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20 Mar, 2017

Astana to host First Summit on Islamic Science & Technology

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 20 March 2017 (21 Jumaada al-Akhir 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 will be shut down. If anyone is interested in providing sponsorship support, please email at imtiaz@islamic-travel-newswire.com.


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





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Astana to host First Summit on Islamic Science & Technology

14 March 2017, (OIC) – The OIC General Secretariat convened a meeting of OIC institutions at the OIC Headquarters on 14 March 2017 to review substantive preparations for the First OIC Summit on Science and Technology due to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan on 10-11 September 2017.

The Meeting was attended by the OIC relevant institutions including the Standing Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH); Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC); Statistical, Economic, Social Research and Training Center for Islamic Countries (SESRIC); Islamic Solidarity Fund (ISF); Research Center for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA);Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group; Islamic Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organisations (ISESCO); and Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS), IRCICA and COMCEC. The Meeting was also attended by the Representatives of the host country; Kazakhstan.

In his opening remarks, the OIC Assistant Secretary General for Science and Technology Amb. Muhammad Naeem Khan underscored the need for OIC institutions to develop synergies and enhance partnerships so as to achieve the goals and targets which are outlined in the outcome document of the Summit.

The meeting examined, in detail, the proposed outcome document for the Summit compiled by COMSTECH with inputs of more than 120 scientists in various disciplines from several Member States and made valuable comments thereon which would be incorporated and submitted to the Member States for their consideration.

At the end of the Meeting, participating institutions paid tribute to the Secretary General and the General Secretariat for the high importance accorded to the issue of science, technology and innovation as a key driver to social and economic development of countries. The institutions pledged to fully participate in the organization of the Summit and to ensure effective implementation of its recommendations.

The first OIC summit on Science and Technology will be held in pursuance of the resolution of the Twelfth Session of the Islamic Summit Conference, held in Cairo on 6-7 February, 2013, which mandated COMSTECH to organize the First Summit of OIC member countries devoted exclusively to Science and Technology.

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Rare Moroccan manuscripts to be exhibited in Paris

Paris, 14 March 2017, (IINA) – In coordination with Arab World Institute of Paris, the Direction of Royal Archives will organize an event on rare Moroccan manuscripts from March 22 till April 6 in Paris.

The event, entitled “Rare and unpublished manuscripts,” will feature several sacred books, historical documents and scientific works reflecting the different currents of thought that flourished in Morocco.

The event will also showcase documents of various scientific disciplines that thrived in Morocco, such as “al-tasrif liman ‘ajaza ‘ani at-t’aleef” by Abu Al-Qasim Khalaf Ibn Abbas Al-Zahrawi and “Kitab fi A’mal Al-hissab” by Abi Al-Abbas Ahmed Ibn Otman Al-Azdi, Morocco World News reported.

Other books related to astronomy, agriculture, and also architecture will be on display.

The exhibition will also highlight arts related to the production of books, such as calligraphy, decorations, and gilding.

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Thai Smile To Launch Bangkok-Kota Kinabalu flights

BANGKOK, Thailand, 15 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Thai Smile Airways, a subsidiary of Thai Airways, will start its Bangkok-Kota Kinabalu direct flights on March 26, 2017 in another effort to expand its international route.

Thai Smile Acting Chief Executive Officer, Capt Woranate Laprabang, said Kota Kinabalu was a popular tourist destination in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean).

“The route is considered to be one of our strategic priorities in the Asean region,” he said at the ceremony to launch the direct flights here yesterday.

Woranate said the airline would use Airbus A320-200 aircraft for the flights and would offer the passengers Premium Economy Class, Smile Plus Class and the Smile Class.

He said Thai Airways and Thai Smile would increase their international routes in the future in an effort to boost the company’s growth.

Thai Airways Assistant Executive Vice-President (Commercial), Wiwat Piyawiroj, said the airline would act as the distributor and marketer for the flights, while Thai Smile would act as the flight operator.

“We strongly believe this cooperation will bring comfort to the passengers travelling to various cities.

“The route will bring about sustainable and profitable growth for both airlines,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tourism Malaysia Director for Thailand and Myanmar, Abdul Haris Hadi, said Kota Kinabalu offered a number of tourist attractions, such as the Kinabalu National Park.

“The visitors can also climb South-East Asia’s highest peak, Gunung Kinabalu, or cruise along the Klias River to see the proboscis monkey, he said.

He said last year, Malaysia attracted 1.47 million Thai tourists, a 34.4 per cent increase from 1.09 million in 2015.

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Papua focuses on developing tourism in Biak and Supiori

Jayapura, Papua, 16 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Papua administration has focused on developing tourism in the districts of Biak Numfor and Supiori.

“So far, two regions have become a priority for tourism development, notably the districts of Biak Numfor and Supiori,” Ysh Is Matutina, head of the tourism office of Papua, stated here, Thursday.

Tourism development has been carried out since 2016.

Several tourist attractions and destinations in Supiori have been identified by the local tourism offices of Papua and Supiori.

The development is aimed at attracting more domestic and foreign tourists.

In Biak Numfor, the priority is to develop the Sausapor Beach. Several other tourist attractions and destinations are also being developed.

Meanwhile, the number of foreign tourists visiting Biak Numfor District, Papua Province, increased to 3,399 people in 2016, as compared to 1,779 in the previous year.

The increase was the result of intensified tourism promotion activities carried out by the Biak District administration, Enias Rumbewas, spokesman of the Biak Numfor district government, noted recently.

Foreign tourists from Japan, the Netherlands, Australia, China, and several European countries, among others, visit Biak.

The number of domestic tourist arrivals also surged from some 28 thousand in 2015 to 30 thousand in 2016.

Among the existing tourist attractions in Biak are the World War II wreckage, maritime scenery, and its unique cultural diversity regularly showcased at the Biak Munara Wampasi festival.

This year, the festival will be organized in July and will feature activities, such as traditional snap mor fishing, Mansusui boat race, and a visit to the Padaido/Aimando islands.

The Biak Numfor district government has allocated funds worth Rp1 billion through the local Tourism Office to ensure the success of the cultural festival.

Last year, the festival was held on Jul 1-4 to showcase traditional Japanese “katana” vintage samurai swords from World War II.

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Pakistan has 80 mln domestic tourists annually

ISLAMABAD, 15 March 2017, (APP) – About 80 million domestic tourists annually travel for tourism purposes inside the country.

According to an official of Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), domestic tourism has increased manifold as picnic resorts are receiving a record of people.

Specially the northern parts of the country including Murree, Nathiyagali, Ayubia, Bhurban Patriata, Abbottabad, Swat, Naran, Kaghan, Shogran, Rawalkot, Nelum Valley, Leepa and Gilgit-Baltistan have been witnessing a surge in domestic tourism.

PTDC rest houses, private tour operators, hotels and motels are receiving record booking orders from domestic tourists this year.

PTDC is operating a seasonal bus service between Rawalpindi and Naran to promote domestic tourism. The Naran valley is very pleasant and peaceful, which attracts a large number of tourists every year.

PTDC offered 40 per cent discount on accommodation during this Ramazan, which attracted more domestic tourists and an increase of 25 per cent was witnessed this year.

The official said that Rawalkot, Nelum Valley, Leepa and other parts of Azad Jammu and Kashmir have also been attracting a large number of locals over the last couple of years.

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Biman Bangladesh Airlines wins Changi Airport award

DHAKA, 16 March 2017, (BSS) – Biman Bangladesh Airlines has won the prestigious ‘Airlines Service Incentive Scheme Payout-2016′ award from Changi International Airport in Singapore recently.

The award is given for landing and departing the flight on time and for better service delivery to the passengers, said a Biman press release here today.

On time departing ratio of Biman Bangladesh at Changi Airport is 99.03 percent, it said.

The Biman Bangladesh also got special tax facilities for its great achievement.

Changi Airport is one of the best airports in the world. A total of 67 airlines of the world operate their flights from the airport.

Biman Bangladesh has been operating its Dhaka-Singapore-Dhaka flights regularly since 1978. Now it is operating one flight everyday in a week and carrying 95 percent passengers at each trip.

Alongside the other airplanes, newly purchased two Boeing 737-800 aircrafts were also being operated in the Dhaka-Singapore-Dhaka route.

This coveted award is a unique honor for Biman Bangladesh and it is the reflection of Airlines’ commitment to improve the service delivery of the Airlines, the release said.

Earlier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines has won the prestigious ‘Foreign Airline of the Year-2015’ award of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), Malaysia.

The KLIA management awarded the national flag carrier for carrying highest number of passengers between Kuala Lumpur and South Asian destinations.

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Third new Airbus due to arrive in Iran

Tehran, 16 March 2017, (IRNA) – Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said on Thursday that an Airbus A330, the third of the 200 planes Iran has purchased from the French aircraft manufacturer, will land in Iran early next week.

The aircraft can carry 238 passengers with 32 business class and 206 economy seats. It will be used for flying long distances.

Following the lifting of Western-imposed sanctions, the Islamic Republic of Iran signed a contract with Airbus to buy 200 new passenger planes in a bid to renew the country’s air fleet.

The first Airbus A321 landed in Tehran’s international airport on January 12.

Based on deals between Iran’s national flag-carrier Iran Air and world big plane manufacturers, Iran is to purchase 200 new planes.

All the aircraft have been purchased under a hire-purchase contract, and Iran Air has supplied 85% of financial resources through foreign finance and 15% through domestic resources as well as the National Development Fund facilities by the Bank of Industry and Mine.

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China, Saudi Eye US$65 Billion In Deals After King’s Visit

BEIJING, 16 March 2017, (NNN-AGENCIES) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman oversaw the signing of deals worth potentially US$65 billion as he began a visit to Beijing on Thursday, as the world’s largest oil producer looks to cement ties with the world’s second-largest economy.

The monarch, who has overseen the launch of an ambitious economic reform plan since his accession two years ago, is on a month-long Asian tour.

The visits to countries that are some of world’s fastest growing importers of Saudi oil aim to promote investment opportunities in the kingdom, including the sale of a stake in its giant state firm Saudi Aramco.

Saudi Arabia has sought to boost oil sales to China, the world’s second-largest oil market, after losing market share to Russia last year, by working mostly with China’s top three state oil firms.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Salman in Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People that his visit showed the importance he attached to relations with China.

“This visit will push forward and continue to improve the quality of our relations and bear new fruit,” Xi said in comments in front of reporters.

Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhang Ming said the memorandums of understanding and letters of intent were potentially worth about US$65 billion, involving everything from energy to space, but he did not give details.

For Saudi Aramco, the potential investments fit with its strategy to expand its refining and chemicals portfolio in its bid to diversify assets and secure long-term agreements for its oil. An MoU with state-run Norinco will look into building refining and chemical projects in China, while Saudi Basic Industries Corp (SABIC) and Sinopec have agreed to develop petrochemical projects in China and Saudi Arabia.

The Norinco deal could involve exploring the possibility of a greenfield refinery and chemical plant in Panjin, Liaoning province, while also upgrading an existing refinery and petrochemical facility in the same location, an industry source said. Sinopec and SABIC, one of the world’s largest petrochemical companies, jointly run a refinery in Tinajin.

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Oman Air Launches Daily Flights Salalah to Calicut, Kerala

Adding to the service currently operating between Muscat and Calicut (Kozhikode) Oman Air, the national carrier of the sultanate of Oman, is delighted to announce the launch of its new daily direct flight between Salalah and Calicut (CCJ), Kerala starting 27 of March 2017; the latest move in the airline’s ambitious and dynamic programme of fleet and network expansion.

The three and a half hour flight will depart Salalah at 01.10 hrs and arrive in Calicut at 06.20 hrs. The return flight will leave Calicut at 07.00 hrs and arrive in Salalah at 09.15 hrs (local time).

The daily service will be operated by a Boeing 737-800. In addition the existing frequencies between Muscat and Calicut have been increased from one daily to twice daily since February this year.

Oman Air is growing its weekly capacity to India with frequencies increasing on five of the airline’s key Indian destinations. Bombay, Delhi and Hyderabad increase from twice daily to three times daily. Calicut increases from once daily to three times daily and Lucknow increases from once daily to twice daily.

The growth in capacity follows the revised flight agreement between the Government of Oman and India in December 2016, when the number of weekly seats was increased to 27,405 seats for both countries, compared to 21,145 seats, an increase of 6,258 seats per week.

Chief Executive Officer of Oman Air, Paul Gregorowitsch, commented:

“Oman Air is committed to support the economic development of the Dhofar region, which is a key market for us. We are extremely happy to announce this new direct service between Salalah and Calicut. Our valued guests who want to travel between Salalah and Calicut will now enjoy shorter flights as they don’t have to transfer at Muscat airport. We are sure that this route will be received well by the discerning guests.

“More travellers will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of Dhofar region’s with cool and refreshing weather, which contrasts sharply with the hot, dry climate to be found elsewhere in the region. In addition, visitors will also be able to make the most of the regions renowned hospitality, ancient culture and awe-inspiring landscapes.”

Oman Air’s most recent expansion consolidates its position at the start of 2017 to continue progress towards becoming a successful, sustainable company of the highest quality: “To Become the Best.”

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Ways to improve Tourism and FDI to Brunei

15 March 2017, (Borneo Bulletin Online)- HERE are two ways of improving the flow of tourists and foreign direct investments (FDIs) to Brunei:

1) Grant visas on arrival to tourists, professionals and investors — particularly those from the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India. There are 20 million Indians wealthy enough who can afford to travel annually by plane and cruise liners, while the number of affluent people from China is 16 million out of a population of over 1.33 billion.

If 0.1 per cent of this number travels to Brunei on an annual basis, that would increase our tourism numbers by about 30,000-36,000 per month. This would greatly improve the business climate — especially the restaurant and hotel trade — and potential investors would also start taking an interest in Brunei.

Dubai granted visas to Chinese tourists, with the aim of boosting the annual number of Chinese visitors from 243,000 to 1.2 million. They were also savvy enough to make the visas on arrival ‘free’ if the tourists arrived by Emirates, Dubai’s national carrier.

2) Develop a 24-hour business culture. When a late friend of mine started a 24-hour restaurant 15 years ago, he said that he was hoping to start a new trend. A prominent hotel soon followed suit, and the concept was also taken up by another restaurant situated at the Gadong riverside. To this day, these are the only 24-hour businesses in Brunei, which is hardly a ‘trend’, and my friend would have been disappointed to see that the business fad that he hoped to spark was so slow in catching on. We should have petrol stations and fast-food chains open 24 hours a day, or maybe even invite all-day franchises (such as the 7-Eleven) to set up business here. The newly-refurbished market in Gadong could perhaps have some food stalls open from 10pm to 8am, where customers can grab a simple meal of ‘nasi lemak’, ‘nasi katok’, ‘cucur pisang’ and ‘cucur udang’.

Developing the visa on arrival and the 24-hour business culture would also push Brunei several levels up the ‘ease of doing business’ rankings, because a 24-hour business culture appeals to most businessmen and investors.

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Malaysian Haj Quota Up to 30,200 This Year

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 15 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia’s haj quota this year has gone up to 30,200 people as compared to 27,900 people previously, says Pilgrims’ Fund Board (TH) chairman Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.

He said the increase was achieved following discussions during the recent visit of Saudi Arabia ruler, King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud here recently.

King Salman is also Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

“I am happy to state what transpired during the visit…thank God, TH was given a 30,200 haj quota this year compared to 22,230 people in the past three years,” he said when debating the address of the Yang Dipertuan Agong (Malaysia’s King) at the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) here today.

Since January, the Malaysian haj quota was brought back to 27,900 pilgrims compared to 22,230 people since 2013.

Abdul Azeez said the visit of the Saudi Arabian monarch also brought numerous other benefits apart from investments in the country.

He said the visit also proved the credibility of the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak who drew the attention of Saudi Arabia which had picked Malaysia as the first country for its king’s working visit to Asia.

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Women Micro-Businesses Contribute 25% To Malaysia’s GDP

KUALA LUMPUR, 17 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Women micro-businesses contributed 25 per cent to Malaysia’s gross domestic product in 2016 and this reflects the important role being played by them in the nation’s economy.

The increasing number of women micro entrepreneurs is also positive and
an encouraging trend, said Women Entrepreneur Convention and Expo 2017
(Konvenita) Honorary Chairman, Faridah A.Jabbar.

She said the government had been assisting women entrepreneurs by providing
loans and entrepreneurial training schemes.

The inaugural Konvenita will feature exciting, informative programmes
and activities related to women entrepreneurship, such as exhibitions by
agencies and government-linked companies, sales booths, crafts and cooking
demonstrations as well as fashion shows.

Faridah told Bernama Konvenita would be held in conjunction with the
International Women’s Day which was celebrated on March 8.

Themed, “Scaling Up and Transformation of Women Entrepreneurs”, it also aims
to promote products by local micro-entrepreneurs from the Malaysian
Bumiputera Women Entrepreneurs’ Association (Usahanita) and others.

“There will be talks by renowned economists and entrepreneurs, who will
share their business knowledge and provide tips, as well as their success
stories,” said Faridah, who is also Usahanita President.

Agencies such as Tekun Nasional, the Bumiputera Agenda Steering Unit and
Mara will also have booths at the event to assist future entrepreneurs in
obtaining loans.

Visitors will also have an opportunity to participate in a food
review to assist entrepreneurs in improving the quality and taste of
their products.

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Malindo Air Opens Ticket Sales For Brisbane

KUALA LUMPUR, 13 March 2017, (Bernama) – Malindo Air, CAPA 2016 Asia Pacific Regional Airline of the Year, announces today that all bookings are now open for its new Kuala Lumpur-Brisbane-Kuala Lumpur service which will now commence on 31 March 2017. The daily service marks the airline’s second destination into Australia in its expanding international network. Malindo Air launched its inaugural flight from Kuala Lumpur to Perth on 19 November 2015.

Promotional fares for one-way on this new route KUL – Brisbane start from RM1049 for Economy Class and RM2369 for Business Class, all inclusive of perks such as free baggage allowance, in-flight entertainment, and meals.

Flight OD157 will depart Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) daily at 6.05pm to Brisbane via Denpasar, Bali, and with a flight time of 3 hrs and 5 mins, it arrives Ngurah Rai Airport, Denpasar at 9.10pm. The flight then departs Denpasar at 10.00pm and arrives Brisbane at 5.40am, a journey that takes 5 hrs and 40 mins.

The returning flight OD158 departs Brisbane at 7.15am and arrives Denpasar at 11.45am. After a one hour transit, the flight departs Denpasar at 12.45pm and arrives KLIA at 3.45pm.

The narrow-body Boeing 737-900ER aircraft with a seat capacity of 180, which includes 12 Business Class and 168 Economy Class seats, will be deployed on this new route.

CEO of Malindo Air, Chandran Rama Muthy said, “We are very delighted to launch the only service between Kuala Lumpur and Brisbane with one stop in the famous island of Bali. There are immense opportunities for future growth associated with this new connectivity as Brisbane is a significant commercial business hub and tourism gateway to one of Australia’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Great Barrier Reef, and the beautiful Gold Coast. We will certainly work on building beneficial relationships with Malaysian and Australian tourism players and Brisbane Airport authorities, to ensure the success of this new route.”

Chandran also said that this new route will attract business from VFR (visiting family and relatives), the business community, diplomatic services and the tourism industry.

For bookings and enquiries, visit www.malindoair.com, write in to Customer Care at customer_care@malindoair.com or call +603-7841 5388 from 8am to 10pm daily.

For purchases through mobile phones, use mobile.malindoair.com or download the Malindo Air App on Google Play and App Store. Connect with us on virtual space via Facebook (facebook.com/MalindoAirMalaysia), Twitter (twitter.com/MalindoAir), or Instagram (instagram.com/malindoair).

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Malaysia Welcomes German Investment In Smart Manufacturing

KUALA LUMPUR, 14 March 2017, (Bernama) – “Recognising the importance of Industry 4.0, MITI and MIDA are aggressively leveraging on the presence of German investors in Malaysia that already have a strong foothold and capabilities in the space of Smart Manufacturing or Industry 4.0 technologies.

Germany has pioneered the concept of Industry 4.0 in Europe, and started to set down new standards around it,” said YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) at the dialogue session with the members of the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC), at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) headquarters on 13 March 2017.

“German investments in our manufacturing sector are strong in electrical and electronics, petroleum products including petrochemicals, chemicals, and scientific and measuring equipment. The sustained inflows of quality German investments into Malaysia, some incorporating the latest technology and high value added activities, are a reflection of our country’s continued competitiveness for global businesses. We appreciate the trust and confidence that these companies have in our business environment, despite current challenging times in the global economy,” said YB Minister.

“While Germany’s large multinational companies are already well established in the country, there are still more business opportunities available for German companies in various sectors. For example, the use of additive manufacturing is being encouraged particularly for automotive, aerospace, electronic consumer products and medical/dental devices. Other opportunities are also available for services in manufacturing such as industrial data services, cloud based services and cyber security services. We are also encouraging more domestic players to work with German technology providers and experts, as this will contribute to the development of local industries towards a sustainable ecosystem in the country,” added YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa.

For 2016 alone, MIDA approved a total of 21 manufacturing projects with German participation worth investments of RM2.65 billion. These investments are expected to generate about 3,250 job opportunities.

“In line with our efforts to spearhead the adoption of smart manufacturing and industry 4.0, MIDA has successfully developed an internship programme, namely the ‘Malaysian Engineers – Made in Germany’. This initiative leverages on the high number of Malaysian students in Germany and aims to enhance the employability of these undergraduates in careers related to advanced technology areas. To date, a total of 18 German companies such as B.Braun, SGL Carbon, BMW, Infineon, Muehlbauer and Schmidt & Clemens have participated in the programme by offering annual internships for Malaysian students at their production facilities throughout Germany,” said Dato’ Azman Mahmud, the Chief Executive Officer of MIDA.

The dialogue session, which brought together 21 German participants, was focussed on Smart Cities and Big Data. Also present at the event were HE Holger Michael, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Malaysia; Mr Daniel Bernbeck, Executive Director of MGCC; Mr Thomas Brandt, General Manager of MGCC; and senior representatives from the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Siemens Malaysia, Lufthansa Technik, IFM Electronic, Beckhoff Automation, T-Systems, SAP Malaysia and Festo.

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Malaysia Well Positioned To Attract More Solar Investments

KUALA LUMPUR, 14 March 2017, (Bernama) – “The presence of high technology and established solar players is crucial to the completion of the whole ecosystem of the solar industry in Malaysia. Towards this, MIDA is proud to share that we have attracted an addition of 7 more solar manufacturing projects and 83 renewable energy projects in the solar industry worth RM1.77 billion and RM0.65 billion respectively, last year.

The biggest investment was contributed by Longi, a major solar giant producing solar ingot, wafer cells and modules. Other investments approved include Jinko Solar and JA Solar which will be undertaking expansion and diversification activities,” said Dato’ Azman Mahmud, Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) today at the PV CellTech 2017 held in Penang today.

“Located in the Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone, Sarawak, Longi’s project worth RM1.06 billion will create 2,360 job opportunities. Notably, its employees will be given further technical skills training and knowledge capability development. Bringing along state-of-the-art technologies, Longi’s operations will further strengthen the current solar ecosystem in Malaysia. We welcome more of such high value added investments in the upstream solar ecosystem, particularly those with high efficiency in technology and cost competitive in production,” said the CEO of MIDA.

Malaysia has achieved significant progress in the solar PV industry over the last decade that had resulted in the growth of new businesses and creation of jobs. As at 2015, 48 solar projects have been implemented with total investments of RM28.0 billion, to produce solar wafers, cells, modules and balance of system components. Of this, 95.3% was from foreign investments, while another 4.7% was from domestic sources.

The projects have created more than 26,700 job opportunities. According to a recent survey conducted by MIDA, the export and local sourcing activities undertaken by the top solar companies in the country in 2016 valued at RM11.1 billion and RM1.42 billion, respectively.

“While a comprehensive ecosystem is a magnet for investors, we are aware that a strong supply chain is also crucial to support the industry to maintain a conducive business environment. Towards this goal, we are building up local capabilities to develop further in areas such as system integration and the balance of system components, which are important parts of the PV system value chain,” said the MIDA CEO.

“While a comprehensive ecosystem is a magnet for investors, we are aware that a strong supply chain is also crucial to support the industry to maintain a conducive business environment. Towards this goal, we are building up local capabilities to develop further in areas such as system integration and the balance of system components, which are important parts of the PV system value chain,” said the MIDA CEO.

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Malaysia 2nd In SEAsia For Visa-Free Access

SINGAPORE, 17 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The Malaysia passport has been ranked second in Southeast Asia after Singapore in terms of travel freedom, according to Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index 2017.

At the moment, those holding the Malaysia passport can travel to 164 
countries without a visa.

Singaporeans can travel to 173 countries freely while Brunei Darussalam at
third place having a visa-free access to 151 countries.

Other Southeast Asian countries, Timor Leste has a visa-free access to 83
countries, Thailand 71, Philippines 61, Indonesia 57, Cambodia 48, Laos 48,
Vietnam 45 and Myanmar to 41.

Overall, Malaysia ranked 13th, Singapore fourth and Brunei Darussalam 23rd.

Since 2006, the Index has been produced in collaboration with the
International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s
largest database of travel information.

In compiling the index, the unique global ranking methodology by Henley &
Partners is applied to data provided by IATA’s proprietary passport and visa

According to Henley & Partners, as the world becomes ever more globalised,
individuals are increasingly living and conducting business on an international
scale, with a second or third residence or citizenship becoming an increasingly
attractive option.

For individuals from countries with few visa waiver agreements,
a second passport can open up travel to countries previously restricted by time
consuming visa application requirements and processes, said the the residence
and citizenship planner.

“This second passport gives a business person access to the global
market, which in turn creates opportunities for growth,” it said in its website.

Germany ranked first with those holding its passport being able to access
177 countries without a visa while Afghanistan ranked lowest at 104th, with
visa-free access to only 24 countries.

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Outcome Of Malaysian Foreign Minister’s Visit to Laos

PUTRAJAYA, 18 March 2017, (Bernama) – The Foreign Minister of Lao PDR, the Honourable Saleumxay Kommasith made his first ever Official Visit to Malaysia on 17 March 2017. His introductory visit to Malaysia enabled both countries to further enhance the existing excellent bilateral relations between Malaysia and Lao PDR.

During this visit, Minister Kommasith and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Malaysia, the Honourable Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman held a bilateral meeting with fruitful discussions on a wide range of issues of common interest. They identified many areas of cooperation which could be explored for future collaboration. These included trade and investment, finance and banking, transportation and tourism, education, human resource, health and defence cooperation.

On exchange of high-level visits, Minister Kommasith informed the Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman of a proposal for the visit of the Prime Minister of Lao PDR, the Honourable Dr Thongloun Sisoulith to Malaysia in May this year. Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman welcomed the proposed visit and believes that the visit would provide further impetus to the blossoming of bilateral relations.

In addition to this development, Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman informed Minister Kommasith that the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Honourable Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, plans to undertake an official visit to Lao PDR. The visit will be the Deputy Prime Minister’s first Official Visit to Lao PDR since assuming office on 29 July 2015.

Trade and investment between the two countries were highlighted in the bilateral meeting. Total trade in 2016 increased by 120% amounting to USD 30.96 million compared to USD 14.03 million in 2015. Malaysia was also among the top five investors in Lao PDR with investments worth USD 1 billion worth in various development projects. In this regard, Lao PDR is committed to ensure ease of doing business for Malaysian investors.

On banking and finance cooperation, Minister Kommasith mentioned that currently four Malaysian commercial banks are operating in Lao PDR. These are CIMB Bank, Maybank, Public Bank and RHB Bank. These banks have started to expand their operations with branches around Vientiane in 2016. Lao PDR welcomes more Malaysian banks to venture and operate in the country to further strengthen its financial institutions.

On education, Minister Kommasith mentioned that Malaysia has been a top destination for Laotian students pursuing their tertiary education and foresees that the number of Laotian students to Malaysia will increase exponentially in the future. Malaysia welcomes qualified Laotian students to apply the Malaysian International Scholarship (MIS). Currently there are over 100 Laotian students in Malaysia.

With regard to human capital, Minister Kommasith further expressed that one of his main priorities is to ensure the development of human capital in Lao PDR especially for its diplomats. As such, he conveyed Lao PDR’s interest to establish closer collaboration between the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) and the Institute of Foreign Affairs of Lao (IFA) and hopes that this collaboration would revitalized the existing ties between the two Foreign Ministries to a higher level. Dato’ Sri Anifah Haji Aman agreed that there is a need for such collaboration and said that IDFR will discuss further with IFA on this proposal. He further reiterated that Malaysia is committed to continue providing training to Lao officials under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP).

Defence and security cooperation was also discussed in the meeting where both countries look forward towards the conclusion of the MoU on Defence Cooperation between Malaysia and Lao PDR.

With regard to ASEAN, both sides discussed mutual economic and security issues in the region. Both leaders also look forward for the upcoming 30th ASEAN Summit under the stewardship of the Philippines to discuss the progress of the implementation of ASEAN Vision 2025. As 2017 also marks the 50th Anniversary of ASEAN, a number of commemorative activities will be organised to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Apart from the bilateral discussions held, Minister Kommasith took the opportunity to visit the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) in Kuala Lumpur.

As both countries celebrated its 50th Anniversary of the Diplomatic Relations in 2016, the Official Visit of His Excellency Kommasith served as a demonstration of the unwavering commitment of both sides to propel the existing relations to a higher level in the next decade.

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Laos Welcomes More Malaysian Banks

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 18 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Laos welcomes more Malaysian banks to venture and operate in the country to further strengthen its financial institutions.

The invitation was made during Laos Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith’s bilateral talks with Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Aman at Wisma Putra (Malaysian Foreign Ministry) here today.

Currently four Malaysian commercial banks are operating in Laos namely CIMB Bank, Maybank, Public Bank and RHB Bank.

“These banks have started to expand their operations where branches have been opened around Vientiane in 2016,” said Wisma Putra in a statement on the outcome of Kommasith’s visit.

On education, Kommasith mentioned that Malaysia had been a top destination

for Laotian students pursuing their tertiary education and foresaw that the number of Laotian students to Malaysia would increase exponentially in the future.

The Wisma Putra statement said that Malaysia welcomed qualified Laotian students to apply for the Malaysian International Scholarship (MIS).

Currently there are over 100 Laotian students in Malaysia, it said.

The statement said Kommasith had expressed that one of his main priorities was to ensure the development of human capital in Laos especially for its diplomats.

It said Kommasith conveyed Laos’s interest to establish closer collaboration between the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) and Institute of Foreign Affairs of Lao (IFA) to revitalise the existing ties between the two foreign ministries to a higher level of cooperation.

Wisma Putra said that Anifah agreed for a collaboration and informed that IDFR would discuss further with IFA on the proposal.

The statement also said that Anifah reiterated that Malaysia was committed to continue to provide training under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Program (MTCP) to Laos officials.

The statement also said that defence and security cooperation was also discussed in the meeting where both countries looked forward towards the conclusion of the memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation between Malaysia and Laos.

With regard to ASEAN, Wisma Putra said both Malaysia and Laos discussed mutual economic and security issues in the region.

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Malaysia To Host Global Offset And Countertrade Conference

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 17 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Kuala Lumpur will host the Global Offset and Countertrade Association Asia-Pacific Conference 2017 (GOCA APAC 2017) from March 26 to 29 to promote trade and commerce among companies and their foreign

customers through a greater understanding of countertrade and offset.

Technology Depository Agency Bhd (TDA) Chief Executive Officer Zailani Safari said Malaysia was chosen as the host based on its achievement in implementing the Industrial Collaboration Programme (ICP).

He said it was an honour for Malaysia to be the first Asia-Pacific nation to host GOCA APAC as it was normally held in European countries and the US.

“GOCA feels that Malaysia’s ICP procedure can be used as an example by countries practitising ICP to optimise economic returns,” he said after an interview on Radio Bernama today.

(Countertrade is defined as international trade by exchange of goods, while offsets are industrial and/or commercial arrangements under which foreign suppliers implement specific projects that benefit the procuring country and are aimed to partially or fully offset the country’s procurement costs).

The conference is also open to the public besides industry players and government officials, comprising policy and decision makers.

So far, it has attracted over 180 participants from European countries, the US, the Middle East, India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Zailani said the conference would help enlighten industry players on the need to tailor their business structure to meet government’s aspirations besides optimising business procedures through offset to increase their earnings.

On the role of TDA, he said it is an agency under the Ministry of Finance mandated to manage, administer and monitor all ICP programmes in accordance with the processes set by government policies issued through the ministry.

He said the ICP strategic goal was to ensure that the nation’s procurement involving supplies, works and services, were capitalised effectively with resolve to support industrial growth and technological development needs.

Zailani said the main objective of ICP was to ensure that every ringgit spent by the government for procurement would add value.

“ICP will be carried out if there were government procurement exceeding the limits set, which applied onto procurement from foreign suppliers worth more than RM50 million, and procurement from local companies worth more than RM100 million,” he added.

Since 2011 until today, he said TDA had been managing 70 ICP programmes worth RM70 billion which were placed under surveillance until 2020.

He said according to the mandatory, the procurement value to economic achievement was 1:1, but there were also programmes that had been closed, which were made with procurements of RM1 billion that had recorded multiple economic returns of RM4 billion.

TDA will continue to ensure value for money in all areas of government expenditure in buying strategic assets such as military, public or commercial assets in order to get optimum returns, economic benefits and fulfill its vision, he said.

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Lima’17 Visitors Can Join ‘FLEET Review’

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 17 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Visitors to the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace 2017 (LIMA’17) exhibition next week will have the chance to join a ‘fleet review’ to get a closer look at the naval vessels on show.

LIMA’17 Maritime Segment Secretariat director Capt Ahmad Shafirudin Abu Bakar said the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) would provide a boat to give an opportunity to visitors to go on the fleet review.

“We are assigning a boat to bring visitors to get a closer look at the ships anchored around Resorts World Langkawi.

“Visitors will also be able to get on the warships anchored at the jetty for a new experience,” he told Bernama here.

Ahmad Shafirudin said the LIMA’17 maritime segment would feature 55 vessels, consisting of 16 naval warships from abroad and 39 vessels from RMN and local agencies.

“Various types of vessels are participating in LIMA’17, among them the frigate-class KD Jebat, corvette-class KD Kasturi and the main attraction, KD Tun Abdul Razak Scorpene-class submarine, as well as RMN’s training ship, Gagah Samudera, which is making its debut at the show,” he said.

Ahmad Sharifudin said naval ships from countries like Italy, Japan, the Philippines and several others would begin docking at Langkawi next Sunday in preparation for LIMA’17.

He said the LIMA’17 maritime segment had also lined up various exhibitions and demonstrations by the RMN special forces and relevant agencies.

“Visitors will have the opportunity to witness a joint maritime presentation by the Naval Special Warfare Forces (Paskal), Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), Marine Police and the Customs Department,” he said.

Ahmad Shafirudin said initial preparations for the maritime segment were 95 per cent complete.

“The secretariat foresees an increase in the number of visitors to 60,000 at LIMA’17 compared to 55,000 visitors in the previous edition,” he said.

The LIMA’17 exhibition will be held from March 21 to 25, with the aerospace segment at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre and the maritime segment at Resorts World Langkawi.

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Malaysian Airports To Strengthen Cyber Security

SEPANG, Malaysia, 15 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) is strengthening cyber security at all airports under its purview through a collaboration with CyberSecurity Malaysia (CyberSecurity).

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the matter was inked between MAHB and CyberSecurity, a leading national cyber security firm at the KL International Airport (KLIA) here, today.

The MoU was signed by MAHB managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali and CyberSecurity chief executive officer Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab, and was witnessed by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The signing ceremony was held in conjunction with the working visit of Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister to the KLIA.

According to a statement from MAHB, CyberSecurity had agreed to provide services to strengthen cyber security at the airports in stages.

Among them are advisory services related to cyber security in the planning and roadmap for data or information processing technology, cyber security incident management, digital forensics, the development of competence and capability in the field of cyber security, cyber security awareness and acculturation programme, online security assurance, and cyber security product certification.

During the visit, Ahmad Zahid also observed MAHB’s table-top security and emergency exercise in dealing with violent incidents.

MAHB said the table-top exercise was held regularly with the latest being a full-scale advanced training to deal with incidents of violence, which was carried out at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport late last year.

Such exercises involved all stakeholders at the airport including airline operators and authorities, the statement said.

“It aims to streamline preparations and assess the ability and capacity of the agencies involved in handling security situations and threats at the airport,” it said.

The security training was also in line with the regulations set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the statement added.

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MCMC Builds 1,325 Communication Towers To Date

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 14 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – A total of 1,325 communication towers have been completed and activated to date in the whole country especially in rural areas.

Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari said the effort was carried out by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) through an initiative to expand cellular, broadband and fixed line coverage.

“Another 375 communication towers are being implemented and will be completed in stages in the fourth quarter of this year at a cost of RM3.4 billion.

“By 2020, 95 per cent of Malaysians will have access to internet,” he said when replying to a question by Dr Mansor Abd Rahman (BN-Sik) at Dewan Rakyat (lower House) today.

Earlier when replying to the original question by Ahmad Baihaki Atiqullah (PAS-Kubang Kerian) on the latest status of high speed internet in Kelantan state, Jailani said four Telekom Malaysia (TM) exchanges had been upgraded namely Jeli,Kota Bharu, Pengkalan Chepa and Kubang Kerian.

Similar facilities were also upgraded in Wakaf Bharu, Bachok, Gua Musang, Tanah Merah, Machang, Pasir Puteh and Pasir Mas.

“For other areas, the Kelantan state government will provide and upgrade

infrastructure in phases according to long term development plan schedule with the investment costing RM44 million so far,” he said.

Replying to a supplementary question by Ahmad Baihaki on the delay in installing high speed internet, Jailani said the matter was due to several processes among various parties such as approval by the local authorities, verification by civil engineers, uncooperative building owners apart from cable thefts.

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Malaysia Launches “Patriotic Spirit” initiative

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 18 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today launched the ‘Ekspresi Negaraku’ programme at Dataran Putrajaya here.

It was also attended by the cabinet ministers, including Communications and Multimedia Minister Dr Salleh Said Keruak.

The ‘Ekspresi Negaraku’ programme serves as the first platform to mobilize the ‘Negaraku’ initiative that promotes patriotism.

The initiative is aimed at inculcating the spirit of patriotism among all Malaysians.

Najib, in his blog posting prior to this, said that the ‘Negaraku’ initiative is aimed at reinforcing the spirit of patriotism among the people, set aside any differences and to stand united in achieving the goal to develop Malaysia into a more prosperous and successful country.

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St. Regis, LICC Tourism Game Changers for Langkawi

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 15 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – St. Regis Hotel and the Langkawi International Convention Centre (LICC) have become game changers to the tourism industry in Langkawi, the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House) was told yesterday.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) said both pilot status projects were completed in 2015 and aimed at making Langkawi as a high-income tourist destination via the development of integrated coastal areas.

It said the projects were developed by a special purpose vehicle through a joint venture between the government and Rajawali Group from Indonesia.

“For the St. Regis Hotel project, RM327 million fund was raised from equity injections and loans from Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Bhd (BPMB) and the government at a four per cent interest rate per annum for a period of 15 to 20 years.

“For the LICC project, the RM115.5 million fund was obtained from equity injections and loans from BPMB and facilitation fund from the Public-Private Partnership Unit at four per cent interest rate annually for 15 years,” the MOF said in a written reply to a question from Mohd Rafizi Ramli (PKR-Pandan).

Rafizi sought explanation on the total amount of funds and loans provided for the construction of both projects, as well as the banks and agencies extending them.

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Malaysian Firms To Provide Education Software To Maldives

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 17 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Two Malaysian companies, Informinent Sdn Bhd and TFP Solutions Berhad, today inked a Memorandum of Understanding with the Islamic University of Maldives (IUM) to provide education software for the university’s daily operations.

The MoU was signed by Informinent Sdn Bhd founder Foo Haw Jan, TFP solutions Berhad chairman Jamaludin Hassan and IUM deputy vice chancellor (administration and finance) Ali Rasheed.

The signing was witnessed by Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) chief executive officer Dr Mohd Shahreen Zainooreen Madros and Maldives Counsellor (Trade & Commerce) in Malaysia, Hassan Khalid.

Through the MoU, a made-in-Malaysia university management software called GoMyCampus Education Management System would map out a complete university life cycle digitally to improve, simplify, synchronise and integrate the current operations.

It allows students to communicate with their colleagues to exchange knowledge and information, as well as for parents to monitor their children’s progress.

Mohd Shahreen said the MoU was an embodiment of Malaysian capabilities in providing turnkey solutions for the world.

“While Matrade has taken various initiatives to promote Malaysian exports, it is my hope to see the private sector being more aggressive in exploring opportunities abroad, especially in the ICT services,” he said.

He said that in 2016, Malaysia’s exports to Maldives amounted to US$116.5 million and the country imported US$1.2 million worth of goods from Maldives.

Malaysian capabilities in the ICT sector are gaining traction around the world and the country’s ICT exports reached RM30.09 billion last year.

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Batam govt to clean up garbage in Tanjungriau waters

Batam, 18 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The government of Riau Islands provincial city of Batam will deploy at least 600 residents and waste workers to clean up garbage scattered in the waters around Tanjungriau in commemoration of National Waste Care Day.

Head of the Batams Environment Affairs Office, Dendi Purnomo said here on Friday that the government is deliberately concentrating the activity of Waste Care Day in Tanjunggriau, because plastic waste has been accumulating in the densely populated fishermen resettlement area.

“Tanjungriau has been chosen because it is close to the beach,” he pointed out.

According to him, the city government will also declare a ban on trash throwing in the ocean.

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Indonesia Proposes 546 Games At Asian Paragames

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 17 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Indonesia has proposed 546 games for 17 sports at the Asian Para Games 2018 which will take place in Jakarta in October 2018, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported.

“We are still discussing the games with the Asian Paralympic Committee. The number of games is between 500 to 600,” Deputy Assistant for Traditional Sports and Special Services, Bayu Rahardian, said here on Thursday.

Total number of games at most is 116 for athletics and 205 for swimming.

“A number of representatives from Asian countries also propose a number of games for the sport event as the Para Games is an Asian qualifying event for disabled athletes to participate in the Paralympic Games 2020 in Tokyo,” Bayu said.

Meanwhile, the International Paralympic Committee suggests Indonesia organise about 25 sports at the Asian Para Games 2018.

Secretary General of the Asian Paralympic Committee, Tarek Souei, is optimistic that Indonesia will be a successful host given that Vice President Jusuf Kalla is the coordinating organiser of the Asian Games and Asian Para Games 2018.

“It shows the commitment of the Indonesian leader to those sport events,” Souei said, adding that the success of Indonesia for being the host is also supported by friendly transportation and accommodation facilities to the people with disabilities.

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Indonesia provides agricultural training to Africa

Kuningan, W Java, 16 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian government, through the Directorate of Technical Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has provided international training for agricultural development to the citizens of African countries through capacity building cooperation.

“We chose to conduct the agricultural training, because agriculture is the backbone of our economy,” Acting Director General of Information and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Niniek Kun Naryatie said here on Thursday.

The International Training on Agricultural for African Countries was attended by 12 participants from 11 African countries, namely Zimbabwe, Angola, Ethiopia, Gambia, Madagascar, Sudan, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Namibia.

The capacity development programs, held at the Rural and Agricultural Training Center (P4S), Kuningan, West Java, started from March 15 to April 30, 2017.

The program was intended to increase the knowledge and expertise of the African farmers in rice-cultivation, technology, production of corn, and planting and caring of coffee plants.

During the training, the participants will also learn how to process cassava and sweet potato. These commodities are widely available in African countries.

Niniek pointed out that the training was part of Indonesias commitment to carry out South-South Cooperation as part of the efforts to promote development cooperation among developing countries.

South-South Cooperation is part of the Indonesian political policy that helps improve the welfare of African countries.

In 2017, the Directorate of Technical Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs plans to implement 15 programs of capacity building for countries in Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, and the Caribbean region.

South-South cooperation is a term used by policy makers and academics to exchange activities of resources, technology, and knowledge between developing countries.

Previously, the governments of Indonesia and South Africa explored cooperation on air transportation and railways development in Kalimantan, Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi stated.

“The cooperation is a follow-up of a meeting between President Joko Widodo and his South African counterpart Jacob Gedleyehlekisa Zuma,” Sumadi noted.

A South African company has expressed interest in developing railways in Kalimantan to transport coal.

“Mining field in South Africa has also developed in recent years,” the minister remarked.

The transportation ministry will study the cooperation in detail.

Meanwhile, the governments of Indonesia and South Africa have agreed to increase cooperation in the field of aviation.

Widodo expected that Indonesia could be a hub for flights to Asian countries as South Africa is set to be a hub for flights to African countries.

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Indonesia Wants Britain To Pay For Damage To Coral Ridge

PURWAKARTA, West Java, 16 March 2017, (NNN-ANTARA) – Indonesia might demand compensation for the damage of rare ridges of rock by tourist boat MV Caledonian Sky from Britain destroying 1,600 square meters of ridges of rock in Radja Ampat islands earlier this month.

“We just talked about the law of the sea. The opportunity is open for us to demand compensation (for the damage),” Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said when on a visit here on Wednesday.

Luhut said he had formed a team in charge of the incident and the team would be sent to see the extent of damage caused by the tourist boat.

“The question is not the extent of the area being damaged but the ridge is very rare,” he said.

The incident took place when the 4,200 GT MV tourist boat captained by Keith Michael Taylor with 79 other crewmen and 102 passengers, visited Raja Ampat on March 3, 2017.

After walking round one of the islands in Raja Ampat, enjoying the natural beauty, in one of tourist destinations rated best in the world, the tourists boarded the ship in midday on March 4.

The boat then proceeded the journey to Bitung in northern Sulawesi, at 12.41 local time. On its way to Bitung, MV Caledonian Sky stranded and trapped on ridges of rock.

In a bid to get out of the trap the captain first relying on the directions given by its GPS and radar failed.

A tug boat TB Audreyrob Tanjung Priok then arrived in the location to drag MV Caledonian Sky away , but also failed as the tourist boat was too heavy.

Finally , the captain succeeded in moving his ship and continued the journey at 23.15 local time on March 4, 2017.

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Indonesian, Japanese researchers step up collaboration

Jakarta, 10 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Deputy Head of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) Bambang Subianto said Indonesian and Japanese researchers are collaborating in the research and exchange of scientific information through a forum of the Alumni Association of Indonesia (JAAI) of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).

Furthermore, he said in a press release received by Antara on Friday that JAAI was initiated by LIPI in a bid to maintain good relations between JSPS fellow graduates and facilitate Indonesian and Japanese parties to map their own potential, including optimizing the promotion of science.

“One of the goals of establishing JAAI is to ease the promotion of science and exchange of academicians between Indonesia and Japan,” he said.

He added that the cooperation between Indonesia and other countries in promoting science and research was a positive movement aimed at the advancement of research and technology in the future. Japan is one of the countries that have established a good relationship with Indonesia to integrate science for both countries.

Cooperation between LIPI and JSPS has been going on since 1978.

JSPS was one of the valuable partners for LIPI and had to increase the capacity and capabilities of its human resources in the fields of science and technology.

LIPI has held three workshops by inviting JSPS graduates. Currently, an organizational structure has been formed, involving 150 members.

“Both Indonesian and Japanese researchers plan to continue organizing a number of symposia and scientific meetings through the forum of JAAI,” he pointed out.

JAAI was established and inaugurated in Jakarta on March 9. The inauguration event was attended by a number of Indonesian and Japanese researchers, including the Executive Director of JSPS Takaaki Iwasa, Mitsuyasu Hasebe, a LIPI researcher, Gadis Sri Haryani, director of JSPS Bangkok office, Kuniaki Yamashita, and Professor of Research at the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, Eddy Hermawan.

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Pak-China to intensify cultural, people-to-people contacts

BEIJING, China, 17 March 2017, (APP) – Chinese Minister of Culture, Luo Shugang Friday said that cultural exchanges between Pakistan and China have seen new heights in recent years both in quality and quantity.

The Chinese Culture Minister held a meeting with Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Masood Khalid and thanked the Pakistan government for its support in the establishment of China Cultural Center in Islamabad.

Ambassador Masood Khalid said that cultural interaction between Pakistan and China has increased in recent years with exchange of cultural troupes, youth delegations and interaction of intellectuals.

Currently 18,000 Pakistanis are studying various disciplines at Chinese Universities and form an important bridge between the people of Pakistan and China, he added.

During the meeting, the importance of people-to-people contacts and cultural connectivity between China and Pakistan was highlighted.

It was agreed to intensify cultural cooperation and people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

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Pakistani exports to Central Asian countries on the rise

ISLAMABAD, 17 March 2017, (APP) – Minister for Commerce Engr. Khurram
 Dastgir Khan on Friday said that Pakistan’s export to Central Asian 
Countries has been increased during last three years from US $ 19.546 to $ 39.9 million.

Speaking in the Upper House during question hour session, he 
said Pakistan was not importing Medium-Density Fiberboard (MDF)
sheets from Sri Lanka at a higher price.

He said in fact, these were at a lower price as Pakistan is 
applying Zero duty under the Pakistan – Sri Lanka Free Trade 
Agreement (PSFTA).

He said Pakistan’s Most Favoured Nations (MFN) tariff for the
 MDF sheets was 16% while MDF sheets were being imported at reduced
rates from Sri Lanka only because of the concessions given under the
 Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA).

Under the 1st Phase of Pak-China FTA (2007-2012), the tariff
 lines falling under the Medium- Density Fiberboard (MDF) have not
been given preferential treatment, he added.

Furthermore, he said, even in the negotiations on the 2nd
 Phase of CPFTA which started in 2011, no commitment so far has been 
made with regard to the grant of preferential treatment to the 
import of products falling under the description MDF.

The minister said that the main reason for not granting 
concessions to countries like China and Malaysia was to protect the 
local industry.

Dastgir said that in order to enhance Pakistan’s trade with
the Central Asian States, the Ministry of Commerce and TDAP has been
taken many step.

Ministry of Commerce, he said through Trade Development
Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) organized a Central Asia Trade Caravan/
Road Shows in Kazakhstan, Kyrgvzstan, and Tajikistan in May 2016.

The series of events were aimed at encouraging Pakistani
businessmen and trade bodies to establish contacts with their
counterparts and to create awareness in the Central Asian markets
about Pakistani products, he added.

Efforts are also being made to enter into an FTA with Eurasian
Economic Union of which Kazakhstan is the only Central Asian
member country, he added.

Trade bodies representing the private sectors were encouraged
by Ministry of Commerce and TDAP to increase interactions with the
business community through exchange of delegations and participation
in trade fairs, the minister remarked.

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China, Pakistan To Advance Construction Of Economic Corridor

BEIJING, China, 17 March 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – China and Pakistan on Thursday agreed to advance the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The pledge occurred during a meeting between Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa in Beijing.

Zhang lauded the rapid development of China-Pakistan ties, saying bilateral cooperation not only benefits the two peoples, but also contributes to regional peace and stability.

He called on the two sides to maintain close high-level contact and strengthen coordination on international and regional affairs, to lift bilateral ties to new heights.

He suggested that the two countries should enhance defense and security cooperation and push forward the building of the CPEC in an orderly manner.

Bajwa said Pakistan views the relations with China as the cornerstone of its foreign policy and its army will always be a staunch supporter of bilateral friendship.

To ensure the smooth construction of the CPEC, the Pakistan armed forces will resolutely safeguard its security, he said.

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CPEC to be completed with $62 billion: Zubair

KARACHI, 16 March 2017, (APP) – The mega project of China Pakistan
 Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be completed at a cost of US$62 billion, said Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair here on Thursday.

He was speaking at the concluding session of the 2nd International
CPEC Business and Research Conference 2017 here.

The two day moot was organized by the Institute of Business
 Administration (IBA) Karachi.

The Governor said that CPEC that spans several decades speaks of
the close friendly ties between Pakistan and the Peoples Republic of China.

He stated that with CPEC, the positive image of Pakistan is 
emerging at the international level and that there would be a faster pace development.

Muhammad Zubair said that CPEC includes energy projects worth 
US$35 billion. By the year 2018, 10,400 megawatt of electricity 
would be available and that the overall generation would be more than the required one.

He stated that all the segments of the Pakistan’s society would
 benefit from CPEC.

The Governor also lauded the management of IBA for organizing the 

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CPEC to promote regional connectivity, enhance trade

KARACHI, 15 March 2017, (APP) – President Mamnoon Hussain Wednesday
said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a landmark project that would change the destiny of the region and would emerge as an example at international level.

This would also promote regional connectivity and generate new opportunities for trade and commerce, he said addressing the Participants of the 2nd International IBA CPEC Business and Research Conference held here on Wednesday.

The President said that CPEC would help bring various regions of 
the world together and new avenues would be opened for the trade and business.

He also asked the investors to prepare themselves to take full
 advantage of the opportunities that would be created in the wake of CPEC. 
Mamnoon Hussain also asked the institutions of higher learning as
 well as think tanks to devise a future strategy regarding the CPEC so as to fully benefit from this mega project.

Muhammad Zubair, Governor Sindh, Wang Yu, Consul General of the
People’s Republic of China, Dr. Farrukh Iqbal, Dean and Director,
 Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi, and researchers and scholars from different countries were also present on the occasion.

The President said that the Second International IBA CPEC 
Business and Research Conference under the auspices of ‘my alma mater, Institute of Business Administration’, for progress of Pakistan and the region is a positive initiative.

He hoped that this conference will commence an educational debate
to analyse the opportunities and benefits of China Pakistan Economic 
Corridor (CPEC).

Mamnoon Hussain was of the view that such conferences become a
 source of guidance towards formulation of better policies and promote cooperation between the Government and private sector paving the way for national progress.

‘It is a trait of vibrant nations that their institutions, particularly academic institutions, promote development projects through their educational activities’, he said adding that the objective behind organizing this conference is research and analyses of CPEC and opportunities emerging out of it.

The President was glad that IBA has brought together researchers 
and experts from leading universities of all provinces of the country and Silk Business School of Shanghai University on one platform.

This activity will bring together the relevant sectors of the two
countries expected to capture maximum gains from CPEC and affiliated projects for which he congratulated the organizers and participants of the conference.

He said that this conference held with joint collaboration of IBA
 and Silk School of Shanghai University has revived an old memory, when Institute of Business Administration was established with cooperation of Wharton School and University of Southern California.

The President said that he would like that similar cooperation
 should be nurtured between IBA and Silk Business School of Shanghai University so that students graduating from these institutions could work not only for progress and prosperity of Pakistan and China, but for the whole region, the way students of IBA rendered significant services in financial institutions around the world including Pakistan.

He hoped that this conference will provide a basis for
partnership between these two excellent educational institutions of
Pakistan and China.

‘As you are aware that CPEC is a landmark project for promoting
regional connectivity and trade which will not only bring different 
regions of the world closer but also generate new opportunities for
 trade and commerce. It is necessary that we prepare ourselves to
benefit from these opportunities and challenges including
 technological innovations in the field of communication and
development of energy and transport infrastructure. We would also 
require trained workforce to benefit from these facilities’, the
President remarked.

Mamnoon Hussain said that CPEC will prove to be a milestone such
that after its operationalization the term ‘Before and after the Economic Corridor’ will be used by people to describe the historic change that it will bring. The old methods of doing trade and business will have to change in many areas as the traditional ways of conducting business will not be able to keep up with the new demands of changing times.

He said that in order to meet this challenge, we will have to 
prepare business entities and train manpower. There is heavy responsibility on our universities and other educational institutions to prepare relevant refresher courses and literature for traders so that in the emerging new situation a large number of our workforce is not rendered irrelevant.

The President said that after the operationalization of CPEC,
foreigners on a large scale will start visiting Pakistan which will have far reaching social and cultural impact. Social change may lead to uncertainty in societies and rise to multifarious problems. But societies where intellectuals and thinkers deliberate on future challenges and change are better able to cope with them.

‘I would like our universities and thinkers to start thinking on this aspect so that people become aware of the challenges beforehand and are mentally well prepared to face them’, he added.

Mamnoon Hussain stated that he was glad that Silk Business School
 of Shanghai is collaborating to arrange this conference and participants will be able to benefit from Chinese experience. We should learn from previous experiences in order to progress and keep pace with the contemporary world, he added.

He was hopeful that such conferences will continue to be held in
future and scope of its partner institutions will also continue to expand.

The President warmly welcomed the delegates particularly the
guests from foreign countries participating in the conference and hoped that their stay in Pakistan will be productive and comfortable.

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16 Chinese, Pakistani artists to travel in Cultural Caravan

ISLAMABAD, 17 March 2017, (APP) – A group of 16 Chinese and Pakistani
artists selected for their outstanding talent will travel in a
 Cultural Caravan in three segments of the China Pakistan Economic
 Corridor (CPEC), each segment spanning a maximum of ten days’

An official of Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) 
said that the first segment will undertake the Western Passage
 covering route from Peshawar to Gwadar.

The second segment will take the Eastern Passage from Karachi 
to Islamabad while also taking detour between Eastern Western and
Central Passages.

The third segment will cover Northern Passage starting from
 Kashgar and culminating at Islamabad. Timings of the three segments
 of the caravan will be decided keeping climatic and other factors in

The film makers will have all their equipment including
editing systems with them so they can continue editing their films
 and also engage local talent in the process of filming and editing.

The painters and photographers will be encouraged to engage
 with local enthusiasts in creative processes by sharing their
 knowledge and skills with them and also letting them to take 
pictures and paint images.

The musicians will not only document local folk music but also 
perform at different places and interact with local musicians.
 An Anthropologist will accompany the caravan as guide for the
participant on culture and society on the route. 
All equipment/material will be provided by PNCA except camera
 for the photographers.

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SME fair kicks off in Dhaka

DHAKA, 14 March 2017, (BSS) – A five-day “National Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Fair-2017” will kick off in the city from tomorrow to bring the local small and medium entrepreneurs under a single square of roof.

Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu will inaugurate the fair at 10 am at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC) here, said a press release today.

State Minister for Women and Children Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki, Senior Secretary of Industries Ministry M Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Abdul Matlub Ahmed will be present in the inaugural function as special guests.

SME Foundation is organising the exhibition with the main thrust of promoting the SME products, exhibition and introduction of SME goods for expanding business, trade and commerce.

Around 200 SME institutions will exhibit their SME products, including Jute, agriculture and leather products and electrical and Information and Technology goods.

The fair will remain open 10 am to 8 pm, the release added.

Three-seminar on “Business Diversification: Preparation of Women

Entrepreneurs”, “SME Friendly Measures in the New VAT Law” and “Non-Financial Services to Customer for Sustainable SME Financing” will also be held on the side line of the fair.

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Bangladesh Garments Association holds spot job fair

DHAKA, 17 March 2017, (BSS) – A daylong job fair will be held tomorrow to create job opportunities for those intend to build career in the country’s apparel sector.

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Skill for Employment Investment Programme (SEIP) are jointly organising the fair at International Conference Centre, Bashundhara, said a press release here today.

Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed will inaugurate the fair in the morning while State Minister for Labour and Employment M Mujibul Haque will also be present in the inaugural session.

About 40 garment factory owners will participate in the fair to pick their required workers and executives from about 1000 on the spot job-seekers.

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Bangladesh Urges US To Grant Duty-Free Access To LDCs

DHAKA, 16 March 2017, (NNN-BSS) – Bangladesh called upon the United States for granting Duty Free Quota Free (DFQF) market access to U.S. for all the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

“If the USA provides the facilities to Bangladesh, then Bangladesh will be able to export more to the USA, which would ensure more empowerment of women and containment of extremism in Bangladesh,” said Bangladesh Ambassador to the USA Mohammad Ziauddin.

He made the observations when he met with US Republican Congressman from Washington State and also the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Sub-Committee on Trade Dave Reichert in Washington D.C, according to a message received here.

During the meeting, Ziauddin apprised the Congressman of the sense of discrimination that prevails among fourteen LDCs for not getting DFQF market access to the USA.

Currently 34 LDCs out of 48 are benefitting from U.S. DFQF scheme under AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act).

The Ambassador further informed the Congressman that all the 48 LDCs get DFQF facility from the European Union. Therefore, he said it is a matter of justice and fairness that the U.S. – which is champion of human rights and rule of law – should provide equal treatment to all.

The Bangladesh envoy also highlighted development activities in Bangladesh in various sectors including Education, Women Empowerment and Counter-Terrorism.

He informed the Congressman about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy against all forms of extremism and terrorism.

He also mentioned the ongoing cooperation in counter-terrorism between Bangladesh and its neighbours and the USA through intelligence sharing and other capacity building measures.

The Ambassador informed that more than four million garment workers in Bangladesh are women who are contributing to transforming society by alleviating poverty and containing the menace of extremism.

Moreover, the Bangladesh government is modernizing its madrasa education system so the students can get rid of extremist ideas and can better adapt with society.

During an hour-long meeting Congressman Reichert agreed there should be fair trade among the countries.

He suggested that a Congressional delegation can visit the LDCs including Bangladesh to explore further trade possibilities. The Ambassador thanked him for his interest.

Toufique Hasan, Minister (Political) of the Embassy and Joshua Snead, Trade Counsel of the Subcommittee of Trade were present during the meeting, the message added.

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5,490 hectares brought under jute cultivation in Netrakona

NETRAKONA, 18 March 2017, (BSS) – District Agriculture Extension Department (DAED)of Netrakona has taken up a jute cultivation program in all the ten upazilas of the district during the current season.

The DAED office sources said, the program has been undertaken in line with the national programme to regain the past glory of jute.

Under the program, a total of 5,490 hectares of land would be brought under jute cultivation in the district.

Of the total, 3,755 hectares of land would be brought under Kenaf variety of jute, 517 hectares under Mesta variety, 385 hectares under olitorious variety and 833 hectares under capsularis variety of jute.

Bilash Chandra Paul, deputy director of DAED, told BSS that meanwhile, many cultivators has shown their keen interest for cultivating jute on their farm lands including all the fellow lands as they got bumper production and fair prices of jute last year due to initiatives undertaken by the government.

Replying to a question, Paul said that over 47,000 bells of jute are expected to be produced in the district this year if the district’s jute cultivation target is achieved successfully and the climate is remained favourable till harvesting period.

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Norouz celebration of peace, humanity

Tehran, 15 March 2017, (IRNA) – As the harbinger of peace between human beings and the nature, Norouz the traditional Iranian festival of spring, has been celebrated across Western and Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Black Sea Basin and the Balkans for 3,000 years.

Norouz, literally “New Day”, however, remains to have its origins in Iran and Zoroastrianism, the ancient pre-Islamic religion.

But the Iranian people, following converting to Islam, have not abandoned marking the long-lasting tradition, also known as the Persian New Year.

Instead, the Iranians have given Norouz, which marks the beginning of spring, an Islamic color.

People in Iran mark the turn of the year by saying a famous prayer, asking God to change their minds and perceptions in the same way He revives the nature.

The prayers carry a fundamental message; a message deeply rooted in the history of Iran, traditionally served to be a safe haven for all ethnic and religious groups and all the peace-seeking people of the world.

The Iranian people seize the moment each year at the beginning of spring, and at the turn of the year, to say the prayer, reminding their kin across the globe of the need for change.

It is a reminder calling on the people across the globe to do away with their differences and as appears in the words of Iranian famous 13th century poet Saadi Shirazi, to once again remember that human beings are members of a whole.

The sons of Adam are limbs of each other, Having been created of one essence.

When the calamity of time affects one limb The other limbs cannot remain at rest.

If thou hast no sympathy for the troubles of others, 
Thou art unworthy to be called by the name of a human.

Norouz is a symbol of a cultural attempt by the Iranian people and all those who mark it each year, to promote solidarity and peaceful co-existence among nations.

It is a global celebration of spirituality, humanity, kindness and love for mankind, solidarity, social justice, happiness and joy, peace, dignity and purity of hearts.

Finally, inscribed on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List, the International Norouz Day, remains to be a global constructive tradition that as a politico-cultural element is expected to promote convergence.

In his 2016 Norouz message, President Hassan Rouhani described Norouz as something that helps regional states forge closer ties.

“Norouz is the festival of moderation and the most ancient dynamic tradition in our common history,” the Iranian President says.

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Iran a big trade opportunity for Italy

Rome, 17 March 2017, (IRNA) – Api – Associazione Piccole E Medie Industrie Di Lecco (Apilecco) has called Iran’s economy as one of the world’s top 20 economies and the one serving as a big commercial opportunity for Italy.

According to Lecconotizie website, the Apilecco told a seminar, held in Lecco, north of Italy, on Big Opportunities of Trade in Post-JCPOA era that Iran’s Gross National Production reaches $1600 billion and its annual growth index equals 6.6 percent.

“Iranian society is stable and democratic, lying on a tranquil bed in a complicated geographic region; Iran is rich in natural resources with developed infrastructural structures.”

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Iran, Russia to boost trade exchanges to $10bn

Moscow, 15 March 2017, (IRNA) – Iran’s Ambassador to Russia Mehdi Sanaie estimated a considerable rise in the volume of trade exchanges between Tehran and Moscow.

“The transactions between Iran and Russia will reach $10 billion,” Sanaie said. 
The Iranian ambassador reiterated that the boost in trade relations between Iran and Russia has been more than Iran’s trade exchanges with any other country.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak also pointed to his recent meeting with Iran’s Communications and Information Technology Minister Mahmoud Vaezi in Moscow on Monday.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have met six times in Tehran, Moscow and on the sidelines of international meetings in different countries.

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Investment in Iran rising: Slovakian envoy

Tehran, 13 March 2017, (IRNA) – Slovakian Ambassador to Iran Luber Mirgelian said opening of credit line worth 100 million euros during recent Tehran visit of his country’s officials indicates Slovakia’s backing to investment in Iran.

In a meeting with Head of Iran-Slovakia Parliamentary Group Mehdi Farshadan on Sunday, the ambassador evaluated bilateral ties as positive, hoping that relations would further improve following the removal of sanctions and settlement of banking problems.

Referring to the Islamic Republic’s role in the region, he welcomed augmentation of diplomatic shuttles, particularly further communications between the two countries’ parliamentary friendship groups.

Farshadan, for his part, referred to good ties between Iran and Slovakia, saying that excellent bilateral relations since the country’s independence are an appropriate ground for bolstering ties in various domains.

He also described removal of impediments such as facilitating visa issuance as a major contributor to boosting bilateral ties.

Expansion of mutual cooperation, especially in post-JCPOA era, is indicative of both sides’ good will for promoting ties, he said.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is the official title of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and world major powers in July 2015.

He also voiced Iran’s Majlis support to any move in line with using existing capacities for strengthening friendly cooperation.

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Iran, China ink MoU on construction of subway wagons

Tehran, 15 March 2017, (IRNA) – Iran and China have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on construction of 215 subway wagons, a senior official in charge of municipalities and rural management affairs announced on Wednesday.

Hossein-Rajab Salahi, director general of the railway transportation office at municipalities and rural management organization, told IRNA that the construction will begin in Iran.

The wagons, Salahi said, will be used for three capital cities of Isfahan, Fars and East Azarbaijan provinces.

As the official said, the contract has been signed between Iranian Rail Industries Development Company (IRICO) and China’s CRRC Nanjing Puzhen Rail Transport Co. which is among the biggest wagon manufacturers in the world.

The today MoU has been signed within the framework of the Dec 2008 agreement on supply of 315 subway wagons between the Interior Ministry and CRRC Nanjing Puzhen, Salahi said, adding 100 of those wagons constructed in China have already been delivered to the country.

The implementation of MoU on the wagon construction will improve the industry in the country and create further job opportunites, the official concluded.

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Turkey moves to protect Turks in Europe against Islamophobia

Ankara, 16 March 2017, (IINA) – In light of rising Islamophobia and racism across Europe, Turkey is planning to set up a commission to protect Turks in Europe.

The final report of the 3rd National Culture Council held recently stressed Turkey’s determination to protect Turks living abroad and their rights against the effects of Islamophobia and racism.

In this respect, the “Foreign Turks and Culture Commission” will follow and monitor developments and implement the necessary policies, Daily Sabah Turkish News reported.

According to reports, the Culture Commission will organize a council in Europe in order to specify the policies and strategies for Turkish citizens on the continent.

Focusing on problems regarding their lives under different cultures, the Commission indicated that current strategies to preserve cultural heritage and teach the Turkish language to the new generations had not worked effectively.

In this context, the commission’s report emphasized the establishment of pre-school education and common places for socializing to Turkish diaspora in Europe.

On the other hand, the report also pointed out the need for various organizations to introduce Turkish cultural heritage as well as employing youths, who are able to solve Turkish people’s problems abroad, through relevant non-governmental organizations.

For this reason, the report drew attention to the fact that Turkish NGOs in Europe should coordinate with each other as well as with media outlets, such as the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT).

Highlighting the need to explain Islamic culture in a correct way, the report asked that lessons be prepared on religion, specifically in countries with significant Turkish populations. The report also stressed that Islamic religious groups should acquire legal statuses in European countries.

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Turkey to expand hospital care, health minister says

ANKARA, (Anadolu Agency) – Turkey will provide 41,000 more hospital beds to give patients greater privacy, Health Minister Recep Akdag said Thursday.

“Ninety percent of the hospitals were ward-type and the patients were in those wards,” he told Anadolu Agency’s Editors’ desk. “People need privacy more when they are ill… you have to give that patient a separate room… each of our citizens are special to us and each patient will have a private room.”

Under the city hospitals project, public-private partnerships will fund health facilities. The Mersin Integrated Healthcare Campus in southern Turkey will be one of the largest healthcare complexes in Turkey, with 1,294 beds to serve 10,000 patients a day.

Akdag said Turkey was providing healthcare for Syrian refugees. “We have set up immigrant health centers,” he said. “We have provided free medical service to all the Syrians in Turkey. We have established 16 immigrant health centers so far.”

The minister added that Syrian doctors and health workers would be given special work permits to treat refugees.

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Turkey: Over 5,550 startups launched in February

ANKARA, 17 March 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – A total of 5,551 new companies were started in February, the Turkish Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges (TOBB) said in a report released Friday.

The number of newly-established companies last month fell by 11.87 percent compared to the same month last year.

TOBB also said 762 companies went out of business in February, an increase of 2.53 percent compared to February 2016.

Friday’s report showed 409 foreign-partnered or foreign-funded new companies were established in the second month of the year, down from 450 in the same month last year.

Some 159, or 39 percent, of foreign-partnered companies were founded directly by Syrian nationals or Syrians in partnerships.

Out of the total number of foreign-funded companies in February, 25 were Iran-backed, followed by Iraq with 24 companies.

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Turkish Airlines training center gets industry honor

ISTANBUL, 17 March 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – The training center for Turkey’s flagship air carrier has been recognized for excellence by a major industry association, Turkish Airlines announced Friday.

Rafael Schvartzman, regional vice president for the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Europe, gave the honorary plaque Thursday to Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi in recognition of the Turkish Airlines Aviation Academy.

According to a Turkish Airlines statement, Schvartzman paid a courtesy visit to Eksi in Istanbul and praised the activities of the Turkish Airlines Aviation Academy.

“Turkish Airlines, which shows an innovative approach in every field, also showed an innovative approach in this field and this is the most important factor in students’ success,” Schvartzman said during his visit.

Receiving the plaque, Eksi, praised the academy and thanked the IATA.

“The Turkish Airlines Aviation Academy was founded to meet the training needs of Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s first airline as well as one of Europe’s leading airlines. It has transformed over the years into an institution that offers training courses to people from many different companies both in Turkey and abroad. The academy has been offering training courses for over 30 years,” says Turkish Airlines’ website.

The academy is continuing its education programs in cooperation with the IATA. Last year, the academy did 53 IATA education programs for more than 800 students.

IATA is a trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 265 airlines or 83 percent of total air traffic.

Turkey’s flag carrier has over 330 aircraft and flies to almost 300 destinations around the world, more than any other airline, according to the company. The airline increased its total number of passengers by 2.5 percent year-on-year to reach 62.8 million in 2016, according to a January stock exchange filing report.

In the 2016 Skytrax World Airlines Awards, Turkish Airlines was named Europe’s Best Airline for the sixth consecutive year.

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Turkish FM urges EU to implement visa-free regime

ANTALYA, Turkey, 18 March 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday the government is “experiencing a problematic process,” and an uncomfortable environment trying to fulfill a visa deal with the EU.

“If the EU does not implement visa liberalization, we have three interconnected agreements. The re-admission and immigration agreement. At that time, the other two agreements are, of course, not applied naturally,” Cavusoglu said at a meeting of business leaders in Alanya district.

“We agreed that three agreements will be implemented together. … it is the nature of agreement,” he said.

“This is not a threat, or a bluff,” he added.

Ankara is supposed to readmit all irregular asylum seekers who reach Greek islands from Turkey, according to the readmission agreement signed last March wit the EU.

But visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to Schengen zone countries was a key EU promise made under the deal.

Turkey has so far met most of the requirements for visa liberalization, but the EU’s demands for change in Ankara’s anti-terrorism laws led to a deadlock in negotiations.

Turkish authorities repeatedly said the refugee deal could collapse if the EU fails to provide Ankara with the promised visa reforms.

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Turkish hospital gets European healthcare award

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 1 February, (Anadolu Agency) – A major hospital in Turkey’s capital received a prestigious European award at a ceremony in Dubai this week.

The European Medical Association’s Rose of Paracelsus Award was presented to Nurullah Zengin, chief of medicine at Ankara Numune Education and Research Hospital, at the 42nd Arab Health Fair in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on Monday.

The award honors “those who have excelled in the field of public health, in the organization, implementation and modernization of care and health services in general,” according to the association’s website.

Tanju Tutuncu, a surgery specialist at hospital, also gave a presentation about Numune during the ceremony.

The hospital was chosen for the prize by members of the Europe Medical Association (EMA) and the European Business Assembly’s Socrates Committee.

It was also chosen to receive a Best Medical Practices Certificate.

The awards ceremony coincided with a heath congress which began on Monday and lasts through Thursday.

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Turkish, Rwandan Airlines Plan Flights To Victoria Falls

HARARE, 13 March 2017, (NNN-NEW ZIANA) – Turkish and Rwandan airlines may soon be flying into Victoria Falls, joining several other airlines which are using the new international airport at Zimbabwe’s tourist destination, a Zimbabwe tourism official says.

Rwanda Airlines has announced that it will begin flights to Harare this year and make Victoria Falls their next route in Zimbabwe whose airport is poised to attract increased air traffic after it completed a 150-million-US-dollar facelift which increased passenger handling capacity to 1.5 million per year, up from 500,000 previously.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Chief Executive Officer Karikoga Kaseke said here Sunday the two airlines are some of the many airlines finding the new Victoria Falls airport irresistible.

“We know that Rwandan Airlines will start flying to Harare in April but they have indicated that when they applied to fly that route they did not know that Victoria Falls was there. They had not seen how Victoria Falls is… They have indicated to us that they also want to fly to Victoria Falls,” he added.

“Turkish airlines have also indicated that they want to fly to Victoria Falls.”

Kaseke said the interest by airlines to land at the resort town is a direct response to the upgraded Victoria Falls International Airport which can now handle bigger aircraft.

“We are hoping that more airlines will be flying into Victoria Falls,” he said.

Another airline, Ethiopian Airlines, begins flights into the resort town later this month while Kenyan Airways will be servicing the same route starting in May.

Some of the new features of the Victoria Falls International Airport include an international terminal building, a four-kilometre runway and control tower, road networks and a new fire station.

Zimbabwe has in recent years seen increased interest from various airlines eager to fly into the country.

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King Abdulaziz Public Library opened at Peking University

Peking University, March 17, 2016: On March 17, accompanied by the delegation of Saudi Arabia, King Salman of Saudi Arabia paid an official visit to Peking University. During the visit, King Salman attended the inauguration ceremony of the branch library of King Abdul Aziz Public Library and received an honorary doctorateat PKU. Zhu Zhiwen, China’s Vice Minister of Education, Hao Ping, Chairman of the University Council , and Lin Jianhua, President of Peking University, as well as delegates from both PKU and Saudi parties and representatives of other universities were also present at the ceremony.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has been a witness and promoter of the friendship between Saudi Arabia and China. He had visited China twice and attaches great importance to developing Sino-Saudi relationship.

At 12:15, the branch library was inaugurated. Hao Ping and Faisal, Chief Inspector of the branch library, both gave speeches . Hao Ping said it is an indication of King Salman’s great attention to cultural exchanges to attend the inauguration ceremony himself, and this landmark event will keep alive the two countries’ friendly communications and the memory of PKU students and scholars in the histories of both countries. Then, Faisal pointed out the branch library signifies the achievement of King Salman’s several visits to China, and stands for his wish to improve world peace and bilateral friendship.

Later, President Lin Jianhua conferred an honorary doctorate on King Salman. King Salman said that Peking University is the center of cultural communications of China, and it will celebrate its 120th anniversary soon. He’s glad to receive the honorable doctorate and hopes the PKU branch library will contribute to the extension of bilateral cooperation as a cultural symbol.

King Abdul Aziz Public Library has three branches all over the world, which are located in Riyadh, Casablanca and Peking University respectively. The construction of PKU branch library has been given much attention by leaders from both countries. As one of the most important bearers of human civilization, library is the quintessence of culture and represents the spiritual height of a nation. The branch library at Peking University will not only provide readers with abundant Arabian literature and improve the Arabic teaching and Middle Eastern studies at PKU and other colleges, but also stand for a cultural bridge between Saudi Arabia and China, consolidating and deepening the two country’s intimacy. Meanwhile, this library will also serve as the Ancient Books Library of Peking University to offer scholars and students a better researching environment.

Peking University will continue to promote the cultural and educational exchanges between Saudi Arabia and China, explore more new areas and ways of collaboration, and make more outstanding contributions.

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Over 1.6 Million Workers in Gulf Manufacturing Industries

Doha, Mar 18 (ONA) —- In its report on “Labour Force and Productivity of Manufacturing Industries in GCC Countries”, the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC) announced an increase in the number of manufacturing factories in the GCC, paralleled by a rise in the manufacturing labour force from approximately 774.000 workers in 2005 to more than 1.6 million workers in 2015. Labour force has more than doubled, hence achieving a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8%.

GOIC highlighted that “labour plays a key role in industrial production. In fact, they form an added value when coupled with the availability of raw materials. Therefore, labour productivity is seen as a criterion to measure industrial development and the efficient use of the labour force. It also sheds light on the strengths and weaknesses of an industrial activity.”

GOIC stated that “manufacturing labour force in GCC countries is a main pillar of industrial production, particularly when it comes to SMEs. In fact, these industries rely heavily on labour force and less on capital, since their activities are mainly based on human effort as opposed to big factories that rely on machines and advanced technologies.”

Furthermore, the manufacture of fabricated metal products that includes a variety of industrial activities like metal products, electrical equipment, transport equipment and others is one of the industrial activities that are in need of labour force the most. Its share of the total manufacturing labour force in GCC countries in 2015 was around 25.8%, followed by the manufacture of cement and building materials (about 16.8%), the manufacture of chemical and petrochemical products (approximately 15.8%), the manufacture of food products and beverages (15.4%) and the remaining industries.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was ranked first in terms of labour force in the manufacture of fabricated metal products in GCC countries in 2015. Its share of the total labour force in this sector throughout the GCC was about 53.3%, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (28.8%) and other GCC states.

Similarly, KSA was ranked first in terms of labour force in the manufacture of cement and building materials, as its share was 58.5% of the total labour force working in this field, followed by the UAE (23.6%) and other GCC countries. Moreover, the KSA and UAE got the same rank in the manufacture of chemicals and petrochemicals, food products and beverages and the manufacture of basic metals. As to the manufacture of textiles, wearing apparel and leather, the UAE was ranked first with 35.9%, followed by KSA (35%), Bahrain, Oman and other states.

Net labour productivity in manufacturing industries is calculated by dividing the gross value added (or GDP) of the manufacturing industries by the number of workers. As to labour productivity, it is calculated on the basis of the division of production value with production factors costs by the number of workers. Since we lack sufficient data on production value, we will focus on the net labour productivity indicator. The more the net labour productivity figure increases compared with the overall labour productivity, the more input waste is reduced, labour is efficient and overall productivity becomes better.

GOIC highlighted that the value of the GDP of GCC manufacturing industries more than doubled between 2005 and 2014, with a CAGR of 9.5%. As to the net labour productivity, i.e. the average annual value of GDP per worker in the manufacturing sector in GCC countries, a gradual improvement is noticed in the average net productivity of the worker in this sector between 2005 and 2014. In fact, it has increased on average from 83.9 thousand USD per worker in 2005 to more than 105 thousand USD in 2014. Furthermore, it averaged at approximately 106.4 thousand USD between 2010 and 2014, an increase of 26.8% compared with the 2005 average.

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UAE Transport Authority to mark International Day of Happiness

DUBAI, 17 March 2017, (WAM) – The Roads and Transport Authority, RTA, will run a host of diverse activities and sponsorships in support of the International Day of Happiness, coinciding with the launch of the fourth edition of Happiness Week from 19th to 25th March.

The move is part of the RTA’s efforts to turn the happiness concept into a reality through everyday practices.

The RTA also supports the Rove Hotels’ “High Five” initiative, which started in metro stations on 16th March and will continue till 20th March.

The aim is to simply spread happiness as well as to encourage and foster a positive atmosphere on the metro.

Highlighting these events, Ahmed Mahboub, Executive Director of Customer Service, Corporate Administrative Support Services Sector at the RTA, said, “The Happiness Week comprises an array of quality events highlighted by RTA’s sponsorship of the Happiness Journey event held by the National Programme for Happiness & Positivity.”

The journey will kick off at the Dubai Water Canal in the direction of Box Park on Al Wasl Road and return to the starting point. During the event, which is part of celebrations of the International Day of Happiness, the RTA will provide facilities to boost the event out of its social responsibility towards community events.

“The RTA also supports ‘High Five’ event held in conjunction with Rove Hotel, where hotel staff will be deployed in three metro stations: Burj Khalifa-Dubai Mall, Oud Metha and Deira City Centre. The event aims to bring smile and happiness to metro riders through symbolising their hands with High Five emoji, and associating them with station users to foster a cheerful atmosphere in the three stations,” Mahboub continued.

“The Happiness Week will also include Tastahal event, where several organisations, departments, teams, individuals and service centres who have shown high efficiency in delivering their tasks of bringing happiness to people, will be honoured, besides honouring the best service. A special customers’ council session will be held to mark the occasion to heed to the views and suggestions of RTA’s clients to keep pace with their ambitions and the happiness level they anticipate,” the Executive Director of Customer Service added.

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Gulf Food Industries Exhibition & Forum to be held in Doha

Doha, Mar 18 (ONA) —- The Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting (GOIC), a regional diplomatic organization, signed a contract with Gulf Marketing Event Management & Advertising to organize the 1st Forum of GCC Food Products Manufacturers and Food Security Program in conjunction with the 1st International Exhibition for Food, Beverage and Process Technology (FOODEX) at the Doha Exhibition and Conference Center (DECC) from the 2nd till the 4th of April, 2017.

Abdulaziz bin Hamad al-Uqail, GOIC Secretary General, reiterated GOIC’s role as a “regional diplomatic organization aiming at achieving industrial cooperation and coordination to reach economic integration in the GCC region.”

He added: “In light of the importance of food products manufacturing and its vital role in achieving food security and self-sufficiency, GOIC decided to organize this event in parallel with the 1st International Exhibition for Food, Beverage and Process Technology (FOODEX) in Qatar.”

On his turn, Salah Janahi, CEO of Gulf Marketing, stated that his company, in its capacity as strategic partner, decided to cooperate with GOIC to organise this Forum in conjunction with the Exhibition in order to introduce investment opportunities in the GCC industrial sector.

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Saudi Arabia, China To Boost All-Round Strategic Partnership

BEIJING, 17 March 2017, (NNN-ALARABIYA) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Chinese President Xi Jinping have agreed the two countries will step up cooperation in all areas and push forward their all-round strategic partnership, a news report has revealed.

This has come following earlier reports that the two sides were exploring ways to find further opportunities for Chinese investments in coordination with by Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives in multiple fields.

According to a Xinhua report, China supports Saudi Arabia as it advances on a development path suitable to its national conditions, maintains national sovereignty, security and development interests, and plays a greater role in regional and global affairs, Xi said.

China is a reliable and stable market for Saudi Arabia’s oil, Xi said, calling for closer cooperation in such areas as energy, communication, aviation, finance and investment, culture, education, public health, technology, tourism, media and security.

Xi said China and Muslim countries respect each other and set an example of harmonious coexistence between civilizations. In Middle East affairs, China advocates respecting national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs, Xi said.

King Salman, on the other hand, vowed to cement cooperation with China in the areas of trade, investment, finance and energy, in order to upgrade their all-round strategic partnership. Saudi Arabia highly values China’s stance of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and solving disputes through dialogue and peaceful means, he said.

King Salman also appreciated China’s role in maintaining international peace and security, expressing his hope for China’s greater role in Middle Eastern affairs. After their talks, the two heads of states witnessed the signing of cooperative agreements on trade, economy, energy, capacity, culture, education and technology.

King Salman is on a state visit to China from March 15-18 at Xi’s invitation. It is his first China visit since becoming king of Saudi Arabia in 2015.

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Saudi Arabia kick-starts $50 billion renewable energy plan

Riyadh, 21 February 2017, (IINA) – Saudi Arabia has invited investors to submit requests to qualify for the first round of its $30-$50 billion National Renewable Energy Program by March 20, Arabian Business reported Tuesday.

Saudi Arabia is targeting 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023 in line with Vision 2030, an economic reform plan launched last year to diversify the economy beyond oil. The renewable program involves an investment of between $30 billion to $50 billion by 2023. For the first round, the kingdom will develop a 300-megawatt solar PV plant in Sakaka, the Al-Jouf Province in the north.

It will also build a 400 MW wind project in Midyan in the northwest. The projects will be backed by 25-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar PV and 20-year PPAs for wind, the energy ministry said in a statement.The government will announce pre-qualified bidders by April 10.

The Ministry of Energy added that the process “is open to any company or consortium of companies with the technical and financial capabilities to execute projects of this scale.”

“It is our goal to make the National Renewable Energy Program among the most attractive, competitive, and well-executed government renewable energy investment programs in the world, and we have all the necessary infrastructure in place to ensure that is the case,” Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said in a statement carried by SPA.

Earlier this month, the energy ministry said it created The Renewable Energy Project Development Office (REPDO), a unit of the ministry to oversee the deployment of clean energy.

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Saudi woman first swimmer to cross Dubai Creek, Water Canal

DUBAI, 11 March 2017, (WAM) – Dr. Mariam Saleh Binladen, a Saudi dentist and humanitarian, set a new record that added to her tally of world records, while crossing the Dubai Creek and the Dubai Water Canal, swimming a total distance of 24 kilometres (km) on Friday, 10th March, 2017.

Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council, the special event was held in collaboration with the Dubai Sports Council, the Dubai Maritime City Authority, the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority and the Dubai Police and Marine Rescue. This event, which is part of Dr. Mariam’s continued pledge to support orphaned Syrian refugees, was attended by a delegation from the Dubai Sports Council and other supporting partners, as well as marine safety, rescue and co-ordination teams.

Dr. Mariam’s challenging undertaking began at 5.00am on Friday, starting from the canal’s Dubai Creek entrance in the Al Shindagha area of Dubai’s historic district. She achieved the feat at 2.10pm, finishing at Al Ghubaiba Station next to the Four Seasons Hotel. While swimming for 9 hours and 10 minutes, Dr. Mariam battled through strong currents at the entrance and mouth of the canal, while passing through some of Dubai’s most striking tourism sites.

After reaching the finish line, Dr. Mariam expressed her gratitude for the huge support that she received, and said, “I want to extend my warmest appreciation and gratitude to HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his gracious patronage of the event, and to the team members who worked really hard over the past month to make this great event a memorable success.”

“I would also like to thank all the people who turned up just to cheer and encourage me throughout the day. I am thrilled and delighted to become the first person to complete a 24km swim along the wonderful, yet challenging, Dubai Water Canal,” added Dr. Mariam.

“It was a very challenging experience indeed, given that my preparation time was extremely short, barely one month of preparations to make this event happen. So, I am really happy to have completed the swim successfully, which would not have happened without the amazing support of my family, my crew, my trainer, Fiona, the team from DSC and all the other parties that were involved in this event,” she further added.

“This event is part of my continued pledge to raise awareness for the plight of thousands of orphaned Syrian refugees who have lost their parents and guardians, and have been uprooted from their homes, and scattered across different parts of the world. I also wanted to motivate more and more women from the Arab World to take on sports and use their talents to achieve the unachievable, knowing that nothing is impossible,” she concluded.

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Sharjah Business Women Council Stresses Entrepreneurship

SHARJAH, 16 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Since the UAE gained its independence in the 1970’s, Emirati women have been working side-by-side with their male counterparts towards the nation’s advancement.

The invaluable efforts and sound guidance by the UAE’s wise leadership to uplift women’s status have led the UAE to top global rankings in terms of treating women with respect and appreciation.

The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, was the first to support women’s rights to education, work and empowerment as well as women’s fundamental rights to build their nation’s future alongside the nation’s men.

This vision was reflected in the establishment of the UAE’s Women General Union in 1975 by the “Mother of the Nation”, H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood.

In Sharjah, the prudent directives of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the NAMA Women Advancement Establishment and wife of H.H. the Ruler of Sharjah, have been instrumental in advancing women’s status in the emirate.

Over the past few years, a series of initiatives were launched to support and empower women. The establishment of the Sharjah Business Women Council, SBWC, is one such initiative. Since its inception in 2002, SBWC has served as a springboard for businesswomen and young entrepreneurs, turning their skills and capabilities into profitable enterprises, and is dedicated to supporting and empowering women without discrimination.

In 2017, Sharjah Business Women Council will press ahead with its ambitious plans and strategy that aim to launch a series of initiatives, projects and programmes that are designed to provide more support and encouragement to women in all domains. These activities will build on 2016’s achievements, and mark a new phase in SBWC’s journey.

SBWC strives to enhance women’s roles and help them enter into non-traditional economic sectors, such as technology, health, energy, science and investment.

Commenting on SBWC’s role, Sheikha Hind bint Majid Al Qasimi, Acting Chairperson of SBWC, said, “The milestones attained by Emirati women would not have been possible without the wise vision of the UAE’s leaders, their ability to foresee the future, and anticipate challenges.”

“Their invaluable efforts stemming from their belief in the important role women play in society, has led to Emirati women occupying high-ranking government positions and advanced ranks in big corporations, which has provided an unprecedented boost to the national economy.

“The inspiring vision of the wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, has been the main driver of SBWC’s achievements. Thanks to her vision, directives and unfailing support, SBWC has been able to provide support to many aspiring entrepreneurs and businesswomen in the UAE,” Sheikha Hind added.

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Dubai hosts International Arabian Horse Championship and Fair

DUBAI, 16 March 2017, (WAM) – H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and the UAE Minister of Finance, today formally inaugurated the 14th Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship and the 13th Dubai International Horse Fair, both being held at the Dubai World Trade Centre till 18th March.

Global and regional equine industry players such as stable and horse owners, breeders, professionals and veterinarians, service and care providers, specialist product providers, leisure riders and horse enthusiasts will be present at the event.

Ziad Abdullah Galadari, Chairman, Higher Organising Committee of Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship, said, “We thank Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid for their ongoing patronage and support to the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship and Dubai International Horse Fair.”

“The Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship and Fair are highly anticipated fixtures on the equestrian calendar, where the most-prized thoroughbreds are introduced to a global and regional audience,” he said.

The Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship will see 289 horses competing for AED15 million (US$4 million) in prize money. The competition is exclusive to purebred Arabian horses to judge their beauty, agility and heritage. More than 20 countries registered with the World Arabian Horse Organisation (WAHO) will show off their most prized horses.

At the Arabian Horse Auction, purebreds from local studs will be available for viewing, bidding and buying. The auction will have 100 pureblood Arabian horse breeds on sale.

Al Tamimi Stables will host a “Fun Farm” where children will have the opportunity to touch, feed and learn about various domesticated animals such as Shetland ponies, goats, snakes, rabbits and birds.

Folklore dances and cultural activities will be held during the show.

Equestrian therapy for children with special needs and adults will also be demonstrated.

The audience will also get to see the Spanish Equestrian performances, which include 30 minutes of thrilling stunts and manoeuvres, as well as the Art Gallery section, specialising in equestrian pieces by renowned artists and sculptors. The Heritage Village will feature traditional Bedouin houses, falconry, local dishes, henna tattooing and more.

Leading companies and brands at the fair are Al Awani General Enterprises, Al Hawajer Stud, Al Khail Equestrian/Hba Equipments, Equine Products UK, First Choice Show Halters, Gummiwerk Kraiburg Elastik GmbH, Jone-shou Industrial, and Shadwell Estate.

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Gulf Air Receives Seven ISO Certifications

MANAMA, Bahrain, 13 March 2017, (NNN-BNA) – Gulf Air, Bahrain’s national carrier, was recently awarded Information Technology ISO certifications by Bureau Veritas, a global leader in Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC).

The ISO certification was awarded to Gulf Air in seven areas of Quality Management, Environmental Management, Service Management, Business Continuity Management, Information Security Management, Energy Management and Asset Management – making it the first airline in the world to achieve seven ISO certificates in Information Technology.

The seven ISO certifications acknowledge Gulf Air’s successful implementation of international standards and best practices, as it strives to continuously improve the quality of the airline’s Information Technology services, as well as, their impact on the environment.

Receiving the seven ISO certifications, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer, Maher Salman Al-Musallam said, “I’m pleased to see the airline’s IT team build upon their ISO certifications, year after year. At Gulf Air we strive to provide safe and reliable air transportation, with superior access to the region, delivered with contemporary Arabian hospitality. We do so by delivering superior quality, service and security across the organisation – including our IT offering.”

The airline’s IT department underwent comprehensive external audits, conducted by Bureau Veritas, a global leader in Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC), following which, Gulf Air was recognised by Bureau Veritas’s Chief Executive Officer, Zulfiqar Haider, who joined Gulf Air, to present the certificates to the airline’s Chief Executive Officer and IT team.

Gulf Air first initiated the compliance and certifications exercise in 2013, and has continuously added more management systems in its governance framework to date.

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U.A.E. pushes Research For Rain Enhancement Science

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 13 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, today visited the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, PSUAD, to outline the objectives and current activities of the Programme, and provide more information to students. Hosted by the Departments of Physics and Geography at PSUAD, the visit marks the latest stage in an outreach campaign, that has seen the programme engage with leading research institutions both locally and internationally.

Alya Al Mazroui, Manager of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, gave a presentation to an audience of students, that explained the current progress being made by the programme’s awardees and the programme secretariat’s role in ensuring that research projects are effectively implemented. Ms. Al Mazroui’s address was followed by a presentation by Dr. Sufian Farrah, Senior Meteorologist at the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology, NCMS, to highlight the UAE cloud-seeding infrastructure and the operations achieved since the 1990’s.

The presentation at PSUAD is the latest event in an outreach campaign, through which the programme delegation is urging scientists from leading institutions around the world to submit pre-proposals, before the imminent deadline of Mar 16.

The visit to Sorbonne builds on the programme’s poster session held at the Frontiers in Theoretical and Applied Physics Conference, which took place at the American University of Sharjah from Feb 22-25. The programme delegation attended the event in order to build on its existing network of expertise in rain enhancement science. Over the course of the poster session, the programme’s delegation held more than 25 meetings with leading scientists and institutions.

Alya Al Mazroui, said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to present our programme and provide further details for the attendees at such a prestigious scientific gathering. The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science is a global programme that has already seen a significant level of interest from research institutions from around the world. We are seeking to attract as many outstanding potential candidates as possible, from leading scientific institutions in our region and around the world.”

Offering a grant of US$5 million over a three-year period, to be shared by up to five winning research proposals, the programme is encouraging the submission of 1 to 3 pages pre-proposals before the deadline expires. The selected applications will be evaluated through a two-stage merit review process, before the final awardees are announced at an exclusive ceremony during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week in Jan, 2018.

Potential applicants to the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science can apply through the programme website, no later than Mar 16, at midnight GMT (Mar 17, 04.00 a.m., local time).

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Emirates, Etihad boarding as usual after U.S. travel ban blocked

Dubai, 18 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Passengers from six mainly Muslim countries who would have been barred from the United States under President Donald Trumps latest travel order will be allowed to board U.S.-bound flights on Emirates and Etihad Airways now that a federal judge has blocked it, the Middle East carriers said.

The executive order banning refugees and nationals of six Muslim-majority countries from travelling to the U.S. was temporarily halted on Wednesday, hours before it was to go into effect, by a federal judge in Hawaii.

Emirates will follow guidance by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, issued after the courts decision, that citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen would be accepted for travel to the U.S. if they possessed the necessary travel documents, an airline spokeswoman said by email.

Etihad Airways “will continue to accept guests of all nationalities for travel to the U.S. provided they have valid travel documents and, if necessary, visas,” an airline spokeswoman said.

The Abu Dhabi-based carrier said it would continue to assist passengers affected by the recent executive orders but was advising them to check with their nearest U.S. mission as “U.S. travel requirements are subject to change.”

The Wednesday court ruling is only temporary, until broader arguments in the case can be heard. Trump said it made the United States look weak, and promised to take the case “as far as it needs to go”, Reuters reported.

A notice on Qatar Airways website said passengers would still need to have valid travel documents after the executive order was “enjoined.”

The revised order, which was less restrictive and removed Iraq from Trumps original list, was organised in coordination with airlines, industry group IATA has said, unlike the initial ban which came into immediate effect without notice.

Trump signed the new ban on March 6 in a bid to overcome legal problems with the first order in January, which caused chaos at airports and sparked mass protests before a Washington judge stopped its enforcement in February.

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Trump plans USD200 bln investments with Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON, 15 March 2017, (KUNA) – US President Donald Trump supports plans for direct and indirect investments with Saudi Arabia in energy, industry, infrastructure and technology worth over USD 200 billion over the next four years, the White House said on Wednesday.

Trump and the visiting Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, in a Tuesday meeting, agreed that “expanded economic cooperation could create as many as one million direct American jobs within the next four years, millions of indirect American jobs, as well as jobs in Saudi Arabia.” On oil, the two countries agreed on “a way that enhances the growth of the global economy and limits supply disruption and market volatility,” and to deepen commercial ties and energy cooperation.

For his part, Prince Mohammad, who doubles as the Second Deputy Premier and Defence Minister, “reviewed Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ program for the President and agreed to put in place specific bilateral programs to help both countries benefit from new opportunities created by the Kingdom’s implementation of those new economic plans.” Politically, both officials reaffirmed support for a “strong, broad, and enduring strategic partnership based on a shared interest and commitment to the stability and prosperity of the Middle East region.”

Trump expressed a “strong desire to achieve a comprehensive, just, and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Meanwhile, both officials underscored the “importance of confronting Iran’s destabilizing regional activities” while continuing to “strictly enforce” the nuclear deal.

The two men also discussed the ongoing security and military cooperation regarding the fight against the so-called Islamic State group and “other transnational terrorist organizations that pose a threat to all nations.”

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Dubai Crown Prince launches Government Policies Guide

DUBAI, 17 March 2017, (WAM) – H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, today launched the ‘Government Policies Guide’, a comprehensive guide that outlines the policymaking process.

The Guide, which aims to support decision-making processes and achieve the objectives of Dubai Plan 2021, will help government entities in developing and implementing new policies and assessing their impact.

The Guide signals the start of a new approach in government policymaking based on enhancing the happiness and welfare of individuals and society.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan said that the concept of happiness has become a source of pride for Emirati society. The government, he noted, seeks to make the achievement of happiness a key driver of its operations to ensure it becomes a reality in society.

He also said that the government supports this by developing policies and tools to enhance, measure and assess the execution of policies that promote happiness.

“Enhancing happiness is the government’s main role, and we want Dubai Government to come up with plans to ensure happiness in society through innovative policies, services and programmes. By ensuring that the achievement of happiness is a key goal at all stages of the policymaking process, we want to make sustainable happiness a reality in society.

Happiness is the compass of Dubai Plan 2021, and we have been working over the last few years to measure it in different sections of society. It is the main indicator that will demonstrate the success of our plans,” Sheikh Hamdan said.

“We have issued directives to use the Government Policies Guide as the main reference for the government’s operations over the next phase. We also seek to make it a key tool for promoting and assessing happiness across the policymaking process. Using it, as part of an integrated government system that is aligned with the National Agenda and Dubai Plan 2021, will help us ensure greater happiness and welfare in society,” Sheikh Hamdan added.

“Government policymaking requires innovation and creativity, and should give utmost priority to the needs of individuals and society. I urge all government teams to work on integrating the concept of happiness into public policies. The true test of the effectiveness of policies is in the impact it has on people’s lives, currently or in the future.”

Based on the directives of Sheikh Hamdan, the Secretary-General of the Dubai Executive Council worked on developing the Guide.

The Guide was developed following consultations with government entities and the collection of feedback from stakeholders. Each chapter of the Guide includes tools for self-assessment, and a diagram highlighting the process to be followed in each stage of policymaking. The Guide is user-friendly, and assists specialists in implementing the policymaking process in an efficient way. The Guide features practical examples drawn from various entities of Dubai Government.

The Guide also details seven steps to be followed in developing government policies. The seven steps include: defining the need for the policy and developing a policy framework; developing and analysing the policy based on facts and figures; creating a theory of policy change; defining and assessing policy options; designing the policy and developing an execution plan; monitoring, evaluating and reviewing the policy; and ensuring the participation of relevant people.

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Now 200 electric vehicle charging stations across Dubai

DUBAI, 16 March 2017, (WAM) – Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) will double its electric vehicles charging stations to 200 across Dubai to complete the second phase of the Green Charger initiative.

This will build the infrastructure and charging stations for electric vehicles, which are an integral element in DEWA’s strategy to develop the advanced infrastructure that meets the vision of Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, to make Dubai the smartest and happiest city in the world.

“Through this initiative, DEWA aims to encourage people to use sustainable transportation of hybrid and electric vehicles, to help reduce carbon emissions in the transport sector, which is the second highest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in Dubai. This initiative will contribute effectively to the achievement of the UAE Vision 2021 and Dubai Plan 2021, to make Dubai a smart, integrated and connected city that is fully sustainable with its resources, and where environmental components are clean, healthy and sustainable,” Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of DEWA, said.

He added that the Green Charger initiative also contributes to the objectives of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, to transform Dubai into an international hub for clean energy and green economy and to enhance Dubai’s position as the city with the lowest carbon footprint worldwide. And it also supports the Dubai Carbon Abatement Strategy to reduce carbon emissions by 16% by 2021.

Al Tayer added, “The Supreme Council launched the Dubai Green Mobility initiative, to encourage the use of sustainable transport and electric vehicles among its member companies. The Supreme Council issued directive number 1 of 2016 for all government organisations that at least 2% of their vehicle purchases must be hybrid or electric vehicles from 2016 to 2020. This will then increase to 10% from 2021 to 2030.”

He said that the Dubai Government identified the rate per kilowatt hour (kW/h) for public charging of an electric vehicle as 29 fils per kW/h. “This figure constitutes significant savings for electric car owners, compared with those that use fuel. For example, a Renault electric car can be charged for a full hour for a cost of only AED 7, where you can drive it for 130 km and can reach the same speeds as conventional cars. The larger the size of the battery the more time is needed to charge the battery, lengthening the distance that can be driven by a car during one charging cycle,” Al Tayer added.

“These achievements have helped to strengthen the hybrid and electric vehicle market, encouraged electric vehicle manufacturers and suppliers, and stimulated the use of these environmentally-friendly vehicles for all Dubai residents. The electric vehicles are attracting a big number of people, due to their financial savings in addition to the use of zero-emission vehicles that keep the environment clean and sustainable,” he concluded.

DEWA is setting up different types of charging stations, including fast-charging stations installed at petrol stations that take 20-40 minutes. These stations have 3 different plugs, one with a capacity of 48 kilowatts (kW) for Alternating Current (AC), CHAdeMO plugs, and Combo plugs with a capacity of 50kW of Direct Current (DC). Medium-charging stations installed at shopping malls, parks, and Dubai Government customer service centres take 2-4 hours. The stations feature two plugs, each with a capacity of 22kW. Wall-charging stations with a capacity of 22kW for AC will take 2-4 hours to charge.

The move complements DEWA’s efforts to reduce air pollution and protect the environment from the impact of the transport sector in the Emirate.

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Jordan-Azerbaijan discuss ties

Baku, 17 March 2017, (Petra) – Senate President Faisal Fayez on Friday met with Azeri Parliament Speaker Oktay Asadov and discussed ways to bolster ties between the two countries in various domains.

During the meeting, Al Fayez praised the depth of ties between the two countries, and Jordan’s keenness to enhance ties and coordination with Azerbaijan on issues of mutual interests.

The meeting also touched on the latest regional developments, mainly the Syrian crisis and the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as efforts to fight terrorism. In this regard, the Senate president underscored the importance of enhancing international efforts to fight terrorism, adding that the war on tourism is a global war.

Al Fayez added that the Middle East is currently suffering political crises, conflicts and turmoil, the ramifications of which are posing a threat to global security and peace. The international community, however, is not exerting enough efforts to address these crises and conflicts, the Senate president said.

“Jordan has managed to maintain its security and stability, although it is located in a volatile region, thanks for the wisdom of His Majesty King Abdullah II and the awareness of Jordanian people, as well as the power of its military and security departments,” Al Fayez said.

He also spoke about the Syria refugees crisis, which mostly affected the Kingdom, adding that the Syrian refugees have added extra burdens to the Kingdom’s scarce resources and deepened its economic crisis.

The Azeri parliament speaker, on his part, said his country was keen to bolster ties with the Kingdom in various domains.

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American Community School Beirut inaugurates music hall

BEIRUT, 15 March 2017, (KUNA) – The American Community School Beirut, or ACS Beirut, has inaugurated the “Kuwait music hall” allocated to teach music and host artistic activities.

An inauguration ceremony was held on the occasion, in which Kuwait Ambassador to Lebanon Abdelaal Al-Qenaie, Tunisian and Qatari ambassadors, as well as representatives of GCC embassies and the school’s staff, attended.

The ceremony included a concert and songs performed by school students, who had been trained at the hall.

In a statement to KUNA, Ambassador Al-Qenaie expressed happiness over inaugurating the hall at such prestigious school.

He referred to the distinguished relations between the school and the Kuwait Embassy, noting that sons of Kuwaiti diplomats in Beirut have been learning at the school for many decades.

In another statement to KUNA, head of school Greg MacGilpin voiced appreciation to the State of Kuwait and for the financial support allocated to the hall.

He said that school’s administration named the hall after Kuwait in recognition of the country.

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“Al-Quds in Historical Photographs” exhibition in Eastern al-Quds

IRCICA organized an exhibition of historical photographs of al-Quds, which was held in Eastern al-Quds, in the newly opened headquarters of Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre.

The photographs were selected from the albums of Sultan Abdulhamid II (end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries) and other collections preserved in IRCICA’s archives.

Addressing the opening ceremony on 14 February, IRCICA Director General Dr. Halit Eren expressed his pleasure to be contributing to the event, which was organized under the patronage of the Turkish Consulate General and in cooperation with Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre, and presenting valuable photographs selected from IRCICA’s archives. He briefed the audience on IRCICA’s activity programs and projects on the Islamic history and cultural heritage of al-Quds.

In this regard he referred to the research projects and the international conferences concerning the preservation of cultural and architectural heritage in al-Quds and the publications including albums of historical photographs. In his address, Ambassador Gürcan Türkoğlu, Consul General of Turkey in al-Quds, expressed his appreciation of the special projects and activities carried out by IRCICA on the subject of the history and cultural heritage of al-Quds.

He thanked IRCICA for its contribution to the event. Ambassador Türkoğlu affirmed the continual support of Turkey to cultural activities relating to al-Quds and wished success to Yunus Emre Turkish Cultural Centre.

The opening was also addressed by Sheikh Ikrima Sabri, former Chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in al-Quds and Imam at al-Aqsa Mosque, who underlined the importance of the documentation activities concerning al-Quds especially as regards the period of Sultan Abdulhamid, who displayed a noble attitude on the subject of Palestine and whom the Palestinian population is proud of.

The ceremony was held in the presence of Mr. Adnan Al-Husseini, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs of the State of Palestine; Sheikh Abdul Azeem Husain Abdul Qader Salhab, Chairman of High Islamic Authority of Al Quds; Mr. Azzam al-Khatib, Director of Masjid al-Aqsa Waqf, and representatives of the Palestinian press.

Over three days the exhibition drew a large number of visitors.

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Egypt targets FDI worth $60bn over four years

10 March 2016, (African Manager) – Egypt wants to attract foreign direct investments worth $60 billion and to get an average growth rate of seven per cent over the next four years, the country’s planning minister said.

Ashraf Al-Arabi also said Egypt was targeting lowering unemployment — now at about 13 per cent — to below 10 per cent over the coming four years.

Egypt is gearing up for a much-heralded investment conference in Sharm el-Sheikh later this week. It hopes to attract billions of dollars in investments to lift the economy, which has been battered by four years of turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled then-president Hosni Mubarak.

“We’re targeting foreign direct investments worth $60 billion starting from 2015/16 to the end of 2018/19,” Al-Arabi told Reuters in an interview that took place on Saturday.

“Targeting an average 7 per cent growth rate over four years means reaching 10 per cent in 2018/19 and this is a big challenge but we are working on it.

We’re working on decreasing the budget deficit to below 10 per cent in the same period, as well as the unemployment rate to below 10 per cent,” he said.

Arabi said the government had finished work on a new electricity law that will open the door to private sector investment in the new and renewable energy sector. He expected the law to be issued – by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi – within this month.

Arabi also said the government had completed work on a new civil service law, that gives public sector employees the option to retire at 55 instead of 60 without losing any benefits. He said the law had not been changed since 1978.

Egypt suffers from a bloated state bureaucracy, with over 6 million employees. Al-Arabi said he expected the law to be issued by presidential decree within days.

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Egypt loaned $65m by Kuwait Fund for Arab Development

16 March 2017, (MENAFN – Daily News Egypt) – On Thursday, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr signed two agreements of cooperation worth USD65m with Abdulwahab Al Bader, director general of the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development, in the presence of Minister of Housing Mostafa Madbouly. These agreements include financing of KDW 18.5m (USD64.6m) and a grant worth KDW 100,000 (USD340,000).

Nasr pointed out that the initial agreement is worth KDW 18.5m is to complete the financing needed for the construction of a seawater desalination plant at a capacity of 150,000 cubic metres per day in east Port Said. This is to meet the demand of drinking water in east Port Said which will be established to serve urban, commercial, and industrial activities. Nasr added that the construction operations are planned to be completed by the end of 2019.

The second agreement is a grant worth KWD 100,000 for financing the applied project for organic farming technology and bio-oil crops in the North Sinai governorate. This comes under the Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts to expand the bio-production of vegetable oils technology in North Sinai governorate due to the availability of lands and water needed for agriculture and specialised labour, which will contribute to reducing the gap between the domestic consumption and production of vegetable oils. This will support the Egyptian government’s development plans in Sinai, according to Nasr.

This project is the second project financed by the Kuwaiti Fund for Development as a contribution in the development programme of Sinai after establishing five water desalination plants in South Sinai through which the Kuwaiti Fund provided financing worth 100m.

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Egypt’s improved reforms key factors to attract FDIs

DUBAI, 16 March 2017, (WAM) – According to a statement by the UAE Ministry of Economy’s Annual Investment Meeting, AIM, Egypt’s economy, industry and start-ups are currently experiencing impressive growth, where the country has become a world leader in innovation attracting international business to the country. Egypt will participate at AIM 2017, which is set to be held in Dubai from 2nd to 4th April at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

“We are very pleased to have Egypt participate with us at the Annual Investment Meeting. Egypt’s revived economic policies and the on-going liberalisations are the keys factors that strengthen our confidence in the country’s growing economy. In addition, positive influences on foreign and local investments coupled with increased global competitiveness are among the key long-term effects that are likely to attract international investments in the country,” said Dawood Al Shezawi, CEO of AIM’s Organising Committee.

Egypt is best known for its impressive pyramids and colourful history, but the heavily populated Middle Eastern country is also popular among investors.

The current economic reforms in Egypt, in particular the draft investment law and the floatation of the Pound, herald a new era for the country and present the time for business expansion and foreign investment.

The economic activity for Egypt’s non-oil private sector accelerated the most since 2014, a sign that growth may be recovering after authorities abandoned currency controls and secured a US$12 billion International Monetary Fund, IMF, loan deal. In November 2016, the IMF approved a US$12 billion loan for Egypt after the government committed to reforms including floating the Egyptian Pound.

“Egypt is a promising and attractive market for foreign direct investments, including modern and business-friendly environments, skilled and productive workforce, attractive real estate investments and enticing tourism. As one of the largest countries in the region, Egypt is taking the necessary steps to improve its economy, and slowly signs are emerging that this effort is paying off.

Internationally, Egypt boasts leading industrial sectors such as clean-tech, life sciences and ICT, and is repeatedly ranked among the most innovative countries globally. As such, Egypt is widely considered to be a major emerging market economy offering diversification for foreign direct investments,” Al Shezawi concluded.

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Algeria Economic Reforms Welcomed by Visiting IMF Mission

ALGIERS, 17 March 2017, (NNN-APS) – The head of a visiting International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission to Algeria, Jean François Dauphin, has Wednesday the economic reforms being carried out by the Algerian government, notably in terms of investment, competitiveness and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“I welcome the legislative work done by the sector of industry,” said Dauphin when he met Minister of Industry and Mining Abdesselam Bouchouareb here Wednesday, adding that “complementary reforms are necessary, because it is necessary to act at several levels simultaneously”.

The meeting between Bouchouareb and Dauphin comes within the framework of the work of the visiting IMF mission which is in the country to undertake its regular Article IV consultations, an assessment carried out by the IMF every year in member countries.

During an Article IV consultation, an IMF team of economists visits a country to assess economic and financial developments and discuss the country’s economic and financial policies with government and central bank officials. IMF staff missions also often meet with parliamentarians and representatives of business, labor unions, and civil society.

During the meeting with Bouchouareb, the two sides discussed ways of enabling Algeria to realise its potential for investment for development and private sector activities, especially in view of the drop in oil prices.

Dauphin called for the implementation of a “critical mass of reforms which allow moving forward in several fields simultaneously, whether concerning the improvement of business climate, administrative simplification, digital economy or the improvement of the access to funding”.

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Algeria Wins Top Land Development Award in France

ALGIERS, 13 March 2017, (NNN-APS) – Algeria has won the top award for Land Development at the International Conference for Africa held in Lyon, France, recently for its achievements in the building and housing sector, according to the Ministry of Housing, Urban Planning and the City.

The Ministry said in a statement that that award was given in recognition of Algeria’s efforts in “the construction of new modern cities and the eradication of shanty towns as well as the Algerian Government’s great efforts to improve citizens’ lifestyle”.

Held in February, the International Conference for Africa was a global event whose main goal was to extend energy transition and sustainable development at the local and global levels.

Organized by the Ecole de Commerce of Lyon and the Institute of Entrepreneurship in Africa, several bodies, companies and many stakeholders for the development of the African continent took part in this event. The winners of the various awards recognized at the conference were announced at the weekend.

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Kuwait, Egypt ink USD55 mln loan accord

CAIRO, 16 March 2017, (KUNA) – The Egyptian Government and Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) signed on Thursday the second loan accord, worth KD 18.5 million (USD 55 million).

The new agreement, designed to contribute to financing construction of a sea water desalination plant in East Port Said, was signed by Egyptian Minister of International Investment Dr. Sahar Nasr and KFAED General Director Abdulwahab Al-Badr.

The plant, with a projected 250,000 cubic meter per day capacity, will secure drinking water to East Port City, currently under construction. With its building, due to end by 2019, up to 150,000 cubic meter of water will be initially secured per day.

A 700-km-long network of pipes will be built, along with reservoirs, electrical and mechanical installations.

The two sides also inked a grant worth KD 100,000 to fund a project for organic and biodynamic agriculture in North Sinai.

The Kuwaiti fund has lent Egypt a total of KD 815 million (USD 2.7 million), in addition to 14 grants valued at KD 3.3 million. Moreover, the Kuwaiti Government has given grants to its Egyptian counterpart; valued at KD 4.8 million (USD 16.8 million) for building schools, damaged in the 1992 earthquake and repair villages damaged in the 1995 floods.

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Algeria, EU Formally Adopt “Partnership Priorities”

BRUSSELS, 14 March 2017, (NNN-APS) – Algeria and the European Union (EU) have formally adopted their “Partnership Priorities” which were agreed upon in December 2016 and established under the renewed European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

The partnership priorities establish a renewed political co0operation and a strengthened co-operation and were established under a joint agreement within the framework of the reviewed ENP and the EU’s global strategy and security priorities.

“This neighbourhood spirit should lead to the financial allocation of some programmes highly developed by Algeria in the framework of its reforms,” said Algerian Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Ramtane Lamamra at a joit media briefing here Monday along with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, and the European Commissioner for the ENP and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn.

This allocation should be substantial and to the level of what is granted to other partners of a size similar to that of Algeria, added Lamamra.

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Algeria, Niger sign nine agreements, MoU’s

NIAMEY (Niger), 17 March 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – Algeria and Niger signed Thursday, in Niamey (Niger), nine agreements and memorandums of understanding resulting from the first session of the Algeria-Niger High Joint Commission.

The signing ceremony of these agreements took place under the co-chairmanship of Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and his counterpart of Niger Brigi Rafini.

The memorandum of agreement relating to the creation of the Algeria-Niger Business Council was signed by the Director General of the Algerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mohamed Chami and by Moussa Sidi Mohamed, the president of Niger’s CCI.

The memorandum of agreement on cooperation in the field of post, information and communication technologies was signed by Minister Houda Imane Faraoun and by Niger’s minister of Telecommunications and Digital Economy Sani Maïgochi.

A twinning convention between the Soumaa Police Academy and the National Academy of Police and Continuing Training of Niamey was signed by the minister of Interior and Local Authorities Nouredine Bedoui and his counterpart of Niger Mohamed Bazoum.

The same officials also signed a memorandum of understanding between the Algerian Directorate General of National Police (DGSN) and the Directorate General of National Police of Niger for the strengthening of cooperation in terms of police.

In the field of employment and social security, a memorandum of understanding and cooperation was signed by the minister of Maghreb Affairs, the African Union and the Arab League Abdelkader Messahel and the minister of Foreign Affairs of Niger Ibrahim Yacoubou.

The same officials signed a memorandum of understanding in the field of the protection and promotion of women, gender and children and another MofU and cooperation in the field of communication.

A partnership agreement between the National Organization for Technical Supervision of Public Works (CTTP) and Niger’s Centre for the development of Public Works was signed by Abdelkader Messahel and the minister of Equipment Kadi Abdoulay.

The two ministers also signed the agreement between the Algerian Central Laboratory of Public Works and Niger’s National Laboratory of Public Works and Building.

For their part, Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and his counterpart of Niger Brigi Rafini signed the minutes of the first session of the Algeria-Niger High Joint Commission.

Speaking at the end of the works, Sellal said that the results reached by this session are “clear,” adding that the High Joint Commission is off to “a promising start” in the sense that “a lot of opportunities are now open with a vision of openness led by the two States.”

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Algiers-Lagos Highway To Be Ready by 2018

ALGIERS, 15 March 2017, (NNN-APS) – Algerian Minister of Maghreb, African Union and Arab League Affairs Abdelkader Messahel says the 4,600-kilometres Reans-Saharan Highway linking Algiers and Lagos, Nigeria, will be operational in 2018.

“The Trans-Saharan Highway is important and strategic because it promotes partnership between Africans,” Messahel said on a national television programme, noting that infrastructure is the foundation of any economic exchange.

For this reason, he said, “the Algerian approach gave priority to the Trans-Saharan Highway which will open next year on the Algiers-Lagos section via Niger”.

“With our weight and our potentialities as Algerians, we reached the border with Niger and even further, with the Algiers-Lagos road link, which is 4,600 km long,” added the minister, who added that there is only 220 kilometres left to be completed in Niger territory.

He also raised the possibility of launching of another road from Chad, which will be link up with the Tran-Saharan Highway in Niger and which is currently just 34 km from the border with Niger. This link will open up access to the centre of Africa, he said.

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Roadmap Drawn Up For Air Algerie’s Modernization

ALGIERS, 16 March 2017, (NNN-APS) – A roadmap setting goals for the modernization of national airline Air Algerie has been drawn up, says Transport and Public Works Minister Boudjemaa Talai.

“A roadmap with goals to upgrade Air Algerie has been drawn,” the minister told the media during a working and inspection visit to the province of Ain Defla, about 150 kilometres south west of here.

The modernization plan attaches a great deal of importance to the management and maintenance, the minister underlined.

Talai said Air Algerie is major airline company, considering its size, history and missions.

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Tunisia Mall II to open soon, generating 100 jobs

17 March 2017, (AfricanManager) – After the opening in December 2015 of one of the biggest shopping centers in the country and Africa, Tunisia Mall, another similar project will soon be born in Tunis.

The announcement was made by businessman and owner of Tunisia Mall Meher Chaâbane.

At a press conference organized by Amen Bank on Wednesday March 15, 2017 for the launch of its new visual identity, Meher Chaâbane announced the opening of a second Mall on the Tunis Lake II in the next few weeks, not away from the first Mall.

The total cost of this investment is estimated at 58 million dinars, added to that the costs of the shops which, according to him, are close to 20 MTD. Tunisia Mall II will offer nearly 500 jobs.

Asked about the number of people who visited Tunisia Mall, Meher Chaâbane announced that 5 million visits were recorded in 2016, i.e. nearly 15 thousand visits a day.

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Tunisia: tax reform will end by 2019

17 March 2017, (AfricanManager) – “The tax reform process in Tunisia will end in 2019,” said Sihem Nemssia Boughdiri, Director General of Studies and Tax Legislation at the Ministry of Finance

Speaking on the sidelines of a training course for journalists specialized in the economy, organized by the Ministry of Finance from March 13 to 15, 2017, the official said the department has opted for “a progressive approach to tax reforms, so that they would be better understood and not to increase the burden of businesses.”

Boughdiri also said the Ministry of Finance intends to publish a unified tax code this year.

This code, which will bring together all tax legislation, will facilitate the work of specialists and investors alike, said the official.

She added that the drafting of the code will soon be finalized and later submitted to the government and the parliament for adoption.

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World Bank US$100 mn to protect environment in Tunisia

TUNIS, 17 March 2017, (WAM) – The World Bank announced a US$100 million project to support better management of forests, rangelands and agricultural landscapes for more jobs and increased incomes in the North-West and Center-West regions of Tunisia, where almost half of the poorest segment of the population are concentrated, said the World Bank in a press release Wednesday.

While addressing the impacts of climate change and preserving the landscape’s natural resources, which are essential for protecting local livelihoods that are heavily dependent on agriculture, forests and rangelands, integrated management of the region’s forests and rangelands alone has the potential of raising the value of their output from the current US$16 million to US$75 million, and creating around 25,000 jobs.

The Integrated Landscapes Management in Lagging Regions Project will finance the key ingredients of improved management of natural resources; including more accurate data for well informed decisions, laws that promote better and integrated management, and strengthening the technical and managerial skills of the many stakeholders in agriculture at the national, regional and local levels. The project will also support the introduction of climate-smart agriculture, while fostering economic growth through productive alliances and value chain development at the community level, according to Tunis Afrique Presse (TAP) news agency.

“Sustainable and integrated management of landscapes has an important role to play in improving the lives of people in rural regions that have been left behind,” said Eileen Murray, World Bank Country Manager for Tunisia, “there is significant potential for growth if local communities are provided the support to reorient towards higher value added products and growing global markets. This would especially benefit women, who make up over half of the rural labor force and up to 80 percent in the North-West and Center-West.”

The Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources, and Fisheries will implement the project, guided by a cross ministerial steering committee and regional councils in each governorate, as well as local development councils that will lead the consultative process to identify the sub-projects that will be funded by the project. The local development councils will be broadly representative of the local population, offering women and young people in particular the chance to participate in local decision making.

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World Bank Grants Morocco US$159m To Support SMEs

RABAT, 12 March 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – The World Bank has approved 150 million U.S. dollars to improve the efficiency of social programs and promote innovative startups and job creation, local media reported.

A statement from the World Bank said 100 million dollars are aimed to develop systems to ensure that social programs are better targeted and reach the most vulnerable Moroccans.

The World Bank estimates that the money will help double the impact of poverty reduction programs and contribute to savings of over 30 million dollars per year as program resources will be allocated only to the most vulnerable households and individuals.

The other 50 million dollars will help address a market gap in the supply of equity financing for innovative small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), the source said.

The money will invest in innovative startups and SMEs through private funds to select promising investments, it added.

Meanwhile, Morocco’s king Mohammed VI called on civil society to double efforts to raise awareness among young people and inform them of the dangers of fanaticism and reclusion.

Civil society actors must counter the campaign staged by terrorists and by those using terrorist acts to point fingers at Islam and Muslims, the king said in a message on the occasion of the commemoration in the northern city of M’Diq, of the 5th anniversary of the death of Imad Ibn Ziaten in a terrorist act south-western France.

Terrorist Mohamed Marah killed in March 2012 a teacher and three children at a Jewish school and three French soldiers, including the French citizen of Moroccan descent Imad in the city of Toulouse.

The Moroccan king rejected the distortion of the Islamic faith, calling all people of conscience and lovers of peace, life and tolerance to rise up against the dissemination of fanaticism and obscurantism and counter advocates of terrorism, violence and excommunication.

The best way to counter the unjust and unacceptable confusion between Islam and terrorism affecting Muslims livings in Western countries, including Moroccans, is to remain committed to its lofty values, he added.

The king paid tribute to the policman’s mother Latifa Ben Ziaten, who has set up an NGO with the aim to promote the culture of peace, tolerance and living together.

“Instead of giving in to feelings of despair and surrendering to anger and hatred, she has proved that she is a living example of patience and tolerance,” he underscored.

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Ramses II statue arrives in Egyptian Museum in Tahrir

16 March 2017, (MENAFN – Daily News Egypt) – The statue belonging to the 19th dynasty king of Ramses II and other antiquities discovered in the district of Matariya earlier this week was transported to the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square, state-media reported on Thursday.

The statue reportedly weighs 8.5 tonnes, in addition to other parts and the head, which weighs 1.5 tonnes, the report stated, citing cited sources fromthe Ministry of Antiquities.

The armed forces participated in the transfer procedures. State-run media reported that a press conference by the tourism and antiquities ministries will be held at the museum on Thursday evening.

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Kazakhstan to be huge transit hub linking SE Asia with Europe

16 March 2017, (Khabar Agency) – Kazakhstan is going to become a huge transit hub connecting South-East Asia with Europe. Vietnamese Saigon Newport Corporation’s port may become the key in cargo transportation from Kazakhstan. The direct railway cargo transportation from Lianyungang port to Vietnam is also possible. Vietnam is the country with rapidly developing economy, and also a huge grain and food sales market for Kazakhstan. The trade turnover between the two countries made up $330 million, $147 million of which accounts for Kazakhstani export.


Kazakhstan exports steel, aluminum and lead to Vietnam. This is what Vietnam needs for its construction sector. Accordingly, Kazakhstan is negotiating with Vietnam on food exports. This will become the main direction of our trade-economic cooperation.


I think that the transportation of goods through Lianyungang port is very promising. Our terminal is modern and convenient for cargo transportation to Indonesia and Thailand and other South-East Asian countries.

At present, Vietnam uses Lianyungang port for transportation of goods to China, Russia and Europe mainly via railway. The first cargo train left for London in the beginning of this year. The transportation took 18 days. It became clear that delivering cargo by train is cheaper than by plane and faster than by sea. For instance, it took 14 days to ship cargo from Vietnam to Almaty, while by sea it would have taken 45 days minimum. The smooth logistics was enabled by the free trade zone agreement between Vietnam and the EAEU.


We will provide the opportunity for Kazakhstan and the EAEU countries to export their goods to new markets and import goods lacking in our region.

At present, Vietnam exports oil and gas, seafood, rice to the USA, Japan, and Australia. It has outpaced Brazil in production of coffee long time ago. Moreover, the world’s leading corporations are opening their branches in Vietnam. Therefore, transportation route to Vietnam and back opens huge opportunities for Kazakhstan as well.

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Kazakh students developing ‘green’ projects for Astana Expo

17 March 2017, (Khabar Agency) – Kazakhstani school students are developing and introducing ‘green’ projects ahead of Astana Expo 2017. A 4th grade school student from Kyzylorda invented an alternative energy source. 10-year-old Kausar Kabylbek has found a method of producing biogas and biofuel from organic and domestic waste after a year of experiments. The know-how will help to save energy in the future. The development was approved by the local scientists and leading power engineers.

At present, the young inventor and her supervisor are preparing for presentation of their project at the international exhibition Expo 2017.


Household waste and animal’s vital activity products are mixed with water and placed in a bioreactor. The fermentation process takes two days. The released gas passes through gas purification and, ultimately, we receive biofuel. This is gas, electricity and thermal energy. I really want my project to be useful for people. In the future, I want to become an inventor and come up with many more useful ideas.

School students in the eastern Kazakhstan are also developing new methods of utilizing renewable energy sources. Students of one of the region’s districts started developing heating bio-units. For instance, 8th grade school student Nikita Dzheparov made a miniature from plastic buckets and plumbing parts.

The simply looking design required lots of accurate mathematical calculations. The young inventor equipped a container with a metal rod and magnets to make the cistern to heat a 5,000 square meters area.

The installation resembles to a mixer. It grinds waste, actively allocating biogas for heating. One cubic meter replaces 1.5 kilograms of coal. Students of another rural school learnt how to get energy from the soil via heat pumps.


Previously there were power boilers in the school’s basement. Now we have pumping units and save up to 10,000 kilowatt of energy per year. This is a considerable amount for school.

According to specialists, such innovations develop creative thinking and let young engineers develop and demonstrate their abilities, keep pace with the times, help to improve the country’s economy.

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Korkyt ata’s legacy to be included in UNESCO cultural heritage

16 March 2017, (Khabar Agency) – The world’s cultural heritage will be replenished with the legacy of the great Korkyt ata. The works of the Turkic philosopher, poet, composer and kobyz player will be included in the list of the UNESCO Cultural Heritage.

Rich in spiritual values, the legacy of Korkyt ata is valuable in modern life too. The works of the Turkic world’s legend encompass the history of the entire era. Korkyt ata’s works take a special place in the Kazakh folklore.


There are 12 kuis of Korkyt ata. They are the popular ‘Akku’, ‘Ushardynuly’, ‘Bashpai’ and other. Obviously, Korkyt ata was the one who created kobyz.

There are many legends about the Turkic composer Korkyt ata. His works are studied by a large team of scientists at Kyzylorda research center. Their main goal is to preserve the original form of the narrator’s works for the future generations.


Although the works of Korkyt ata were inherited by all Turkic-speaking peoples, his kuyis can be found only in the Kazakh folklore. It proves that he is one of our great ancestors. Therefore, our main task is to demonstrate the world Kazakh people’s rich cultural heritage through his creations.

16,000 tourists visited Korkyt ata memorial complex located in the poet’s birthplace last year. It indicates that the entire world is interested in his legacy. The memorial was included in the EXPO 2017 tourist route.


Tourists from Russia and the CIS countries are planning to visit the mausoleum. The citizens of England, France, Germany and China also show genuine interest. Seven Kazakhstani tour operators have already prepared special tourist routes in the direction of “Baikonur” and Korkyt ata mausoleum.

Specialists believe that the legendary image of Korkyt ata will open new opportunities for the development of tourism in the region, and in Kazakhstan, in general.

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Kyrgyzstan stand wins top tourism honour at Moscow exhibition

Bishkek, 16 March 2017, (Kabar) – The stand of Kyrgyzstan, represented at the Moscow International Travel and Tourism Exhibition MITT-2017, won in the nomination “Best representation of the tourist destination 2017”, chief of the department of organizational and legal work of the Department of Tourism of Kyrgyzstan Kunduz Beisheyeva told.

The exhibition stand of Kyrgyzstan was organized by the Department of Tourism, the Association of Resorts of Kyrgyzstan with the support of the USAID Business Development Initiative.

At the international exhibition, Kyrgyzstan was represented by representatives of the tourist business, sanatoriums and boarding houses of the country, travel agencies.

For the first time a new tourist destination – the valley of Jyrgalan was presented at the exhibition.

A national yurt was installed near the stand, which aroused great interest among visitors along with the komuz (national music instrument) players who performed Kyrgyz national melodies.

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Azerbaijanis to have free annual medical check-ups

Baku, 13 February 2017, (AZERTAC) – Citizens of Azerbaijan will be able to have free medical check-ups from February 15 to May 15. An annual free-of-charge medical examination was endorsed by the Azerbaijani President in 2014. All citizens of the country aged above 18 will have the opportunity to undergo a full health check-up in all medical centers across the country.

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Air Arabia inaugurates Baku flight

17 March 2017, (MENAFN – Gulf Times) – Air Arabia launched its inaugural service to Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, yesterday. This new flight marks Air Arabia’s first entrance into Azerbaijan and its expanding travel market, the airline has said in a press statement.

An official delegation that included Sheikh Fahim al-Qasimi, executive chairman of the Department of Government Relations Sharjah, the Emirati ambassador to Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani ambassador to the UAE, were also on board the inaugural flight to Baku.

The new route supports Azerbaijan’s recently signed travel decree, which aims at boosting tourism in the country.

The inaugural flight departed Sharjah International Airport at 9am local time and the aircraft received a traditional water canon salute upon arrival at Baku, were the official inaugural visit will last for two days.

Air Arabia announced that the destination would be served four times a week, and operate under two flight timings. On Thursdays and Sundays, the flight departs Sharjah at 7.55am and arrives at Heydar Aliyev Internaional Airport in Baku at 10.50am. The return flight leaves Baku at 11.30am and reaches Sharjah at 2.10pm.

On Tuesdays and Saturdays, the flight leaves Sharjah at 2.55pm and lands in Baku at 5.50pm, and departs Baku at 6.50pm for its return journey, arriving at Sharjah International Airport at 9.30pm.

‘Azerbaijan is a culture-rich country with a fast-emerging appeal for tourism, said Adel al-Ali, Group CEO of Air Arabia. ‘We are excited to announce this service and hope that our passengers enjoy our award-winning offerings.

‘We are confident this step will establish Baku as a destination of choice for true cultural experiences, and positively contribute to the rapidly-growing tourism industry in Azerbaijan.

Baku, in its essence, resembles a harmonious blend of Europe and Asia,and acts as the financial hub of Azerbaijan.

The new flight adds to the growing list of ‘short holiday destinations served by Air Arabia, the statement adds.

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“Belt and Road” initiative boosts China-Kyrgyzstan cooperation

14 March 2017, (People’s Daily) – The “Belt and Road” initiative, since it was put forward by China in 2013, has been highly echoed by Central Asian nations, the origin of the Silk Road Economic Belt. Kyrgyzstan, an important cooperation partner of China, also benefits from its strong support to the proposal.

The “Belt and Road” initiative, which has been high on China’s agenda, is also a “key word” of the 2017 government work report delivered by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the opening meeting of the 5th session of the 12th National People’s Congress.

“Rapid progress was made in pursuing the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, and a number of major projects and industrial-capacity cooperation projects with other countries were launched,” the report said.

“As we pushed ahead with the ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, we worked to increase complementarity between the development strategies of, and practical cooperation between, China and other countries along the routes,” Li added.

An in-depth implementation of the “Belt and Road” initiative, according to Li, also contributed to faster emergence of new growth poles and growth belts.

Central Asian nations, also the first stop of the overseas section of the Silk Road Economic Belt, have been enthusiastic towards their economic and political cooperation with China, among which Kyrgyzstan can be seen as a forerunner.

The “Datka-Kemin” 500kV power transmission line, which was built by the Chinese company TBEA, has provided the Kyrgyz people with more convenient access to electricity and helped the country gain its highly sought-after energy independence.

At the closing ceremony of the project held in August 2015 in Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyz President AlmazbekAtambayevpraised the Chinese workers for their dedication.

Local Kyrgyz public were also happy about the completion of the project that represents a profound friendship between two peoples.

Kyrgyz experts, political heavyweights and business sectors also believed that China-Kyrgyzstan practical cooperation was bolstered since the “Belt and Road” initiative was put forward.

ZiyadinZhamaldinov, deputy of the JogorkuKenesh of Kyrgyzstan, told the People’s Daily that China has so far offered 1.8 billion yuan of aids and over 1.8 billion dollars of loans to his country since 1992.

Under the new circumstance, Kyrgyzstan will make every effort to inject new vitality into the construction of the Silk Road Economic Belt, he added.

Chinese Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Xiao Qinghua said that as China-Kyrgyzstan ties are now standing at a new historic starting point under the strategic guidance of both heads of state, the “Belt and Road” initiative will open a broad prospect for both countries to intensify mutually beneficial cooperation and pursue common development.

“China will continue to lend a helpful hand to Kyrgyzstan for its economic development and improvement of people’s livelihood, and believes that bilateral ties will certainly embrace a better future,” he pledged.

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Launching Forum of the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program

23 February 2017, (ITFC) – The Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program was launched in Rabat in the 22nd and 23rd of February by the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), member of the Islamic Development Bank Group, and the Minister-Delegate for Industry, Trade, Investment, and Digital Economy, in charge of Morocco’s Foreign Trade, has been concluded. The forum was organized on launching the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program, which aims at enhancing the trade relations, developing the business sector and promoting the economic cooperation between the two regions.

On the closing statement, the participants of the forum have assured that the forum’s great success, essential topics discussed and extensive high level of participation by governmental areas, trade support organizations and private sector, constitute promising elements and indicators to the success of the launch of the program and to the realization of its objectives.

The participants drew a number of recommendations targeting the enhancement and development of trade and economic cooperation between the Arab and African member countries of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and highlighted the necessity for developing and promoting trade, being an essential drive for sustainable economic development and a support to job opportunities in both regions.

For the success of the program, the participants called for supporting the efforts of the Arab and African member countries in order to set the programs and execute mechanisms of the trade and economic partnership both bilaterally and regionally, as well as supporting the capabilities and organizational needs required by these countries to cope with such fields.

Delivering the opening address of the forum, Dr. Bandar bin Mohamed Hamza Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group has said: “The bank managed to develop a program for exchanging knowledge and expertise, in order to facilitate the transfer of experiences between the member countries in the different sectors”. Dr. Bandar has highlighted that the program achieved outstanding successes in a short period of time since its launch.

The recommendations of the forum’s closing statement included strengthening the advantage of the available and untapped trade opportunities in the two regions, developing fruitful economic and trade partnerships, work to achieve structured and fundable projects by the program’s partner institutions, the importance of supporting trade logistics and infrastructure between the two regions and supporting trade and credit insurance products.

On his part Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) said in the opening address:” What we have witnessed during the recent years and felt from the desire of the African and Arab countries during the previous ministerial summits and conferences and the subsequent meetings of the standing committees of economic cooperation, emphasize the great importance of deepening such relations and speeding up the economic cooperation in order to take it further to desired levels.

Eng. Sonbol added that all Arab-African summits convened to date have called for and emphasized on the necessity of increasing trade and investment between the two regions. He said:” These summits have stressed that the focus of the Arab- African economic forum that accompany the Arab-African summits should be poured on strengthening the cooperation and building the capabilities as a foundation for encouraging trade and investment between the two regions”.

Eng. Sonbol has explained that trade volume between the Arab and African worlds does not rise to the level of the ambitions and aspirations of the two regions, stressing that according to the statistics of Islamic Center for Development of Trade, the share of the bilateral trade between the Arab and African countries equaled 2.1% in 2015.

In this respect, the support of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) Group to the African development programs and infrastructure projects equaled US$43.3 billion, according to president’s statement. The supports included funding of projects in various sectors, while the funding of trade given to the member countries in Arab and African regions amounted to US$14.7 billion since the establishment of the organization in 2008.

The participants called for diversification and development of economic and trade cooperation between the two regions, especially in the sectors with potential great and untapped opportunities such as the leading modern sectors; industrial and ecological systems related to cars and chemicals, electrical equipment and machinery sectors and agricultural materials such as fertilizers, food industries and textile.

The participants of the forum have also studied the obstacles that impede the process of promoting trade and economic relations between the two regions.

In the closing statement, the participants called for encouraging and favoring the partnership projects between public and private sectors for executing national and regional infrastructures and logistical programs to facilitate trade, and account for the privacy and needs of the two regions.

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China, Burundi Agree To Expand Bilateral Co-operation

BEIJING, 16 March 2017, (NNN-XINHUA) – China and Burundi have agreed to expand bilateral co-operation following talks between foreign ministers of the two countries here Wednesday.

China supports Burundi’s development path, and is ready to enhance co-operation with the country in agriculture, infrastructure, human resources development and other areas, said Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Wang also called for expanded cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries and for closer co-ordination on international and regional affairs.

Burundi’s Minister of External Relations and International Co-operation, Alain Aime Nyamitwe, said the Burundian government would work with the Chinese side to continue their mutual support for each other on issues involving their respective core interests and major concerns.

Nyamitwe invited Chinese companies to invest in Burundi.

The two sides also signed an agreement on a consultation mechanism between the two foreign ministries.

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Workshop on Trade in Services in OIC Countries

Within the framework of the implementation of the resolutions of the OIC Institutions, and with a view to achieving the OIC strategic objective aiming at raising the volume of intra-OIC trade up to 25% by 2025, the Islamic Centre for Development of Trade (ICDT), in partnership with the Islamic Development Bank Group (IDB) and the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC), will organize a Workshop on Trade in Services in the OIC Member States at the Hotel Kenzi Tower – Casablanca from 22nd to 24th March 2017.

The objective of the workshop is to build OIC Member States’ capacities in the field of Negotiations in Trade in Services and to increase their ability to promote trade in services at the OIC level, thus boosting intra-OIC trade and assisting OIC Member States to achieve the objectives of the OIC Ten-Year Plan of Action.

This Workshop will focus on the following topics:

(+) Trade in services and economic development: Global trends in Trade in Services;

(+) Liberalization of services at the international Level;

(+) Liberalization of services at the regional Level;

(+) Trade in services in the OIC context;

(+) Statistical database and classification of sectors related to Trade in services;

(+) Regulatory barriers to Trade in Services.

The workshop will be animated by experts in Trade in services, especially those of the ITC, WTO, UNCTAD, COMCEC Coordination Office, ICDT, SESRIC and the IDB Group.

On this occasion, a Round Table on the Way Forward to Promote Trade in services in the OIC Member States will also be organized.

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ISESCO chief on Strategic awareness in building Islamic unity

Rabat: 15/03/2017 – A new study by Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, the Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), on “Strategic awareness in building unity and strengthening relations between the Ummah’s components” was released in Arabic, together with French and English translations. In his preface to this study published by ISESCO, the author states that ‘Unity’ has for long decades been one of the key issues at the center of interest of intellectual and cultural elites and political and religious leaders in the Islamic world, particularly between the last third of the 19th century and the second half of the sixties of the 20th century.

This interest, he explained, gave rise to many divergences in opinion and in the positions taken, as well as to conflicting views on the orientation to follow if the efforts undertaken are to bring about this unity of ranks among Arabs and Muslims, enfolding them all in one and the same civilizational crucible.

“Conceptions of unity varied so widely as to generate a great deal of conflict and disputes that hindered progress from the narrow spheres of theory to the broad horizons of implementation. Such was the case that many of the political setbacks, military defeats, and missed opportunities of civilizational edification, economic development and social prosperity were the result of a unity built on precarious foundations in many Arab and Islamic countries. The issue of unity became synonymous with virulent controversy instead of being the vehicle of understanding, consensus and concord”, he added.

Dr Altwaijri addressed this issue in its multiple dimensions, diverse origins and various ramifications, pointing to the development that surrounded this critical issue as it sought to keep pace with the changes experienced by the Arab and Islamic world through the successive phases that led to the current stage. He also explained the connotations of unity and the subjective and objective factors that led to the disunion of Arab and Muslim peoples and the disintegration of the greater Islamic edifice, touching on the unification endeavors undertaken from different angles at the Arab and Islamic levels.

The author emphasized that building unity and fostering relations between the Ummah’s components, whether in the form of an Islamic league or that of a caliphate, found its way to actual implementation in the early seventies of the past century, taking form in a regional formation established on the basis of the United Nations Charter, namely the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

This organization, he explained, was created around the principle of an Islamic solidarity that brings all Muslim peoples together regardless of the diversity of their ethnicities, tongues, political regimes and sovereignty systems. “From this conclusion, and in light of the many failed attempts at unity, I pointed out how the true Islamic unity that withstands the vagaries of time and holds strong in the face of the tough challenges facing the Islamic Ummah, is embodied today by this 57-member strong Organization, as well as by the organizations that operate under its aegis, particularly the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) and the Islamic Development Bank”, he added.

In addition, Dr Altwaijri stressed that the general conclusion he came to in this study is that no Islamic state can in today’s world enfold all the peoples of the Islamic world, as was the case in the past. It is thus necessary, he went on, to work towards strengthening this Organization which federates the states of the Islamic world, providing it with the material and human resources necessary for its success and creating the necessary conditions for it to succeed in its civilizational mission.

Similarly, he emphasized that it is important to respect the decisions flowing from its various conferences and to implement them in a spirit of solidarity and symbiosis that gives precedence to the greater good and to key causes over marginal issues. Thus, he inferred, this strategic awareness becomes a strategic project that edifies unity, strengthens relationships between the components of the Ummah and frees it from the civilizational impasse that hampers its march and provokes the covetousness of some powers.

In conclusion, Dr Altwaijri hopes that this study will be a useful addition to the contemporary Islamic political thought that leans towards realism, favors methodical analysis, historical documentation and legal anchoring to reach the truths that must be withheld, relied on and referred to when tackling today’s issues and facing the challenges besieging the Islamic Ummah in its cohesion and solidarity, and the deterrent force that protects the rights of Muslim peoples, safeguards their supreme interests and contributes to edifying global peace.

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SESRIC to hold first GCC Statistical Forum in Riyadh

The First GCC Statistical Forum will be held on 20-22 March 2017 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Government General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) and the Statistical Centre of the GCC Countries (GCC-Stat) are co-organizing the Forum under the theme of “Enhancing Statistical Partnerships to Support Economic Policies and Sustainable Development in the GCC Region”.

The Session will be attended by representatives of national and international agencies. H.E. Amb. Musa KULAKLIKAYA, Director General of SESRIC, will chair the session titled “Strategic Drivers in National Statistical Systems” at the Forum.

The main objectives of the Forum are as follows:

Enhancing statistical partnerships to support economic policies and sustainable development in the GCC Region.

(+) Strengthen the partnerships between users and producers of statistical data and information, to support national and regional development, including new economic policies as well as the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in the GCC Countries.

(+) Provide a knowledge platform to share experiences and discuss some of the major issues related to supporting development policies and measuring sustainable development.

(+) Provide participants with a better understanding of the following key issues:

(+) The growing demand for statistical data and information, including that arising from the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda;

(+) The main challenges faced by data producers;

(+) The strategies and work programs put in place to provide necessary data to inform policy and decision-making and to measure progress towards achieving sustainable development goals and targets.

(+) Establish regular cooperation and consultation mechanisms between users and producers of statistical data and information at the national and the regional levels.

For more information, please visit http://gccsf.stats.gov.sa/en/

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Meeting to plan joint Islamic media coordination

Rabat: 16/03/2017 – The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) will take part in the Consultative Meeting of OIC Institutions on Joint Islamic Media Action Coordination to be held by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in Jeddah, on 20 March 2017.

The meeting aims to coordinate joint Islamic media action and promote cooperation and coordination between the OIC and its organs for the implementation of the OIC Media Strategy to Counter Islamophobia and the OIC 2025 Comprehensive Media Strategy which were adopted by the 11th session of the Islamic Conference of Information Ministers held in Jeddah, in December 2016.

ISESCO will be represented at this meeting by Mr Mohamed Cheikhi from the Centre of Information and Communication.

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Djibouti’s President Guelleh Visits Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, 17 March 2017, (NNN-ENA) – Djibouti and Ethiopia are deepening their comprehensive bilateral relations, says Djibouti’s President Ismail Omar Guelleh, who is in on a three-day visit to the country.

Addressing a joint session of the Ethiopian parliament shortly after his arrival here Thursday, President Guelleh highlighted the excellent bilateral relations and the bright future ahead for ties between the neighbouring countries.

He added that his presence here reflected in many ways the longstanding relations between the countries. He urged members of the Parliament to contribute their share to further boosting the bilateral the relationship.

Pointing to the re-opening of the Ethiopia-Djiouti railway line, which had been closed for a decade, he said it had again begun connecting the two peoples in testament to the longstanding bilateral ties and underlining the commitment of the countries to foster and deepen their unique bondage.

He further stated that the economic integration and desire of the citizens of both countries for economic stability had been the guiding principle for bilateral ties.

President Guelleh appreciated Ethiopia’s effort and leadership in creating regional economic integration between the two countries and setting an example for Africa at large. According to him, the best illustrations for the outstanding achievements are integration projects such as hydro-electric power and fibre optic inter-connection.

Moreover, the president stressed that the countries will continue to work together on peace and security issues. “I have a firm belief that we cannot ensure sustainable growth to tackle our regional and national challenges without peace and security,” he added.

“We unfortunately live in a troubled region,” he said, adding that Ethiopia and Djibouti would work together on issues peace and security.

Earlier, he was welcomed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn upon arrival at Bole international airport in Addis Ababa. During his visit, he is expected to meet President Mulatu Teshome and hold talks with Hailemariam and other senior government officials. He is also expected to hold discussions with officials of the African Union (AU) Commission here.

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Nigeria’s Forex Reserves Hit Highest Level Since Oct 2015

ABUJA, 13 March 2017, (NNN-NAN) – Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves have reached above 30 billion US dollars as at March 8 to its highest level since October 2015, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

CBN data released here Friday showed that Nigeria’s US dollar reserves have increased by 15.02 per cent since the start of this year, but were still far off their peak of 64 billion USD reached in August 2008.

The level of reserves was 26.09 billion USD at the beginning of January, meaning that the central bank had built it up with an additional 4.0 billion USD.

As at March 9, 2017, Nigeria had 30.038 billion USD in reserve, compared with 29.668 billion US D as at the beginning of the month.

At the beginning of February, CBN figures showed the level of reserves at 28,227,251,639 USD.

The CBN has not officially explained the new figures, but increases in the flow of oil income may have added to the nation’s reserves.

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Missouri Muslims invite Trump backers to mosque open house

Missouri State, 16 March 2017, (IINA) – The Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Missouri) and Dar-Al-Jalal Islamic Center will host on March 26 open house for Trump supporters and Republicans in general.

The open house, with the theme of “Make America Whole Again” is designed to build bridges of understanding as America becomes increasingly polarized, and Islam continues to be misunderstood and maligned.

The open house will feature guided tours of the Islamic center, including the prayer hall and the school. There will be presentations on “Islam 101,” along with small group discussions.

An international dinner will be served. Activity tables at which guests can get henna temporary art tattoos have their names written in Arabic gifts, Islamic information table, try on and get a photo wearing traditional clothing from around the world, and much more.

“It is time for us to take sincere steps to reach out to those who may have serious suspicions about Islam and American Muslims in order to make America whole again,” said Faizan Syed, executive director of CAIR-Missouri.

“We could easily hold a mosque open house and host hundreds of people who already support the Muslim community. That’s not what we want. We want to actively reach out to those who may never have met a Muslim and have a lot of misconceptions about our faith.” The St. Louis Muslim community has been active in building bridges with Trump supporters. Last year a group of Muslims attended a Trump rally and passed out doughnuts to all those in line.

“The best way to get to know someone is to invite them to your place of worship, break bread and have a frank conversation,” said Dr. Ferrahs Abdelbaset, communication director of the Dar-Al-Jalal Islamic Center. “We hope that many people who have questions on Islam will take advantage of this open house and visit our community.”

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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