($21 billion) on costs, according to the ministry’s official Twitter account.

Jadaan expects increased savings this year and in future years to have a positive impact on the kingdom’s finances and the ministry has set up a mechanism to reimburse contractors within 60 days, as promised in December, he said.

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U.A.E. Keen To Preserve, Develop Wetlands

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 2 Feb 2017, (NNN-WAM) – United Arab Emirates (UAE), has stressed on the importance of establishing and managing the country’s protected areas, in a bid to maintain and develop the ecosystems, in line with the directives of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said that, in this regard, the ministry, together with authorities in the seven emirates, has paid massive attention to the preservation and
development of wetlands, to ensure the sustainability of wetland ecosystems for future generations.

He said this at the World Wetlands Day or Ramsar, which is globally celebrated on Feb 2. Reports issued by the Ramsar Convention for Wetlands, indicated that the world has lost 64 percent of wetlands, since the beginning of the last century, Al-Zeyoudi said.

He said that, with the directives and continued support of the UAE’s visionary leadership, the country has succeeded in transforming environments of biodiversity and ecologically distinctive locations, into protected areas.

He added that, the UAE’s Vision 2021, stressed the importance of preserving the country’s rich natural environment, through preventive and regulatory measures. The minister also pointed out that the UAE’s strategy for green development, announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, under the slogan: “Green Economy for Sustainable Development” emphasised the conservation of biodiversity and protection of ecological balance for all terrestrial and marine organisms.

He said, the world’s celebration of this occasion, under the theme “Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction,” reflected the pivotal role played by the wetlands, in controlling climate change, and regulating and mitigating natural climatic phenomena.

It has a significant impact on carbon storage and regulation, and control of greenhouse gas emissions, in addition to lessening risks of natural disasters, such as floods, storms and hurricanes. Coastal wetlands, particularly mangrove forest areas, salty marshes and tidal flats of the UAE, are considered large stores of carbon and a natural barrier that limit the harmful effects of storms, tidal waves and rising of the
sea level.

These wetlands also ensure groundwater recharge and provide an appropriate environment for native animals, plants and endangered species.

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UAE- RAK Half Marathon kicks off on 10 Feb

RAS AL-KHAIMAH, 1 February, 2017 (WAM) – The 10th edition of Ras al-Khaimah Half Marathon will kick off on 10th February with the participation of 3,500 runner representing more than 80 countries, including a selection of international runners, under the patronage H.H. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras al-Khaimah.

RAK Half Marathon has been classified as the second best Half Marathon in the world, and one of the biggest in terms of importance and size of participation, amounting to total race awards of more than a million Dirhams.

RAK Marathon won the Golden Medal of the International Association of Athletics Federations, IAAF, and received the Classification of the Golden Shield The event will be held under the patronage of the Government of Ras al-Khaimah, represented by Saqr Port Authority, RAK Hospitality Holding, Hakaya Collection and Ras al-Khaimah Tourism Development Authority. The event is headed by Brigadier Naser Salim Mradad, Chairman of the RAK Half Marathon.

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UAE- World Retail Congress 2017 announced for April

DUBAI, 1 February, 2017 (WAM) – Dubai is set to host the 11th edition of the World Retail Congress from 4th to 6th April under the theme, “Re-imagining the customer experience”.

The three-day event will bring together 1,500 attendees who will have the chance to hear from over 150 leading retail and industry experts discussing topics that include transformation and disruption within retail, what really motivates the consumer, and the importance of brand differentiation.

World Retail Congress 2017 will also feature new interactive sessions in response to the constant evolution of the modern retail market to identify key trends and potential areas of growth, with the introduction of the ‘Ideas Factory’.

Commenting on the launch, Ian McGarrigle, Chairman, World Retail Congress, said, “It is with great pleasure that we return to Dubai for the 11th edition of the World Retail Congress, building on the success of last year’s event.

As the leading international retail destination and a recognised global trading hub, Dubai is the perfect location for the congress, bringing together leader of this US22 trillion global industry, from the greatest retail icons to the most innovative start-ups and disruptors.

Through our diverse agenda of talks and interactive workshops from inspirational speakers, centred around, “Reimagining the customer experience”, the congress will initiate a dialogue focusing on the current challenges facing the retail industry on a local, regional and international level, supported by the very latest ideas and exclusive research. At the same time, the event will create high level networking opportunities to build invaluable business connections.”

Hamad Buamim, President and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “Dubai is an ideal host city for the World Retail Congress as it’s already a leading retail hub and preferred market for regional and international retailers. By hosting the congress, Dubai can more effectively communicate its vision and plans to a global audience, including key initiatives such as the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 and its ambition to become a manufacturing and wholesale hub for the region.”

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Saudi Arabia launches “Initiative 2030, Vision and Ambition” in UK cities

London, Jumada I 08, 1438, February 05, 2017, SPA — Under the patronage of Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom, the Saudi cultural bureau has launched “Initiative 2030, Vision and Ambition” to be held in a number of British universities, to be organized by the Saudi students on scholarships which aims to highlight the most important features of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and briefing British society on its ambitious goals.

On its part, London-based Saudi cultural bureau explained that the initiative seeks also to link Saudi students on scholarships with this vision and guide them to explore its prospects and integrate with its features in addition to promoting patriotism among them and strengthening their sense of responsibility in this national project by motivating them and highlighting their contributions in this regard.

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GCC nations set to award $6.5bn healthcare contracts in 2017

MENAFN – Gulf Times – 03/02/2017 – GCC countries are expected to award healthcare contracts worth 6.5bn in 2017 based on current project schedules, according to a new report.

In 2016, projects worth 4bn were awarded in this region.

According to Ventures ONSITE, which tracks construction projects, the GCC healthcare construction industry is all set to continue its healthy position in 2017, fuelled by demographic and macroeconomic factors.

The major hospital projects expected to be awarded to contractors in 2017 include the MoI hospital in Doha and a new mental health and psychiatry hospital in Al Wakrah, the report states, adding that Qatar accounts for 14% of the value of hospital projects in the six GCC countries and 8.1% of the number of such projects.

‘GCC governments are introducing regulatory changes to improve efficiency and quality of healthcare services. There are global and regional investors alreay active in the region’s healthcare sector, with more international, local and regional players preparing to take advantage of the favourable climate, the report noted.

Sixty hospital and related projects were completed in the GCC in 2016 with another 92 expected to be finished in 2017. Also, the number of hospital beds is expected to reach 114,000 by 2020 compared to 101,797 in 2015.

‘There is a pipeline of nearly 400 planned and ongoing hospital or healthcare-related projects valued at 57bn in the GCC. Out of 400, there are 37 projects in the bidding and evaluation stage that will be awarded soon to contractors, said Mibu John, managing director of Ventures ONSITE. ‘The value of contracts expected to be awarded to contractors in 2017 is estimated at 6.5bn as per the current project schedules. This is against 4bn worth of projects awarded in 2016.

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Emaar Malls Dubai records 3.9pct increase in Q4

MENAFN – 01/02/2017 – Dubai’s Emaar Malls, a unit of Emaar Properties, posted a 3.9 percent increase in Q4 net income.

Moreover, net profit of the firm reached USD123mn in the cited period, compared with a profit of 435mn dirhams in the same period a year earlier.

Additionally, for the whole year Emaar Malls posted a net profit of 1.87bn dirhams, against 1.66bn dirhams in 2015.

Meanwhile, Emaar Properties owns almost 85 percent of Emaar Malls, having floated the remainder in 2014.

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Lufthansa, Etihad deepen ties with new agreements

02 Feb 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – Deutsche Lufthansa and Etihad Airways announced plans to establish a ‘new commercial partnership with deals covering in-flight catering and aircraft maintenance.

The long-time adversaries have concluded a 100mn agreement in global catering and signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in plane repair and overhaul, they said yesterday at a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

The agreements, which build on recent announcements regarding joint ticket sales and aircraft leasing, come as Etihad grapples with losses from minority investments and Germany’s Lufthansa struggles to cut costs and add low-cost flights amid opposition from trade unions.

Etihad Chief Executive Officer James Hogan, who plans to stand down later this year, said the accords are ‘the most significant struck by the Middle Eastern carrier outside of its so-called ‘equity alliance of minority shareholdings.

After years of clashes centred on Lufthansa’s claims that Etihad and its Gulf peers Qatar Airways and Emirates became major global players only with the help of state aid, the two airlines have found themselves pushed closer together by changing circumstances.

Lufthansa, Europe’s third-biggest airline, is struggling to keep pace with network rivals including British Airways owner IAG, which is tied to Qatar Airways, just as discount operators led by Ryanair Holdings eat away at its market share on short-haul routes.

At the same time Etihad has begun reviewing its strategy after failing to halt losses at Air Berlin, a Lufthansa competitor, and Italian flag carrier Alitalia, in which it has built up holdings as part of an alliance tying together eight carriers from Europe to Australia.

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Emaar Malls Dubai records 3.9pct increase in Q4

01 Feb 2017, (MENAFN) – Dubai’s Emaar Malls, a unit of Emaar Properties, posted a 3.9 percent increase in Q4 net income.

Moreover, net profit of the firm reached USD123mn in the cited period, compared with a profit of 435mn dirhams in the same period a year earlier.

Additionally, for the wole year Emaar Malls posted a net profit of 1.87bn dirhams, against 1.66bn dirhams in 2015.

Meanwhile, Emaar Properties owns almost 85 percent of Emaar Malls, having floated the remainder in 2014.

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Omantel launches first Omani open e-learning platform Edlal

MENAFN, 01 Feb 2017, (MENAFN – Muscat Daily)- Muscat- Omantel, the sultanate’s most trusted telecoms provider, in partnership with ‘Rudha’ and ‘Point’ celebrated the launch of the first Omani open e-learning platform ‘Edlal’, in the presence of a large number of people interested in entrepreneurship and CSR and media representatives in Oman.

The event highlighted visions and plans of the project in the coming stages, which will contribute towards growing a knowledge-based economy built on innovation, engagement and new technologies.

Laila Mohammed al Wahaibi, CSR manager, Omantel, said, ‘We are very proud today to launch Edlal, which is an innovative platform designed to share experiences, knowledge and skills between experts and young people.

‘This knowledge-based platform aims to contribute in preparing young Omanis to join the workforce by equipping them with the required skills and knowledge for the market. It also plays a role in enhancing the Arabic language content on the Internet with timely and reliable information.

‘On the other hand, the Edlal platform will contribute in highlighting young Omani talents, and present them to the Arab world. At Omantel, we are fully aware that the future will largely depend on innovation in information technology, which has been part of all aspects of our lives. Edlal will enhance youth capabilities and equip them with the needed skills to achieve success.’

Mohammed Salim al Wahaibi, CEO of Rudha Oman, said that Edlal will be one of the solutions to enhance youth skills by focusing on areas that are important for the job market. He said, ‘The vision of Edlal is to help equip Omani youth with the necessary skills to enter the job market and to make the latest and best-practice learning materials in Arabic language available.

‘The materials on the platform focus on entrepreneurship and knowledge-based economy drivers, including majors in programming, computer science, economy and administration, among other relevant subjects. We expect that the platform will see a large turnout from the youth looking to boost its knowledge and skills in a way that they will benefit from in the future.

‘The platform is built to share knowledge, promote its utilisation and the development of young talents to equip them for the future through video clips backed with features that contribute in making educational material fun and enriching for all. We are targeting from this platform knowledge seekers and students of universities and colleges as well as entrepreneurs and job seekers. The Edlal platform will contribute in highlightinghe sultanate as a source of Arabic content knowledge and aspire to be the pioneers in this area.

Laila added, ‘Omantel’s 3.0 transformation strategy was launched at the beginning of 2016 and it aims at bridging the digital divide across all segments of society in the sultanate. With this goal in mind, we partnered with Rudha and Point to launch the Edlal platform, which will translate Omantel’s strategy in reality and contribute in equipping today’s youth with the required skills to make their way in the future and for the nation to achieve sustainable and continuous development.

‘Omantel staff will participate in the Edlal platform by providing a range of practical workshops and seminars to enrich them by experiences of those employees in several areas of leadership, management and specialist technical areas in the telecommunications sector.’

Highlighting the essential partnership which underpins the success of Edlal, Wahaibi added, ‘Omantel is one of the leading companies that support innovation in the sultanate. We are pleased to partner with Omantel in this ground-breaking project, which will allow us to offer greater opportunities for the Omani youth to achieve success and develop their knowledge and skills, for the betterment of everyone in the sultanate.

‘Oman is considered as one of the nations with the highest percentage of youth among the general population, and with Edlal, we work to develop this enormous potential in the best possible way.’

One of the significant added features for Edlal is that it presents knowledge content in Arabic, which is important as it is trying to solve a vital weakness in the scarcity of Arabic e-content in the Middle East generally, which does not exceed three per cent, according to an international study in this field.

Edlal approves Arabic as the main language of the platform which is an added feature, increasing the importance of this initiative and enhancing the levels of participation by Omani youth, while at the same time highlighting the Omani contribution in boosting the Arabic content on the Internet.

Joining hands with the community is an integral part of Omantel’s strategy to achieve success, while investing in social development is an integral part of achieving economic success for everyone in Oman.

Therefore, the company has through the years consistently allocated part of its annual budget for CSR, which is selected carefully to ensure sustainability of the institutions in need. In 2016, Omantel’s CSR investments exceeded RO2mn.

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Kuwait investment subcommittee eyes economic growth

KUWAIT, 4 Feb 2017, (KUNA) – A subcommittee from the fourth “Kuwait Investment Forum” discussed on Saturday methods to attain economic development and eliminate any impediments facing investors.

A new session of “Kuwait Investment Forum” will be held on February 18th and 19th, to be sponsored and attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Anas Al-Saleh, a statement by the subcommittee noted.

In its first meeting, the subcommittee has pitched a number of suggestions germane to the investment forum, part of a strategy to prioritize investment goals, the statement added.

The meeting was attended by representatives from across Kuwait’s public and private sectors, including the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (SCPD) and Zain Telecommunications, amongst others, the statement pointed out.

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Europe Lifts Ban On Iraqi Airways Entering Airspace

BAGHDAD, 3 Feb 2017, (NNN-ALARABIYA) – The European Aviation Safety Agency has lifted a ban on Iraqi Airways entering European airspace, Iraq’s transport minister Kadhim al-Hamami told state television.

The national carrier was banned from flying to Europe in 2015 because it did not meet International Civil Aviation Organization safety standards. “Iraqi Airways were removed from the black list and put under monitoring by the European Aviation Safety Agency”, Hamami said.

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Rehabilitation, reconstruction projects under way in Aleppo

Aleppo,5 Feb 2017, (SANA) – A ministerial delegation on Saturday visited Aleppo city and inspected the progress made in the implementation of the government’s rehabilitation and reconstruction projects to rebuild what has been destroyed due to terrorism.

Speaking during an extended meeting at Aleppo Municipal Palace, Public Works and Housing Minister Hussein Arnous said that the visit aims at inspecting what has been implemented so far regarding the reconstruction of basic infrastructure and the rehabilitation of services in the city.

He called for doubling efforts, setting priorities, dividing responsibilities and investing available capabilities to achieve better results and complete work tasks within the specified time.

For his part, Local Administration and Environment Minister Hussein Makhlouf stated that the value of services and construction contracts reached SYP 6 billion, in addition to allocating SYP 2 billion to implement the Interior Ministry’s projects in Aleppo.

Minister Makhlouf added that the government has allocated SYP 2.3 billion to resume production at al-Sheikh Najjar industrial city while SYP 100 million has been allocated to restore the industrial areas in al-Arqoub, al-Ramouseh and al-Kallaseh.

In turn, Minister of Health Nizar Yaziji said that the ministry has delegated a specialized engineering team to inspect terror-affected health facilities and hospitals in Aleppo, noting that an integrated plan has been set up to rehabilitate the damaged health sector, in addition to the establishment of a specialized center to provide medical treatment and free medicine to patients with chronic diseases.

Tourism Minister Bishr Yazaji said that Ministry has set up ambitious plans to restore the magic charm of tourism in Aleppo.

The delegation toured several residential areas which have been cleared of terrorists and inspected the rehabilitation processes of services and infrastructure projects.

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Syria Mod expo opens in Beirut with 125 companies

Beirut, 3 February 2017, (SANA) – The Syria Mod exhibition for textile industries and garments kicked off on Friday in the Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Center (BIEL), with the participation of around 125 Syrian companies.

The expo showcases men and women’s apparel, children’s apparel, and lingerie, and is organized by the Syrian Exporters Association for Clothes & Textiles (STAGEA) in cooperation the Syrian Exporters Federation (SEF), the Local Production and Exports Support Agency, and the Damascus and Damascus Countryside Chamber of industry.

Lebanese Industry Minister Hussein al-Haj Hassan said the expo marks an achievement as it is being held for the ninth consecutive time, showing that industry in Syria is continuing in production and competing, adding that it proves that the Syrian people and economy are capable of withstanding and restoring Syria’s economic standing.

In turn, Syrian Ambassador in Lebanon Ali Abdelkarim said that the expo expresses industrialists’ desire for integration between the two counties, and shows that industrialists are committed to their role and to remaining active, while head of the SEF Mohammad al-Sawwah noted that this expo has special significance since it witnesses participation of industrialists from Aleppo, adding that textiles make up around 70% of Syrian exports and employ 50-60% of the workforce.

The 3-day expo is held in a venue that covers around 4,000 square meters, and exhibitions for leather products, flowers and decorative plants, and fine arts are held on the sideline.

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Monthly shopping festival “Made in Syria” kicks off in Tartous

Tartous, 1 February، 2017, SANA – The monthly shopping festival “Made in Syria” kicked off on Wednesday evening at the Sports Hall in Tartous province, with the participation of 110 major national and industrial companies.The festival, organized by the Chamber of Industry in Damascus and its Countryside, aims at providing wide range of food, clothes, plastic products, detergents, stationery and cosmetics.

Tartous Governor Safwan Abu Sa’ada underlined the importance of this event in alleviating the burdens of Syrian citizens through the high quality products showcased in the festival at reasonable prices.

In turn, Secretary General of al-Baath Arab Socialist Party branch in Tartous Muhanna Muhanna said that the festival is a challenge to terrorism which targets the life of Syrian people, calling upon citizens to visit the festival.

For his part, Member of Chamber of Industry in Damascus and its Countryside and a member of the organizing committee, Talal Qal’aji, noted that the festival provides evidence on the steadfastness of Syrian industry and the determination of industrialists to continue production despite all circumstances.

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Lebanon calls for stronger tourism ties with Iran

Beirut, Feb 5, IRNA – Time is ripe for Iran and Lebanon to, following the removal of sanctions against the Islamic Republic, set a milestone in their high-level tourism ties, says Lebanese Tourism Minister, Avadis Kadanian.

Kadanian, made the remarks in recent interview with the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), ahead of his visit to Iran expected to take place on Sunday. He is due in Tehran following an official invitation by Zahra Ahmadipour, Vice President and Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization. ‘I hope my trip to Tehran will open the way for Lebanon and Iran to strengthen tourism relations,’ Kadanian said.

“Iran and Lebanon can establish high-level tourism relations,” he said, adding that he remains to be quite optimistic regarding the cooperation and encouragement on the Iranian side. “Mohammad Fathali, Iranian envoy to Beirut, has also emphasized that the Iranian government is quite eager to enhance tourism ties with Lebanon,” he said.

The Lebanese minister of tourism also said the situation of tourism is improving in Lebanon. Following a period of recession in Lebanon’s tourism industry in the wake of the crisis in Syria, as well as two years and a half of presidential void in the country and ups and down in ties with some Persian Gulf Arab littoral states, the industry is gradually improving and thriving, Kadanian said.

Lebanon’s Tourism Ministry is going to offer special packages to encourage Iranian and Arab tourists to visit the country, he said. “Our main goal is turning Lebanon into the first tourist destination in the region,” he said.

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U.S. To Grant Jordan 100,000 Tonnes Of Wheat

AMMAN, Jordan, 2 Feb 2017, (NNN-PETRA) – Jordan and the United States signed an agreement on Wednesday, under which, the U.S. will provide Jordan with 100,000 metric tonnes of wheat as a grant, the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation said. The grant will be sent to Jordan in 2017 (this year), the Jordanian minister, Imad Fakhoury, said, after signing the agreement.

Fakhoury said, this is the fourth time the U.S. provides wheat grants to Jordan, adding that, the grant comes at a crucial time Jordan is going through, due to hosting a large number of Syrian refugees, that reached about 1.4 million Syrians. He said, the projects are vital to Jordan, which is one of the poorest countries, in terms of water.

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Jordan’s Anti-Money Laundering Efforts Appreciated By International Community

DOHA, 5 Feb 2017, (NNN-PETRA) – The Chair of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, Sergio Espinosa, expressed his appreciation for Jordan’s role in anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing as well for its continued cooperation and contribution to international policies among the group’s members.

In an interview with Jordan News Agency, Petra, during the group’s meeting in Doha, Espinosa noted that Jordan is actively involved in all of the group’s meetings and events, which aim at finding an international community free of these two phenomena. Such meetings, he said, provide an opportunity for the group’ members to engage, participate and share expertise with partners to address all challenges they face in their mission.

Espinosa said that Jordan has the wide expertise in the field of combating financial crimes, as well as its advanced financial investigative and information units supported by developed legislation and laws to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The Egmont Group is a united body of 152 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), that provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

The group aims to support the efforts of its international partners and other stakeholders to give effect to the resolutions and statements by the United Nations Security Council, the G20 Finance Ministers, and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in the field of combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

Jordan joined the group during St. Petersburg meeting in Russia in 2012 . As a global network of FIUs, the membership is divided into eight regional groups that assist the organization to accomplish its goals of development, cooperation, and sharing of expertise on a regional level.

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Libya reopens Oil Ports, seeks return of Foreign Staff

TRIPOLI, Jan 26 (NNN-AGENCIES) – Officials at major ports in Libya’s eastern Oil Crescent say they’re hoping foreign workers will soon return as they struggle to build on output gains with meagre resources.

The National Oil Corporation (NOC) reopened three ports in the curve of coastline south of Benghazi in September, after the Libyan National Army (LNA) led by Khalifa Haftar seized them from a rival faction. The lifting of a long blockade at the ports helped Libya’s oil output to more than double to over 600,000 barrels per day (bpd).

Miftah Magariaf, head of the Petroleum Facilities Guard (PFG) deployed in the ports, said the oil and gas network in the whole of the eastern region, from Libya’s eastern and southern borders with Egypt, Sudan and Chad, to the central region of Sirte, was now secured.

Foreign workers could return, he said. “We invite them to come back and resume their work and the area that we’ve outlined is a safe area; until the outskirts of Sirte in the west is under the protection of the oil institution and the general leadership is at Sirte’s main operations room and now all the companies are serving it,” Magariaf said.

Last month, another blockade was ended at a pipeline in western Libya, pushing production to more than 700,000 bpd. That is still well below than the 1.6 million bpd Libya was producing before a 2011 uprising and subsequent armed conflict severely disrupted output.

Recent and future gains threaten to complicate efforts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cut output and bolster global prices, though Libya’s recovery remains at risk from political chaos and security threats.

Since the ports changed hands, Haftar’s rivals have tried to counter attack from the desert to the southwest, which could become a new flashpoint in the country’s low-intensity conflict. Officials have cautioned that any recovery will be gradual because infrastructure has been damaged by fighting and degraded by disuse.

“The closure of the oil ports had a very big impact on the plants, which have stopped working and are also suffering due to the absence of regular comprehensive maintenance and spare parts and so on,” said Hamid al-Habouni, Manager of Ras Lanuf Oil and Gas Processing Company, adding “In addition, the Emirati company has stopped its refiner and so all the factories have suspended their operations. We lack the budget to keep the plants working and to maintain them.”

The NOC, which hopes to raise national production to 900,000 bpd by March, has also struggled to secure funds for its operating budget and for repairs from a U.N.-backed government in Tripoli that lacks full control over public finances. And security remains a major concern.

Several foreign oil workers were kidnapped by Daesh when it raided oilfields from its now defeated base in Sirte last year. In Tripoli, few nations have reopened embassies since pulling out during fighting between rival military factions in the capital in 2014.

Es Sider and Ras Lanuf ports, the largest in the eastern region, were closed for more than two years before the LNA took them over. They were severely damaged by fighting and attacks by Daesh militants who have since been chased from their former stronghold in Sirte, about 180 km west of Es Sider.

“There were 19 storage units at the port fit for use, but after the military confrontations that recently took place, some of the storage units were destroyed, leaving only four usable ones. We’re currently working on the maintenance of some of the warehouses and hopefully soon they will back in action,” said Sidra Oil Port Deputy Manager, Ibrahim Al-Malhoof.

While Es Sider, Ras Lanuf and the port of Zueitina had been blockaded, Brega remained open with reduced capacity. Officials at Sirte Oil Company based in Brega, said the situation had improved since the LNA advance and some foreign employees considering returning to the region.

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Open skies will initially concern all airports, except for Tunis-Carthage

Tunisia, 2 February 2017, (Tunis News Daily) – The Tunisian air transport market (open skies) will be open at all airports except Tunis-Carthage, in a first stage, in order to boost tourism in interior regions, Secretary of State in charge of Transport Hichem Ben Ahmed said Wednesday.

Speaking at a conference held on Wednesday at the Carthage Institute of Business Studies, he added that after the reshaping of Tunisair and in a second stage, the open skies will concern all airports.

In addition to the liberalisation of air transport, the commissioning of the first phase of the Rapid Rail Network (RFR) project as from October 2018, the use of 100 civil security agents to ensure the safety of people in the means public transport and the start of use of electronic tickets in transport, are the main projects of the Ministry of Transport during the period 2016/2020, according to this official.

Ben Ahmed recalled that the project of the RFR of Tunis has registered a delay of 4 to 5 years, adding that all the problems were solved to ensure the acceleration of its putting into service.

As for the electronic ticket system, it will be in force from October 2018 and will concern all means of transport.

Despite its weight in the Tunisian economy (7% of GDP, 11% of global investment, 40,000 jobs in public enterprises), the transport sector has, for years, faced a lack of investment and bus purchases, noted the Secretary of State, recalling that individual transport currently represents 70% of the sector, against 70% for public transport in 1975.

In this context, he recalled the purchase of used buses in France at ridiculously low prices, which provoked a controversy, adding that these buses maintained (change of wheels, engines, etc.), before their delivery, have ensured the return to school without a major breakdown.

The Ministry’s medium- and short-term programmes include improvements in the level of services rendered and the development of different modes of transport in order to raise the sector’s annual growth rate to 5-6%.

The official also spoke of the situation of rail transport, noting that the age of the trains varies between 30 and 35 years and that only 75% of the railways in the country are operational.

A study to triple the rail lines is planned to favour the use of two types of trains, he said, noting that a tender will be launched to renew the trains of TGM (Tunis, Goulette, and Marsa) and the rehabilitation of the railways.

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Nine New Dams To Become Operational In Algeria By 2019

AIN DEFLA, ALGERIA, 2 Feb 2017, (NNN-APS) – Nine new dams are planned to be put into operation by 2019 throughout Algeria, says Water Resource and Environment Minister Abdelkader Ouali. He said in Aïn Defla in northern Algeria Tuesday that five of them would be commissioned during the course of 2017.

The Minister, who was on a visit here to inspect the Ouled Melouk Dam in the commune of Rouina, said up to 80 regions across the country had been identified as needing the construction of dams, given the poor rainfalls they recorded. He said these efforts reflected the interest shown by the country’s senior authorities to the water resource sector, necessary for “several industries, namely agriculture, industry and tourism”.

“Given its location in an arid zone, Algeria encounters issues of climate change causing irregular rainfalls,” he said, stressing that a period of drought can “never be excluded in the future.”

Stressing that the latest rainfalls had been “extremely beneficial”, Ouali said the dams were at 70 per cent full nationwide, noting that this rate would improve with the melting of snow and forecast rains during the first half of 2017.

“Twenty dams are filled at 90 per cent while the filling rate of 47 others have exceeded 50 per cent,” he said. “In less than three months, our dams received an additional amount of water of over one billion cubic metres,” said the minister, indicating that the total quantity of stored water was at 4.75 billion cubic metres nationwide.

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Algerian, French Universities sign over 800 partnership pacts

PARIS, France, 26 Jan 2017, (Algeria Press Service)- 834 conventions of partnership and exchange have been signed between the Algerian and French universities and 5,765 visits by Algerian high education teachers and executives towards the French establishments were made in 2015 and 2016.

These figures were provided by Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Tahar Hadjar, on the occasion of the 4th Algerian-French Conference on Higher Education and Research which wrapped up Thursday in Paris.

“This 4th conference marks a period of strong relations between the two countries, through intense activities that have been organized in recent years,” Hadjar had said Wednesday.

600 Algerian students are currently pursuing training in the French universities and over 14,290 scientific publications were achieved from 1995 to 2015, including 1,357 in 2015.

Algeria has set up seven institutes of applied technology in partnership with French university institutes of technology.

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Tunisia best North African country in talent competitiveness

Tunisia, 2 February 2017, (Tunis Daily News) – Tunisia has been ranked first in North Africa in talent attractiveness and competitiveness according to the 2017 Global Talent Competitiveness Index.

Tunisia also ranked 77th globally in an index that sampled 118 countries worldwide.

The GTCI launched January 16, 2017, by the Business School for the World (INSEAD) and assesses how countries grow, attract and retain talent, is a tool to help devise strategies to stimulate Competitiveness in terms of talent.

During this 4th edition whose theme is “Talent and Technology: Shaping the Future of Work,” “Tunisia ranked relatively better in the pillars of talent retention and the provision of professional and technical skills and mainly regarding general knowledge and human resources,” according to a press release by INSEAD) Tuesday in partnership with The Adecco Group and the Human Capital Leadership Institute of Singapore (HCLI).

It adds that the country held “a weak position in the pillars of skill development and talent attraction.”

Switzerland and Singapore occupy the top spots in GTCI 2017, with four Nordic countries in the top 10 (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway). The United Kingdom and the United States rank third and fourth respectively.

High ranking countries share key traits, including educational systems that meet the needs of the economy, employment policies that favour flexibility, mobility and entrepreneurship, and high connectedness of stakeholders in business and government, the same source specified.

The United Arab Emirates ranked 19th, Qatar 21st, Saudi Arabia 42nd, Bahrain 47th, Kuwait 57th, Jordan 58th, Oman 59th, Lebanon 62nd, Egypt 88th, Morocco 96th and Algeria 107th.

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Cultural days “Sahara inspires” open in Algiers

ALGIERS, 02 Feb 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – The cultural days “Sahara inspires,” highlighting the richness of the cultural heritage of the Algerian great south, opened Thursday at Bastion 23 in Algiers.

The programme of these days, organized in coordination with the Ministry of National Planning, Tourism and Craft Industry, comprises several photo, visual arts and craft exhibitions in addition to screenings, meetings and conferences.

An exhibition on “ the Saharan architecture,” emphasizing the architectural style of ksours through aerial photos taken in Kenadsa (Bechar) and Temacine (Ouargla), is proposed to the visitors by the Algerian Centre of Cultural Earthen Architectural Heritage (Capterre).

The visitors are also invited to discover the photo exhibitions “Jaunt in the cultural park of Ahaggar,” by the National Office of Ahaggar Cultural Park (ONPCA) and the series “Portraits of the south” by photographer Fouad Bestandji.

These cultural days, inaugurated by Minister of Culture Azzedine Mihoubi, will be held until 10 February and foresee the screening of the documentary film “Tassili of Immidir, iconographic memory.”

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Algeria makes “remarkable progress” in fight against cancer

ALGIERS, 10 Feb 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – Algeria has made “remarkable progress” in combating cancer and plans to give the priority, in 2017, to screening and prevention from this disease, said Wednesday the Ministry of Health, Population and Hospital Reform in a communiqué.

Algeria, which celebrates the World Cancer Day on February 4th, has made “remarkable progress” in the fight against this pathology by ensuring notably the “availability” of the medical oncology, in all the country’s provinces, said the source.

In terms of radiotherapy, the number of accelerators in the public sector increased from 7 appliances in December 2013 to 22 in January 2017. An improvement “made after the relaunch in 2013 of the construction sites of anti-cancer centres, stopped for several years in Annaba, Batna, Setif, Tlemcen, Sidi Bel Abbes and Tizi Ouzou, said the source.

This, pending the gradual commissioning of other centres, which are under construction, notably those of Sidi Bel Abbes and Tlemcen, scheduled for the end of the 1st half of 2017.

Old facilities of fight against cancer benefitted from a programme to extend and upgrade their equipment, as it is already the case for Blida, Algiers and Constantine.

The ministry also underlined that under the national plan of fight against cancer (2015-2019), decided by President of the Republic, a training session in medical oncology for all the doctors of the country has been launched.

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Tunisia’s young entrepreneurs rising up to boost economy

Tunisia, 2 February 2017, (Tunis Daily News) – Two dozen casually dressed entrepreneurs were gathered around a Scandinavian-style wooden table, eating glazed pastries and pouring each other cups of coffee. They introduced themselves — web designer, graphic designer, gamer — in a mix of French, Arabic and English.

With its sleek blond wood floors and rustic pallet sofas, we could have been at a hip cafe in Brooklyn or Berlin. But this is Startup Haus, a co-working space in downtown Tunis, just a stone’s throw from the city’s busiest intersection.

Startup Haus, which opened in March 2016, is one of six co-working spaces that have popped up in Tunisia since the 2011 revolution. Last year, Cogite, which opened in 2013 as the country’s first co-working space, was ranked in Forbes’ Top 10 co-working spaces worldwide.

The annual Co-Working Summit for entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa region was hosted in Tunisia in 2015 and 2016. Long overshadowed by the entrepreneurial ecosystems in the Gulf states, Egypt and Jordan, Tunisia’s co-working spaces and entrepreneurs seem to be having a moment.

“Since 2011, you can say there’s been a boom,” Miriam, the manager at Startup Haus, told Al-Monitor during a recent visit.

Although the legal framework pertaining to startups has not been updated since the country’s startup minister, Noomane Fehri, was booted from his post and financial lending from national banks is still difficult to procure, Tunisia’s entrepreneurship sector has been on the rise.

Foreign interest — from financing to sharing soft skills — has helped boost the market. Hivos International, a Dutch organization, opened a Tunisian office focusing on promoting youth entrepreneurship. Startup Haus is supported by two German organizations, Impact Tunisie and Westerwelle Foundation.

But the most promising aspect are Tunisians themselves.

“As a young Tunisian after the revolution, it’s as if we have a breath of fresh air. I really believe in entrepreneurship to create jobs,” said Khouloud Talhaoui, a 27-year-old business developer who rents an office space at Startup Haus. Her company, Iris Technologies, helps apiculturists manage their beehives with new technology. Talhaoui admits that the spirit of entrepreneurship is “still in its infancy,” but attention is increasing.

On the ground floor, Startup Haus has three enclosed offices for established businesses; they are all currently in use. Responding to demand, the Haus has plans to create several more offices this year.

Around 25 individuals use the mezzanine, which is for people who are in the initial phases of project creation. Other co-working spaces, like Cogite, have several hundred entrepreneurs and digital nomads filtering in and out of the space each day.

Tunisia has a surplus of educated youth, many of whom are unable to get traditional jobs. Unemployment currently hovers around 15.5% across the country, with youth unemployment reaching up to 42%. Co-working spaces normalize entrepreneurship, provide a flexible and cheaper option than an office, and most importantly, provide a community of like-minded, supportive individuals.

“I love working with others in a space where everyone helps each other,” Housem Zouaghi, a 25-year-old computer scientist and multimedia engineer told Al-Monitor. Zouaghi studied in Canada before returning to Tunisia to create his gaming startup, which has now branched out into advertising and web design. Zouaghi started with two employees; in five months, he’s hired six more people.

Like other co-working spaces, Startup Haus offers workshops, training sessions, skill shares and speakers. Last month, an Egyptian marketing expert gave a lecture on trends in digital marketing. Cogite hosted a Global Entrepreneurship Week in November, with classes on education and women’s empowerment. Creativa, a co-working space in the northern suburb of La Marsa, has organized feng shui sessions.

Many events are free and open to the public, and the spaces themselves are imbued with a positive, can-do attitude. Though most co-working spaces are concentrated in Tunis, the country’s capital, two new spaces opened in Sousse and the southern island of Djerba.

“We have the youth, the hope and even the financial support,” Talhaoui said. Co-working spaces are helping to create a more favorable climate for entrepreneurs, and the future looks bright.

“I don’t have any reason to leave,” said Zouaghi with a smile.

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Algerian Olympic Museum inaugurated

ALGIERS, 27 Jan 2017, (Nam News Network) – The Algerian Olympic Museum, opposite Harcha-Hassan Sports Hall in Algiers, has been inaugurated Thursday by the head of the Algeria Olympic Committee (COA), Mustapha Berraf, and the Wali (governor) of Algiers Abdelkader Zoukh, in presence of many African sports figures.

Stretching over 521 square meters, the Algerian Olympic Museum hosts the Olympic Academy of young talents.

“It is a wonderful place of memory of the Algerian sports and Olympic spirit. It will allow visitors to recall the achievements of our champions,” Zoukh told the press.

The only African Cup of Nations, won in Algiers in 1990 by the national football team, is being featured at the Museum’s hall and has greatly attracted the first visitors.

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Arab Women’s Organisation Marks Arab Women’s Day In Cairo

CAIRO, Egypt, 2 Feb 2017, (NNN-MENA) – Arab Women’s Organisation (AWO), held a march in Cairo, to show solidarity with refugee women in the Arab world. The march, which was held at Cairo University, was organised on the occasion of the Arab Women’s Day which falls on Feb 1.

The event was attended by a large number of artistes, wives of foreign ambassadors in Cairo, media and cultural personalities, as well as, representatives of Arab countries, in the Cairo-based Arab League.

Speaking to the marchers, AWO Director General, Mervat Tallway, appreciated the steadfastness of Arab women, amid the current crises in the Middle East. For his part, head of Cairo University, Gaber Nassar, said, Arab women should enjoy their full rights, stressing that societies cannot develop or improve without the help of women.

Meanwhile, head of Egypt’s National Women’s Council, Maya Morsi, hailed the role the AWO plays in supporting Arab women and helping them get their rights. On the sidelines of the event, AWO also organised a photo exhibition, showing Arab refugee women, and screened a documentary about the AWO.

AWO is an Arab organisation that works to empower Arab women and help build their capacities to promote progress of Arab societies.

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Tunisair Technics’ training centre officially inaugurated

Tunisia, 5 February 2017, (Tunis Daily News) – The new Tunisair Technics (T.T) training centre was officially inaugurated Saturday in the T.T technical complex at Tunis-Carthage International Airport.

The fruit of a partnership between Airbus and T.T, this centre will take on in addition to Tunisian trainees, trainees from the Arab world and the African continent.

The Tunisair Technics-Airbus partnership contract for technical training was also inked during the inauguration ceremony.

‘This is the 6th centre of its kind in the world and the first in Africa, designed in compliance with international standards in the field of aircraft technician training according to the certification standards ‘PART 147’ said Transport Minister Anis Ghedira.

‘This co-operation will open up new horizons for TT and increase its potential for competitiveness. It is true that TT is considered to be a certified PART 145 aircraft maintenance centre, but it will now be The preferred destination for airlines worldwide, as it will ensure the qualification of aircraft technicians, airbus customers. ‘

Present at the ceremony, Secretary of State for Transport Hichem Ben Ahmed specified that ‘the cost of setting up this centre, funded by Airbus, amounts to 400 thousand dinars and is already ready to host training courses, which have already started, according to him, since 2015, but in dispersed structures. It has a capacity of more than 30 trainees per month.’

Invited to represent Airbus at this ceremony, Fabrice Hamel, Airbus vice-president and CEO of Airbus Training Centre, pointed out that ‘it is a chance to be in this airline industry that steadily increases by 5% every year, in spite of all the crises in the world. The various studies show that over the next 20 years there will be 500,000 pilots and 500,000 mechanics, technicians and aeronautical engineers. And immediately it is understood that the technical and scientific training of all these personnel is an absolutely strategic bridge for the growth of aeronautical transport.

He underlined that ‘under this co-operation, instructors, pedagogy, classrooms, computer facilities and simulation software used by TT will be strictly the same as those used by Airbus in its training. T.T instructors are trained to exactly the same training standards as Airbus instructors.

The examination which will close these courses is exactly the same as that adopted by the other Airbus Training Centres and the diplomas which will be issued at the end will be approved in compliance with European requirements, the official specified, adding that ‘Targeted customers are Africa, Southern Europe and Middle East countries, but we also want to go beyond this initial area and we will do it together.’

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“Algiers, Mecca of Revolutionaries” film premiers

PARIS, 01 Feb 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – “Algiers, Mecca of Revolutionaries” (1962-1974), a documentary directed by Mohamed Ben Slama, was premiered Tuesday evening in Paris, revives the golden age of the Algerian diplomacy which soon after independence, served the just causes worldwide.

The documentary was screened at the Immigration Museum in the presence of historians Mohammed Harbi, Benjamin Stora and Yannis Chebbi, director of Electron Libre Productions and Edwy Plenel, president and co-founder of Médiapart.

The film shows that in the moment when the world was divided by the Cold War and two Blocks, Algeria, which juts gained freedom after 132 years of colonial rule and 7 years of war, was proposing another way to solve issues through diplomacy actions.

The 52-mn documentary which will be broadcast shortly by channel Arte, highlights the never-ending ballet from ad to Algiers, of revolutionaries, giving full meaning to the Amilcar Cabral’s famous expression “Muslims go to Mecca, the revolutionaries go to Algeria.”

“Until the mid 1970s, Algeria, influential member of the non-aligned movement, is known for its support to the national liberation movements and its reception of the “banned ones.” A must stopover, its capital welcomes the Black Panthers Angela Davis and Leroy Eldridge Cleaver, Che, Nelson Mandela and many other leaders who were against imperialism and dictatorship.

The film chronicles the “golden age” of the activist diplomacy, based on “filmed and iconographic archives found in United Kingdom, US, Germany, Serbia, Cuba and Portugal,” said Amirouche Laïdi who was behind the making of the film.

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Ecotourism gains momentum in Kazakhstan

02 Feb 2017, (Khabar Agency) – A unique project was launched in Kazakhstan aimed at building eco-friendly guest houses on the territory of the country’s first ‘green’ village Arnasai.

The organizers, Coalition for ‘Green’ Economy and Development of G-Global based at green technology center, which is located 30 kilometers away from Astana, say they will construct ten new guest houses ahead of Expo 2017. The guest houses will help boost ecotourism, the developers believe. The organizers have started selection of bidders, homeowners whose territories will be used for the project.

Saltanat Rakhimbekova, Chairwoman, Coalition For Green Economy And G-Global Development: It is going to be a very unique and picturesque route. Most importantly, we will demonstrate that Kazakhstan residents who host Expo this year are involved in the process of formation of ‘green economy’. We are a non-profit organization, we search for sponsorship and show that this is a worthy, promising and unique business project. We are also ready to provide consultations.

As planned, the idea of guest houses is quite simple. First of all applicants must have the resources: houses, farms, transportation routes, and most importantly picturesque nature. In addition, potential entrepreneurs should present their own reception program. Income from the business will be divided into two parts.

The first one – for a family’s daily expenses, the rest will be invested in the development of eco guest houses and creation of new services for the project. As a result, homeowners get eco houses, that is, sustainable development of their own “green” houses, financial freedom and a good family business

We provide the remaining things, we buy collectors, lighting, install drip irrigation, provide vermicomposting to cultivate organic crop, provide new technologies such as agro-based fiber, that is, organic crop.

The most active Arnasai residents have already started building eco-friendly houses.

This sort of accommodation will cost the same price as a standard hotel room in Astana. However, tourists will be able to enjoy beautiful nature, fresh air and a non-standard entertainment program. The organizers believe that their project will be in demand after the Expo as well because not only foreign guests but also Kazakhstan citizens will love to have their holidays in natural surroundings.

Foreign tourists will be welcomed by translators recruited from the Alliance of Kazakhstani Volunteers created be the Coalition. According to experts, such ambitious projects are making a real contribution to transition to energy-efficient lifestyle in Kazakhstan.

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Kyrgyzstan exempts Qatari citizens from entry visa for 60 days

05 Feb 2017, (QNA) – An official source at the Department of Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry stated that the Government of Kyrgyzstan issued on 19 December 2016 a decision increasing the duration of exemption from entry visa for citizens of some states intending to visit Kyrgyzstan.

In a statement today, the source said that the decision granted Qatari citizens up to 60 days during which they do not need to obtain entry visa to Kyrgyzstan.

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Kyrgyzstan attends Int’l Tourism Trade Fair in Madrid

Bishkek, 1 Feb 2017, (Kabar) – From January 18-22, USAID supported the Kyrgyz Tourism Department’s participation in the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) Madrid exhibition. FITUR is a leading European tourism fair and a total 9,500 tourism companies from 165 countries participated in this year’s event, the press service of the US Embassy in Bishkek reports.

During the fair, the USAID Business Growth Initiative project organized a meeting between the Kyrgyzstani delegation, the International Olympic Committee Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch and World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Secretary-General Taleb Rifai to discuss cooperation in developing tourism to the Kyrgyz Republic. UNWTO is committed to developing sustainable tourism in the region under its Silk Road Program and promoting the 2018 World Nomad Games through social media.

The Kyrgyz Republic’s booth highlighted Kyrgyzstan’s ancient nomadic culture and traditions, its natural beauty, the free spirit of the country, and the World Nomad Games. More than 5,040 visitors passed through the booth, including industry professionals from Spain, Italy, and Portugal. As a result, a Kyrgyz Republic based tour operator signed eight contracts and identified 43 potential business opportunities to bring tourists to the country.

USAID’s Business Growth Initiative strengthens key economic sectors in the Kyrgyz Republic, including tourism, apparel manufacturing, and construction materials. Since 2014, USAID has provided substantial support to promote tourism in the Kyrgyz Republic and has assisted tour operators to exhibit at tourism fairs in London, Berlin, Istanbul, Almaty, Moscow, and Madrid.

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Kyrgyzstan to host tourism festival

Bishkek, 26 Jan 2017, (Kabar) – Tourism Festival “Kyrgyzstan is a country of skiing and winter holidays” will be held in Kyrgyzstan. The Festival, which is held since 2010, is scheduled to be held at the Toguz-Bulak ski base on February 4, the press service of the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic reports.

The organizers are planning to hold various contests and competitions.

The main objectives of the festival is to provide are providing needed charitable assistance to vulnerable groups, the promotion of healthy and active lifestyle, as well as promotion of Kyrgyzstan as a country of winter sports, recreation and tourism.

The funds from the previous festivals were designed to support the socially vulnerable segments of the population.

The Council for Business Development and Investment under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Association of JICA Alumni, the Chamber of Commerce of the Kyrgyz Republic, the International Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce in the Kyrgyz Republic, hiking Union, together with the Department of Tourism under the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic annually conduct charity tourism festival “Kyrgyzstan – country skiing and winter recreation.”

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Kyrgyzstan exports to EU worth $68mln in 2016

Bishkek, 4 Feb 2017, (Kabar National News Agency) – Due to the GSP + status preferences the domestic producers of Kyrgyzstan in 11 months of 2016, exported to EU countries the goods worth $68 million, the Kyrgyz government’s press service reports.

According to official statistics of the Kyrgyz Republic, in the first 11 months of 2016, using the preferences under the GSP + status, 50 Kyrgyz enterprises exported goods to the European Union in the amount of $68 million. According to data of the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic, of the total number of goods 30% are beans, 23% – clothes with national ornaments, mummy, honey, nuts, dried fruit, 9% – mushrooms.

At present, the Kyrgyz Government, together with the European Union Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic is developing a road map for the promotion of domestic products to the EU market.

Kyrgyzstan received GSP+ status on January 27, 2016. The GSP+ is a component of the EU Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) for developing countries.

The GSP+ enhanced preferences mean full removal of tariffs on more than 6000 product categories, a step forward from the GSP scheme. Kyrgyz exporters are able to supply to the European Union at zero tariff rate agricultural products such as fruits, processed fruits (canned, juice), dried fruits (walnuts, almonds, pistachios), food products, tobacco, and textiles, felt products, clothing, including leather, and carpet.

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Karabakh Collection to be showcased at London Fashion Week

Baku, February 4 AZERTAC – London’s fashion elite will have the chance to view the impressive collection when it comes to London Fashion Week on February 18. All friends of Azerbaijan will be invited to view the collection at an after-party following the runway event.

Some of the most magnificent emblems in Azerbaijani carpets, tapestries and clothing emanate from the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan, which has remained under Armenian occupation for 25 years.

Despite the challenges in obtaining accurate information about the iconography of Karabakh designs – many books, designs and historical artefacts were destroyed during the Armenian–Azerbaijani conflict, which raged from 1988–94 – the vibrancy of these national designs inspired young Berlin-based designer Leonie Mergen. She was particularly taken by the Azerbaijani game of chovkan (a more exciting precursor of polo) that also originated in the region and is played on Golden Karabakh Horses.

When Leonie created her Karabakh-Collection, she took Karabakh designs as her point of departure, whilst retaining her own innovative and individual vision. Unveiled in mid-January during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin before over 500 fashion industry professionals, reporters and international guests, Leonie’s debut runway collection of 26 looks attracted myriad plaudits.

Sleek magazine wrote: “The designer combined plunging necklines and sleeved capes with buttery-soft leather and delicate silk – a reference to Azerbaijan’s legacy as a hub on the ancient Silk Road. Geometric navy and burgundy patterns evoke the region’s infamous tapestries in the designer’s distinctive first show.”

Writing for C-Heads Magazine, commentator Harry Leath wrote: “Furs, silk, velvet and leather combine to exude an imperious sophistication whilst conceding a polite modesty in form; it is resplendent with deep, regal colours and rich with warm, classic textures. Mergen is an honest admirer of tradition and shows us how we can marry tradition with progression; we do not have to eschew tradition in order to move forward, we must embrace it with unfettered honesty.”

The collection was subsequently showcased again at the annual brand event for L’Oréal Professionnel, also in Berlin.

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Piano concert ‘Classics in fashion’ held in Astana

03 February 2017, (Khabar Agency) – Classics in Fashion, a piano concert performed by Kazakh pianist Assel Abilseitova was held in Astana Opera’s Chamber Hall. A graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Music performed the famous Preludes by Sergei Rachmaninov, suite “The Fog” by Czech composer Leos Janacek. Critics called his music a surprisingly modern and fresh, and at the same time vivid and volatile as life itself.

Assel Abilseitova, Pianist: This is my first performance in Astana Opera. The building and the Chamber Hall have impressed me a lot. It has been a very exciting moment for me. I have selected this program so to make the audience feel relaxed and enjoy the music.

The pianist also played a piece by Robert Schumann for the metropolitan audience. Intensity and freedom inherent to his expressive music with sudden contrasts and transitions have mesmerized the audience. The concert was a boon for both classical music lovers, and for Assel’s friends and relatives. Her relatives came to support the pianist in her debut in Kazakhstan’s main theater.

Magisha Nurgaliyeva, pianist’s grandmother: I am so happy for Assel and I am proud of her. She achieved a lot: she studied in England, and then she received a Master’s degree in Switzerland. It is my first time at her concert in Astana Opera. I wish there would be more talented young people like her in Kazakhstan.

At present, the young musician represents Kazakhstan abroad. Assel Abilseitova has already performed in famous concert halls of the UK, Italy, Germany, France and some other countries. Assel says her main goal is the promotion of Kazakh performing arts in the world.

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260,000 tickets for sale for Azerbaijan’s 4th Islamic Solidarity Games

BAKU, 3 Feb 2017, (NNN-Bernama)- Some 260,000 tickets will be up for sale for the upcoming 4th Islamic Solidarity Games here, Corporate Director at Azerbaijan Islamic Solidarity Games Operations Committee (AISGOC) Elchin Safarov said, Azerbaijan’s AZERTAC news agency reported.

According to him, the ticket sales will start on Novruz holiday in March. Novrus which means “New Day” is the Persian New Year, and the beginning of Spring.

Safarov added that over 12,500 volunteers from renowned universities and organisations have registered to take part in the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games.

“8,000 of them will be selected as volunteers. In the remaining 100 days before the start of the Baku-2017 transport plan would be prepared,” he said. He stressed that Baku will make every effort to ensure that the competitions would be the “best in history.”

The Games, to be held from May 12 to May 22 will see a total of 24 disciplines from 20 sports to be contested.

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Ninth International Higher Education and Training Exhibition

Tunisia, 5 February 2017, (Tunis Daily News) – Dozens of young students visited Saturday the stands of the 9th edition of International Higher Education and Training Exhibition, held in Tunis at the initiative of Perspectives.

According to Dora Ben Mlouka, executive director of the Cabinet Perspectives, after the success of previous editions, prestigious partners such as Campus France, the Canadian Embassy, French International Association of Students in Economics and Management (French:AIESEC) and Erasmus have again responded to this event.

‘The main objective of this fair is to inform young students of study opportunities abroad and to direct them to the courses that suit them.’ More concretely, students can find answers and practical advice to all students of foreign language courses, the choice of a training programme with an international dimension, training opportunities at a foreign university or a high-level institution in Tunisia having co-diploma, ‘she says.

On the sidelines of the fair, an assessment of the level in English is organised. The winner will receive one month of free English training.

PERSPECTIVES is a Tunisian firm that operates in the field of vocational training and guidance in higher education. Led by academics trained in major institutions of higher education in Tunisia, France and the United States, its mission is to contribute to the development of knowledge and practices in organisations and to accompany professionals and learners in their career choices.

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Monument to prominent Azerbaijan conductor Niyazi unveiled

Baku, February 2, AZERTAC – A ceremony to unveil a monument to prominent conductor, People’s Artist of the USSR, maestro Niyazi has been held in a park on Niyazi Street in Baku.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev unveiled the monument.

The author of the 3m-high monument is People`s Painter Omar Eldarov, while architect is Honoured Architect Elbay Gasimzade.

The head of state made a speech at the ceremony.

Other speakers at the event included rector of Baku Music Academy, People`s Artist Farhad Badalbayli, composer, People’s Artist Faig Sujaddinov, laureate of international contests, conductor Ayyub Guliyev and sculptor Omar Eldarov.

The head of state laid flowers at the monument.

President Ilham Aliyev spoke to culture and art figures who attended the event. Then they posed for photographs.

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Azerbaijan movie to be screened at Indian Film Festival

Baku, 2 Feb 2017, (AZERTAC) – A movie by Azerbaijani filmmakers “Icherisheher” (Old City) will be demonstrated at the 9th Kerala International Film Festival in India. The festival will be held in Bengaluru and Maysur cities on February 2-9.

The film is about love of a young girl to Karabakh war veteran. The lead roles are performed by Tahmina Rafaella, Firdovsi Atakishiyev, Mehriban Zeki and Elmira Shabanova.

The film shooting took place in Baku and Zagatala regions of Azerbaijan. The feature film has been produced by J. Jabbarli ‘Azerbayjanfilm’ studio under the order of the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

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Baku to host European Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Championship

Baku, 4 February 2017, (AZERTAC) – Baku will host the 34th European Men’s Artistic Gymnastics Championship on May 6-10, 2020. The winners of the tournament will get licenses for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Azerbaijan has already hosted three Rhythmic Gymnastics European Championships in 2007, 2009 and 2014. Baku will host the European Trampoline Championship in 2018.

Baku annually hosts World Cup rounds at the National Gymnastics Arena, which also give license points for participation in the Olympic Games.

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Concert held to mark 220th birth anniversary of Franz Schubert

02 Feb 2017, (Khabar Agency) – The world-renowned virtuosos presented a grand classical music concert for Astana audience. An evening dedicated to the 220th birth anniversary of the great composer Franz Schubert was accompanied by the State Chamber Orchestra “Academy of Soloists”. Schubert’s famous Symphony №8 as well as famous works by Mozart and Tchaikovsky were performed on this significant date.

The musical evening was featured by recognized masters of the world – famous violinist, professor at the Vienna Conservatory Gernot Winischhofer and a Mexican conductor Enrique Batiz. According to the maestros, they are always happy to accept invitations to perform in Kazakhstan, because Kazakhstan and they are bound by not only creativity, but also friendship.

GERNOT WINISCHHOFER, VIOLINIST, AUSTRIA: I have been friends with Aiman Mussakhodzhayeva for 36 years. We both were trained by Valery Klimov at Moscow Conservatory. We also worked with Soloists Academy Orchestra, with the students. They make enormous progress, I am happy with the way they play.

The grand musical evening was organized by the Kazakh National University of Arts and representatives of Kazakh Concert. According to them, the main purpose of this concert was to familiarize Kazakh audience with the work of the acknowledged masters of world music and Kazakhstani musicians.

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Forum on faith launched in Tutong

05 February 2017, (Borneo Bulletin Online) – IN AN effort to further enhance public understanding of issues related to faith (aqidah) according to Ahli Sunnah Wal Jama’ah, the Mosque Affairs Office of the Tutong District through mosque zones 1 and 2 and with the support of mosque committee members held a forum yesterday at Kampong Penanjong Mosque in Tutong.

The attendees of the discussion forum included government officials and staff, teachers, students and youth. The forum will also be held in selected mosques in the Tutong District in the near future.

The objectives of the forum are to provide awareness to mosque committee members on their role in helping mosque officers to perform tasks in managing mosques and strengthening ties between mosque committee members and the community.

It is also aimed to attract more members of the community to be involved in the activities organised by the mosque, increase the sense of responsibility of the mosque committee members towards the positions they hold to enliven the activities at the mosque and make mosques as a place for the dissemination of knowledge and authentic information to the public related to Ahli Sunnah Wal-Jama’ah.

Present as the guest of honour to officiate the programme was Roslan bin Haji Taja’ah, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Administrative and Financial Affairs) at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

The panelists were Haji Mohd Aidil Sufian bin Mohd Yassin as the chairperson, Muhd Naqib bin Haji Awang, Syafiq Al-Lutfy bin Hj Ahmad and Awangku Ahmad Hassanuddin bin Pengiran Haji Tejuddin.

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New company set to boost Brunei’s diversification drive

04 Feb 2017, (Borneo Bulletin Online) – BRUNEI Darussalam’s efforts to diversify its economy by creating new business opportunities and attracting foreign direct investments continue to show positive results.

Supporting the Sultanate’s ambitious growth goals, Turkish food manufacturing company Marsa Yag Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi based in Istanbul is set to open up a margarine manufacturing facility in Brunei Darussalam as part of its regional expansion plans.

The company named Western Foods and Packaging Sdn Bhd (WFP) will begin production in April 2017, the Ministry of Finance said yesterday.

The establishment of Western Foods and Packaging (WFP) in Brunei is expected to leverage the Turkish company’s expertise in producing margarine, oil and fats for the export market.

A joint-venture between the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam through the Strategic Development Capital Fund of the Ministry of Finance and Marsa Yag Sanayi Ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi, the project will spur the country’s economic growth in sectors outside oil and gas and create more job opportunities for Bruneians.

An artist impression of Western Foods and Packaging plant at Serasa Marsa was established in Turkey in 1922. While the company’s products were initially produced for local consumption, it began exporting in 1969.

The company currently exports products to 60 countries across the world and has a total turnover of over $100 million.

The company’s annual production capacity includes 200,000 tonnes of margarine and 100,000 tonnes of liquid oil mainly from its plant in Adana, the largest in Turkey. The company also produces shortening, sunflower oil, olive oil, ghee, pasta, flour, powder soup, desserts and semolina. Marsa aims to strengthen its global market status through its advanced production technology, world-standard quality and new products.

WFP’s manufacturing facility is built on a 1.9 hectare site in Serasa Industrial Area and set to begin production in April 2017 with a starting production capacity of 200 tonnes per day of margarine.

The main raw material for the production of margarine is palm oil and the finished products will be exported to the Asian region. WFP is currently in the process of getting Halal certification for its plant and its products to cater to Muslim consumers as well as to help promoting Brunei Darussalam’s Halal logo internationally.

WFP is also looking into downstream opportunities for its products which can be used as ingredients to make biscuits, chocolates, pastries and ice cream. Its by-products can be used as chicken feed and to make soap and detergent.

The company, which currently employs 17 people comprising 13 locals and four expatriates, is expected to create 100 jobs for locals when it goes into full production this year.

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Brunei gives major boost to MSMEs

03 Feb 2017, (Borneo Bulletin Online) – THE Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong was officially launched yesterday by Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The refurbishment of the market was done under the Julangan Titah Project, an initiative of the Office of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam.

The minister in his speech said that the project shows His Majesty’s concern for the vendors at the market and the monarch’s commitment to resolving the problems faced by them.

This is in line with His Majesty’s Government’s vision to develop micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which will contribute towards public prosperity and stability of the country, the minister said.

“With the solid support of His Majesty, the Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong will ensure a more comfortable business environment.”

Pehin Datu Singamanteri Colonel (Rtd) Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Awang Haji Mohammad Yasmin bin Haji Umar, the Minister of Energy and Industry at the Prime Minister’s Office, gives opening speech at the launching of the Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong

“The new site with better facilities will encourage more customers and people to visit the Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong and at the same time increase vendors’ income,” he added.

While renovating the market, His Majesty’s Government has taken into account the needs of vendors, both physical and spiritual, and the allocation of a prayer hall for vendors and customers to perform prayers at Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong bears testimony to this farsightedness, the minister said.

“Even in business, we have to remember the value of pure Islamic teachings which also covers the importance of hygiene, purity and integrity. These values should be upheld as best practices in the business environment and in selling food and beverages at the Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong,” the minister urged.

Continuing his speech, the minister said that through the Micro-Credit Scheme of DARe (Darussalam Enterprise), 16 entrepreneurs who operate at the market have received financing.

DARe is a body that aims to cultivate and support local enterprises in various levels of progress. Besides the Micro-Credit Scheme, DARe is also offering a matching grant as additional assistance.

There is still opportunity for 159 entrepreneurs, especially start-up operators, to receive financial aid to grow business, the minister added, noting that the Government of His Majesty’s agencies such as DARe will always work hard to widen the support access for local entrepreneurs.

Among the vendors at the Pasar Pelbagai Barangan Gadong, 36 are undergraduates and this shows that Bruneians are now not selective while taking up jobs and are daring to involve themselves in entrepreneurial fields, the minister pointed out.

He expressed his highest regard for His Majesty for the ruler’s concern for the welfare of the people which the minister said is the monarch’s prime priority.

He also expressed his appreciation to committee members of the Julangan Titah Project, comprising staff of His Majesty’s Office led by the Private and Confidential Secretary to His Majesty.

Present at the event yesterday were Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran-Pengiran Cheteria, Cabinet Ministers, members of Legislative Council and senior government officials.

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Mideast airlines hit strongest traffic growth in 2016, says IATA

MENAFN – Gulf Times – 02/02/2017 – Middle East carriers have recorded the ‘strongest regional annual traffic growth for the fifth year in a row in 2016, data released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) show.

They have helped the region consolidate its position as the third-largest market for international passengers, IATA said. The Middle Eastern air transport growth is driven by the three large GCC carriers Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad.

Revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) that measures actual passenger traffic expanded 11.8%, while capacity grew (13.7%) and outstripped demand, with the result that the load factor fell 1.3 percentage points to 74.7%, IATA said.

IATA’s full-year global passenger traffic results for 2016 showed demand (RPKs) rose 6.3% compared to 2015 (or 6% if adjusted for the leap year).

This strong performance, IATA said, was ‘well ahead of the ten-year average annual growth rate of 5.5%. Capacity rose 6.2% (unadjusted) compared to 2015, pushing the load factor up 0.1 percentage points to a record full-year average high of 80.5%.

A ‘particularly strong performance was reported for December with an 8.8% rise in demand outstripping 6.6% capacity growth.

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO said, ‘Air travel was a good news story in 2016. Connectivity increased with the establishment of more than 700 new routes. And a 4 fall in average return fares helped to make air travel even more accessible. As a result, a record 3.7bn passengers flew safely to their destination. Demand for air travel is still expanding.

The challenge for governments is to work with the industry to meet that demand with infrastructure that can accommodate the growth, regulation that facilitates growth and taxes that don’t choke growth. If we can achieve that, there is plenty of potential for a safe, secure and sustainable aviation industry to create more jobs and increase prosperity.

In terms of domestic passenger markets, IATA said domestic air travel rose 5.7% in 2016. Capacity rose 5.1% and load factor was 82.2%, up 0.5 percentage points over 2015.

All major markets except Brazil showed growth, but India and China, with RPK expansion of 23.3% and 11.7% respectively, were the ‘stand-out performers.

‘These markets have been underpinned by additional routes and increasing flight frequencies, with the latter looking set to continue in 2017, IATA said.

De Juniac said, ‘Our freedom to connect through air travel drives prosperity and enriches societies. That freedom can only be given its fullest expression when governments facilitate the movement of people and goods. Security and competitiveness, of course, must always be top of mind for governments.

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