Distinction in travel journalism
Is independent travel journalism important to you?
Click here to keep it independent

8 Mar, 2017

Tourism, Business To Benefit From Saudi King’s Asia Visit

Compiled by Imtiaz Muqbil

A compilation of progressive, positive, inspiring and motivating events and developments in the world of Islam for the week ending 06 March 2017 (07 Jumada 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.




LEAD STORY – Tourism, Business To Benefit From Saudi King’s Asia Visit

Below is a roundup of news items from Indonesia and Malaysia showing some of the key results of the Saudi King’s visits to those countries.

Back to top

Indonesia expects more tourists after Saudi King’s visit

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – Indonesia expects to see the influx of more visitors from the Middle East after the ongoing visit by Saudi Arabian King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The Saudi Arabian king who started state visit to Indonesia on March 1 and will conclude his tour to the country on March 9, brought with him 1,500 family members. The king and his family members are spending most of their visiting days in Bali.

The visit by the Saudi Arabian royal family is exceptional for Indonesia as it made investment commitments and it is also an event that promotes Indonesian tourism, particularly for potential visitors from the Middle East.

“King Salman is a great figure and is highly respected in the Middle East. He is the greatest endorser for (Indonesian) tourism in the region,” Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya said on Wednesday.

The minister expected that the Saudi Arabian king’s visit would spur the number of visitors from the Middle East up to 360,000 this year, or 50 percent from the 240,000 people recorded last year.

Echoing the minister, Chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Haryadi Sukamdani said that the ongoing Saudi Arabian royal visit would result in very positive impacts on the Indonesian tourism and hospitality industry in Bali.

“I can assure you that visitors from the Middle East would be increasing. King Salman is like a magnet that would always be followed by people in that region,” Haryadi said, adding that the positive impact from the visit would continue in years to come.

King Salman and his entourage had previously booked lavish five-star hotels in Jakarta and Bali’s upscale tour destination areas of Nusa Dua long before their coming to Indonesia for the visit.

They also booked luxury cars to transport the royal family members during their stay in Jakarta and Bali.

Citing the data compiled by the PHRI, Haryadi said a Saudi Arabian visitor used to spend 2,200 U.S. dollars during their vacation in Indonesia, with the length of stay spanning from 12 days to 13.5 days and 68 percent of them staying in five-star hotels.

Indonesia is trying its best efforts to bolster its tourism since the nation has reset the sector as its core business, leaving behind oil and gas, coal and palm oil.

Ten new tourism destinations are now being developed across the country to tap more foreign visits to the nation.

Indonesia has witnessed the increasing number of foreign visitors in the past years and expects to welcome more foreign visitors in the coming years.

Back to top

King Salman`s visit to Bali expected to boost Arab tourists

Jakarta, 4 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Sauds visit for holidaying in Bali is expected to help boosting the number of Arab tourists the most famous island of Indonesia.

Tourism Minister Arief Yahya assured that the visit of King Salman to Bali would be able to increase 50 percent of the number of Arab tourists to Bali from 240 thousand people in 2016 to 360 thousand tourists this year.

“King Salman is the best endorser to promote Indonesia’s tourism in Middle East market,” Yahya noted here, on Friday.

To support all the publication regarding the king visit in Bali both domestic or internationally, Ministry of Tourism even cut 50 percent of its budget of tourism promotion with the usual cooperation with Al Jazeera, a Doha-based state-funded broadcaster.

King Salman and his entourage of 1.5 thousand delegates will be staying in Bali on March 4 to March 9, after his short state visit to Brunei Darussalam.

Regarding the visit, Bali provincial government has made various preparations including welcoming ceremony, facilities and accommodation, as well as security personnel to ensure that the king and his delegates would be pleased and comfortable during their stay in Bali.

The local government is striving to highlight the Balinese art and culture as the identity of the province, which is popular worldwide as “The Land of Gods”, to the Saudi King.

During his five-day holiday in Bali, King Salman and his delegates will stay in five luxury hotels in Nusa Dua, a resort area in the southern part of Bali.

The king is also scheduled to visit some popular tourist attractions, such as the Besakih Temple, Tanah Lot, and Kuta Beach.

Back to top

Indonesia, Saudi chambers ink MoU to strengthen trade partnership

Jakarta, 2 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with its Saudi Arabian counterpart aimed at promoting cooperation between the two countries.

The MoU was inked during the concluding part of the “Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum” hosted by both chambers in Jakarta’s Grand Hyatt Hotel, Thursday, and will facilitate the preparations for the establishment of a “Bilateral Business Council.”

The MoU signing and the forum were organized on the sidelines of the visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia to Indonesia.

KADIN Chairman Rosan P. Roeslani stated that both Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are among the group of countries with fast and dynamic emerging economies.

“Both nations have young, productive populations and economies, and in our respective regions, we are playing increasingly greater geo-political and geo-economic roles,” he noted in his welcome address while opening the forum.

He further pointed out that Saudi Arabia is one of the most potential trade partners for Indonesia in the Middle East, with the total non-oil and gas trade value between both countries from 2011 to 2015 reaching US$1.83 billion.

“My message to all investors is to focus on the bigger picture and bet on the long-term trajectory of Indonesia. One thing I can say for certain is that despite the ups and downs in our economy, Indonesia has always rewarded investors favorably,” he remarked.

The Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum was attended by several distinguished diplomatic guests, including Indonesia’s Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita, Chairman of the National Investment Services Agency Thomas Trikasih Lembong, Saudi Arabia’s Governor General of Authority of SMEs Gassan Ahmed Al Suliman, and Vice Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers Showimy Aldoss Ari.

Back to top

King Salman`s visit to build new round of Indonesia-Saudi relationship

Jakarta, 2 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud to Indonesia has built a new round of relationship between the two countries, Chairman of Indonesia’s House of Representatives Setya Novanto said.

“King Salman’s visit to Indonesia is a historical one after the visit by King Faisal 47 years ago,” Novanto said, in his speech during a meeting with the king in Nusantara Building in the complex of House of Representatives in Jakarta, on Thursday.

The invited guests included the Indonesian former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former vice president Try Sutrisno, Chairman of the Indonesian Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) Zulkifli Hasan, and Chairman of Regional Representative Council (DPD) Muhammad Saleh.

Novanto stated that Indonesian people, especially Muslim population, are grateful to the king for his sincerity and generosity to visit Indonesia.

King Salman has received a request from the Indonesian government to provide Haj quota of 211 thousand pilgrims and an additional quota of 10 thousand.

“The additional quota is essential for Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world,” he noted.

He pointed out that in the current scheme, Indonesian people must wait quite a while to be on the pilgrimage list.

“King Salman has promised that he will add the Haj quota soon,” he remarked.

Back to top

Indonesian chamber signs four cooperation pacts with Saudi firms

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) signed four Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Saudi companies here on Thursday.

“The MoUs signed today involve almost US$2.4 billion. The MoUs cover four areas of cooperation. One of them involves our state construction firm Wijaya Karya,” Kadin Chairman Rosan Roeslani said during the Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum in Jakarta.

Through the business forum, Saudi Arabia which is the largest economy in the Middle East will hopefully increase their investment in Indonesia, he said.

The four areas of cooperation include housing construction, energy, health and tourism.

In the housing construction sector, state-owned construction firm PT Wijaya Karya (WIKA) will be involved in the construction of eight thousand units of houses in Saudi Arabia with a total value of US$2 billion.

In the energy sector, Saudi company will invest US$100 million in the construction of a biomass power plant in Indonesia. The cooperation will involve Anugerah Bumi Hijau Producer Cooperative and Alfanar Energy.

The cooperation in the health sector will involve Healthcare Bunda Medik of Indonesia and Aloula Medical Care of Saudi Arabia.

The tourism cooperation is particularly related to hajj pilgrimage and umroh.

“They tried to increase tourism cooperation through (the organization of) hajj pilgrimage and umroh with one of the three largest investment companies in Saudi Arabia. They will invest their fund through hajj pilgrimage and umroh,” he said.

Back to top

King Salman gets inputs from Indonesian Islamic figures

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, has received some inputs from Indonesian Islamic figures at the State Palace in Jakarta.

“King Salman from the beginning wanted to hear inputs from Muslim figures, and there has been no dialogue because the King needs a lot of rest. But the point is, the King is very happy to meet the Islamic figures and listen to the inputs,” Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said here, Thursday.

Before meeting the Islamic figures King Salman delivered a speech in the House of Representatives and visited the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta.

“The meeting with the Islamic figures was led by the President. Only three persons were allowed to give their responses to what the President and the King Salman have stated,” Lukman said.

They expressed some hope that the good relationship between the two countries can be strengthened and the quality of Hajj and Umrah services can be increased, he added. “And hopefully Indonesia still get additional quota for Hajj pilgrimage as Indonesians have great interest in the pilgrimage,” Lukman added.

King Salman arrived in Jakarta on March 1 and will be in the city until 3 March 2017. Next, along with 1,500 delegate members, including 14 ministers and 25 princes, the King will travel to Bali on March 4-9, 2017.

The last visit of the King of Saudi Arabia to Indonesia was in 1970.

Back to top

King Salman gives golden calligraphy to Istiqlal Mosque

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, has given an Al-Quran calligraphy embroidered with gold thread on a piece of thick black cloth to the Istiqlal Mosque.

“The King specifically presents the gift to the Istiqlal Mosque,” Minister of Religious Affairs Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said here, Thursday.

King Salman, along with President Joko Widodo, conducted prayer at the Istiqlal mosque, then signed a guest book, and handed over the 2×1 meters calligraphy gift.

“This prize is a symbol of great concern of Saudi Arabia government and people to Indonesia,” Lukman added.

King Salman has been impressed with the mosque which established in1978.

“King Salman said that he was grateful to visit the Istiqlal Mosque,” Lukman said.

When entering the mosque, King Salman was greeted by school students who were waving the national flags of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

“The King was so surprised to the extraordinary welcome of the Indonesians, the same as when he visited Bogor, West Java on the first day of his state visit. At that time, tens of thousands of people stood along the street and greeted the King despite heavy rain ,” the minister explained.

After praying at Istiqlal, Kinga Salman met a number of Islamic figures at the Presidential Palace and planted an ironwood sapling in Merdeka Palace yard in Jakarta.

Back to top

King Salman hopes Istiqlal to be symbol of peace

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The King of Saudi Arabia, Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud, hopes the Istiqlal mosque will become a symbol of religious peace, an Istiqlal management member, Bahrul Hayat, said here, Thursday.

“The King is very proud of the mosque, hoping that Istiqlal becomes a symbol of Islam civilization and at the same time peace and harmony,” Bahrul said.

He added the King wrote the statement and the hope in the guest book of Istiqlal Mosque.

According to Bahrul, the arrival of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques to Indonesia is a symbol of friendship between the country and Saudi Arabia.

The visit to the Istiqlal mosque was part of the Kings current state visit agenda to Indonesia.

President Joko Widodo visited Saudi Arabia on September 11, 2015.

Back to top

King Salman impressed by Indonesia’s diversity

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Visiting King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud was impressed by the harmony in diversity in Indonesia.

“King Salman has praised the religious life in Indonesia, with followers of different religions being able to co-exist peacefully, among other aspects, that may strengthen tolerance among communities in Indonesia,” Head of the Press, Media, and Information Bureau of the Presidential Secretariat Bey Machmudin stated here on Friday.

He noted that King Salman had lauded Indonesia’s diversity at a meeting with different religious leaders in the company of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at the Raffles Hotel where he is staying during his visit to the country.

According to the statement Machmudin made regarding the meeting at the hotel gate, 28 different religious figures had met the King comprising nine Islamic leaders, three leaders of Konghucu faith, and four each from the Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist, and Hindu religions.

Several ministers were also present at the 45-minute-long meeting, including Coordinating Minister for Human Resource Development and Culture Puan Maharani, who is also the granddaughter of late first president Soekarno, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, and Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.

At the meeting, King Salman was accompanied by three princes.

“The King praised the meeting, and said if necessary, inter-faith meetings, such as this, could be held more often,” Machmudin stated.

Before holding discussions, King Salman and President Jokowi, accompanied by Maharani and Marsudi, had a tea session that lasted for 15 minutes.

Islamic leaders attending the meeting along with King Salman were Din Syamsuddin, Prof. Dr. Azyumardi Azra, Prof. Dr. Kammarudin Amin, Rof. Dr. Alwi. Shihab, Zannuba Arriffah C. Rahman (Yenny Wahid), Abdul Mufti, Masyakuri Abdillah, Komaruddin Hidayat, and Yudie Latief.

Hanriette T. Hutabarat, Rev. Rony Mandang, Rev. Dr. Jacob Nahuway, and Gomar Gultom represented the Protestant Church while Mgr. Suharyo Harjoatmojo, Mgr. Antonius Subianto Osc., Mgr. Paskalis Bruno Syukur Ofm., and Franz Magnis Suseno were from the Catholic Church.

Buddhist leaders at the meeting were S. Hartati Tjakra Murdaya, Bhikku Sri Pannyavaro, Suhadi Sanjaya, and Arif Harsono, while the Hindu leaders were Retired Major General Wisnu Bawa Tenaya, Ir. Ketut Parwata, Retired Lieutenant General Putu Soekreta Soetanta, and Made Gede Erata.

Uung Sendana, Budi Santoso Tanuwibowo, and X.S. Djangrana were the Konghucu religious leaders present at the meeting.

Back to top

King Salman to meet Indonesian interfaith leaders

Jakarta, 2 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Visiting Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud will meet a number of interfaith leaders in Jakarta on Friday, Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin said.

“(The Saudi King) will meet interfaith leaders after Friday prayers. The meeting will be held the State Palace or at Raffles Hotel,” the minister said at the State Palace on Thursday evening.

Raffles Hotel is where King Salman stays in Jakarta. King Salman is on a state visit in Indonesia from March 1 to March 3. He will leave for a vacation to Bali on March 4 and stay in the Indonesian tourist resort island of Bali until March 9.

He is travelling to Indonesia with a delegation of 1,500 people, including 14 ministers and 25 princes. Apart from Raffles Hotel, the Saudi kings party members also stay at JW Mariot and Ritz Calton.

“The President will remain to be the host who invited him. The Saudi king wants to meet not only Islamic figures but also interfaith leaders,” Minister Lukman said.

On Thursday, King Salman met with a number of Islamic leaders but only three of them made statements, namely Chairman of the Indonesian Ulemas Council (MUI) Maruf Amin, Muhammadiyah Chairman Yunahar Ilyas and Muslim Cleric Habib Luthfi from Pekalongan.

“I think it (the meeting) is very important. We hope relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia in the future will become closer,” Maruf Amin said in the Presidential Palace compounds.

Maruf said the Saudi kings visit to Indonesia is monumental because he plays a role as a custodian of two Holy Mosques — Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in Medina.

He expressed the hope that Saudi Arabia will increase their investment in Indonesia as the worlds predominantly Muslim country.

“We only hope that he will pay greater attention to Indonesia and I think Saudi Arabia highly needs Indonesia which has neutral foreign policy,” he said.

He likened the close relations between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia to relations between two brothers. The two countries established relations long before Indonesia proclaimed its independence.

Several Indonesians once became the imam of Al-Masjid al-Haram and studied in Mecca, including Syaikh Muhammad Nawawi Al-Jawi Al-Bantani, Achmad Khotib Al-Syambasi, and Syaikh Ahmad Khatib Al-Minangkabawi.

As many as 36 Indonesian Islamic figures met King Salman at the Merdeka Palace, including chairman of Muhammadiyah Islamic organization KH Haedar Nasir, chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Islamic organization KH Said Aqil Siradj, chief of MUIs advisory council KH Din Syamsuddin, leader of Gontor Islamic boarding house Hasan Abdullah Sahal, leader of Walisongo Islamic boarding house KH Kholil Asad, and Islamic teachers Arifin Ilham and Yusuf Mansur.

Back to top

King Salman’s Bogor visit to include nine-point agenda

Bogor, W Java, 1 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Saudi King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud visit to Indonesia will involve nine agenda in Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java province.

After arriving in Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta city on Wednesday afternoon at 12.40 p.m. local time (Western Indonesian Standard Time), King Salman and his entourage headed to Bogor Presidential Palace.

In the first agenda, the king was welcomed with a state ceremony accompanied by cavalry, troops of the Indonesian archipelago, and the Presidential Security Guards at Bogor Palace.

A number of Indonesian students also held an art parade and a reception to welcome the king and his entourage.

In the second agenda, he will be greeted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in a ceremonial reception at the Bagungan Induk Building of Bogor Palace.

Later, Jokowi will invite the king to get around the palace using the golf cart.

The king and 16 princes will participate in a tree-planting event and have a photo session in the complex of the palace later.

Next, King Salman and Jokowi will have talks in the palace veranda.

In the sixth agenda, Jokowi and the king will have lunch, which would be followed by a bilateral meeting between the two countries.

Afterward, they will oversee the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) at Teratai room in the palace.

Jokowi will also bestow a service medal to the king in the ninth agenda.

Thereafter, he and his entourage will head to Raffles Hotel in South Jakarta for a private dinner.

King Salman is on a visit to Indonesia from Mar 1 to 9.

In the first four days, the king and his entourage are scheduled to visit Jakarta and Bogor, following which they will depart for Bali on March 4 for a five-day scheduled stay.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung had earlier stated that the kings visit will feature discussions centered on five cooperation agreements, including art and cultural promotions, exchange of issues covering pilgrimage safety, the promotion of modern Islam through “dakwah” and ulema exchange, increase in the number of flights from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, and the eradication of cross-border crimes.

Discussions on economic issues will also include the construction of an oil refinery in Cilacap as a result of the cooperation between Pertamina and a Saudi Arabian oil company, with an investment value of US$6 million.

Back to top

Indonesia, Saudi Arabia should focus on protecting migrant workers

Jakarta, 1 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia should benefit from King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s ongoing visit to the country to discuss a wide range of issues, including the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, a lawmaker said.

“I think the Saudi kings visit is a good momentum for Indonesia to forge cooperation between the two countries,” member of the House Commission IX Muhammad Iqbal said at the parliament building here on Wednesday.

Indonesia has many areas of cooperation with Saudi Arabia especially in the fields of trade, investment, Haj pilgrimage, umrah, and manpower.

The quota of Indonesian Haj pilgrims and the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia are among the issues that have been under the spotlight, he stated.

“I hope the Indonesian government will focus on discussing the issues intensively,” he added.

The politician from the United Development Party (PPP) said the government should benefit from the kings visit to agree on the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud arrived at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta on Wednesday at 12.45 p.m. local time

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) greeted the king upon arrival at the airport. After greeting the king, Jokowi got into his car and headed for the Bogor Presidential Palace in Bogor, West Java.

King Salman and the president boarded separate cars.

Several government officials were also present alongside Jokowi to greet the king, including Deputy Foreign Minister A.M. Fachir, Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya, Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Commander of the Jakarta Military Command Major General Jaswandi, and Jakarta Police Chief Inspector General M. Iriawan.

Jokowi is scheduled to offer King Salman a tour of the Bogor Palace following their arrival.

They will also hold a bilateral meeting and witness the signing of several memoranda of understanding.

Back to top

Indonesians on waiting list for 12 years to perform Hajj

Jakarta, 3rd March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its agreement on Wednesday to restore Indonesia’s Hajj quota from 168,800 to 211 thousand and provided an additional quota of 10 thousand for the 2017 pilgrimage season.

Hence, for this years season, Indonesia will have a total quota of 221 thousand. However, no further information is yet available on whether the quota of 221 thousand will also be extended to Indonesia for the coming years.

Saudi Arabia has reiterated its promise during the current state visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud to Indonesia.

The Saudi government had imposed a reduction of 20 percent in the Hajj quota of all countries in 2013 to facilitate the expansion project of the Masjidil Haram Mosque. After four years and the completion of the mosques expansion project, the Saudi government has restored the previous quotas of all countries.

The report on the restoration of Indonesia’s Hajj quota on Wednesday is merely a reaffirmation of the previous Saudi governments commitment to giving back the normal quota that was cut by 20 percent to 168,800 four years ago.

Last January, President Joko Widodo stated that the Saudi government had decided to restore Indonesia’s Hajj quota from 168,800 to 211 thousand in 2017. Besides this, the Saudi government has also agreed to the Indonesian request for an additional quota of 10 thousand. Thus, the Hajj quota for Indonesia in 2017 will reach 221 thousand.

Though the quota has been restored, the length of time a would-be Hajj pilgrim has to be on the waiting list before going to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj is not reduced significantly. With over 2,545,000 would-be Hajj pilgrims on the waiting list, they have to wait for an average of 12 years, or about 11.5 years, if the additional quota of 10 thousand is taken into account before they could depart to the Holy Land.

Hence, the government has urged to discuss the country’s Hajj quota during the Saudi Kings visit to Indonesia from March 1 to March 9, 2017.

“Indonesia needs to discuss with the Saudi King matters relating to Indonesia’s interests, such as additional quota and facilities for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims: the development of lodging facilities near ritual places and others,” Din Syamsuddin, chairman of the advisory board of the Indonesian Ulemas Council, stated on Wednesday.

The same view was also echoed by Ali Masugi, the treasurer of the PRATAMA Hajj and Umrah Association. He said PRATAMA thanked Saudi Arabia for the restoration of Indonesia’s Hajj quota.

“We hope that if possible, King Salman would increase or adjust Indonesia’s Hajj quota in 2017 and in the coming years. At least, Saudi Arabia has adjusted the quota for the Indonesian Muslim population. We hope the Saudi government would increase the quota to 250 thousand, so that the waiting list could be shortened,” Masugi noted.

In 2016, Indonesia was forecast to have a population of 255 million of which Muslims are estimated to account for 87.17 percent.

If the Muslim population is about 87.17 percent, the Indonesian basic Hajj quota is 222,284 based on the calculation of ((255,000,000 x 87.17 percent) x 1/1,000)).The figure 222.284 was then used as the basic quota for Indonesian Hajj pilgrims in 2016.

“Hence, there is an additional quota of 27,716 of the adjustment quota of 222,284, thus the total quota for Indonesia this year becomes 250 thousand,” Masugi explained.

He also expressed hope that the Saudi government would provide a visa-free facility for Umrah (minor Hajj) pilgrimage.

“In financial matters, not all Umrah pilgrims are included in the category of financially very capable,” Masugi pointed out.

PRATAMA is also optimistic that King Salman would facilitate all Hajj and Umrah associations, so that they would be able to cooperate with the relevant institutions in Saudi Arabia.

“Hajj and Umrah associations are partners and service providers, both in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. With the presence of a memorandum of understanding with the association, the opportunity to advance the umrah industry sector could become strong, including for the halal tourism industry,” Masugi remarked.

Most importantly, the government of Saudi Arabia will increase the quota for Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage for Muslims around the world, aiming to reach 30 million pilgrims by 2030.

“Todays quota caters to eight million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims per year, and the number is expected to go up to 30 million by 2030,” Deputy Governor of Investment Affairs from the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority Faisal Bassarat stated after the “Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum” event held in Jakarta’s Grand Hyatt hotel on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia is home to the Islamic holy cities of Mecca and Medina to which Muslim communities from all around the world congregate to conduct their religious pilgrimage. The Saudi government is in charge of organizing the entrance quota to accommodate members of Muslim communities from across the world that are keen to undertake their pilgrimage journey.

Furthermore, the Umrah and Hajj sector acts as one of the most important contributors to the country’s economy, and since the Saudi government is seeking to further explore its non-oil and gas sector to boost trade.

Back to top

Saudi Arabia to increase Hajj, Umra quota

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Government of Saudi Arabia will increase the quota for Hajj and Umra pilgrimage for Muslims around the world, aiming to reach 30 million pilgrims by 2030.

“Todays quota caters to 8 million Hajj and Umra pilgrims per year and the number is expected to go up to 30 million by 2030,” Deputy Governor of Investment Affairs from the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), Faisal Bassarat, said after the Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum event in Jakarta’s Grand Hyatt hotel on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia is home to the Islamic holy cities, Mecca and Madina, to which Muslim communities from all around the world carry out their religious pilgrimage to.

The Saudi government is in charge of organizing the entrance quota to accommodate to members of Muslim communities from all over the world who wish to make their pilgrimage journey.

Furthermore, the Umra and Hajj sector acts as one of the most important sectors for the country’s economy, and as the Saudi government is seeking to further explore its non-oil and gas sector to boost their trade.

Bassarat further said that Indonesia sends the most Hajj and Umra pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, which makes it ideal for Indonesian investors to explore the sector in Saudi.

He believed that the presence of Indonesian investors in Saudi will lead to even better services to Indonesian pilgrims.

Additionally, SAGIAs Deputy Governor for Investor Services Adnan Assargi said there are a lot of other opportunities that will come with the increase of pilgrimage quota.

“There are other opportunities that come with it as well such as hotels, logistics operations and other sub-sectors that come under this sector,” he remarked.

The Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum was held by the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) in cooperation with its Saudi Arabian counterpart, as the sidelines to the visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s visit to Indonesia.

The forum was attended by several distinguished diplomatic guests, including Indonesia’s Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita, Chairman of the National Investment Services Agency Thomas Trikasih Lembong, Saudi Arabia’s Governor General of Authority of SMEs Gassan Ahmed Al Suliman, and Vice Chairman of the Council of Saudi Chambers Showimy Aldossari.

Back to top

Saudi Arabia to explore non-oil investments in Indonesia

Jakarta, 2 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Saudi Arabia will be exploring investment opportunities in Indonesia’s non-oil and gas sectors, especially in the tourism, housing, healthcare, and logistics sectors.

Saudi Arabia is looking to expand its investment outside the oil and gas sector as there are other business areas that can boost their economy, Deputy Governor of Investment Affairs from the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA), Faisal Bassarat, said after the Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum event in Jakarta’s Grand Hyatt hotel on Thursday.

“We cannot rely on one commodity to drive the economy, because there are true potentials in the other sectors too,” he remarked.

In the forum, held in alignment with the visit of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud of Saudi Arabia to Indonesia, three private Indonesian companies signed a Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with three of their Saudi Arabian counterparts as a form of commitment to further explore the cooperation between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

Indonesia’s state-owned enterprise PT Wijaya Karya TBK and Saudis Abdul Munif Makki Group signed an agreement for infrastructure and low-cost housing cooperation, while Bunda Medik and Aloula Medical Care inked their MoU for cooperation in the healthcare sector.

Lastly, Koperasi Produsen Anugerah Bumi Hijau signed their agreement with Saudis Alfanar Energy for partnership in Biomass Energy.

Bassarat further stated that the cooperation in these varying sectors is in line with Saudi Arabia Governments Vision of 2030.

“The essence of the vision 2030 is to explore beyond the oil and gas sector,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Chairman of Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) Rosan Perkasa Roeslani remarked that the total trade between Indonesia and Saudi was recorded to be at US$5 billion, which is a significant decrease compared to the previous year, in which the total trade reached $8 billion.

“For that reason, we strive to find breakthroughs in the trade relations. All along, our transactions (with Saudi Arabia) often involve the oil and gas sector, and we are now trying to explore other areas to boost an even bigger growth,” he stated.

In his remarks, Roeslani underlined that Saudi Arabia is one of the most potential trade partner for Indonesia in the Middle East and that he believed that there are enormous opportunities for Saudi Arabia to engage in Indonesia’s development efforts by increasing its investment in Indonesia.

“The Indonesian government is now actively accelerating the implementation of its physical infrastructure programs like toll roads, railways, sea, airports, and bridges,” he pointed out.

Industrial zone developments and tourism were also highlighted by the KADIN Chairman as Indonesia’s priority sectors.

“Vast opportunities are also open in the power sector since the government of Indonesia launched its program to develop 35 thousand MW power over the next 10 years,” he revealed.

Back to top

RI, Saudi Trade cooperation needs to be expanded: NGO

Jakarta, 5 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Center of Reform on Economics (CORE), an independent research institute, has highlighted the importance of expanding trade cooperation between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia to encourage the exports of national products to Saudi Arabia’s market.

CORE Executive Director Mohammad Faisal remarked in a press release here on Saturday that Indonesia’s export share in Saudi Arabia is still minimal as compared to that of other Asian countries, such as China, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“Of the total imports of Saudi Arabia in 2015, the market share of Indonesian exports amounted to only 1.5 percent. Meanwhile, Thailand was at 2.3 percent and Vietnam, 1.8 percent,” he said.

Faisal pointed out that so far, Indonesia’s biggest exports to Saudi Arabia are motor vehicles, processed timber, palm oil, and fish products.

In addition to encouraging increased exports of these products, Indonesia also needs to promote the exports of other products, such as footwear, textiles, and apparel, as market penetration in Saudi Arabia is still low.

The market for these products in Saudi Arabia has the potential to increase in line with the Saudi governments plan to increase Umrah tourists, which currently stands at only 8 million to 30 million per year.

CORE also noted that Saudi Arabia’s investment in Indonesia during the 2013-2016 period was still relatively small, and more in the tertiary sector, especially the trade and repair sectors and the property sector, particularly hotels and restaurants.

The value of Saudi Arabia-based investment in Indonesia in 2016 amounted to only US$900 thousand, or only ranks 57th, while investment from Singapore, Japan, and China respectively reached $9 billion, $5.5 billion, and $2.75 billion.

Hence, the government needs to encourage increased state investment to sectors that have been prioritized, such as the development of crude oil processing and petrochemical industries.

Back to top

RI, Saudi Arabia should boost trade, investment

Jakarta, 5 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia and Saudi Arabia should boost their bilateral trade further, as their two-year trade has been declining in the past few years, while the Saudi investment in Indonesia has also dropped significantly last year.

The visit this week by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud and his 1.5 thousand delegates, including 10 ministers and 25 princes, is described as a golden opportunity for the two countries to further step up their economic cooperation in trade and investment.

Between 2014 and 2015, the trade volume between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia had declined by 36 percent,” President Joko Widodo was quoted as saying by Deputy Foreign Minister Abddurrahman M Fachir, while receiving the Saudi Shura Council in Mid-Feb.

Based on the latest data, the trade volume of the two countries was recorded at US$5.48 billion in 2015, down to $3.39 billion in the Jan-Oct 2016 period.

Investment by Saudi Arabia in Indonesia has also been declining. In 2016, direct foreign investment from Saudi Arabia amounted to only about $900 thousand, down from $30 million in 2015, according to data from the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

According to the Center of Reform on Economics (CORE), Saudi Arabia’s investment in Indonesia during the 2013-2016 period was still relatively less and more in the tertiary sector, especially the trade and repair sectors and the property sector, particularly hotels and restaurants.

The value of Saudi Arabia-based investment in Indonesia in 2016 amounted to only $900 thousand, or only 57th rank, while investment from Singapore, Japan, and China reached $9 billion, $5.5 billion, and $2.75 billion, respectively.

Therefore, the visit by the Saudi Arabia king should be used by Indonesia to discuss efforts to increase the trade and investment of both countries.

On Wednesday (March 1), Widodo and King Salman witnessed the signing of 11 cooperation agreements in the form of MoUs between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia at the State Palace in Bogor, West Java.

The MoUs covered cooperation in the fields of security, health, education, culture, investment, small medium enterprises, agriculture, fisheries, civil aviation operations, Islamic affairs, and the upgrading of the leaders of joint commission meetings.

The following day, the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN) signed a MoU with its Saudi Arabian counterpart aimed at promoting cooperation on trade between the two countries.

The MoU was inked during the concluding part of the “Indonesia-Saudi Arabia Business Forum,” hosted by both chambers in Jakarta’s Grand Hyatt Hotel on Thursday, and will facilitate the preparations for the establishment of a “Bilateral Business Council.” Kadin Chairman Rosan P. Roeslani stated that both Indonesia and Saudi Arabia are among the group of countries with fast and dynamic emerging economies.

“Both nations have young, productive populations and economies, and in our respective regions, we are playing active geo-political and geo-economic roles,” he noted in his welcome address while opening the forum.

He further pointed out that Saudi Arabia is one of the most potential trading partners for Indonesia in the Middle East, with the total non-oil and gas trade value between both countries reaching $1.83 billion from 2011 to 2015.

On the occasion, Kadin signed four MoUs with Saudi companies on investment. “The MoUs signed today involve almost $2.4 billion. The MoUs cover four areas of cooperation. One of them involves our state construction firm Wijaya Karya,” Rosan Roeslani said during the forum.

Through the business forum, Saudi Arabia, which is the largest economy in the Middle East, will hopefully increase its investment in Indonesia, he stated.

The four areas of cooperation include housing construction, energy, health, and tourism.

In the housing construction sector, state-owned construction firm PT Wijaya Karya (WIKA) will be involved in the construction of 8 thousand units of houses in Saudi Arabia with a total value of $2 billion.

Regarding the trade sector, CORE, an independent research institute, highlighted the importance of expanding trade cooperation between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia to encourage the exports of national products to Saudi Arabia’s market.

CORE Executive Director Mohammad Faisal remarked in a press release in Jakarta on Saturday that Indonesia’s export share in Saudi Arabia is still minimal compared to that of other Asian countries such as China, South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“Of the total imports of Saudi Arabia in 2015, the market share of Indonesian exports amounted to only 1.5 percent. Meanwhile, Thailand was at 2.3 percent and Vietnam at 1.8 percent,” he added.

Therefore, legislator Tamsil Linrung of Commission VII on energy and mineral resources of the House of Representatives (DPR) expressed hope that the trade between Indonesia and Saudi Arabia will increase sharply after the visit by the king.

“Although the trade between the two countries has been declining over the past few years, we hope it would increase in the years to come,” Tamsil Linrung said in Jakarta on Saturday.

Linrung, who is a politician of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said the trade volume of the two countries was recorded at $5.48 billion in 2015, down to $3.39 billion in the Jan-Oct 2016 period.

Saudi Arabia is a big market for various Indonesian halal products. Therefore, he hopes Indonesia’s halal product exports to Saudi Arabia would increase in the future.

“I welcome Saudi plan to invest in Indonesia as a follow up of the joint agreement reached in Jeddah in Sept 2015,” he stated.

Back to top

Ten areas to be cooperated with Saudi Arabia: minister

Bandung, W Java, 1 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan has said there were 10 areas to be cooperated with Saudi Arabia during the visit to Indonesia by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

“We will sign 10 cooperation agreements with the government of Saudi Arabia in areas including oil refineries, aviation, fuel oil, marine highway, tourism, and others,” Panjaitan remarked, after delivering a public lecture at the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), here on Wednesday.

The 10 cooperation agreements will be signed during a bilateral meeting between President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and King Salman at the Bogor Palace in Bogor, West Java, on Wednesday.

However, the coordination minister for maritime affairs did not specify the investment value in each area of cooperation.

In a press conference in Jakarta earlier on Tuesday, Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Indonesia Osama bin Mohammed Abdullah Al Shuaibi said the 10 cooperation agreements were related to security, health, culture, education, investment, small and medium businesses, agriculture, fisheries, civil aviation, and things related to Islam.

Osama said the visit is expected to strengthen the already good relations between the two countries and the cooperation in various fields.

In the meantime, Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives Fadli Zon noted in a press statement here on Tuesday that the visit is an important momentum for the government to optimize cooperation between both nations in various fields.

Zon stated that the first visit by a Saudi king since the past 47 years brings an economic diplomacy mission, which is quite positive for Indonesia.

“We know that since 2016, Saudi Arabia is eager to diversify its economy to reduce dependence on the oil and gas sector. One of the steps is to actively conduct cooperation in the field of investment,” he affirmed.

Zon remarked that the Asian region has become an attractive investment destination in line with the developments in Europe and the US.

In this context, Zon also viewed Indonesia as holding a special position in the eyes of Saudi Arabia. Apart from Asia, Indonesia is also a Muslim-majority country and a member of the G20 along with Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

This condition makes Indonesia an increasingly strategic target for investment from Saudi Arabia.

He expressed hope that the momentum offered by the kings visit should be truly optimized by the Indonesian government by providing details of the agenda on all forms of economic cooperation that would be established.

Back to top

Government to take advantage of King Salman`s visit: Minister

Jakarta, 1 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Minister of Finance Sri Mulyani said that the government will take full advantage of King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud’s visit to Indonesia, scheduled in the beginning of March.

“The president and his ministers have coordinated to make the most out of the kings visit,” she said, after a coordination meeting for the 2017 budget implementation in Jakarta, on Tuesday.

The minister is yet to make any further statements on the measures to be taken regarding the kings diplomatic visit to Indonesia.

Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Darmin Nasution lauded the kings plans to visit Indonesia.

Speaking at the offices of the Finance Ministry in Jakarta on Friday, he reminded that the visit was related to discussions around investment opportunities, specifically the raw oil processing industry facility and petrochemicals.

“They plan to build a refinery and a petrochemicals project, among other things. So, this is all about investment,” he stressed.

Previously, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung had said that President Joko Widodo will be receiving King Salman himself in the Bogor Palace.

Anung informed that the king’s visit will feature discussions centered around five cooperation agreements, including cultural and art promotions, exchange of issues covering pilgrimage safety, the promotion of modern Islam through dakwah and ulema exchange, increase in the number of flights from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia, and the eradication of cross-border crimes.

Discussions on economic issues will also include the construction of an oil refinery in Cilacap as a result of the cooperation between Pertamina and a Saudi Arabian Oil Company with an investment value of US$6 million.

King Salman will be visiting Indonesia from March 1 to 9, along with his entourage of 1,500 people, which include 10 ministers and 25 princes. After meeting Widodo in Jakarta, he will depart to Bali, where he will enjoy some time off.

“The king wishes to have some rest in Indonesia and we will welcome him,” Anung added.

Back to top

Malaysia projects tourist surge from Saudi Arabia

PADANG RENGAS, Perak State, Malaysia, 4 March 2017, (NNN-BERNAMA) – The number of tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia is expected to increase, following the maiden visit by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to the country last week.

Tourism and Culture Minister, Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said, it was normal that when a leader visited a foreign country, relations between the two countries would become closer and that both countries would gain, including in terms of tourism.

“The reason being that, it gives confidence that relations between the countries involved are good and close, making the people to feel comfortable to come,” he told reporters, after a meeting with members of the Padang Rengas Single Mothers Association here today.

Mohamed Nazri said, the number of tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia showed an increase of 24 percent last year, from 99,754 tourists in 2015, to 123,878 people last year.

On May 16 last year, the government of Malaysia and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on co-operation in the field of tourism.

Through the MoU, both parties agreed to take necessary steps to encourage promotion and co-operation in the tourism sector through collaboration in research and development, as well as, joint training pertaining to tourism-related programmes.

Last Monday, King Salman arrived in Kuala Lumpur for a four-day state visit to Malaysia. It was the King’s maiden visit to Malaysia, since ascending the throne on Jan 23, 2015, as the seventh King of Saudi Arabia.

Back to top

Four Main Benefits Of Saudi King’s Visit To Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The maiden visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will not only firm up Kuala Lumpur-Riyadh ties but will give numerous direct benefits to the people.

Summarising the four-day visit, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the preparedness of the Saudi Arabian Government to increase three-fold the scholarships for Malaysian students from next year was among four important issues as a result of the visit.

“The scholarship means more students will be able to further their studies at renowned universities there and this complements and boosts the RM4.3 billion government allocation for scholarships under the 2017 Budget,” he said yesterday in his latest entry on najibrazak.com. blog.

King Salman’s state visit to Malaysia was at the invitation of Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Malaysia’s King) Sultan Muhammad V, and was his first visit to an Islamic nation in South East Asia since he ascended the throne in 2015.

In addition, Najib regarded the visit as paving the way to Malaysia’s request for an increase in haj quota and two Malaysian haj pilgrim centres in Makkah and Madinah.

Prior to this, the prime minister was reported saying that the Saudi Arabian Government had given a positive feedback on Malaysia’s request for an increase in the haj quota to 30,000 this year.

“We have heard of those who had to wait up to 40 years to perform the haj, and I am committed to ensure such incidents (long wait) will be reduced.

“I hope and pray our request will be given due consideration to facilitate Malaysian Muslims in performing the haj in a more conducive environment,” he said.

In addition, Najib said the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also brought benefit in terms of employment and investment in the country, specifically with the injection of RM31.08 billion (US$7 billion) in investment by Saudi Arabian petroleum company, Saudi Aramco in the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (RAPID), in Pengerang, Johor.

“I believe it will create more opportunities for the people, from job opportunities to development in support industries such as retail, finance, construction, service and many more.

“Other industries like the halal economy, Islamic financial service and small and medium industries (SME) will also benefit,” he added.

Previously, Najib said, Malaysia’s ties with the Saudi Arabian Government mostly gravitated around issues related to the umrah (small haj) and haj while bilateral trade between both nations was modest, namely RM13.99 billion last year.

He said this could simultaneously repeal the negative stories being spread on Malaysia by certain quarters for personal political interests, apart from wild allegations that Malaysia would either become bankrupt or the nation would be sold to outsiders through foreign investments.

“This is far from the truth. Foreign investments create jobs for our people, at the same time we retain ownership and full sovereignty,” assured the prime minister.

“Furthermore, we are currently targeting to go up on our value chain, including high income jobs such as architect, engineer, accountant, chemist and many more. Such investments from abroad are a sign of high confidence in our economy,” he said.

In addition, Najib said the visit also brought numerous opportunities in Saudi Arabia for Malaysia’s commerce and entrepreneurs.

Among them, the Saudi Arabian target to boost life expectancy from 74 years to 80 years paved the way for the health industry, especially care service for the elderly.

Meanwhile, the target to hike the number of visitors performing the umrah from eight million to 30 million will result in an increase in demand for sectors such as telco and ICT, infrastructure, digital content, energy, tourism and hospitality, health, green technology, retail and also transportation.

“Unique opportunities will also be open for business in sectors such as e-commerce, renewable energy, entertainment and recreation, financial service and many more,” noted Najib.

He also hoped Malaysian entrepreneurs would be more innovative and take advantage of the opportunities available to expand and create ties with Saudi Arabia.

Back to top

Malaysia To Use King Salman’s Visit To Develop Halal Products

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia will enjoy maximum benefit from the recent four-day visit to Malaysia by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud to develop its halal products.

Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, said Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, which were Malaysia’s main trading partners in West Asia, were interested in cooperating to to develop the halal ecosystem.

“The official visit will be beneficial because the new development strategy has ceased to focus on oil sector alone.

Ahmad Zahid said this in a statement after chairing the first meeting of the Malaysia Halal Council (MHC) here today.

He said the meeting, among others, agreed that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) could act as a permanent secretariat of MHC to ensure the development, coordination and monitoring of halal policy could be implemented in a holistic manner.

Ahmad Zahid said Jakim’s Halal Hub Division, which issued halal certification letters for products that met the halal criteria, would be 
strengthened together with other agencies under the National Blue Ocean Strategy.

He said the success of Malaysia’s halal certification was encouraging that many countries like Japan, China, Saudi Arabia and Cambodia, had sought its services and expertise.

He said the internationalisation of the Malaysian Halal system was also evident when in November 2017, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak offered Malaysia’s expert services to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the preparation of kosher food needs of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo.

Back to top

Malaysia to boost Technical, Vocational Collaboration With Saudi Arabia

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia wants to utilise Saudi Arabia’s expertise in developing the technical and vocational fields to ensure that at least 35 per cent of skilled work force is secured by 2020.

Deputy Human Resources Minister Ismail Abd Muttalib said this would be possible since Saudi Arabia is better exposed to the aspects of 
technical and vocational development while possessing an array of skills institutions based on high technology.

“Since, they (Saudi Arabia) have more than 100 industrial training institutes, there can be an exchange of expertise, especially as the Saudi 
Arabia government has offered their expertise in such fields,” he said.

He was met by reporters after accompanying Saudi Arabian Labour and Social Development Minister Dr Ali Nassir Al Ghafies on a tour of the Advanced Technology Training Centre (ADTEC) here Thursday.

Ismail said, Malaysia’s current total skilled workforce stood only at 28 per cent, which was still low when compared with developed countries.

He said Malaysia needed to increase its involvement in fields of high technology as there were at least 50 fields ventured by developed countries.

Ali’s visit to ADTEC was aimed at establishing close cooperation between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia in empowering the development of technical vocational education training (TVET).

Back to top

Saudis Allured By Malaysian Hospitality

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 28 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Tourists from Saudi Arabia have been arriving in droves in Malaysia over the years, thanks to the Malaysian hospitality and the many attractions in the country.

The Ministry of Tourism and Culture had recorded an increase of Saudi tourist arrivals from 99,754 in 2015 to 123,878 in 2016, an increase of 24.2 percent within a year.

“The figure is expected to increase to 130,000 this year due to factors like additional direct flights from Saudi Arabia to Kuala Lumpur by Saudi Airlines, Malindo Air, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and AirAsia.

“Apart from more direct flights, Malaysia also has new attractions to offer for the Saudis – Movie Animation Park Studios (MAPS) in Perak, A Famosa Premium Outlet in Melaka, with more hotels and service apartments made available for the Saudis to put up,” said the ministry’s spokesperson to Bernama.

Islamic Nation, Halal Cusine

However, the increase in tourists numbers are also attributed to the efforts taken by both sides following the signing of a MoU on 16 May, 2016 to foster cooperation in the area of tourism between Malaysia and Arab Saudi.

Both sides have agreed to take the necessary steps to ramp up the promotion and cooperation in tourism through studies and training in programmes relating to tourism.

Elaborating further on the Saudis arriving in the country, the spokesperson said the availability of halal food and easy communication also helped draw them to Malaysia.

“Apart from that, Malaysia being an affordable holiday destination is another plus point. Among their choice destination in Malaysia are Langkawi, Sabah, Penang, Johor and Melaka,” said the source.

For a Saudi, Ghadeer Fatani, 21, the fact that Malaysia is an Islamic country was also among the reasons that prompted her to visit Malaysia in 2015.

She was in the nation’s capital city for a few days at the end of 2015 and the Malaysian hospitality won her heart.

“I would say Malaysians have kind and welcoming personalities… They left a good impression on me. I feel glad that despite of the multiple religions and races, they still have respect for religious tolerance.

“I did not experience any difficulties during my visit to Malaysia because the culture there is very much Islamic, like in my country. Beside that, I found Malaysians to be very caring towards visitors and this made foreigners like me feel comfortable,” she said sharing her experience while in Malaysia.


Meanwhile, another Saudi, Dr Bandar Khalid Althubyani who has been in Malaysia since July 2010 noted that the Malaysian hospitality is what made him welcomed in the country.

The lecturer with Madinah Islamic Universiti who just completed his PhD with the International Islamic University Malaysia adopted well into the society here with the help of the locals.

“Malaysian people are very friendly. The society helped us to involve in their programmes and activities… nowadays, we have a lot of Malaysian friends.

“Not only we accepted Malaysian culture but also learnt few words in Bahasa such as ‘berapa harga, apa khabar and khabar baik’. In fact, we also like Malaysian traditional food especially satay ayam, roti canai and teh tarik which is so yummy,” said Bandar who will be returning home soon.

Bandar, 34, who arrived here with his wife and children also found that the country’s universities provide the best education in Asia.

“Besides, it also affordable in terms of cost of living and tuition fees. In general, education in Malaysia is perfect based on educational environment, professional lecturers, good facilities, simple educational process, which are the basis for making Malaysian universities have unique education.

“These are the reasons why some Malaysian universities have good QS rankings. The graduates are in demand in the labour market and a lot of Saudi students who studied in Malaysian universities are decision makers in their job, I know some of them are deans and deputy deans in their universities,” he said.


On the Malaysia-Saudi ties, Bandar opined that the bilateral ties have been enhanced over the years with both countries sharing the common goals of helping the ummah face the challenges and contribute to global peace.

On Sunday, Saudi’s King Salman Abdulaziz Al Saud arrived for a four-day visit to Malaysia.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said that King Salman’s visit to Malaysia would further consolidate the bilateral ties based on the mutual trust and respect that have existed all this while.

The prime minister noted that Kuala Lumpur is grateful for the fact King Salman himself chose Malaysia as his first destination in Southeast Asia since ascending to the throne in January 2015.

Back to top

Malaysia-Saudi Arabia Cooperation On Trade And Investment

PUTRAJAYA, 28 February 2017, (Bernama) – On 27 February 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, the Minister of International Trade and Industry and Dr. Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, State Minister of Saudi Arabia, on behalf of the country’s Ministry of Commerce and Investment.

The MoU aims to promote cooperation in trade and investment, particularly in five key areas namely healthcare, construction, education, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and Halal industry.

The cooperation between the two governments as outlined under the MoU will cover exchange of information and experience, visits involving experts and professional as well as to host seminar and meeting sessions to further promote opportunities available in respective countries.

The two countries have also agreed to form a Working Committee under the Malaysia-Saudi Arabia Joint Commission Meeting tasked to identify and improve understanding on trade and investment issues related to both countries as well as develop cooperation programmes to further enhance our economic ties.

On the formation of the working group, Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed said, “This is step forward that we hope will result in more trade between our two countries and further diversification in imports and exports. Among key areas which we hope to benefit from a more diversified trade include services, digital economy and tourism sector. Our officials will be tasked to go into details on what products and services could be further promoted.”

Malaysia and Saudi Arabia continue to enjoy a strong bilateral relation. In 2016, total trade between our countries was RM14 billion, an increase of 27.8% from the year before. Our exports amounted to RM3.4 billion while our imports stood at RM10.6 billion.

Meanwhile on investment front, Malaysia has a strong presence in Saudi Arabia’s construction sector with 19 contracts worth RM18.5 billion awarded to Malaysian companies.

“We would like to thank the Saudi government for the facilitation given to Malaysian companies and hope that it will continue as our companies continue to participate in the Saudi’s National Transformation Program 2020 and the Vision 2030”, Dato’ Sri Mustapa added.

About MITI: MITI is the key driver in making Malaysia the preferred destination for quality investments and enhancing the nation’s rising status as a globally competitive trading nation. Its objectives and roles are oriented towards ensuring Malaysia’s rapid economic development and help achieve the country’s stated goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020.

Back to top

Joint Saudi-Malaysian Statement on Saudi King’s visit

PUTRAJAYA, 1 March 2017, (Bernama) – Upon the kind invitation from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia Sultan Mohamed V, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud paid a state visit to Malaysia from Sunday 29 Jumada Alawal to Wednesday 2 Jumada Alakhir 1438H corresponding with 26 February to 1 March 2017.

  1. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia Sultan Mohamed V welcomed the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud- may Allah protect him- at the National Palace, where he recipient the Darjah Utama Seri Mahkota Negara (D.M.N.).
  2. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud -may Allah protect him- and the Honorable Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak held constructive and fruitful discussions. They exchanged views on the prospects and ways to develop bilateral relations and to intensify cooperation in political, economic, cultural, military and security areas; the talks discussed the regional and international issues of the common interest.
  3. The two sides agreed that exchange of visits between the two countries at all levels will contribute to the development of bilateral relations, and agreed to intensify communication and cooperation between Government officials and the private sector in both countries to deepen and expand bilateral relations.
  4. The two sides stressed on the importance and the need to strengthen and enhance trade relations and the cooperation in investment between the two countries, and to explore opportunities in light of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Vision 2030.
  5. The two sides agreed to strengthen the military cooperation between the two countries by developing areas of joint training and exercise, and exchange of military experiences.
  6. The two Countries welcomed the participation of Saudi Aramco in the Petronas Malaysia project to develop and own a giant refining and petrochemical integrated complex in Johor, which will contribute significantly in supporting the economic partnership between the two countries for long term, and to promote the cooperation between the two countries in field of energy.
  7. The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Scientific and Educational Cooperation, which would pave the way for further cooperation in the areas of knowledge, experience exchange and the transfer of technology.
  8. The two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Labour and Human Resources, which will intensify training programs and exchange of experiences in the field of occupational safety and health, information and statistics related to labour market in both countries.
  9. The two countries also signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of Trade and Investment Cooperation, and in the field of cooperation between the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) and the Malaysia news agency (Bernama).
  10. The Islamic nation issues were in the forefront of discussions. The two sides completely agreed on the need to intensify and concert the Islamic world’s efforts to confront the extremism, reject sectarianism and to move the Islamic world towards a better future in line of objectives and purposes of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to achieve the international peace and security. The two sides agreed that the terrorism phenomenon should not be linked to any race, colour or religion. This was most the important issue that was discussed and the two sides agreed on the need to intensify the joint efforts to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever its origin .
  11. The two countries announced the establishment of the Global Centre for Peace. The centre will be established in Malaysia under the name of King Salman Centre for International Peace. The centre will be established in collaboration with the Intellectual Warfare Centre, Ministry of Defence, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Security and Defence Centre, Ministry of Defence of Malaysia, the Islamic Science University of Malaysia, and Muslim World League. Those bodies will coordinate to complete the necessary arrangements to launch the centre within ninety (90) days from the date of announcing of the centre.
  12. As part of the constructive spirit of the meetings that took place between the two sides, the political issues in the Middle East were reviewed, particularly the Palestinian issue. The two sides stressed the importance and necessity to reach lasting, comprehensive and just solution to resolve this issue according to the contents of the Arab Peace Initiative and the related legitimate resolutions.
  13. The two sides also stressed the necessity on finding a solution to the Syrian crisis based on the Geneva 1 statement and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. The two sides stressed the importance of providing humanitarian aid and relief works for Syrian refugees inside and outside Syria.
  14. The two sides also stressed the importance of maintaining Yemen’s unity, independence and sovereignty, and the importance of the political solution to the crisis of Yemen based on the Gulf Initiative and the outputs of the national dialogue, and UN Security Council Resolution 2216. The two sides affirmed their support for the legitimate authority in Yemen and the efforts taken in this regard, and to facilitate humanitarian access to all areas of Yemen.
  15. The two sides expressed serious concerns over the Iranian interference in the internal affairs of countries in the region, stressed the need for Iran’s commitment to the principle of good neighbourliness and the need to respect the sovereignty of States.
  16. The Malaysian side expressed thanks and appreciation to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, for Saudi Arabia’s efforts to serve the Two Holy Mosques, the pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors.
  17. The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud expressed deep thanks and appreciation to Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia Sultan Mohamed V and the Honorable Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak and the brotherly people of Malaysia for the warm reception and generous hospitality extended to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the delegation.

The Joint Statement was released in Kuala Lumpur

on Wednesday 2 Jumada Alakhir 1438H corresponding with 1 March 2017

Back to top

King Salman Urges Islamic Universities To Help Ummah Regain Prowess

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 1 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has urged universities in the Islamic world to ensure the readiness and qualification of the young generation to help the Muslim ummah regain its prowess.

The Saudi Arabian Monarch said the knowledge gleaned could be shared for the benefit of the wider world community.

Youths, he noted, were the beacon of hope and the future of the Muslim community.

“Universities in the Islamic world have a great responsibility to take care of, and prepare them for the challenging tasks ahead,” he said.

King Salman said this in his acceptance speech after being conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science (Islam and Wasatiyyah) and Lifetime Outstanding Achievement Award by the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) at a special convocation here last night.

They were presented to him by the Sultan of Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah, who is the Constitutional Head of the university.

King Salman said that Islam had the right tools to enable the ummah to rise again as a civilisation.

“Education is a means to achieve our visions of progress and civilisational development in the fields of knowledge and sciences,” he added.

The conferment was the monarch’s final official engagement of his four-day state visit to Malaysia at the invitation of Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Malaysia’s King) Sultan Muhammad V.

The visit ends today (Wednesday).

Back to top

King Salman Advises Muftis To Remain United, Uphold Islam

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 28 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia today advised muftis in Malaysia to remain united and uphold Islam.

This was contained in the message delivered by His Majesty to the 14 state muftis at an audience with the monarch at a hotel here, according to Federal Territories Mufti Dr Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri.

He said the King, in his interaction in Arabic, also emphasised the importance of the muftis playing a role to help Muslims in the country.

“The audience had a great impact on the muftis and was historic in terms of Malaysia-Saudi Arabia relations.

“The King wanted us to remain united, maintain contact with one another and 
play our role to uphold Islam,” he said to reporters after the audience.

King Salman is on a four-day state visit to Malaysia from Sunday at the invitation of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (Malaysia’s King), Sultan Muhammad V.

It is the King’s maiden visit to the country since ascending the throne in 2015.

Defence Minister and Minister-in-Attendance Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom also attended the audience.

Zulkifli, speaking for all the muftis, said he spoke in Arabic and conveyed gratitude to King Salman and the Saudi Arabian government, particularly in the management of Malaysian pilgrims during the Haj and umrah.

“We hope that the Saudi Arabian government will increase the annual quota of Malaysian pilgrims going to the Holy Land,” he said.

Back to top


Back to top

Malaysia plans more Halal Healthcare Initiatives

KUALA LUMPUR, 28 February 2017, (Bernama) – Malaysia’s leadership role in developing the Halal industry marked a major milestone today with the signing of a strategic collaboration agreement between the Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) and AJ Pharma Holdings to promote cooperation in Halal healthcare initiatives.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) represented by Dato’ Seri Jamil Bidin, Chief Executive Officer and AJ Pharma Holdings represented by Dr. Tabassum Khan, Managing Director. The MoU exchange was witnessed by YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, the Minister of International Trade and Industry and HE Dr. Ghassan Ahmed Al-Sulaiman, Governor of Small and Medium Enterprise Authority of Saudi Arabia.

The MoU aims to promote cooperation in Halal healthcare initiatives, especially in accelerating technology transfer as well as knowledge and expertise in vaccine that are potentially halal compliant.

The joint effort is expected to address the healthcare needs of Muslim Ummah globally significantly for future development of Halal vaccines.

“The cooperation will cover exchange of expertise, research and development in the effort to spur developments of Halal promoted areas within the global healthcare market,” said YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa. Malaysia via AJ Pharma Holdings is able to establish presence as a global player in the halal healthcare initiatives.

In terms of economic development, Malaysia registered RM 529.89 Million in Halal export to Saudi Arabia in 2015. This is an increase of 9.6% from the year before. Malaysia Halal export includes food and beverage (RM 364.39 Million); ingredients (RM 64.42 Million); industrial chemical (RM 39.76 Million) and others (RM 61.31 Million).


Halal Means Business

The Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC) was established on 18 September 2006 to coordinate the overall development of the Halal industry in Malaysia. HDC is an agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

HDC is Malaysia’s holistic response to the worldwide demand for better quality products and services as consumers gain confidence in the Halal process. Its key thrusts are to promote Halal standards; facilitate capacity- building for halal products and services; promote growth and participation of Malaysian companies in the trillion dollar global halal market. Today, there is an estimated population of 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. The global halal market is currently estimated at USD2.3 trillion covering both food and non-food sectors.

In its effort to serve as an international hub for the halal industry, HDC provides manufacturers, distributors, retailers, entrepreneurs, researchers and investors with comprehensive assistance to penetrate and serve a growing global halal market through the adoption of the Malaysian experience and expertise in food and non-food sectors. For more information, please visit HDC at – www.hdcglobal.com.

Back to top

Malaysia To Showcase Future Energy Expertise At Astana Expo 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Malaysia will be showcasing its experience and expertise in future energy plans at the Astana EXPO 2017, in Astana, Kazakhstan from June 10-Sept 10, 2017.

In a statement today, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili called for the participation of Malaysian ministries and businesses, while urging them to take advantage of Malaysia’s pavilion at the expo.

“The expo is a platform for all ministries and businesses to explore new opportunities.

“Green growth is in our nature. We will use our experience and expertise to showcase opportunities for the world to create a green future with Malaysia.

“Whether they are inbound investments to create new business activities in Malaysia, or outbound sales to support the growth of proudly made Malaysian products and services, they are invited to be a part of us,” he added.

Themed, “Future Energy”, over 100 countries would be participating in the Astana EXPO 2017.

Back to top

Airasia, Airasia X Warn Of Ads Offering Heavily-Discounted Flights

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 28 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – AirAsia Bhd and its unit, AirAsia X Bhd have warned the public not to fall victim to advertisements on social media platforms offering heavily-discounted flights for both carriers.

In a statement today, AirAsia Bhd said, it has made a police report after receiving complaints from the public who fell victim to bogus travel agents.

“The airline would like to remind the public to book their flights only through official channels, such as airasia.com, official affiliates (AirAsiaGo.com) and official sales centres listed on the website,” it said.

AirAsia Bhd said it would not hesitate to take legal action against individuals or groups who organised illegal schemes using the AirAsia brand.

“When in doubt or to report on suspected scams using the AirAsia brand, the public may get in touch with AirAsia via its official communication channels,” it said.

Back to top

Malaysia: All Local Airports Safe – Transport Minister

KAJANG, Malaysia, 1 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai reassured that all local airports were safe.

Liow said the public need not worry about the security aspects in the airports including at the KL International Airport 2 (klia2) which was the 
location for the murder of North Korean Kim Jong-nam on Feb 13.

“Our airports are safe, and security checks did not find any toxic substances there. We want to tell the public, don’t worry, there’s no concern.

We will continue to strengthen our security from time to time,” he said, describing the incident involving Jong-nam as an isolated case.

Back to top

Malaysia To Generate Rm8.2 Billion Worth Of E-Commerce Business By 2020

KUCHING, 2 March 2017, (NNN-BERNAMA) – The government aims to generate RM8.2 billion worth of e-commerce business activities nationwide by 2020.

Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Jailani Johari said as at 2015, some RM7.2 billion worth of such businesses had been recorded.

With better facilities set up by both the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), here had been a daily increase in the usage of e-commerce applications, he told reporters after the Pos Malaysia Berhad office.

Jailani said the Sarawak government too had been encouraging the rural folks to venture into e-commerce by making optimal use of the 124 1Malaysia Internet Centres(PI1M) set up by the MCMC or Pos Malaysia.

“These centres are also aimed at narrowing the digital gap between urban and rural areas.

“From 2008 until now, the government had spent RM1.8 billion to provide the necessary infrastructure for better internet and communication access in the state,” he said.

The deputy minister said government would also spend RM35 million this year alone to erect around 70 small cells communication towers statewide.

On another matter, Jailani said Pos Malaysia Berhad would spend a total of RM5 million to modernise its post offices in Kapit, Limbang, Serian, Lutong, Bintangor, Sarikei, Saratok and Sri Aman this year.

The Miri Poslaju centre would also be upgraded at the cost of RM1 million.

Back to top

Malaysia: Mida Approves Investments Of Rm207.9 Bln For 4,972 Projects

KUALA LUMPUR, 2 March 2017, (NNN-BERNAMA) – The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) approved investments of RM207.9 billion for 4,972 projects in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors in 2016. (US$1=RM4.50)

International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia continued to sustain its investment growth momentum, despite the slowdown in world economies which had led to weak aggregate demand, volatile international financial markets, subdued commodity prices, uncertain economic policies and more intense regional competition, among others,

“Malaysia has been more selective in its investment agenda, preferring quality projects in targeted ecosystems that have a significant knock-on effect throughout the domestic economy,” he said, when announcing the country’s 2016 investment performance, here.

Back to top

PM Najib Announces Extension Of Sandakan Airport Runway

SANDAKAN, Sabah state, Malaysia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Najib Tun Razak today announced the extension of the Sandakan airport runway to handle direct and chartered flights from China.

The Prime Minister said the value management was being carried out to determinethe contract price.

“I have asked the Transport Minister ( Liow Tiong Lai) to determine the contract price and to expedite the matter.

“I propose to launch the project on my next visit to Sandakan,” he said to reporters after a tour of the Sandakan Harbour Square here.

Najib said the runway extension would enable the airport to handle bigger aircraft, such as the Airbus 330.

The Prime Minister said direct or chartered flights from China would be able to use the Sandakan airport.

“The terminal building will remain untouched. We will only focus on the runway extension,” he said.

Najib said the extension of the runway would have a major positive impact on Sandakan’s economy.

Sandakan would receive many tourists and other visitors, and this would make the district more progressive, he said.

Back to top

Malaysia’s Health Service Ranked Third Best In The World

TAWAU, Malaysia, 28 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The health service offered in Malaysia has been ranked third best in the world by the International Living magazine, according to Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

He said the recognition was made possible due to easy access to health service, even in the most remote areas, in Malaysia.

“Our health service reaches the people everywhere as we have the 1Malaysia clinics, rural clinics, and also more than 200 mobile clinics across the country.

“In areas not linked by roads, we also have clinics on boats and helicopters, and we have continuously strived to make our service available to patients in all the places in the country,” he told reporters after launching the new CT Scan machine at Tawau Hospital here today.

Deputy Education Minister and Tawau MP Mary Yap Kain Ching was also present.

Meanwhile, Hilmi expressed hope that the residents of Tawau and the surrounding areas would continue to benefit from the upgrading of the old CT Scan machine to a 32 Slice CT Scan machine at the Tawau Hospital.

He said the upgrading project which cost RM2.4 million could provide better, faster and more accurate radiology and imaging services.

“Previously, with the Single-Slice CT Scan machine, we could only accommodate a maximum of 10 cases (appointments) and five emergency cases in a day, but now the staff can handle up to 20 cases (appointments) and many more emergency cases at a time,” he said.

Hilmi said the upgrading project was among the government’s fulfilled promises to help the people.

Back to top

PM Najib Says Pan Borneo Highway On Par With Developed Nations

SIPITANG, Sabah State of East Malaysia, 4 March 2017, (NNN-BERNAMA) – Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, gives his assurance, the toll-free Pan Borneo Highway network in Sabah, will be on par with those in developed nations, when completed.

He said, the Public Works Department, which had a high standard, would ensure this.

“This is not a timber or kampung (rural) road. This is a world class highway. This is my commitment as prime minister,” he said in his speech, when launching the Sabah Pan Borneo project in Sindumin, here, today.

Also present were Sabah Chief Minister, Musa Aman, Sabah deputy chief minister, Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is also State Infrastructure Development Minister; Works Minister, Fadillah Yusuf and his deputy, Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.

Najib was also determined to ensure that the Pan Borneo Highway project would be an overview of history, as it would change the landscape of development and communication network throughout the state.

“Sabah will get a complete toll-free highway network, at an overall cost of more than RM 16 billion (USD 3.59 billion), in five years time. This is a contribution of the federal government.

“I want to say, this is not over yet. If the financial situation permits, we will give more allocations for highway development for Sabah.

“We want Sabah to change because the state has a high potential,” he said.

“Today is a historical occasion for Sabah, because the first kilometre of the Pan Borneo Highway for this state starts from Sindumin,” he said.

At the same time, Najib also said, the Pan Borneo Highway project could create 400,000 jobs, for the people in Sabah and Sarawak, as well as, business opportunities for local contractors.

“I will also ensure only local contractors will work on the Pan Borneo Highway project. Despite the joint venture with foreign contractors, the main jobs must be given to locals,” he said.

During the ceremony today, Najib launched the ground-breaking ceremony, for a project to upgrade the 28.4 km Sindumin-Kampung Melalia Road, Sipitang, at a cost of RM 600 million (USD 134.66 million).

The project involved upgrading the existing two-lane road to four-lane and would entail building two-tiered interchanges and three bridges.

It was part of the first phase of the 706-km Pan Borneo mega project, starting from Sindumin to Kudat, on the west coast and from Ranau to Sandakan, Lahad Datu and Tawau on the east coast.

The project would change the landscape of the Sipitang district, which would experience a transformation, when the Pan Borneo Highway project was fully completed and to simultaneously become the catalyst in the development of Sabah.

The highway would also ease access to the oil and gas economic corridor area between Sipitang and Kimanis.

Najib also launched the Pan Borneo Highway projects in Kampung Andus, Papar, for the Papar-Donggongon Road; Tawau-Semporna Road (5 km); and Lahad Datu Bypass (7 km), last year.

Back to top

Malaysia’s Ranking In Innovation Index Proves Success of Economic Plans

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 28 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Najib Tun Razak said today that Malaysia’s ranking in the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2016 was yet another proof that policies and economic plans implemented by the Barisan Nasional government were right on target and achieved its desired results.

The Prime Minister said the government would double efforts to spearhead the country towards people-based development.

“God Willing, Malaysia ranked 23rd out of 50 companies surveyed, ahead of its more developed regional peers.

“Malaysia moved up two notches compared with 2015 when it ranked 25th. This is very encouraging and we should be proud of this achievement especially when other advanced nations declined in their rankings,” he said on his Facebook posting today.

Compared with its regional peers, Malaysia was ahead of Hong Kong (ranked 37) and Thailand (47).

Malaysia’s strength in the index is attributed to the relatively high proportion of manufacturing sector contribution to the economy compared with other countries which were more value-add services driven.

Back to top

Malaysian, Kazakh juniors set two world Powerlifting records

DUBAI, 1 March 2017, (WAM) – Two world records were set yesterday in the Juniors category of the 8th Fazza World Para Powerlifting World Cup Dubai 2017 by Kazakhstan’s Akzhol Zharylgapov who won the Junior Men’s up to 59kg with a world best of 100kg, and Malaysia’s 17-year-old Bonnie Bunyau Gustin (141kg) who improved on the Junior Men’s up to 65kg world record by 14kg during his triumph.

Arab teams continued to flourish after Jordan won the second gold medal and Algeria claimed the first medal in the middle weights.

Jordanian Mohammad Tarbash improved on his second place finish in the 2016 Fazza World Cup in Dubai, winning the Senior Men’s up to 59kg weight class with a lift of 172kg.

Esen Kaliev of Kyrgystan took silver with a lift of 168kg while Ukraine’s Ruslan Korchynski was awarded a bronze after a tie with Indian Ashok who also lifted 160kg but had two ‘no-lifts’.

Algeria’s Hocine Bettir was the winner in the Senior Men’s up to 65kg with a lift of 178kg to edge out Poland’s Marek Trykacz (176kg). Egypt’s Mahmoud Attia (175kg) had to settle for a bronze after a close contest.

In the Junior Men’s up to 59kg weight class, Vladimir Nizavitin took the silver with a lift of 98kg following the record-breaking effort of 19 year-old Zharylgapov. Japan’s Kazuki Okuyama claimed the bronze with a lift of 92kg.

Ukraine’s Mariana Skevchuk won the gold medal in the Senior Women’s up to 55kg weight class with a lift 106kg. Egyptian Omaima Omar grabbed the silver with a lift of 98kg while Italian Martina Barbierato took the bronze with a lift of 86kg. UAE’s Moza Al Zeyoudi was ranked sixth after lifting 62kg.

Some194 athletes from 33 countries are participating in the Fazza World Para Powerlifting World Cup Dubai 2017, which will serve as a qualifier for the World Para Powerlifting Championship to be held in Mexico in September this year. The UAE is represented by 12 athletes, including two females.

Dubai will be one of only two qualifying competitions for Mexico. The other qualifying event will be held in Hungary in May.

The 8th Fazza World Para Powerlifting World Cup Dubai 2017 is being organised and supervised by the Dubai Club for the Disabled under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council.

The competition is supported by the club’s strategic partners Dubai Sports Council, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare (GAYSW), and the UAE Paralympic Committee.

Back to top

Malaysians May Not Need Visa To Morocco

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 1 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – In future, Malaysians may no longer need a visa to visit Morocco, said its ambassador to Malaysia, Mohammed Reda Benkhaldoun.

He said further talks on this exemption would be held between the two nations soon before an agreement is signed.

“We are working on that (visa-free). God willing, we are looking forward to a visit from the Malaysian side to Morocco so that we can sign this agreement as soon as possible,” said Mohammed Reda yesterday.

He was speaking to reporters after paying a courtesy call on Dewan Negara (Upper House) President S. A. Vigneswaran at the Parliament building here yesterday.

Malaysians going to Morocco currently have to pay RM96 to get a visa.

Back to top

Malaysia Sustains Investment Growth Momentum

KUALA LUMPUR, 3 March 2017, (Bernama) – “The global economic landscape is undoubtedly more challenging. Headlines continue to highlight on the slowdown in world economies which led to weak aggregate demand, volatile international financial markets, subdued commodity prices, uncertain economic policies and more intense regional competition, among others. Despite these challenges, Malaysia continued to sustain its investment growth momentum in 2016,” said Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, YB Minister of the International Trade & Industry (MITI).

Malaysia has been more selective in its investment agenda, preferring quality projects in targeted ecosystems that will have significant knock-on effects throughout the domestic economy. In 2016, the country attracted RM207.9 billion in total approved investments that will fund 4,972 projects in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors. These are expected to create 153,060 job opportunities for the country.

The ratio of foreign and domestic investments is also in line with the Government’s aspiration for domestic investments to assume the pivotal role of driving Malaysia’s investment agenda, with 71.6% (RM148.9 billion) being contributed by domestic sources and 28.4% (RM59.0 billion) coming from foreign sources. Foreign investors continue to capitalise on uniquely Malaysian ecosystems and its regional synergies as foreign direct investments (FDI) increased by 63.4% from RM36.1 billion in 2015.

Developed economies continued to be an important source of investments into Malaysia. The leading sources of foreign investments in 2016 were the USA, the Netherlands, China, Japan, Singapore, Republic of Korea and the UK. These seven countries jointly accounted for 55.8% of total foreign investments approved in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors.

Manufacturing Sector

Malaysia continued to attract healthy levels of investments in the manufacturing sector amid the uncertainties of the global economic environment. A total of 733 manufacturing projects with investments of RM58.5 billion were approved by MIDA in 2016, compared with 680 projects with investments of RM74.7 billion in 2015.

Despite the decline, it must be noted that the higher amount of investments recorded last year was primarily attributed to two major projects approved then namely the PETRONAS Refinery and Petrochemical Corporation (PRPC)’s project in Johor and LNG9’s project in Sarawak which totalled RM35.3 billion.

In terms of value of investments approved, Johor received the largest amount, followed by Selangor, Sarawak, Penang and Perak. MIDA’s efforts since the early years, in collaboration with the relevant agencies, contributed to the increased investments in these states. Each state has its own unique comparative and competitive advantages. In deciding a specific location of a project, investors will choose a location that best fit the needs and suitability of their overall business strategies. This includes the availability of a comprehensive investment ecosystem and strong supporting industries in the area.

A significant portion of approved investments by MIDA was in capital intensive projects. In 2016, there were 85 projects which recorded investments of RM100 million or more, bringing in a combined total of RM47.6 billion or 81.4% of the total investments approved in the manufacturing sector. Of these, 10 projects were investments of at least RM1 billion and above. These projects were mainly in petroleum products including petrochemicals, basic metal products, natural gas, electronic and electrical (E&E) products, food manufacturing and transport equipment.

“All these projects will have substantial multiplier effects on the manufacturing sector and the economy, including forward-and-backward linkages, the development of supporting industries, the transfer of new technologies and R&D, the creation of employment opportunities, local sourcing, skills development, and the generation of foreign exchange earnings,” said YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa.

The manufacturing projects approved in 2016 are expected to create employment opportunities for 64,120 people. Major industries which require the most skilled manpower are transport equipment, E&E products, fabricated metals products, machinery & equipment, plastic products and non-metallic mineral products. This includes job opportunities for plant maintenance supervisors, tools and die makers, machinists, IT personnel, quality controllers, electricians and welders.

“In progressing towards an advanced nation, highly skilled manpower is a vital asset. Efforts are being undertaken to enhance the quality of human capital. Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, more students will be pursuing technical and vocational education and training (TVET). MITI through MIDA collaborates and forms smart partnerships with relevant stakeholders and leverages on existing talent development programmes to assist based on their needs,” said YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa.

While the value of approved domestic investments in the manufacturing sector dropped by 41.1% to RM31.1 billion, foreign investments in the manufacturing sector registered an increase of 25.1% to RM27.4 billion in 2016. China was the manufacturing sector’s biggest investor last year, followed by the Netherlands, Germany, UK and the Republic of Korea. These five economies jointly accounted for 56.1% of the total foreign investments approved within the sector. Significant projects from China include those within the steel, non-metallic mineral and solar industries. The investments from the Netherlands, Germany, UK and the Republic of Korea include several high value chemical and petrochemical projects as well as projects to manufacture advanced electronic products.

With the addition of the projects approved in 2016, the total number of manufacturing projects approved during the five-year period of 2012 to 2016 now stands at 3,815, of which 3,132 have been implemented. These implemented projects have created 292,745 job opportunities for the country.

As at 31 December 2016, 3,010 of the total implemented projects are in production with the rest still under construction or final machinery installation. Total capital investment in these implemented projects amounted to RM207.7 billion. A further 41 projects with investments of RM7.9 billion have acquired sites for factories, while 430 projects (RM44.9 billion) are in the active planning stage. When these 471 projects are realised, total investments in these manufacturing projects will amount to RM52.8 billion.

Services Sector

Malaysia’s services sector continues to expand in 2016 and attracted 4,199 projects with approved investments of RM141.2 billion. These approved projects are expected to create 88,110 job opportunities. On a year-on-year basis, approved investments in the services sector last year increased by 23.3%. Domestic investments led with RM112.9 billion, while foreign investments totalled RM28.3 billion.

The major sources of foreign investments in the services sector in 2016 were the USA (RM6.8 billion), Hong Kong (RM1.9 billion), Japan (RM1.8 billion), Singapore (RM1.2 billion) and the Netherlands (RM0.9 billion).

Although the real-estate subsector continued to lead with RM64.1 billion worth of investments approved, key sub-sectors with relatively high value added activities such as the global establishments, financial services, information technology and telecommunications, and support services also recorded good growth.

As one of the well-connected economies, Malaysia is well positioned to become the regional or global operations base for multinational companies (MNCs). Recognising this, more MNCs have adopted Malaysia’s Principal Hub (PH) model which allows faster decision making and supports evolving supply chain trends. In 2016, MIDA approved 13 new PH projects with investments of RM13.8 billion which will involve the creation of 1,980 high value jobs. The approvals include Ansell Global Trading Centre, IMI Engineering, Nestrade, IOI Corporate Service and McDermott Asia Pacific.

The banking segment remained the largest contributor to the financial services sub-sector, led by conventional banking activities. In relation to investments in the information technology and telecommunications sub-sector, 756 projects with investments of RM12.4 million were approved last year. These projects, particularly in 336 approved MSC status companies, will require 18,170 highly skilled and knowledge based workers.

In 2016, support services projects with tax incentives approved rose by 156.3% to RM9.4 billion. The significant increase was due to the many large investments that were approved for green technology activities and integrated logistics services (ILS). One of the notable green technology projects that was approved is Hong Kong-based Xinyi Energy Smart that will undertake a solar energy project in Melaka. The company targets to generate energy capacity of 12.0MW for its glass manufacturing operations.

For ILS approved projects, most companies are moving towards integrated operations, ICT-driven innovation (e-commerce), and providing specialised logistics

services to support various industrial sectors such as oil & gas and the petrochemical industry. A total of 6 ILS projects was approved in 2016. These projects will incur RM672.6 million in investment and create 765 job opportunities. ILS projects approved last year include Steinweg Malaysia, Infinity Logistics & Transport and YCH Logistics Malaysia.

“The services sector helps optimise the efficiency of other sectors in the country. Global establishments and end-to-end supply chain management services, for example, are fast becoming important components in the nation’s economy. These services will increase trade efficiency and the competitive advantage for Malaysian industries,” said Dato’ Sri Mustapa.

Primary Sector

The approved investments in the primary sector increased by 116.7% from RM3.8 billion in 2015 to RM8.2 billion in 2016. The mining sub-sector led with approved investments of RM7.6 billion in 19 projects, mainly from the oil and gas exploration activities. This is followed by the plantation and commodities sub-sector with investments of RM542.7 million, and the agriculture sub-sector making up the rest of approved investments. Investments from domestic sources totalled RM4.9 billion or 59.7% while foreign investments contributed RM3.3 billion or 40.3%.

Going Forward

“This year will continue to be a challenging year for Malaysia. Despite the rising protectionist sentiments from several countries, Malaysia still remain positively open for high quality FDI that meet our aspirations of becoming a developed economy. FDI has been critical in creating jobs, developing a skilled workforce, and nurturing the growth of local companies. The diffusion of knowledge across the value chain from foreign MNCs creates spillover benefits and synergies for additional new products and services for local companies,” said YB MITI Minister.

Dato’ Sri Mustapa also highlighted that Malaysia is enhancing the investment ecosystem within the manufacturing and services sectors to facilitate future growth. This means that local companies must either move up the value chain or diversify into other lines of businesses. Therefore, companies especially local players are urged to invest in automation technologies or R&D to avoid the consequences of shrinking margins and labour issues.

“As small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make up about 97% of the total establishments in Malaysia, the Government will continue to support domestic companies including SMEs by providing platforms to encourage business collaborations with foreign companies and MNCs operating in the country. This is one of MITI’s major focus areas for this year,” concluded the Minister.

Investment Performance Report 2016: http://www.mida.gov.my/home/administrator/



Presentation Slides:




Back to top

International Recognition For Malaysia’s Healthcare System

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The International Living magazine’s recognition of Malaysia’s healthcare system is an achievement which the people can be proud of, and be inspired to continue to move forward.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said the government’s efforts paid off when Malaysia was rated as having the best healthcare system in the world.

“This recognition from the International Living magazine was also published in the CNBC news website. The magazine reported that Malaysia had some of the well-trained doctors in Asia and the majority received their training and education from around the world,” he said in a post on his blog, najibrazak.com, today.

In the post, which also displayed a photo of a 1Malaysia Clinic, Najib said Malaysian doctors spoke fluent English and that facilitated patients from foreign countries to seek treatment here.

He said healthcare was an important field because it determined the people’s welfare and country’s harmony.

“Without good and quality healthcare, the people’s lives and country’s administration will be affected. Healthy people can maintain productivity and generate national economy.

“That is why, the government stresses on healthcare service so that every Malaysian can enjoy high-quality healthcare,” added the prime minister.

Each year, Najib said, the government funded a huge subsidy to enable the people to get the best healthcare service.

“Not only that, the government is always thinking of ways to make sure the service reaches all corners of the country and all walks of life, in urban or rural areas. That is why, we have the 1Malaysia Mobile Clinic,” he said.

Back to top

Malindo Air Early Bird Gets The Deal Promo

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 February 2017, (Bernama) – Malindo Air, CAPA 2016 Asia Pacific Regional Airline is delighted to announce that the airline will be offering exclusive fares to Business and Economy Class travellers during the Malindo Air Early Bird Gets the Deal, to fully enjoy a premium service.

The promotional fares are available from 27 Feb until 5 March 2017, and is valid for all purchases made online, over the counter at all Malindo Air ticketing offices and through travel agencies. Travel validity is from 1 April 2017 until 30 November 2017.

The attractive fares are available for Malaysian domestic flights and flights to Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

CEO of Malindo Air, Chandran Rama Muthy, said “The Early Bird Gets the Deal is our biggest sale yet for 2017 with over 1,000,000 seats up for grabs. As this sale offers super value deals on both domestic and international routes, we are very optimistic that it will be a great success. We are certain our guests will be very excited over the affordable fares that come with our premium service of extra legroom, on board meals, in-flight entertainment and 30kg baggage allowance.”

For bookings and enquiries, visit malindoair.com, write in to Customer Care Centre 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).

About Malindo Air

Malindo Air is a Malaysian airline with main hubs at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and the convenient KL downtown city airport Subang Skypark in Selangor, Malaysia. The airline took to the skies in March 2013 with domestic flights and has since grown to operate routes to all major airports in Malaysia and across the continents of Asia, Australia and Middle East. The fleet itself has grown exponentially to 18 ATR72-600 and 29 Boeing 737NG as of February 2017.

Today, the airline operates over 800 flights weekly across a continuously growing network of about 42 routes in the region. More recently, the airline won CAPA’s 2016 Asia Pacific Regional Airline of the Year, Airline of the Year (Passenger) at the KLIA Awards 2014 and Top Performing Airline 2015 by Travelport.

Back to top

First Czech Film Festival In Malaysia From March 9 To 12

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, 28 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – International movie enthusiasts can look forward to some of the best movies from the Czech Republic from March 9 to 12 as its embassy here will bring in five outstanding movies in conjunction with the republic’s first film festival in Malaysia.

Its Ambassador to Malaysia, Rudolf Hykl, said that the Czech Republic has rich and accomplished history of film making, adding that bringing the movies here was part of the embassy’s effort to reach international audiences, especially Malaysian.

The five movies with different genres will be played at three selected Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) namely Pavilion KL, Mid Valley and 1Utama, he said at the opening of the festival, here, today.

“It is meant to present the best cinematography to Malaysian audiences in order to enhance the Czech – Malaysia cultural understanding,” he explained.

Hykl said that the movies covered a whole range of topics from medieval history through episodes from World War II and stories of recent times.

“The film festival not only presents good movies but also represents our country and identity, for the audiences to understand better who we are. That is the primary motivation of this festival,” he said.

The movies include Oscar winner for the best foreign film in 1996 “Kolya” that tells the story of a womanising musician, who ends up with his 5-year old boy after his young wife flees overseas, and Oscar nominated “Elementary School”, a movie that portrays school environment in Czechoslovakia after World War II.

The four-day film festival is organised and funded by the embassy in collaboration with GSC and Malaysia’s Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

More details can be obtained at kualalumpur@embassy.mzv.cz or call 60321661900.

Back to top

Canon Malaysia To Promote Visit Pahang 2017 Campaign

SHAH ALAM, Malaysia, 28 February 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Canon Marketing (M) Sdn Bhd yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Tourism Pahang to help promote Pahang state as a preferred domestic tourist destination through Visit Pahang 2017 campaign.

Under the MoU, Canon Marketing will be sponsoring and loaning imaging products namely digital cameras, inkjet printers, professional printing products and office photocopiers for activities related to Visit Pahang 2017.

President and Chief Executive officer of Canon Marketing, Andrew Koh said the company was proud to support the government’s efforts to promote domestic tourist destinations and showcase the beauty of Pahang state which is renowned for its tropical rainforest parks and adventure theme destinations.

“We believe that our total imaging products and solutions, along with the strength of our nationwide sales and service network, will support the campaign well and continue to delight Malaysians and tourists to Pahang,” he said in his speech at the MoU signing ceremony at Canon Tower here yesterday.

Meanwhile, Pahang state Tourism and Culture committee chairman, MohdSharkar Shamsuddin said the target of 15 million tourist arrivals for Pahang state this year could be achieved as the government had always given priority to the tourism sector as it provided a large revenue for the country.

He said in conjunction with Visit Pahang year, over 60 events were planned for tourists and visitors.

Back to top

Transboundary Haze-Free For Malaysia This Year

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – According to weather indication, wind patterns and actions outlined in fighting forest fires, Malaysia is guaranteed to be free of transboundary haze this year, according to Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) report also showed that the phenomenon of El Nino and La Nina, which brings rain and extreme heat, would not occur this year, thanks to the neutral state in the Indian Ocean which will continue until end of the year.

“MetMalaysia also reported that no abnormal weather will occur (this year), unlike in 2014 and 2015, which was seen to be among the factors that had caused the acute haze.

“The Department of Environment (DOE) will also take drastic action to prevent members of the public from carrying out open burning beginning next month, as it can cause clustered haze as occurred in Baram, Sarawak state before,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said this to reporters after chairing the National Haze and Dry Weather Committee meeting yesterday, which was also attended by DOE director-general Dr Ahmad Kamarulnajuib Che Ibrahim.

Back to top


Back to top

Training Course on ‘Labour Cost Statistics’ in Indonesia

Date : 06-07 March 2017

Venue : Jakarta Indonesia

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

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

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

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

(+) Introduction to Labour Cost Statistics:

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

(+) Deeper Presentation and Discussions of the Labour Cost Statistics

(+) Discussion of Problems in Compiling Labour Cost Statistics

(+) Data Sources and Compilation Methods

(+) Data Processing of Labour Cost

(+) Data Validation and Dissemination

(+) Presentation of National Methods Practice and Approaches

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

Back to top

Indonesia offers tourism investment during IORA Summit

Jakarta, 6 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesian Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya will offer tourism investment opportunity in Indonesia to member states and dialogue partners during the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Summit 2017 held in Jakarta from 5-7 March.

Minister Arief Yahya is scheduled to be a panelist in the IORA Business Forum on March 6 to elaborate Indonesia’s prospective tourism through sustainable and equitable connectivity and infrastructure development, a press release stated here on Sunday.

The minister will emphasize the need to increase seat capacity considering the fact that the airline has become the main transportation used by tourists to visit Indonesia.

Minister Arief Yahya will also invite foreign investors to invest to the 10 New Bali, a government prioritized program to boost the tourist visit to Indonesia.

The 10 “New Bali” offered by the Government namely Lake Toba in North Sumatra, Tanjung Kelayang in Bangka Belitung, Tanjung Lesung in Banten, Thousand Islands in Jakarta Special Region, Borobudur in Central Java, Bromo-Tengger-Semeru in East Java, Mandalika in West Nusa Tenggara, Labuan Bajo in East Nusa Tenggara, Wakatobi in Southeast Sulawesi and Morotai in Maluku.

To achieve its goal of 20 million tourist arrivals by the year 2019, the Indonesian Government has issued several policies such as the short visa-free policy for 169 countries, ease of yacht and cruise entry permit, and revocation of the Clearance Approval for Indonesian Territory (CAIT).

IORA will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary in March 2017. Indonesia, as the current chair of IORA, will host the first ever IORA Leaders Summit on March 7, 2017.

The first IORA Leaders Summit will be held under the theme “Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for a Peaceful, Stable and Prosperous Indian Ocean” on March 7.

The leaders summit will be preceded by a Committee of Senior Officials meeting on March 5 and a Council of Ministers meeting on March 6.

The 16 VVIPs who have confirmed their attendance consist of five presidents, four vice presidents, four prime ministers, and three vice prime ministers, Director General for Asia-Pacific and African Affairs of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Desra Percaya stated previously.

The summit will bring together leaders of 21 IORA member states and its seven dialogue partners.

Along with the above official meetings, IORA will also engage the private sector through a “Business Summit” to be held on March 6, 2017, with the aim of deepening business cooperation in the region.

The summit is expected to result in several outcome documents, including the IORA Concord, the IORA Action Plan, and the IORA Declaration on Countering Violent Extremism leading to Terrorism.

Back to top

Indonesia promotes tourism at Belgrade Fair

London, UK, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia has promoted the top ten tourist destinations in the 39th Belgrade International Fair of Tourism Sajam Turizma in Belgrade, Serbia.

A statement from the Indonesian Embassy in Belgrade, Serbia received by ANTARA here, Thursday mentioned that the exhibition was opened by Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic.

The Indonesian pavilion under a theme of Nature and Adventure – Wonderful Indonesia showcased natural and adventurous travels in various tourist destinations across the nation.

The participation of Indonesia at the prestigious event is expected to introduce Indonesia’s tourist sites to Serbian people and those from Southeast Europe region.

The largest tourism exhibition in the Southeast Europe region was participated in by 1,150 participants from 56 countries.

In addition to showing travel destinations, the Indonesian Pavilion also served Indonesian specialty coffee, featured traditional dances, and interactive quizzes for visitors.

On the sidelines of the fair, the Indonesia Embassy held a gala cocktail with media representatives and tour operators in Serbia.

In the event the Ambassador of Indonesia to Serbia, Harry Kandou, explained the development of tourism in Indonesia as well as promoted cooperation between the two countries in the tourism sector.

During the four-day exhibition, more than 300 travel package inquiries to Indonesia have been received.

Back to top

Indonesia reinforces economic partnership with Iran

Jakarta, 27 February 2017, (ANTARA News) – The Indonesian government is committed to strengthening economic partnership with Iran as is reflected by the visit of Indonesia’s Chief Economic Minister Darmin Nasution along with his entourage on February 26-27, 2017.

The office of the chief economic minister noted in a press statement received by Antara here on Sunday that Nasutions visit was a follow-up to President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi’s) tour of the country in mid-December 2016.

Nasution’s delegation comprised the deputy minister for energy and mineral resources, the Indonesian ambassador to Iran, several high-ranking Indonesian officials from relevant ministries and state institutions, as well as executives of state-owned companies.

The Indonesian delegation paid a courtesy call on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Vice President for Sciences Sorena Sattari. It also held a bilateral meeting with the governor of the Iranian Central Bank, the oil minister, and the information and communication technology minister.

According to the chief economic ministers office, the meetings discussed various issues of mutual concern in the fields of energy cooperation, trade, investment, finance, banking, sciences, technology, agriculture, and tourism as well as encouraged the active participation of businesses of both countries.

Back to top

Indonesia to host IORA Summit meeting March 5-7

Jakarta, 2 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said there will be a business meeting as part of a summit conference of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) here from March 5 to 7, 2017.

“Until today 477 delegates have been registered to attend the summit conference and there will be a business summit,” Retno told reporters in a news conference together with Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung and State Secretary Pratikno at the state palace here on Thursday.

Retno said the IORA summit meeting will take place on March 7, preceded by a senior official meeting on March 5 and foreign ministerial meeting on March 6.

“The IORA summit meeting would be participated in by 21 member countries and seven dialog partners. Four of the 21 member countries are members of the G-20 and six of the 7 dialog partners are also members of the G-20,” she said.

Based on the composition of countries grouped in IORA, half of them are members of the G-20, she added.

She said the IORA Summit Meeting is one of important forums to guarantee security in the Indian Ocean region. The forum is also important to push up development of the regional economies.

The Indian Ocean rim countries have a population of 2.7 billion It is regular routes for “half of the worlds container ships, one third of world cargo vessels and two third of world energy shipments,” she cited.

She said Indonesia offers to host the IORA Summit Meeting as the country wants to show its leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim.

“This is part of a series of leadership Indonesia wants to play in various regions. We have played leading role in Asia and the Pacific. We also want to show leadership in the Indian Ocean rim, where there has been no good governance. Indonesia, therefore wants to show it leadership in this summit meeting,” she said.

She said there are six IORA priority agenda — maritime security and safety, trade and investment facilities, disaster risk management, fishery management, academy and science and technology and tourism and exchange of cultures.

“Cross cutting issue is women empowerment and blue economy,” she added.

She said she believe attendance of state leaders in the IORA Summit Meeting is more than expectation.

“Today, those confirming attendance are Prime Ministers and Presidents of 16 countries including South African President, Australian Prime Minister, Prime Ministers and Vice Presidents of India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka,” she said.

State Secretary Pratikno said IORA was established in 1997, but only in 2017 it would has a summit meeting.

“It would be the first summit meeting of IORA and it is on the initiative of Indonesia as we want to be a world maritime axis,” he said.

He said the government has prepared everything to welcome the delegates, security and accommodation for the foreign country leaders.

“We want to show our leadership not only in the Pacific but also in the Indian Ocean,” he said.

Meanwhile, Director General for Asia Pacific and Africa of the Foreign Ministry Desra Percaya said the Business Summit would be participated in by around 250 business leaders from the member countries.

The theme of the Business Summit is “Building Partnership for Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth”.

Back to top

Indonesia`s medical specialists to be assigned to remote areas

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia’s specialist doctors are to be assigned to serve in the country’s remote areas as mandated by Presidential Regulation No.4/2017, Ari Fahrial Syam, deputy of Internist Associations head (PAPDI) in his statement on Thursday.

As stated in the law, doctors who are declared as specialists after Jan 12 are obliged to work in outlying areas for at least one year.

“Before the program was voluntary,” Head of Human Resources Development Ministry of Health Usman Sumantri in a press conference last Friday.

The assignment is hoped to improve health sector in all outreach areas across the country as unequal distribution of doctors has so far been a serious problem in Indonesia, Sumantri added.

The Ministry of Health in 2014 reported at least 48 percent or 435,877 doctors were concentrated in Java and Bali islands, while Papua and Maluku islands in the country’s eastern region only had 18,332 and 15,947 medical staffs respectively.

Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) and other specialist organizations have been committed to support the program by helping the government drafting the regulation.

“I hope the law could be well-implemented,” Syam stated.

He added the association has been committed to send specialist doctors to country’s remote areas, but the salary as well as basic needs such as houses and cars should be facilitated properly by the government.

The story of doctors being murdered because of riots in an outreach area was not a myth, Syam pointed out while adding the government should assure that the doctors will be safe in their workplaces.

Syam added the doctors actually could refuse to comply with the program, but the government could also not issue their licenses as specialists.

Back to top

President Jokowi: Indonesia to host two international events in 2018

Jakarta, 2 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Indonesia will host two major international events next year that must be managed properly, according to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).

“The first event is the Asian Games and the second is the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank (IMF-WB) annual meeting,” President Jokowi remarked while chairing a limited cabinet meeting at his office here on Thursday.

During the meeting, also attended by Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla, Jokowi stated that he had appointed Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan to chair the IMF-WB annual meeting in 2018.

The president explained that the IMF-WB annual meeting in Indonesia will be attended by around 1.5 thousand participants from countries around the world.

Some 33 thousand athletes from several Asian countries will participate in the Asian Games 2018.

“Sound preparations must be made for these two major international events and must be reviewed every month,” the president remarked.

He pointed out that the two international events — the IMF-WB annual meeting and the Asian Games — must be utilized properly for the interest of the state and nation.

On a separate occasion, the president urged that all preparations for the Asian Games must proceed on time, as it was a matter of pride and will underline Indonesia’s capabilities in hosting the games.

Hence, the president called on the relevant ministers to focus on three main areas: infrastructure readiness, the competitiveness of Indonesian athletes, and transportation facilities between Jakarta and Palembang, the two cities that will host the Asian Games XVII.

“I have urged ministers to submit the details on the progress of the preparations being made for the Asian Games,” Jokowi noted.

With regard to the transportation facilities, the president directed the ministers to ensure development of such facilities in provinces surrounding Jakarta, such as West Java and Banten. The sports event will be centered around these two areas.

Indonesia will be hosting the Asian Games XVII from August 18 to September 2, 2018. The games will have at least 40 sporting events.

Back to top

World Bank to fund US$125 Million for Indonesia’s Dam Upgrades

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – The World Bank (WB) has approved a US$125 million financial aid package to support the Indonesian government in upgrading dams across the country, Vietnam News Agency reported, citing the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.

It was estimated that the project will benefit about 11 million people living around the sites.

The second phase of the Dam Operational Improvement and Safety Project (DOISP) is set for July to December 2022.

“The WB’s continued partnership with Indonesia to improve dam safety will protect millions of Indonesians residing around the dams,” WB Country Director for Indonesia Rodrigo Chaves said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will co-finance the project with an additional US$125 million, while the Indonesian government allocate to it US$50 million.

“The rehabilitation and upgrades of dam facilities and improvement of dam operation and safety management are essential to enhance water security, reduce risks and increase the use of the limited water resources,” said Marcus Wishart, a senior water resources management specialist at the WB.

This is the second project in Indonesia co-financed by the WB and AIIB. In July last year, the bank supported the National Slum Upgrading Project in the country.

According to the Public Works and Housing Ministry’s medium term strategic plan, Indonesia plans to build 65 new dams across the country and renovate 46 existing one by 2019.

Back to top

Japan Launches Six Destinations For Indonesian Tourists

JAKARTA, Indonesia, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Bernama) – Japan National Tourism Organisation’s (JNTO) representative in Jakarta has launched six new destinations, including Kyushu, Okinawa, Setouchi, Tohoku, Wakayama, and Hokaido for Indonesian tourists, Hideki Tomiyoka, the agency’s executive director said here on Thursday, Indonesia’s Antara news agency reported.

While Osaka and Tokyo have been Indonesian’s favorites, Japan also has six other attractive regions for tourists who want to experience the country’s four seasons, he added in a press conference in Jakarta.

The growth of Indonesians travellers to Japan has soared by 31.2 per cent with 271,000 visitors recorded last year, Tomiyoka pointed out that the rise was much contributed by Muslim travellers.

Japan’s tourism organisation has taken more serious actions to promote the country as a Muslim-friendly destination, mainly for Indonesians.

“There are many restaurants in Tokyo, for example, which have already put halal labels on their food products, Tomiyoka noted.

The halal certification is yet to be regulated by the government. However there has been a Muslim association in the country that has already been engaged with the issue, Tomiyoka added without giving further details.

Halal is a label referred to any product, mainly foods and drinks allowed for Muslims.

The number of Indonesia’s “free independent traveller” (FIT), a term referred to tourist not accompanied by travel agent, is recorded to increase every year, Susanti, the organization’s manager said.

The rise has proven that Indonesia is a potential market for Japan’s tourism.

Not only by the organisation’s executive director and manager Kristiana Susanti, the launching was also attended by representatives from airlines, including Garuda Indonesia, Cathay Pacific, All Nippon Airways, and Singapore Airlines.

A deputy division head of Indonesia’s national bank, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), Okki Rushartomo also showed up at the event.

Affiliated with Japan Tourism Agency and Ministry of Land, Infrastucture, Transport, and Tourism, the organisation has set up its official representative in Indonesia since 2014. The organisation’s main mission is to promote Japan’s tourism destinations to Indonesians.

The launching event is also used to promote this year’s Japan Travel Festival which is held in Kota Kasablanka, Jakarta, starting from March 3 until 5.

Back to top

IORA diplomacy to back up vision of maritime axis: FM Marsudi

Jakarta, 3 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said the maritime diplomacy through the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) is aimed at promoting the Indonesian vision of maritime axis.

“Leadership as Indonesian legacy over the Indian Ocean is part of the world maritime axis idea brought around by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi). IORA constitutes a realization of Indonesian maritime diplomacy to back up the country’s vision of maritime axis,” Retno said here on Friday.

The minister said the Indonesian government as IORA chairman for the 2015-2017 period, has sought to synchronize the program and priorities in IORA with the vision of world maritime axis Indonesia is seeking to bring about.

“We see the potential as in the IORA Concord, cooperation to be developed by IORA member countries has much in common with the pillars of the vision of world maritime axis,” she said.

IORA Concord is a document of agreements between IORA member countries to be signed by heads of state or government of IORA member countries at the IORA Summit Meeting on Tuesday , March 7, 2017.

Five pillars of world maritime axis are management of maritime resources, maritime defense, maritime diplomacy, maritime connectivity, infrastructure and culture.

Retno said the five pillars in the Indonesian vision of world maritime axis are conformed with a number of types of cooperation in the IORA Concord, such as cooperation in fishery management, maritime security and safety, connectivity and port cooperation and small and medium enterprises, promotion of sustainable fishery industry.

Also, the five pillars of the Indonesian vision of world maritime axis are synchronized with a number of priority sectors in the IORA cooperation program such as in maritime security and safety and fishery management.

The theme used in the IORA meeting under the chairmanship of Indonesia is “Strengthening Maritime Cooperation for Peaceful, Stable, and Prosperous Indian Ocean”.

The IORA summit meeting will take place on March 7, preceded by a senior official meeting on March 5 and foreign ministerial meeting on March 6.

At the ministerial meeting , there would an agreement on action plan for the next four years such as issue of women economic empowerment, declaration of prevention and eradication of terrorism, extremism and violence.

At the summit meeting, the heads of state and government would sign the IORA Concord.

Retno said there will be a business meeting as part of the summit conference to be attended by around 250 business leaders from the IORA member countries.

The theme of the Business Summit is “Building Partnership for Sustainable and Equitable Economic Growth”.

The IORA summit meeting would be participated in by 21 member countries and seven dialog partners.

Based on the composition of countries grouped in IORA, half of them are members of the G-20, Retno said.

She said Indonesia offers to host the IORA Summit Meeting as the country wants to show its leadership in the Indian Ocean Rim.

“This is part of a series of leadership Indonesia wants to play in various regions. We have played leading role in Asia and the Pacific. We also want to show leadership in the Indian Ocean rim, where there has been no good governance. Indonesia, therefore wants to show it leadership in this summit meeting,” she said.

State Secretary Pratikno said IORA was established in 1997, but only in 2017 it would has a summit meeting.

“It would be the first summit meeting of IORA and it is on the initiative of Indonesia as we want to be a world maritime axis,” he said.

Back to top

Indonesia to speed up MRT construction project

Jakarta, 2 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The government has speeded up the construction project of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), which is targeted to finish its first phase project from Lebak Bulus in south Jakarta to Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in the city center in 2019.

“The president has instructed that the first phase of the MRT project would be finalized in 2019, but the second phase project routing HI traffic circle-east Ancol would be started in 2018, and it would be speeded up,” Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said, in a regional meeting on Sustainable Urban Transport Index here, on Thursday.

Budi added that the third phase of the East-West project from Cikarang to Balaraja would be started two years earlier. “MRT East-West, which is scheduled to start in 2022, would begin (construction) in 2019.”

Acceleration of the MRT construction project is aimed at reducing traffic in Jakarta, with the existence of fast, safe, and comfortable transportation mode.

“It means that the central government and President Jokowi should be deeply concerned about the development of sustainable transportation and the need to support it with lot of efforts,” he stated.

Budi believed that the MRT project would bring significant impact to the citys development.

On the construction plan of stage III MRT project from Cikarang to Balaraja, Budi said that the plan has been studied.

The Jakarta’s MRT construction project includes three phases, namely the 16-kilometer link from Lebak Bulus to HI traffic circle, the 13.5-kilometer link from HI circle to East Ancol, and the 87-kilometer link from Cikarang to Balaraja.

Back to top

Flora, Fauna Expo Being Organized in Central jakarta

Jakarta, 5 March 2017

(Antara News) – A flora and fauna expo is being organized in Banteng Square, Central Jakarta, from February 24 to March 26, 2017.

Various ornamental and herbal plants as well as flower- and fruit-bearing varieties were offered during the exhibition, Elpan Maulana, one of the participants, informed Antara, here, Friday.

The expo, which is open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. local time every day, has 140 stands offering various species of flora, such as caladium, sensivera, cactus, adenium, orchid, begonia, and roses.

Various fruit-bearing plants, such as durians, rambutans, salak mangoes, mangosteens, and oranges, as well as pets ranging from birds to reptiles, are also being offered during the expo themed “herbal plants” this year.

Back to top

Number of visits by foreign tourists to Indonesia up 26.58 percent

Jakarta, 1 March 2017, (ANTARA News) – The number of visits by foreign tourists to Indonesia rose 26.58 percent year-on-year to 1.03 million in January, 2017, the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) said here on Wednesday.

Head of BPS Suhariyanto told reporters the Sam Ratulangi airport of North Sulawesi recorded the highest growth of 100.89 percent. The surge in the number of visits to North Sulawesi followed the opening of direct flights between Manado and a number of cities in China.

“The Sam Ratulangi airport recorded the highest growth although the number of visits of foreign tourist dropped 7.42 percent in January compared with December, 2016,” Suhariyanto said , adding December is holiday season.

He said Chinese tourists accounted for the largest number of the 1.03 million visits.

Chinese tourists accounted for 200,197 visits or the largest, followed by 116,791 visits by Singaporeans.

Australians normally the largest number of visitors to Indonesia, accounted only for the third largest with number of visits of 100,858, Malaysia 97,370 visits and India 38,668 visit.

Around 930,934 of the visits were recorded by 19 main gates and among the 19 main gates, Ngurah Rai of Denpasar recorded the largest number of visits reaching 452,700 arrivals, Suhariyanto said.

The number of visits via Ngurah Rai rose 31.72 percent from the same month in 2016.

The country’s largest airport Soekarno-Hatta of Jakarta recorded a 23.28 percent increase yoy in tourist arrivals to 189,200 in January, 2017

Meanwhile the occupancy rate of star rated hotels in 27 provinces averaged 50.92 percent in January, 2017 or an increase of 1.59 percentage points from a year earlier , but down 5.58 percentage points from December, 2016.

The length of stay of foreign tourists in Indonesia recorded by star rated hotels in the 27 provinces averaged 1.94 days per visit – or an increase 0.11 percentage point from January 2016.

Back to top


Back to top

Mahira signs ‘Saat Din Mohabbat’

LAHORE, 4 March 2017, (APP) – Film star Mahira Khan has signed a new film ‘Saat Din Mohabbat’ as the heroine.

Shahryar Munawwar will be hero in this film.

The film has been written by Fasih Bari Khan. He told APP here on Saturday that it will be a romantic and comedy film.

He hoped that the film would be liked by the people.

Back to top

Mujtaba for promoting film industry

LAHORE, 3 March 2017, (APP) – Punjab Minister for Information and Culture Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman on Friday said Punjab and federal governments were providing different facilities to the film and cinema industry.

Speaking at a reception in honour of legendary film star Shabnam by Film Journalists Foundation here, the minister said the government had given tax holiday to the cinema industry for the last five years.

The minister said due to the government’s pro-culture policies, the private sector was investing over Rs 22 billion in film making and cinema building.

Mujtaba said the Punjab government would soon announce the culture policy to promote film and culture in the province.

The minister presented tribute to Shabnam as an artist and also presented a shield to her on behalf of the Film Journalist Foundation.

Film directors Hassan Askari, Altaf Hussan and Asghar Nadeem Syed also spoke.
Shabnam thanked people of the city for her respect and honour.

Back to top

Pak-Turkey, FTA agreement to sign in mid of May 2017

ISLAMABAD, 3 March 2017, (APP) – Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Turkey to be signed in coming months of May 2017,which
would enhance bilateral trade between both of the countries.

Both sides would share provisional list for reaching the final agreement for FTA in coming round of dialogue.

Both of the countries would hold discussions on agreement on goods, services and investment.

Pakistan’s trade balance started decreasing at annual rate of 19 percent after additional duties imposed by Turkey in 2011, said a senior official from Ministry of Commerce,talking to APP here.

The official said that Pakistan will get market space in agriculture and pharmaceutical sectors.

The official further said that Pakistan’s major exports to Turkey are denim PET,ethanol, Cotton yarn, fabric, rice, garments, leather, carpets, surgical instruments, sports goods, chemicals.

Pakistan’s major imports from Turkey are manmade textiles, towels, steel structure, tanning and plastic chemicals, processed milk and whey,the official said.

Replying to a question, the Commerce Ministry official said that additional tariff imposed by Turkey in 2011 have a targeted impact on Pakistan’s major exports,adding that Turkey levied
additional duty on 1880 products and Pakistan did the same in response.

This constitutes 17 percent on Turkish imports into Pakistan. The official further said that after the signing of new FTA with Turkey both the countries will have again the same positive
trade balance.”

Back to top

PM takes aerial view of Gadaffi Stadium

LAHORE, 5 March 2017, (APP) – Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Sunday took aerial view of Gadaffi Stadium where final of second edition of Pakistan Super League (PSL) is being played.

The Prime Minister, aboard a helicopter, took aerial view to witness the arrangements made for successful holding of the final between Peshawar Zalmi and Quetta Gladiators.

Later, the Prime Minister flew to Islamabad on board a special flight.

Back to top

PTDC to organize a Buddha Heritage exhibition

ISLAMABAD, 5 March 2017, (APP) – Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) is planning to organize a Buddha Heritage exhibition in Thailand.

Talking to APP, Managing Director PTDC Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor said that the exhibition would be organized with an aim to highlight the Buddhist historical and religious sites at Taxila, Takht Bhai and Swat.

He expressed the hope that the exhibition would attract the Buddhist tourists to visit Pakistan and see their religious sites.

Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor said that Buddhist Scholars and tour operators would be invited to visit the exhibition.

He said that Pakistan is the custodian of Gandhara Buddhist Civilisation and there are numerous holy places in this country of great value for Buddhist people from across the world.

“The significance of Buddhist civilisation remains in Pakistan can boost up tourist flow to Pakistan as a result of proper publicity,” he added.

He said that the Thailand government will provide assistance for restoration/maintenance of Ghandhara Archaeological sites in Taxila and Swat.

He said publicity material on Ghandhara will be published in Thai language soon.

Chaudhry Ghafoor said that PTDC will also invite travel writers to project Ghandhara heritage and highlight tourist attractions of Pakistan to enhance the soft image of Pakistan in Thailand,” he added.

Back to top

Zubair plans place for Karachi on world economic map

KARACHI, 4 March 2017, (APP) – Sindh Governor, Muhammad Zubair, has called for undertaking concerted efforts for ensuring a prominent place for Karachi on the world economic map.

He was speaking at the Pakistan Investment Road Show in Dubai, says a statement issued by the Governor House here on Saturday.

It said that the event was held under the auspices of the AKD Securities.

The Governor Sindh was of the view that such road shows would prove helpful for carving out a place for Karachi on the international economic scene.

He pointed out that after the restoration of law and order the situation is very conducive for the international as well as domestic investment.

Therefore, the foreign and local investors should take advantage from the opportunities offered by Karachi, he added.

The two-day event was aimed at apprising the investors of the potential as well as capacity of Karachi for profitable investment as well as business opportunities in various fields.

Governor Sindh assured that the companies coming up with investment in the province would be provided foolproof security.

He said that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would prove to be a game-changer in the region as well as beyond and its completion would herald a new era of progress and development.

Back to top

E-commerce to surpass US$1 bln by 2020

ISLAMABAD, 3 March 2017, (APP) – Finance Minister, Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar said Friday that E-Commerce sector had been doubling in size every year and was projected to surpass US $ 1 billion in 2020.

Talking to the delegation of Alibaba Group here, the minister said e-commerce was a growing business in Pakistan and had great potential for growth, according to a press release issued here.
He said Alibaba Group led by its Chairman Jack Ma had established itself as one of the leading e-commerce companies of the world.

The minister said there was growing emphasis on increasing role of e-commerce in global trade as an effective mean of promoting small business exports, entrepreneurship and exports diversification.
The minister said Pakistan had adequate ICT infrastructure in place for facilitating fast developing e-commerce sector and there was exponential growth in mobile broadband access to nearly 26 million people.

Pakistan had already introduced 3G and 4G technologies and with more than 11% citizens using mobile phones for financial transactions, Pakistan was the regional leader in mobile banking transactions in South Asia, the minister remarked.

He said expanding e-commerce could further facilitate the present government’s aim of inclusive economic growth, promoting socio-economic development and providing livelihood for the marginalized segments of society including women.

The minister welcomed and appreciated Alibaba Group’s interest in investing in Pakistan’s e-commerce sector.

He also referred to the meeting between Prime Minister of Pakistan and Chairman Alibaba Group Jack Ma on the sidelines of World Economic Forum at Davos in January, 2017 where Mr. Ma expressed his intention to establish an e-commerce platform in Pakistan and support small scale industries.

He also urged the Alibaba Group to invest in Pakistan’s digital trade industry, the press statement added.

Alibaba, it may be added, was China’s leading group in online commerce, with its Taobao platform estimated to hold more than 90 per cent of the consumer-to-consumer market, and its Tmall platform is

believed to have over half of business-to-consumer transactions.

On the occasion, members of the visiting delegation said they were happy to see great headway being made in the realm of digitization in Pakistan and that they recognized the efforts for development of E-commerce.

They added that the delegation was impressed by the progress made by Pakistan in the field of IT, Telecom and Broad band penetration.
They said the growing e-Commerce market in Pakistan presented great opportunities for entrepreneurs and companies and the group would also like to benefit from them.

Back to top

China’s Western Development Strategy closely linked to CPEC

BEIJING, China, 4 March 2017, (APP) – Pakistan Ambassador to China, Masood Khalid has said that China’s Western Development Strategy was closely linked to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which added a new chapter in long history of the close and comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

“I am confident that as we move forward, the Chinese economy will continue to achieve stable growth and sustainable development.” he said in an interview published by “China Daily” here on Saturday.

While commenting on the annual two sessions of National People’s Congress (NPC), he said, the annual sessions would continue to provide new solutions to increasing protectionism and provide ideas to accelerate the Belt and Road Initiative.

The diplomat described “what intrigues him most when it comes to the annual gathering of the country’s lawmakers and political advisers”.

“Like most international observers, I will watch with keen interest the proceedings of the two sessions, especially on the economy and connectivity,” he said.
He noted China’s continued focus on reform and opening-up, innovation, social development and environmental protection.

“We will be interested to know the guidance the Chinese leadership provides on economic development in light of this year’s Government Work Report,” he said.
“President Xi Jinping’s visionary Belt and Road Initiative provides an innovative solution to the challenges being faced by the global economy through inclusiveness, mutual trust and win-win cooperation, and building a community of shared destiny,” he added.

The ambassador noted that the Chinese economy in 2016 beat expectations and achieved its GDP growth target of 6.7 percent.

“Industrial output, fiscal revenue and foreign investments have increased, creating more jobs and increasing average incomes. The critical social sectors of education, health and social security have also seen considerable improvement. These are encouraging signs and will have a positive impact on the global economy,” he said.

Back to top

Sports promote peace: Gen Asif

RAWALPINDI, 5 March 2017, (APP) – On the historic event of final match of cricket as part of Pakistan Super Leage-2 on the country’s soils, Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor Sunday said that sports promoted peace.

In a Tweet message, he bade good luck to both the teams participating in the PSL-2 final, which is being held in a peaceful and secured environment at the country’s heart – Lahore.

He welcomed the foreign players participating in the match and foreign guest reached Pakistan to witness the historic moments.

Following spate of terror incidents, sports events of international level were ceased to be held in the country for over half a decade.

Back to top


Back to top

Rivers in Dhaka, Karnaphuli will be made pollution-free: Mosharraf

DHAKA, 6 March 2017, (BSS)- LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Khondokar Mosharraf Hossain yesterday said rivers in and around the capital Dhaka and the Karnaphuli River in the port city of Chittagong will be made pollution-free by mapping out a coordinated master plan and its immediate implementation.

Mosharraf, who is the chairman of a high-powered committee for preventing river pollution and improving navigability, said this while presiding over the committee’s second meeting at the Local Government Department here.

The Prime Minister has already issued directives to free the rivers surrounding the Dhaka city and the Karnaphuli in Chittagong from pollution to make Dhaka and Chittagong metropolis habitable, the minister said.

Mosharaf laid emphasis on using of surface water by reducing dependence on underground water to fulfill the demand of drinking water to the city dwellers growing rapidly.

“Rivers should be used as the sources of water. If rivers navigability improves and those free from pollution than people would enjoy its direct result,” the minister observed.

He said a technical committee will be formed in coordination with concerned department for making a master plan and its immediate implementation.

The LGRD minister said the illegal river encroachment and pollution from the dumping of both industrial and municipal waste should be stopped to return the normal environment of river flow.

The meeting reviewed the idea paper made by Bangladesh Navy and issued a directive to form a technical committee headed by principal secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in this respect.

Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmood, its members Dhaka South City Mayor Sayeed Khokan, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral M Nizamuddin Ahmed, Chittagong City Corporation Mayor AJM Nasir Hossain, LGRD Secretary Abdul Maleq, Director General (administration) of Prime Minister Office Kabir Bin Anwar, secretaries of concerned ministries were also present.

Back to top

Construction work of 11 bridges begins in Shaghata upazila

GAIBANDHA, 5 Mar 2017, (BSS) – Construction work of 11 bridges at 10 unions of Shaghata upazila in the district has begun very recently aimed at promoting the road communication system in rural areas.

Upazila Relief and Rehabilitation Office under the Ministry of Disaster and Relief is implementing the work involving Taka about 3 crore under the direct supervision of the upazila administration, an officer of the upazila administration said.

The bridges are being built over different canals and water bodies at Bonarpara, Padumshahar, Bharatkhali, Muktinagar, Kachua, Ghuridaha, Holdia, Kamelpara Jumarbari and Shaghata unions of the upazila.

Average 30 percent work had already been completed and the rest work would be finished by June 30, it was expected, said Abdul Hamid, sub assistant engineer of the office.

Mithun Kundu, upazila project implementation officer, said with the completion of the construction work of the bridges the water stagnant would be removed side by side with upgrading the road communication system at rural areas.

Back to top

Bangladesh Opens Ancient Buddhist Scholar’s Memorial Stupa

DHAKA, Bangladesh, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – Buddhists in Bangladesh are brimming with inner pride as with the support of China, a new stupa has been built as a monument to house sacred relics and honor an ancient Buddhist scholar.

The stupa, in part, honors the Buddhist scholar Atish Dipankar Srijnan, who was born in 980 AD and died in 1053 AD, with the sanctuary being opened at the place of his birth in Bangladesh.

Originally named Chandragarbha by his parents, Atish was born into a royal family in the Vajrayogini village on the outskirts of the country’s capital city of Dhaka.

The newly-constructed memorial to the saint and philosopher, who historically was known for his unique character, erudition, scholarly attributes, and spiritual eminence, opened to the public on Tuesday.

In attendance at the monument’s opening ceremony was Chunyi, vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, who attended as a chief guest, and Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ma Mingqiang was also present as special guest.

A host of dignitaries including Bangladeshi government officials were also present at the inaugural ceremony held at the magnificent new stupa.

The Chinese government has been highly lauded by Bangladeshi’s Buddhist community as well as broader society for its immensely generous support in building the stupa to honor Atish.

The ashes of Atish, who was on a mission to preach peace, teach knowledge and share culture with China, including his expertise in mathematics and construction, were returned by China to Bangladesh in 1978.

Since then, Atish has become a symbol of a stronger China-Bangladesh relations. In fact, a mausoleum has been built in the village of his birth with support from the Bangladeshi government.

Sanghanayaka Suddhananda Mahathero, president of Bangladesh Bouddha Kristi Prachar Sangha, said, “Atish Dipankar, beloved, beloved son. We are so grateful to you.”

# Farmers get loan without collateral: Ranga

DHAKA, 2 March 2017, (BSS) – State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Md Mashiur Rahman Ranga today said farmers are getting loan facilities without collateral to boost agricultural production in the country.

“Bangladesh Samabaya Bank Limited is providing loans to farmers without collateral to ensure their access to finance,” he told a discussion on Rural Development and Cooperatives here, an official release said.

Secretary of Rural Development and Cooperatives Division Dr Proshanto Kumar Roy, Chairman of Bangladesh Samabaya Bank Limited Mohiuddin Ahmed, General Manager of the Bank Nitau Pad Das, among others, addressed the discussion.

Ranga said the government is intensifying its efforts to spread cooperatives movements aiming to revitalize rural economy in the country.

“We are taking loan schemes with soft conditions to provide financial supports to small farmers through the Samabaya Bank for enhancing crop production, which eventually will remove their poverty,” he added.

Ranga urged officials and employees of the Samabaya Bank to work with utmost sincerity and honesty to make the cooperative movement successful to build an economically advanced country.

Back to top

Denim expo begins Mar 1 to attract global buyers

DHAKA, 26 February 2017, (BSS) – The 7th edition of ‘Denimsandjeans Bangladesh,’ an exposition of jean products, will begin in the city on March 1, aiming to attract global buyers against the backdrop of country’s capacity to supply quality products at lower costs.

The two-day expo with the theme ‘Denim Mashup’ will focus the latest trend in denim where embellishments, embroideries, sequins, patches, paint etc. are used in different combinations to produce visually exaggerated hi-fashion denims, said a press release today.

The Denimsandjeans team will recreate this theme using products from some of the key global denim suppliers and bring them under this theme together in the expo at Radisson Blue Water Garden Hotel on March 1-2.

This trend is being taken up by global brands like Gucci, D&G, Tommy Hilfiger, Wrangler and many other companies.

About 28 companies from a number of countries, including Bangladesh, Turkey, India, China, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Pakistan and Hong Kong, are taking part in the exhibition to showcase their denim pants, fabrics and latest accessories.

The show will remain open from 11 am to 7.30 pm and the entry is through invitation only. For invitations, one can register on the website -http://www.bdshow.denimsandjeans.com/invite.php

According to the press release, the ‘Denim Mashup’ has been a subtle trend over many years now and people see its strong resurgence across multiple brands worldwide from luxury brands like Gucci to fast fashion retailers like Zara and H&M.

“Bangladesh is the fastest growing denim destinations globally for sourcing fabrics and has been growing exponentially and quickly rising up the value chain,” Sandeep Agarwal, Founder of Denimsandjeans.com, explained.

Informative seminar by Dr. Dilek Erik from Turkey on the topic – “Studying Lifestyles and Creating Story to Sell Denims” and presentation by Mr. Jordi Junai on the topic – “Jeans supply opportunity in US market” and couple of workshops on global denim innovations add further zing to the show.

Besides, the Denimsandjeans brings out a ‘Denim Quiz’ for the students of fashion universities of Bangladesh on March 1.

This is a special event for the students of the participating universities – BUET, SMUCT and NIFT – as they will be able to compete with one another on their denim knowledge and their competition will be transmitted globally through Denimsandjeans Facebook Livecast.

The idea behind the event is to encourage the students to research more on denim subjects and get deeper knowledge that will help them in their careers as well.

Such quiz is the first of its kind in Bangladesh to promote the knowledge of Bangladesh’s students, the press release said.

Back to top

New VAT law helps expand small, medium businesses

DHAKA, 5 March 2017, (BSS) – Country’s small and medium entrepreneurs will have more scope to flourish their businesses under the new Value Added Tax (VAT) law as tax exemption facilities for such businesses have been expanded to a large extent.

Under the existing VAT law small businesses are paying VAT but as per the new VAT regime to be implemented from July 1 this year, all businesses with annual turnover up to Tk 30 lakh shall be completely exempted from paying VAT.

“The new VAT law will play an important role for flourishing of small and medium businesses as special focus has been made on this law for these businesses which are playing major roles for the country’s economic progress,” NBR chairman Md Nojibor Rahman told BSS.

He said small and medium businesses will get more facilities under the new VAT law as the National Board of Revenue (NBR) has incorporated all ‘good-practices’ of the present VAT law in the new one.

“The new VAT law will be effective from July 1, we’ve already started count-down and businesses have been asked to take online registration from March 15 but small and medium business will not have to take any registration,” said the NBR chairman.

Talking to BSS deputy director of VAT online project and additional commissioner (VAT) Zakir Hossain said the tax exemption facilities offered in the new VAT law to small and medium businesses will always remain valid because NBR will not be able to withdraw it by issuing SRO (Statutory Regulatory Order) any time as there is no such provision in the new VAT law.

According to the new VAT law, he said the businesses which have annual turnover from Tk 30 lakh to 80 lakh will have to take registration for payment of only three percent turnover tax.

Zakir Hossain said under the present VAT law businesses having annual turnover up to Tk 80 lakh pay three percent turnover tax but if NBR wants, it can realize VAT at the rate of 15 percent from them. The new law does not give NBR such right, he added.

“So, the interests of small and medium businesses are well-protected under the new VAT law,” he added. As per the new law, businesses will be able to submit return online.

Back to top


Back to top

Bamiyan Skiers Hope To Be Afghanistan’s First Winter Olympians

Kabul, 5 March 2017, (BNA) – Sajjad Husaini and Sayed Ali Shah Farhang from Afghanistan’s persecuted Hazara minority make unlikely ski champions. But the pair, now training in the Swiss Alps, are hoping to become war-torn Afghanistan’s first winter Olympians.

Husaini, 25, and Farhang, 26, are from the mountainous Afghan province of Bamiyan, famed for its ancient Buddha statues that were blown up by the Taliban in 2001. As children, Husaini and Farhang fled to Iran with their families to escape Afghanistan’s violence. They returned as young adults just as the Bamiyan Ski Club was established in 2011.

Lugging borrowed skis on their shoulders, they trekked up the Bamiyan mountains and taught themselves to ski down. After winning three championships at Afghanistan’s national competition, the pair have been training as slalom skiers in Switzerland for three winters. “They progressed incredibly well,” their Swiss trainer Andreas Hanni said by phone from the Swiss resort of St Moritz.

“Two years ago when they first started, they couldn’t ski parallel, but now they are racing.” Husaini thought skiing in Switzerland would be as easy as skiing on powder snow trails back home.

“When we came here, I couldn’t even control my balance on the compact ski trails. We were training with short skis that tourists use for leisure,” he said. Despite their lack of experience, both skiers qualified for the Alpine Skiing world championships in St Moritz last month. They advanced to the semi-finals after competing in four rounds of qualifying races in the giant slalom, against competitors from more than 70 countries.

“This was the first time Afghanistan was represented in the winter championships, and we are proud to be ice breakers,” Farhang said via instant messenger from the Alps. Now the Afghan skiers are training for the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. An instinct for survival may have helped them make such extraordinary progress. The Hazara are a Persian-speaking, mainly Shi’ite minority who have long faced persecution in Afghanistan, with thousands massacred by the Taliban and al Qaeda in the 1990s.

In-fighting between Afghanistan’s two skiing federations meant they received no support from home, the skiers said. “Like everything, unfortunately sport has also become politicized in Afghanistan,” said Husaini. “We came here to represent our nation, but none of the officials called us, not even for a minute to give a word of encouragement.”

Back to top

Greenery; Key For Environment Protection

Kabul, 5 March 2017, (BNA) – In fact, spring is a plantation season to protect environment of negative impacts imposed by climate changes natural disasters.

Annually, to beautify the environment, the tree plantation campaigns are begun in the center and other provinces of the country. Tree plantation plays a significant role in environment protection and beautification of the earth. Ghulam Nabi Sarfaraz, head of Badakhshan environment protection department told that National Environment Protection Agency is a government related entity which makes effort to plant saplings in all provinces of the country in order to beautify the environment, protect wildlife and attract the tourists.

He added that as you know, spring is a good season for greenery and tree plantations. To improve tree plantation culture, Badakhshan civil and greenery committee encourages the elders and local people in this respect, he went on to say. Earlier, we held a meeting with agriculture department of Badakhshan and they showed their readiness in this regard, he further said.

Fortunately, the department has 20000 unproductive saplings and efforts are underway to implement our program in the province, he continued.

Sapling plantation has lots of benefits, through which the wildlife would be protected and it can help decrease the environment pollution, he said, adding we will do our best to fulfil our goal.

Badakhshan is a mountainous province with beautiful natural views, where is home for different types of birds and animals, particularly rare snow leopards and Marco polo deer that are very popular in the world, he added. Mr. Sarferaz asked the government to cooperate with them in ensuring security of some turbulent areas, in order they can easily implement their programs all-over the province.

The environment protection is key for survival. Wellness of the environment directly relates to the wellness and health in human-beings and every other species. In addition, the environment provides remarkable beauty. Actually, any harmful alteration to the components of the environment brings adverse impacts across all species. For instance, destruction of trees would lead to the accumulation of toxic gases and a shortage of oxygen in the air.

As a result, protection against harmful rays of the sun would be disabled, causing uncontrolled temperatures and adverse health effects. Local environmentalists believe decades of war and smuggling have caused irreparable damage to forests across the country. Allah Almighty has interconnected the lives of human beings with plants.

Plants live off the soil while humans and animals off plants. If agriculture of plants and plantation of trees are eradicated, life itself would be put in peril. The people must realize that with tree plantation, they would be following the practical footsteps of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and showing appreciation for the blessing of Allah Almighty by developing the earth and protecting the environment.

Back to top

Artist, Afghan Pure Music Should Never Be Forgotten, Dr. Sadat

Kabul, 5 March 2017, (BNA) – Directorate of Music for Information and Culture held yesterday a program aiming at enhancement of skills of music students.

In opening ceremony of the program held at international press hall of the ministry, acting minister of information and culture Dr. Kamal Sadat said that artists and Afghan pure music should not be forgotten at any circumstances and it was the ministry’s task to support artists and pure music of the country so that they could do practical works to protect and improve pure music of the people of Afghanistan.

Dr. Sadat instructed head of the ministry’s music department to share problems of the country’s musicians with leading body of the ministry so that their problems would be addressed.

Back to top


Back to top

Ban-free Iran smashes regional equations

Tehran, March 21, IRNA – Ever since the victory of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Tehran’s regional rivals, which happen to be seeking to dominate the global oil market, never relented to tense up their siege of Iran by targeting Iran’s export routs and energy links with the world; but the nuclear deal smashed all regional equations.

A review of Iran’s map and its massive potentialities in energy, industry, transportation and tourism sectors and its situation in the crossroads of Persian Gulf littoral states, eastern and western Asian countries and newly independent states and the region’s geopolitical developments after the Islamic Revolution is telling that major geopolitical changes are under way in the region.

In the 37 years since the Revolution, the enemies have sought to curb Tehran’s geopolitical and geo-economic might as much as they could, and the blockade of Iran by its enemies which hold fast to global oil market domination, kept tightening and aimed at Iran’s export routs and energy links with the world.

From the east, the Peace Pipeline, which was supposed to send Iran’s natural gas to Pakistan and then to India came to a standstill under the pretext of international sanctions on Tehran’s nuclear program; Islamabad signed a key deal with Qatar for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) immediately after the removal of sanctions on Tehran; from the west, ISIL began to emerge in Iraq and a proxy war formed in Syria under the excuse of bringing down Bashar Assad, which have blocked Iran’s gas pipeline routes to Europe; in south, repeated disruptions are reported in Iran’s gas exports to United Arab Emirates which favor Abu Dhabi and Qatar which stepped into the Turkish gas market immediately after Iran’s nuclear deal.

The same goes for Iran’s crude oil export which is targeted by mischief of the House of Saud and its allies. They overtook 1.5mbd of Iran’s oil market share after the sanctions intensified in 2011 and are now seeking to sell oil to Iran’s traditional customers even for free to keep them satisfied. However, Tehran has been seeking to restructure its export plans given the new circumstances.

Since implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and lifting of sanctions on Tehran’s oil exports, Iranian Ministry of Petroleum is crowded by foreign delegations who make the trek to Tehran to hunt out cooperation opportunities heralding a promising future for the country’s economy especially in the oil and gas sector.

Despite allegations of most analysts, Iran has been able to bring its exports to 2mbd in less than 6 months after JCPOA’s implementation which is a record by itself.
By doing so, the country has not only baffled many analysts who denied its ability to double its exports in such a short period of time, it has also become a key player in the oil market.

The 2mbd glut in the oil market will not worsen by the Q3 of 2016 if Iran adds 1.5mbd to its exports and other producers keep their exports at the current levels and demand grows as it should. As a result, the prices will not change a lot by then. 
Likewise, a number of OPEC and non-OPEC producers have unofficially agreed to freeze their export growth in a bid to curb further oil price slump.

Meanwhile, oil price slump has led to reduced investments in shale oil and gas projects and reduction of their production which is another reason that makes stabilization of prices at the current prices a mandatory choice for conventional producers.

Unlike other producers, Iran could tap fields it had to stop production from because of the sanctions, and add to its production and exports.

Besides, Iran enjoys a 1% share in the global gas export market and given the fact that its holds 18.2% of global gas reserves, the country’s share in gas exports will jump to at least 10% by 2025.

Despite relentless resistance of Saudi Arabia and its allies, the pressure of international sanctions is reducing on Iran; high-profile business delegations from around the globe are heading to Tehran to win a share in Iran’s market.

The visits are while economy is not in its favorable state in most other oil-producing countries that are eager to lure foreign investors to fund their oil and gas projects to raise their output to alleviate some of the pain caused by falling oil prices; their foreign exchange reserves are estimated to last no more than one or two years. Such producers are used to high-priced oil and have lived such luxurious lives that will bring them crises in the near future if they cannot cope with new oil prices.

Iran, however, remains the only place that, given its massive economic potentialities, can ensure return on foreign capital that would otherwise lose its value over time. However, investors are still juggling opportunities in the country and are sizing up the risks; the newly-unveiled oil contract mode, Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) could a good answer for skeptics, however.

The large number of incoming delegations to Tehran from around the world is telling enough for the notion that believing that “a ban-free Iran has smashed equations of its regional rivals”.

Back to top

Iran land of safety and art: Japanese artist

Rasht, Gilan prov, 5 March 2017, (IRNA) – Japanese artist Chiba Miyamoto described Iran as the land of art, souvenirs, kindness, and safety, saying that Iran should not be judged without being observed.

She made the remarks while welcoming the visitors of her exhibition, saying that unfortunately, world media spread fake news about Iran.

It is the third time after the Islamic Revolution that Miyamoto holds exhibition in Gilan called ‘Gilan in the Eye of Chiba Miyamoto.’

She added she had never seen such kind, hospitable and warm-blooded people like Iranians.

She also said she always introduces Iran’s attractions and safety to her fellow-countrymen and people of the world.

Regarding her exhibition in Gilan she said because of similarity between Japan and north of Iran, nature of Gilan is relaxing and inspiring.

Gilan in the Eye of Chiba Miyamoto is underway in Gialn until March 10.

Back to top

Iran, Siemens Reach Preliminary Agreement To Jointly Produce Electricity Parts

TEHRAN, Iran, 5 March 2017, (NNN-IRNA) – Iran and German’s Siemens, have reached a preliminary agreement, to jointly manufacture equipment, for electricity industry in Iran, semi-official Mehr news agency quoted an Iranian official as saying, on Saturday.

“During a visit to Germany, an Iranian delegation signed a contract with Siemens, under which, a plant will be built for manufacturing power equipment, under the license of the German firm,” Arsalan Fathipour, the official from Iran Electricity Industry Syndicate, said.

The agreement with the German company, also encompasses the transfer of know-how, as well as, construction of new equipment, for power generation industry, he said.

Besides, collaboration with Siemens is aimed at reducing costs and boost of the export of electricity equipment, he added.

The official said that, the plant will be built in Parand, a town about 65 kilometres south-west of Tehran.

Back to top

Iran’s Rouhani Leaves Islamabad After Attending 13th Eco Summit

ISLAMABAD, 2 March 2017, (NNN-IRNA) – President of Iran Hassan Rouhani left for Tehran Wednesday after participating in 13th Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit in Islamabad.

The President during his two-day visit, also met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif.

Earlier the 13th ECO Summit concluded in Islamabad with adoption of the Islamabad Declaration.

While addressing the summit, Rouhani called for enhancing economic cooperation between the ECO member-states. ‘The ECO needs to be restructured,’ he said.

Pakistan hosted the meeting of the ECO heads for the second time.

ECO is a ten-member regional organization, which includes Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

This was Rouhani’s second visit to Pakistan as the President of Iran in less than one year. He was accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising Ministers and senior officials.

The last ECO Summit was held in October 2012 in Baku.

Back to top

Iranian companies keen to expand trade relations with Kyrgyzstan

Bishkek, 28 February 2017, (Kabar News Agency) – Director of the State Agency for Investment Promotion and Export under the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic Alymbek Orozbekov made a working visit to Tehran, the Islamic Republic of Iran from 19 to 23 February 2017, the State Agency for Investment Promotion and Export reports.

During the visit, the Director held several meetings with the heads of the companies interested in expanding trade relations with the Kyrgyz Republic. At a meeting with general director of Janas LLC Dr. Sayed Taheri the sides discussed the issues on further supply of meat to Iran, as well as the issues related to logistics and delivery of products. It should be noted that in 2016 at the Agency’s support about 150 tonnes of chilled meat was delivered to Iran and at the moment it is planned to export more than 350 tons in 2017.

During a meeting with a member of the Board of Tosan company Mr. Ferdos Bagher, the sides discussed the possible participation of the company in the introduction of electronic technology. Tosan is the largest Iranian company in the field of electronic technology and innovation. The company employs more than 3,000 employees, has more than 25 offices abroad. Management of the company expresses a strong interest in the market of the Kyrgyz Republic.

Orozbekov also met with chairman of the Board of the largest Iranian construction corporation Jian Construction Co. Mr. Ali Akbar Moghimi Azari, which has been operating since 1959. At the meeting, representatives of the company presented a number of investment projects in the field of construction. Mr. Azari expressed a desire to send a delegation to Kyrgyzstan to study the country’s investment opportunities.

It should be noted that this visit was carried out in order to implement the Action Plan for implementation of the agreements reached during the official visit of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran H. Rouhani to the Kyrgyz Republic.

Back to top


Back to top

Turkish ski resort sees near full booking over winter

BOLU, Turkey, 02 March 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – The Kartalkaya ski center in northwest Turkey has operated at near full capacity during the winter, the head of a local tourism association said Thursday.

Halit Ergul, president of the Western Black Sea Tourism Hotel Management Association, said nearly 150,000 tourists had visited during the ski season, which is due to end later this month.

Hotels in the resort, 45 kilometers (28 miles) from the city of Bolu, were fully booked every weekend while remaining 70 to 85 percent full during the week, he told Anadolu Agency.

“It has been 80 days since the ski season began,” Ergul said. “We have another 15 to 20 days for the ski season to end. During this time we had about 150,000 visitors.”

Back to top


Back to top

Abu Dhabi Airport to be among world’s largest by 2019: Hazza bin Zayed

ABU DHABI, 5 March 2017, (WAM) – Abu Dhabi International Airport will be one of the largest state-of-the-art airports in the world, with a capacity to accommodate 30 million passengers per year by 2019, said H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council, following a tour of the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) on Sunday.

”The expansion work on the airport is proceeding smoothly as planned. When the work is completed in 2019, the airport will be able to receive 30 million passengers per year. At that time, we will be up to the challenge and are confident of succeeding,” HH Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed added.

”Abu Dhabi International Airport will be the jewel in the crown of the infrastructure projects in the emirate, and it will constitute a paradigm shift in international standards to cope with the development the UAE capital Abu Dhabi is currently witnessing, under the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who is conducting a close follow-up of projects, ” he said.

”We are always looking forward and the airport project will reflect this evolving vision,” Sheikh Hazza added.

”The remarkable and tangible progress of the Abu Dhabi airport exemplifies our openness to the world, and thanks to this open environment of tolerance and competitive services, the capital has become a favourite destination for other nationalities,” he noted.

During his tour of the complex, Sheikh Hazza surveyed the central terminal space, the duty-free zone area, the under-construction transit hotel, the moving sidewalks and the administration office building. He also made a stop to review the 28-metre-high arch which stretches up to 180 metre at the entrance, making it one of the world’s largest internal arches. H.H.’s also visited the departures and arrivals halls and parking facilities, as well as the transit passengers’ section.

Stretching over 742,000 square metres, the MTB will be the largest in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and will be visible from more than 1.5km away. It will house 65 aircraft gates and have 3,500sq.m. of duty-free zone.

Back to top

Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council to hold 2nd award for women entrepreneurs

ABU DHABI, 4 March 2017, (WAM) – Encouraged by the success of its first edition, the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council, affiliated to the Abu Dhabi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has launched the second edition of the award for the best creative and innovative project by Emirati women entrepreneurs, and female students of universities and colleges.

This is in line with the activities, events and initiatives of the third entrepreneurship awareness campaign in Abu Dhabi, organised by the council under the slogan “Our Societal Responsibility in the Service of Homeland.”

The campaign is part of the initiatives for 2017, the Year of Giving.

It is held under the patronage 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.

Mariam Mohammed Al Rumaithi stressed that without the constant support of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and H.H. Sheikha Fatima, Honorary President of the council, the council would not have been able to achieve its current successes.

Back to top

Ajman Ruler Attends Dubai Boat Show 2017

DUBAI, 3 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman, praised the considerable interest by the wise leadership to support national industries and open investment opportunities in different fields.

He also valued the effective role of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai,Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for encouraging the largest international companies to come to the region and exhibit their latest maritime navigation products, relating to a wide sector of the region’s community, during his visit to the headquarters of the Dubai International Marine Club, which is hosting the Dubai International Boat Show 2017.

The Dubai International Boat Show is celebrating its silver anniversary and its 25th year since its launch in 1992.

The event, which was organised by the Dubai World Trade Centre, saw the participation of exhibitors from 60 countries and 87 new trademark companies exhibiting 450 boats and yachts, with a total value of around AED1.5 billion, as well as pavilions that exhibit all types of maritime and marine entertainment accessories.

It also includes the Dive Middle East exhibition, which has been part of the event for 10 years, as well as a Super Car exhibition and the Marine Art Gallery.

Back to top

Dubai Holding and Dubai Municipality develop largest public park in Dubai

DUBAI, 4 March 2017, (WAM) – Dubai Holding, the global investment holding company, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai Municipality to develop the largest public park in Dubai.

The move follows the directives of Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Stretching across 1,430,000 sqm in DubaiLand, this park will act as a new destination for residents and tourists and provide a vibrant, natural environment, encouraging individuals to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. Through developing the park, Dubai Holding and Dubai Municipality aim to elevate the city’s fitness levels, as well as consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the happiest cities around the world.

The partnership between the two entities complements the UAE government’s vision of activating the relationship between the public and private sectors through joint ventures that will encourage investments in Dubai. As envisioned, the partnership will improve the community’s overall wellbeing as well as strengthen Dubai’s position as a global smart city.

Eng. Hussain Lootah, the Director General of Dubai Municipality, said, “This park is in line with the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to expand the emirate’s green spaces. The project will establish the longest public park in Dubai, and will meet the highest levels of sustainability while raising environmental awareness among its visitors. I also want to take this opportunity to commend the continued cooperation between Dubai’s public sector entities and local developers, which together enhance further Dubai’s global reputation as premier destination to live, work, or visit through projects such as these.”

He added Dubai Municipality is committed to establishing additional public parks throughout the emirate in the future, and will continue promoting active lifestyles and environmental stewardship.

Commenting on the partnership, Ahmad Bin Byat, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Dubai Holding, said, “In addition to enhancing the natural landscape and attracting tourists, every major city, including New York, London and Singapore, has an iconic park that reflects its cultural and social identity. The provision of green, open spaces play a pivotal role in elevating the quality of life among residents, creating a desire to explore new pursuits and enjoy favourite pastimes. In addition, such parks act as important links between different parts of the wider city, positioning them as popular destinations drawing people together. The development of this park, in partnership with Dubai Municipality, aims to show off Dubai’s remarkable landscape and position it among the most prominent global cities.

He added, “The development of this park also reflects Dubai Holding’s strong commitment to supporting economic diversification, innovation and sustainable development across Dubai and the UAE. Such efforts align with our leadership’s National Happiness and Positivity Programme. We are thrilled to kick-start this project, which will further demonstrate Dubai Holding’s efforts to create a healthier, happier and more active nation.”

Targeting the highest international standards, Dubai Municipality seeks to achieve a density for the city as a whole of 12.5 sqm per person. When completed, this park will increase public space in Dubai by 17%.

The park will also provide a number of spaces that encourage exploration and year round activity for its visitors, including 30km pedestrian pathways, 20km jogging track, over 14km cycle tracks and over 7km nature trails. It will also include 55 playgrounds for children, 45 sports grounds, 5 major events spaces and retail space for shops, restaurants and coffee shops.

The large amount of natural landscape and trees is expected to improve the air quality of surrounding area, facilitate the preservation of existing biodiversity and an opportunity to enhance the urban ecology.

In addition to being a sports and entertainment destination, the public park will host innovation and smart-solutions, including sustainable on-site power generation, waste recycling and natural shading. The park will also have smart cards for ticketing, purchasing and Wi-fi connectivity throughout.

The construction of the first phase of the park, covering 318,000 sqm, is scheduled to commence later this year, and will offer a 4km jogging track, 7km of pedestrian pathways and a 2km cycling track. The public garden will also include 10 sports grounds and one major events space. The park will also help preserve the environment through reducing water consumption by 5 litres per sqm and will be home to up to 15,000 trees of native and adopted species.

Through attracting local, regional and international investments, public and private partnerships are an effective way to develop national projects. Such partnerships help achieve the social and economic goals of the local community and increase competition in the market. Both Dubai Holding and Dubai Municipality are committed to such partnerships as part of their efforts to support the development of the UAE’s sustainable economy.

The MoU outlines the specific role of each party in order to enhance the effectiveness of the partnership. Dubai Municipality will provide technical support to establish the project, in addition to implementing infrastructure work relating to irrigation connections and planting green areas. Dubai Holding will develop and operate the park and other facilities such as the playground and F&B area, as well as provide administrative support associated with the park’s operations.

Back to top

Dubai hosts 4th International Family Medicine Conference and Exhibition

DUBAI, 4 March 2017, (WAM) – Dubai is set to host the 4th edition of the International Family Medicine Conference & Exhibition, IFM, which is held under the theme “Building a Culture of Excellence in Family Medicine at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from the 6th to the 9th March, 2017.

The event will be held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and President of the Dubai Health Authority.

IFM has become the ultimate platform for professional interaction and scientific discourse amongst healthcare specialists and practitioners to develop healthcare services in medical facilities, to keep up with global developments, and to discuss various common diseases.

Dr. Ibtesam Al Bastaki, Director of VPS Healthcare for Dubai and Northern Emirates, and the Chairperson of IFM Conference, said, “The 4th edition of IFM will focus on many pressing topics such as chronic illness, obesity, mental health, cardiovascular disease, as well as revision in communication skills which are the core of family physician to build up a great rapport with the patient.”

Dr. Al Bastaki added, “Based on the statistics, in 2030 mental health especially depression will be no.1 major problem worldwide. On the other hand, in UAE we have 740,000 diabetic patients and 920,000 pre diabetic patients and the MOH national strategy has set up the goal to reduce the diabetes prevalence rate from 19 per cent to 16.3 per cent.”

“This year, we are privileged to have the majority of ministries from GCC participating to discuss the key issues on shaping the future of PHC and its transformation,” she added The International Family Medicine Conference & Exhibition is organised annually by INDEX Conferences and Exhibitions – member of INDEX Holding, and supported by Ministry of Health in the UAE, Dubai Health Authority, Global Family Medicine Scientific Alliance, Health Ministers Council for Gulf Cooperation Council States, International Hospital Federation, Anti-Smoking International Alliance, INDEX Healthcare Management, and Dubai Sports Council.

Back to top

Expo 2020 Dubai’s GCC Roadshow sets off in Oman

DUBAI, 5 March 2017, (WAM) – A delegation from Expo 2020 Dubai has set out on a GCC Roadshow to discuss with business leaders in five countries how their companies can maximise opportunities from the first World Expo in the Arab world.

The roadshow began with a meeting in Muscat, Oman, with Omani officials, highlighting how Expo will offer wide-ranging opportunities for Omani businesses of all sizes. The trip to Oman marks the beginning of a wider GCC Roadshow for the Expo 2020 Dubai team, which will also visit Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the coming months.

Manal AlBayat, Vice President of Business Development and Integration at Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “Through our GCC Roadshow, we are calling on as many businesses from across the GCC as possible to be part of the journey and join us in delivering a truly exceptional World Expo.”

The trip also included a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce attended by more than 100 senior representatives from large corporates and small and medium enterprises, SMEs, from a number of sectors, including construction, hospitality, food and beverages, steel, copper and local crafts.

Attendees were given an overview of plans for Expo 202 Dubai, as well as an update on progress to date. The meeting then focused on the specific opportunities available in the build-up of Expo, the six months of the event itself, and the legacy phase, which will see the site transformed into a thriving ecosystem for the industries that will shape the future of the regional economy.

The delegation also met representatives from Riyada, the Sultanate’s authority for SMEs, and the Artisans Authority, to discuss the specific opportunities that the Expo offers for small business owners, entrepreneurs and craftsmen, as well as the ongoing efforts that are being made to enhance their integration into Expo 2020 Dubai’s supply chain.

Highlighting Expo 2020 Dubai’s support for SMEs, Manal AlBayat said, “SMEs are a vital contributor to the regional economy, in terms of both GDP and employment. They are also agile and innovative and for these reasons we at Expo are committed to enhancing their integration into the Expo supply chain as much as possible.

“For example, we have put in place flexible commercial terms including 50 percent advanced payment for goods and materials and 25 percent for services to help mitigate potential risks and enable SMEs to bid competitively. In June 2016, we announced that 20 percent of direct and indirect spend for the Expo, representing AED5 billion in contracts, will be awarded to SMEs.

“We have also recently launched our Licensing and Merchandising Programme, which will see us look to develop 5,000 types of Expo-branded products, the first of which will be on sale before the end of this year. We are particularly looking to work with talented artisans on this programme, of which we know there are many in Oman. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase local crafts to an international audience.”

To date, more than 13,000 vendors and suppliers from 121 countries are registered on the Expo 2020 Dubai e-Sourcing Portal, of which 66 percent are SMEs.

Back to top

Oman Celebrates Craft Day Tomorrow

MUSCAT, Oman, 2 March 2017, (NNN-BNA) – Oman is celebrating the Omani Craftsman Day, marked every year on Mar 3, following the issuance of the Royal Decree 24/2003, establishing the Public Authority for Craft Industries, to promote the different types of craft industries in the Sultanate, and maximise their contribution to the national economy and sustainable development.

Dr. Rawiyah bint Saud Al-Busaidiyah, Omani Minister of Higher Education, is patronising the celebrations, Oman News Agency (ONA) reported.

The celebrations, from Mar 3 to 5, include a craft exhibition, that will include pieces of modern furniture and interior décor, with Omani touches, that are displayed for the first time.

Craft establishments operating in woodwork, fronds and textile, will take part in the exhibition.

Omani craftsmen, who won at the World Craft Council (WCC) “Award of Excellence for Handicrafts” 2016, will also be honoured during the event.

Back to top

Qatar Businessmen Association Organises Malta Business Seminar

DOHA, Qatar, 2 March 2017, (NNN-QNA) – The Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA), organised here, ‘Qatar-Malta Business’ Seminar, in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce of Malta.

The event discussed prospects of joint cooperation and mechanisms, for enhancing communication between businessmen of both countries, in order to enter into new partnerships, aimed at promoting economic diversification in Qatar and Malta.

Chairman of QBA, Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al-Thani, said, during the opening of the Seminar, Qatar has witnessed great development in all fields, especially infrastructure sector, in line with Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030, to achieve human, social and economic development, while seeking to diversify the economic base.

The meeting comes in the context of raising bilateral relations to a higher level of cooperation, so as to open communication channels with businessmen in Malta, and identifying investment opportunities on the ground, to
serve the interests of both countries, Sheikh Faisal explained.

He expressed hope that the meeting would be fruitful and promote joint economic and trade relations, by opening up new areas, which would be positively reflected on the two countries’ economy.

Qatar Financial Centre (QFC), Chief Executive Officer, Yousuf Mohamed Al Jaida, made a presentation on QFC’s role, to facilitate the entry of foreign companies to the state and their contribution to promote the diversification of the Qatari economy.

He stressed on Qatar’s keenness to reach positive solutions and create successful partnerships with leading companies, as well as, to facilitate the entry of foreign investors to Doha.

Qatar’s strategy to diversify its economy stems from Qatar National Vision 2030 and its four main pillars – Human Development; Social Development; Economic Development and Environmental Development, Al Jaida said.

He noted that, while most countries were affected by the low price of oil, Qatar was among the countries that wisely managed this crisis, as it saw large positive contributions of the non-hydrocarbon sector in the economy, with expectations for a higher contribution in the future.

Back to top

Vice President Marks Start Of U.A.E.’s Month Of Reading

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 2 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, marked, on Wednesday, the launch of “The UAE’s Month of Reading,” through a series of tweets, highlighting the role of reading in making hope.

“Today marks the beginning of the UAE’s Month of Reading at our schools, universities and facilities. We wish all, every success and reading will remain the cornerstone that we lay, to establish a generation that leads the future,” Sheikh Mohammed, tweeted.

“I was very pleased with the results of the Arab Reading Challenge, up to Mar, 2017. The number of students hiked to six million, in 40,000 schools across 15 Arab counties. The Reading Challenges does create hope,” he tweeted.

“We have 75,000 supervisors, overseeing six million students, so that we can ensure that each one is going to read 50 books, over the course of the Academic year. Our civilisation’s resumptions begin in schools. My thanks for the UAE Ministry of Education’s teamwork, who doubled the number of participating students in the UAE from 160,000, one year ago, to 303,000 today. I am proud of you and your work.”

The UAE’s Month of Reading, which falls in Mar of every year, began in the UAE yesterday (Wednesday).

Back to top

U.A.E.’S First ‘Smartflower’ Blossoms In Front Of Dubai Municipality

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, 2 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Dubai Municipality, unveiled the United Arab Emirates’ (UAEs’) first ‘Smartflower’ in front of the Dubai Municipality Headquarters, on Baniyas Road.

The solar power generating flower, is a first of its kind in the region.

The Smartflower, developed by an Austrian firm, is considered to be a ground-breaking and innovative solar panel, with built-in sensors that allow for the flower-shaped device to automatically track the rays of sunlight and re-orient itself accordingly.

This results in a much higher efficiency of up to 23 percent, and 60 percent self-utilisation, as compared to traditional roof-top solar systems.

It also has a highly developed weather adapting mechanism and its efficiency is not affected by Dubai’s weather conditions. A passive ventilation system has been integrated in the design of the Smartflower, to ensure optimum efficiency during high temperatures.

The initiative was opened by Eng. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, in the presence of Ahmed Bin Bayat, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Dubai Holding, Assistants to the Director-General of Dubai Municipality, directors of departments and other officials of the Municipality.

Lootah said, the Smartflower was in line with ideas of UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has said that “through greater investment and innovation in a green economy, the country will achieve its objective to be the gold standard for sustainability worldwide.”

Sheikh Mohammed said, “Whoever does not think of energy is not thinking about the future,” while launching the Emirates Energy Strategy 2050, aimed at enhancing the efficiency of consumption by 40 percent, raising the 
contribution of clean energy to 50 percent and a savings equivalent to AED 700 billion (USD 190.61 billion), by 2050.

Lootah said, the Smartflower is also an initiative in line with Dubai Municipality’s vision of developing a happy and sustainable city.

Khalid Sharif Al Awadhi, Assistant Director General for Environment, Health and Safety Control Sector, said, the Smartflower was considered to be one of several initiatives launched by the Applied Sustainability and Renewable Energy Department of Dubai Municipality in 2017.

Back to top

UAE Discuss Trade, Investment And Tourism Co-Operation With Ethiopia

DUBAI, 3 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – Representatives from the UAE’s Ministry of Economy and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, have discussed the means of developing future economic ties to boost levels of trade, promote bilateral investments and encourage the UAE business sector to explore potential economic opportunities in Ethiopia, notably in commerce, industry, tourism and agricultural investment sectors.

The meeting was attended on Thursday by Abdullah Al Saleh, Under-Secretary of the Ministry for Foreign Trade and Industry Affairs, and Ayana Zewdie, Ethiopian Minister of State for Trade.

Abdullah Saleh Al Hammadi, Head of the Tourism Department in the Ministry of Economy, and Deputy Consul-General and Head of Business Promotion at the General Consulate of Ethiopia in Dubai, also attended the meeting held at the Ministry’s Dubai headquarters.

Al Saleh highlighted the importance and strength of the economic ties between Ethiopia and the UAE.

He also stated that the last few years had witnessed important events in the promotion of economic co-operation between both countries.

He referred to the signing of investment protection agreement last year, as well as another agreement to avoid double taxation and many other memoranda of understanding in several sectors.

According to Al Saleh, the non-oil trade between both countries amounted to US$734 million during the first nine months of 2016, including the free zones trade, which stood at $803 million in 2015.

He stressed that the UAE investment experiences in Ethiopian agricultural, food and pharmaceutical industries encourage in widening the scope of investments to involve more sectors that have clear development potential.

The UAE official further stressed the importance of dialogue and co-ordination between both countries to introduce investors to available opportunities in the best interest of two parties.

He cited the civil aviation, tourism, agricultural investment, and industrial and infrastructure sectors as important and promising sectors for investment.

The Ethiopian minister praised the historic ties between both countries, stressing his country’s desire to promote economic ties with the UAE, and open new investment horizons between both countries in areas of investment and commerce.

He also highlighted the importance of co-operation in the meat and livestock trade industry, and of overcoming any obstacles that may arise.

Back to top

UAE Government launches National Year of Giving Strategy 1st add

5 March 2017, (Emirates News Agency) – Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a key pillar of the Year of Giving. Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, who oversees the pillar, said: “Our goal in the Year of Giving is to enhance the role of the private sector as a key partner of the government in its comprehensive development efforts through encouraging companies to adopt a more effective CSR concept.

The benefits are mutual – optimal implementation of CSR contributes to the development of the companies as well as to the sustainability and expansion of their activities within the framework of government support and constant media coverage.”

“The development of any economic activity is directly related to its contribution to the development of the community and its economic, cultural and civilisational progress,”he added.

Under the umbrella of corporate social responsibility and government-private sector partnerships, the National Strategy for the Year of Giving has adopted 10 initiatives.

The first of them is the CSR Smart Platform – an integrated smart application that will direct the contribution of participating companies in line with the society’s priorities. The e-platform will serve as a coordination tool between companies and government entities while highlighting those development initiatives and projects that need support most urgently.

Another initiative is the CSR Coordination Forum that will help build partnerships between leaders in the private sector and the charity and humanitarian aid sector.

Linked to the CSR Smart Platform as a complementary tool, the forum will provide a regular communication platform to exchange information and expertise, agree on priorities, and manage joint investments.

The third initiative is CSR Action Committees that will develop from the CSR Coordination Forum according to subjects of common interest to outline areas of cooperation between the private sector and non-profit organisations.

The fourth initiative is National Statistics on CSR that will identify and collect statistical data and research on CSR to observe current practices in the UAE and compare them to other countries, regularly publishing studies based on the results.

The fifth initiative is the annual National CSR Index that will rank companies in the UAE according to their contribution to CSR initiatives and projects.

Another initiative expected to have a major impact on companies’ activities is the Mandatory Disclosure of CSR, which will institutionalise CSR activities and link them to the renewal of trade licenses. The move will make it mandatory for companies to provide information about their social, financial and in-kind contributions.

The Responsible Procurement initiative will allocate a percentage of government contracts to companies that excel in CSR activities. This will require a modification in standards related to selecting contractors and suppliers.

The Annual Announcement of CSR Results will reveal the rankings of the National CSR Index and recognize top performers. Workshops will be organised to highlight the importance of CSR activities.

For its part, the CSR Mark will allow companies and institutions to showcase their outstanding social contributions.

Finally, the CSR Passport is a special passport granted to a limited number of distinguished companies that have excelled in translating their social responsibility to an effective partnership with the government to serve the society.

As for volunteerism, 11 comprehensive government initiatives and projects have been approved.

Najla Al Awar, UAE Minister of Community Development, said: “The National Strategy for the Year of Giving aims to enhance the importance of volunteering as a human value that reflects the values underpinned by the Year of Giving and nurtures individuals’ sense of responsibility. It also seeks to invest individual skills and energies in volunteering programmes and activities that benefit society.”

“These initiatives and the opportunities that will impact all segments and serve all development and humanitarian areas seek to organise volunteerism on the individual and corporate level and make it a way of living in the UAE society. Volunteering is certainly a significant contributor to the national economy and social well-being,”she added.

The volunteerism initiatives and projects as highlighted by Al Awar include the National Volunteerism Platform, a comprehensive online database that contains personal information of volunteers, their interests, expertise, and areas of specialisations. Listing available volunteering opportunities and programmes and volunteering hours, the database will contain a list of entities that attract volunteers and entities that benefit from volunteering work, as well as the required skills and expertise.

The platform is a smart application that coordinates and organizes volunteerism work across the UAE. Another initiative is the National Volunteerism Center, a federal government umbrella that coordinates volunteering work in the country. The center provides training to volunteers, conduct statistical studies, and publish reports on volunteerism in the UAE.

In an effort to enhance volunteerism in the UAE, the National Programme for Qualifying and Training Volunteers has been approved. Aiming to develop training and educational programs for volunteers in diverse areas to empower them with the requisite skills, the program targets active as well as potential volunteers from among the citizens and residents of the UAE. In order to utilise and invest specialised expertise, the strategy has also adopted the Specialised Volunteerism Program, which is the first of its kind in the country and encourages specialists and professionals, such as physicians, engineers, and technicians, to volunteer their time and experience to entities that require a certain specialised skill.

Other initiatives under the Volunteerism umbrella include Volunteerism Opportunities in Government Entities, which stipulates local and federal government entities to outline volunteering opportunities to all social segments, including specialised volunteering. Another one is Engaging Government Employees in Volunteerism by setting out plans and mechanisms that motivate local and federal government employees to volunteer. The System for Corporate Disclosure of Volunteering Activities aims to evaluate corporate volunteering work in the UAE through comparing the number of companies’ employees to annual volunteering hours.

Volunteerism Giving Points is an initiative that seeks to recognise volunteerism work and evaluate it according to points calculated based on the financial value, volunteering hours and other standards that will be included in the volunteerism file. These points will be shared with relevant entities and dispatched as financial or in-kind awards to volunteers. The Annual Volunteerism Celebration is an event that will highlight the experiences of volunteers and recognise their contributions.

The National Strategy for Volunteerism 2021 will be prepared and implemented by government, private and civil organisations and entities. It will conduct a comprehensive study on volunteerism to enable the UAE to becomes a regional and global leader in volunteering.

One of the leading initiatives under the volunteerism umbrella is adopting the Volunteerism Curriculum as a national strategic initiative that aims to teach volunteerism at schools and nurture this noble value in students through inculcating an awareness on the importance and types of volunteerism and providing them with exposure to leading charitable personalities.

One of the objectives of volunteerism in 2017 is to reach at least two million hours of general and specialised volunteerism, in addition to registering 200,000 volunteers in the UAE within a comprehensive database. These volunteers will represent all social and educational segments and backgrounds and may be deployed according to their experiences, with at least 200 entities to benefit from this volunteering work, leading to operational and administrational cost savings of around AED200 million in beneficiary entities.

Back to top

UAE Government launches National Year of Giving Strategy 2nd add

3 March 2017, (Emirates News Agency) – Among the key objectives of the Year of Giving Strategy is to reassert the role of humanitarian establishments in achieving the UAE development goals.

Reem Al Hashemi, Minister of International al Cooperation, said: “Giving back to society is genuinely rooted in the Emirati culture, and the UAE has a historical mission to solidify this culture on a global level. We believe that actions speak louder than words, so the UAE continues its commitments to offer support and aid to every person in need throughout the world. The UAE’s humane gesture has resulted in the nation’s name being widely and instantly associated with the concept of unlimited giving.”

“We urge all humanitarian establishments to realise their vital role, and incorporate development goals within their mission and future vision. This can be done through vastly collaborating with and contributing to developmental projects within the UAE,” she added.

In this context, Al Hashemi mentioned that the Year of Giving strategy consists of 10 main initiatives that collectively represent a comprehensive roadmap to develop the work mechanism of humanitarian establishments.

The 10 initiatives include: The Coordinating Council of the Humanitarian Establishments, which includes cooperating and linking humanitarian and charity organizations and enabling them to join forces to guarantee aligning their work with the UAE strategy.

The Council itself will develop a set of initiatives such as The Professional Diploma in Humanitarian Work. Another initiative is the The Smart Platform for Humanitarian and Charity Work, a flagship project which serves as a unifying platform for all humanitarian establishments in the UAE.

The Charity Deduction has been designed to primarily offer donation services through ATM machines, while the Charity Credit Card is yet another initiative that transfers a percentage of the purchase value to charity projects.

Meanwhile, The Development of Humanitarian Establishments in the UAE aims to strengthen the role of humanitarian organisations and enhance their services to make them leaders in the field, both regionally and globally. The plan will develop a Measurement and Self-evaluation Tool of the Work of Humanitarian Establishments, a special program to build institutional capacity in these organisations. This is in addition to the Quality and Excellence Standards in the Work of Humanitarian Establishments to ensure quality of work in the development space, and oblige the entities to endorse global excellence standards.

Media Another key objective of the Year of Giving Strategy is to emphasise the role of media in creating awareness and drive the public discourse to contribute to the Year of Giving strategy.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, Chairman of the National Media Council, said: “Media is a key partner in building a culture of giving and caring, and contributing to formulating a public opinion that supports the UAE’s initiatives in this realm.”

The National Media Council will coordinate with other media outlets within the UAE to build a culture in the Emarati society of embracing social responsibility and volunteerism. This should be achieved through the implementation of seven key strategic initiatives: The Generous Billion, for its part, is a collective commitment of all media outlets to supporting every initiative that fall under ‘social responsibility’ with creating one billion Dirhams worth of media content in this sphere.

In addition, there is The Generous Application, a smart app that encompasses all charitable activities across the UAE and provides a comprehensive overview of them for the benefit of the public.

Another initiative, is the Knights of Good/ Generosity, which aims to highlight the efforts and achievements of individuals from within the UAE society in the field of charity to provide the media with enough information on these contributions.

In addition, the Creativity and Innovation for Good initiative is a contest for the Emarati youth to encourage them to participate in creating media content related to the goals of Year of Giving to raise awareness for the Year of Giving through the hashtag # YearOfGiving.

Another strategic initiative within the media sphere is Media Professionals for Good. This initiative offers media professionals the opportunity to volunteer in charity work, besides covering the stories of these efforts for their media outlets.

As part of their volunteerism, media professionals are also expected to host workshops and lectures and conduct research studies that contribute to the charity work they are engaged with. Social media influencers will join hands with the media personalities, thinkers, writers and artists to reinforce the culture of Year of Giving and to deliver its messages to the target audience. Among its objectives, the initiative aims to enable these creative minds to come up with innovative ideas that contribute to enhancing public awareness of the key messages of the Year of Giving.

Finally, The Walk for Giving aims to convene media professionals and social media influencers in a public awareness activity so that the messages of the Year of Giving reach the largest audience in the UAE society.

Back to top

UAE Government launches National Year of Giving Strategy 3rd add

05 March 2017, (Emirates News Agency) – The Legislations and Policies constitute the legal framework that governs the pillars and paths of the Year of Giving and offers an enabling tool to achieve its vision, mission and general goals. The National Strategy of the Year of Giving seeks to institutionalize humanitarian and charity work in the UAE through laws that govern giving in all its forms and levels, identifies its mechanisms and directs its channels, in a way that ensures the sustainability of these efforts.

In this context, Ohood bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness, said: “The task of legislation is not merely to maintain the security and rights, but also to protect values and constructive behaviors. It institutionalises, organises and promotes giving, and thus helps achieve happiness.”

She affirmed that “all paths of the National Strategy of Giving aim to ensure the sustainability of charity efforts in the country, but there is an urgent need for regulatory and legislative framework for the Year of Giving to ensure its message is conveyed to future generations.”

The National Strategy of Giving includes four legislative initiatives and five incentive programs for giving as giving is linked to positive emotions and plays an important role in strengthening community ties, in addition to its role in spreading happiness.

The strategic initiatives include the Federal Law of Volunteerism, which will put all the regulations and practices of volunteerism in a legislative framework, thus contributing to institutionalising and entrenching a culture of volunteerism. The Federal Law of Social Responsibility aims to organise social responsibility in the country and determine its ranges, regulations, incentives, and privileges. The third legislative initiative includes the Federal Law of Endowment, which aims to define endowment and its conditions, provisions, duration and types of endowment. The fourth legislative initiative is the Community Service Procedures initiative that can be applied in case of misdemeanors as an alternative to prison sentences of no more than six months. Likewise, the community service should not exceed three months.

In terms of incentive programmes of giving, there is the Billion of Giving programme that aims to create a suitable platform for the mobile communication devices, in a way that entrenches the culture of giving through a variety of awareness-raising activities. The aim of the programme is to initiate a million ways of giving by the end of 2017, and spread the awareness of the value of giving. There is also the 100 Days of Giving, which complements the “100 Days of Happiness” initiative. This initiative targets the schools and encourages them to organise specific activities that inspire students to understand the concept of giving, with an aim of building generations that make giving an integral part of their lives, within and outside the school.

The motivational programs include the National Survey of Giving initiative that aims to highlight giving behaviors in the UAE community, allowing the development of policies that promote giving and thus achieve happiness. Similarly, the Market of Giving initiative conceptualises an actual market that enables giving generously, and makes it easier for low-income families to meet their basic needs. It aims to contributes to a cultural shift and a change in mindset in the UAE community with regard to giving. Furthermore, the Taste the Flavour of Giving initiative calls for cooperation with local food and drinks suppliers to encourage them to develop an innovative concept on their menus associated with the Year of Giving.

Serving the Nation is an essential pillar in the overall vision of the Year of Giving. It reflects the importance of upholding the values of giving and sacrifice to enhance the country’s status socially, economically, intellectually and from a humanitarian angle in a manner that supports its stability and contributes to its advancement.

In this regard, Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs, asserted the importance of serving the nation through the National Strategy of Giving. She said: “The Serving the Nation pillar aims to make such service an essential aspect of social behavior for future generations to emulate, and helps define the people of the UAE.”

She added: “Through the initiatives of serving the nation, we seek to provide a suitable environment to invest the energies of young people, and encourage young people in large numbers to serve their country and their society in all areas through providing them with various opportunities of giving. We believe doing so will enable them to meet the needs of the community and contribute constructively to its future development. Based on the faith of our leadership that young people are the creators of our future, we have factored in youth perceptions and suggestions in creating these initiatives that seek to drive home the value of service to the nation as the highest form of giving.”

The National Strategy of Giving has adopted six initiatives under the agenda of serving the nation, which aim to instill the culture of serving the nation in the younger generation, and ensure a mutual spirit of giving between the country and its people. Young people will be encouraged to serve their nation in various fields and through all available means. The initiatives include 100 Fields to Serve the Nation, which identifies 100 different national development projects within specific areas and sectors.

Furthermore, this initiative includes the development of a platform to serve the nation – one that helps introduce all segments of society, especially young people, to government entities and national institutions that need their efforts and contributions in serving their nation and community.

Serving the nation has been also included in the artistic and literary agenda of the nation. Various artistic and literary awards in the country will include serving the nation as an essential award category, given the importance of artistic and literary awards as creative tools that communicate the message of serving the nation to younger generations. The National Youth Visits initiative for its part, will encourage the local youth councils across the UAE to organise visits to various monuments that symbolize the value of serving the nation and serve as a repository of national and historical stories – such as the Etihad Museum and Wahat Al Karama, among others.

Other initiatives under umbrella of Serving the Nation in the National Strategy of Giving include Pioneers of Giving, which aims to shape one Emirati young man and one Emirati young woman as pioneers of social communication. As ambassadors of the initiative, they will promote the value of giving and how to be practice it among individuals and institutions in the country. A National Idol initiative for its part, promotes role models that set an example in serving the nation, such as doctors, engineers, teachers, directors or even students who have developed nation-wide initiatives, or adopted pioneering ideas in serving the nation for the greater good.

Since service to the nation is best reflected in the defence of the homeland, a new initiative has been adopted under the name Pride which seeks to celebrate participants engaged in national service and every success story of championship and sacrifice.

Among its key priorities, the Serving the Nation pillar aims to allocate five artistic and literary awards to acknowledge the values of service to the nation, register 20,000 young nationals in the 100 Fields to Serve the Nation initiative, and organise at least 70 visits by local youth councils to historical and cultural milestones in the country.

Back to top

UAE Highlights Importance Of Innovation In Boosting Tourism

SHARJAH, 3 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – The Ajman Tourism Development Department (ATDD), in collaboration with the United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain, organised a lecture on sustainable tourism Wednesday.

The lecture discussed tourism and the development of guidelines for the same, through action and research.

The lecture was delivered at the university campus in the presence of graduates and faculty members of the Department of Geography and Urban Planning at the College of Humanities and Social Science.

Faisal Al Nuaimi, General Manager of the Ajman Tourism Development Department, who delivered the lecture, presented the importance of tourism and the projects that must be carried out to suit varied preferences and tastes, and achieve sustainable tourism development in the UAE.

Al Nuaimi highlighted the objectives and strategy of the Ajman Tourism Development Department and exchanged views with the students who presented their projects proposals.

He spoke about the innovations and creative projects adopted by the Emirate of Ajman in keeping with its locations, facilities and tourist attractions by ensuring the contribution of all sectors.

Back to top

Bayn art exhibition opens

ABU DHABI, 5 March 2017, (WAM) – UAE. Bayn: the In-Between, The third exhibition organised by UAE Unlimited, opened on 25th February in Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi .

The opening ceremony was led by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, founder of UAE Unlimited platform. UAE Unlimited is a satellite platform with a mission to nurture and develop emerging artists in the UAE.

‘Bayn: the In-Between’ is a collaboration between UAE Unlimited and a number of UAE-based artists, curators, and institutions, highlighting the collective nature of the creative community in the UAE today.

The opening ceremony was also attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saif bin Mohammed Al Nahyan and members of the Art and Culture committee including Executive Director of UAE Unlimited Shobha Pia Shamdsani, Abdul Monem Al Serkal Founder of Al Serkal Avenue, Marwan Al Sarkal CEO of Sharjah Investment and Development Authority, Angela Migally, Executive Director of Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation and Giuseppe Moscatello, Director of Maraya Art Centre.

The exhibition was developed and produced with the support of Maraya Productions in Sharjah.

Maya Allison, Founding Director of NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery, is the Senior Curatorial Adviser to the project and the exhibition’s curator Munira Al Sayegh. The participating artists presented a wide range of creative practices that explore the various reactions to the transformations happening today in our society.

These include Emirati installation and multi-media artist, Asma Al Ahmed, Iraqi architect and designer, Hatem Hatem, Emirati musician and sound artist, Maytha Al Shamsi, Jordanian portrait artist, Saif Mhaisen, Emirati textile artist, Sara Al Haddad, Syrian landscape artist and designer, Talin Hazbar, Bahraini-American documentary artist, Nasser Al Zayani, and Emirati architect and illustrator, Talal Al Ansari.

Shobha Pia Shamdsani, Executive Director of UAE Unlimited said, “Through UAE Unlimited’s partnerships with local initiatives in the UAE, we are able to offer emerging artists the advantage of working directly with experienced creative professionals whose insights are invaluable to the development of these young artists.”

Maya Allison, Senior Curatorial Adviser, said, “An exhibition of emerging artists on this scale is a major, exciting undertaking, particularly with nine entirely new works being produced. Munira’s curatorial concept and commitment to the creative vision of these emerging artists is commendable, as is the commitment of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan and Shobha Pia Shamdsani to the support of emerging artists, and now emerging curators, in the UAE.”

The exhibition is held in Warehouse 421 until 18 June 2017.

Back to top

Kuwait’s Minister Urges Sustainable Use Of Water

KUWAIT, 2 March 2017, (NNN-KUNA) – Kuwait’s Minister of Oil and Minister of Electricity and Water, Eng. Esam Al-Marzouq, on Wednesday, highlighted the need of raising the public awareness, about sustainable uses of the water and energy resources.

“It’s totally impossible to achieve sustainable development, and ensure the welfare of the future generations, without enough water,” he said, at a function organised by the Ministry of Electricity and Water, to mark the Arab Water Day 2017.

“Water is interrelated with food and energy,” the minister said, noting that, the problem of water scarcity is exacerbating in many Arab countries.

The educational, religious and media institutions, should join forces in raising public awareness, about conserving water resources, Al-Marzouq stressed.

He noted that, Kuwait has successful experiments in rationalising water consumption.

The Ministry of Electricity and Water is keen on taking part in the scientific activities and ministerial meetings of the Arab Water Council (AWC), an affiliate of the Arab League, he went on.

Meanwhile, Fatema Al-Enzi, a researcher at the Ministry’s Water Resources Development Centre, said, 70 percent of the water consumption go to farming, which reflects the interrelation between water and food production.

Kuwait, which suffers from shortage of water, depends heavily on desalination of seawater, in meeting its needs of drinkable water, Eng. Al-Enzi said, in statements to KUNA.

She added that, the per-capita consumption of water in Kuwait, amounts to 500 litres per day, which is one of the world’s highest rates.

Back to top

New club for cyclists to start in Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, 5 March 2017, (WAM) – A new club will be set up in Abu Dhabi to regulate and promote cycling, and develop the skills of young cyclists to enable them to participate in competitive events.

The Emirate of Abu Dhabi will establish the bicycle club, according to a resolution issued by H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Sports Council.

In another resolution, Sheikh Nahyan named Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili as chairman of the eight-member board of the club. Members of the board will serve a three-year term, subject to renewal.

Back to top

Oman Sports Affairs Minister Honours Outstanding Athletes In 2016

MUSCAT, Oman, 28 February 2017, (NNN-ONA) – The Ministry of Sports Affairs Oman, honoured at the Grand Millennium Muscat Hotel, the outstanding athletes for the year 2016, under the patronage of Sheikh Saad bin Mohammed Al Mardof al-Saadi, Minister of Sports Affairs, in the presence of Rashad bin Ahmed al-Hinai, Undersecretary of the
Ministry of Sports Affairs, Chairman of the honouring committee, Khalid al-Zubair, Chairman of the Omani Olympic Committee, heads of sports federations, clubs and committees, a number of companies and private sector organisations’ CEO’s, a group of athletes, and media professionals.

The Minister of Sports Affairs, in a statement, expressed his happiness with this honouring and the achievements made in 2016, adding that, these achievements are added to the sports achievements of Oman, during
the blessed Renaissance march.

He expressed his deepest thanks, gratitude and loyalty to Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, for his generous care and attention to the sectors of sports and youth.

Rashad bin Ahmed al-Hinai, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Sports Affairs, delivered a speech, in which he stressed that the number of outstanding athletes in 2016 amounted to approximately 400 athletes, who won a number of medals, in collective and individual games at different levels of ages and multiple levels of participation, urging all athletes to put more efforts to accomplish more achievements in coming participation.

At the end of the ceremony, the Minister handed over the awards to the outstanding young athletes in 2016, in addition to honouring the government agencies and companies supporting Omani sport, the media and former heads of sports federations and committees.

Back to top

Admaf And Abu Dhabi University Sign MoU

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, 5 March 2017, (NNN-WAM) – The Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, ADMAF, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Abu Dhabi University, to focus on the development of programmes and activities that foster free, creative and critical thinking among students and young people.

The agreement was signed by Huda Ebrahim Al Khamis, Founder of ADMAF, and Ali Saeed bin Harmal Al Dhaheri, Chairman of Abu Dhabi University’s Executive Board.

Commenting on the signing, the ADMAF Founder said, “Building on the fruitful relationship between ADMAF and Abu Dhabi University that we have been building in recent years, we look forward to deepening the partnership so that together, we may empower students and the community with an appetite for knowledge and a thirst for creativity that will enable all to contribute to the future prosperity of the UAE.”

With a long-term vision in mind, both parties have agreed to explore various collaborations that already includes ‘Art for Autism,’ an annual art competition that celebrates the often-overlooked creativity of people on the autism spectrum. Through the sharing of resources, both parties will foster the communication, exchange of promotion with students, other groups and individuals, nationally and internationally.

Al Dhaheri said, “We look forward to reaping the fruits of this new collaboration, and we hope that it inspires the development of joint multidisciplinary educational programmes, cultural activities, and scientific conferences that promote a culture of creativity and innovation, and equip students with leadership skills.”

ADMAF has worked in close collaboration with Abu Dhabi University since 2010, when a Hakawati production was presented during Abu Dhabi University Week of Welcome. ADMAF has also supported the ‘Art or Autism’ competition, since the inaugural edition in 2015.

This MoU signing with Abu Dhabi University represents the latest addition to ADMAF’s family of national strategic education partners, which include Zayed University, UAE University, Higher Colleges of Technology, New York University, Abu Dhabi, and Zayed Higher Organisation.

Back to top

New Zealand Fm To Prioritize Stalled Fta In Gulf States Visits

WELLINGTON, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – New Zealand is ramping up its push to secure a stalled trade agreement with the Arab states, with Foreign Minister Murray McCully announcing Friday he will travel to the Gulf next week.

McCully, whose visit comes hard on the heels of Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy, said discussion of the free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states would be a priority.

McCully said in a statement that he would hold meetings in Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Bahrain.

Other priority issues would include regional security and cooperation in areas such as renewable energy.

The GCC, comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is New Zealand’s eighth largest trading partner, with annual two-way trade exceeding 3.2 billion NZ dollars (2.25 billion U.S. dollars).

“The relationship with the GCC has grown remarkably in a very short space of time, underpinned by 42 air services per week between the Gulf and New Zealand, an increase of 50 percent since 2013,” McCully said.

“Our economies are highly complementary, and there is huge potential for greater cooperation.”

A steady train of New Zealand ministers have been visiting the Gulf states in the hope of kickstarting the stalled trade agreement.

Back to top


Back to top

Don’t believe only bad things happen in Palestine…

05 March 2017, (Guardian News) – Two excited crowds gathered in Bethlehem yesterday afternoon, one outside Banksy’s new hotel by the barrier wall, hoping for a glimpse of the internationally famous artist’s latest venture. The much larger, louder group was waiting beside the Church of the Nativity, to welcome a returning local hero, winner of the regional talent competition Arab Idol.

Hundreds of mostly young men and women roared when 23-year-old Yaqoub Shaheen was carried on to the stage in Manger Square. “He’s a Palestinian who shows we have talent regardless of the pressure on us,” said Yasmin el-Ramahi, a classmate of Shaheen’s, from primary school to graduation, and thrilled at seeing him again. Banksy? “Never heard of him.”

Few knew of the British street artist, although several recognised snapshots of his protest art, including a dove in a flak jacket and a girl frisking a soldier.

Banksy’s work is more famous than his name, said souvenir shop owner Nabil Giacoman, who does a brisk trade in magnets, postcards and carvings of the artist’s work. Palestinians are grateful for the international attention he has brought their fight for a state and against Israel’s barrier wall. “I like that he shows you how we are suffering, the truth about our situation.”

News of Banksy’s Walled Off hotel, which grabbed international headlines on Friday, had yet to make it a few miles down the road inside the West Bank. That may have been partly because the town was seized with excitement about Shaheen’s return, a free concert and a rare opportunity for untempered celebration.

While Palestinians do not want their fight forgotten, nor do they want to be known only for their troubles. Shaheen, a Christian carpenter’s son who celebrated his win by singing a patriotic song with the Palestinian flag draped around his shoulders, brought them joy and solidarity, they said.

He was carried to victory on a wave of millions of popular votes, many of them from Muslim Palestinians who made up a large part of the crowd waiting to welcome him.

“Anyone who represents Palestine in a bright way is a good thing. At the end of the day, we are all one people,” said Mujahid Yahya, a Muslim fan who had travelled for over two hours from Jenin to see Shaheen. “We need someone of this calibre to represent us.”

“The feeling of being Palestine and Bethlehem is worth the whole world,” Shaheen said. “I will travel but I will return home.”

It is a question of both national pride and the economy. Many of the tourists who visit the area to see historic Christian sites arrive on tourist buses from Jerusalem, where they stay and spend most of their money. Some are frightened that the area is too dangerous to stay in or that conditions will be uncomfortable, locals say. They hope that both Banksy and Shaheen might persuade more people to come see for themselves.

Back to top

Internet Users Will Soon Be Able To Walk Streets In Palestine Via Google Maps

RAMALLAH, 3 March 2017, (NNN-WAFA) – People around the world will soon be able to walk the streets of the Palestinian cities, such as Ramallah, via Google Maps, Safa Dweik, director of the maps department in Ramallah municipality, said on Thursday.

She told WAFA that Google and the Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology (MTIT) have worked together to put the Palestinian cities on Google Map by allowing its Street View vehicle to roam the streets taking pictures of different places.

She said efforts were underway since 2013 to bring in the Google Street View vehicle but apparently Israeli has blocked these efforts until recently.

MTIT announced Thursday the launch of filming Palestinian cities, starting with Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho, using the Google Street View vehicle.

It said a trained Palestinian crew is going to drive the car instead of the regular Google staff.

The vehicle is going to film tourist sites in these cities to make them available for view to millions around the world, particularly Diaspora Palestinians who are not able to visit home.

Back to top

ISESCO chief hails call by 154 French politicians to recognise Palestine

Rabat, 26 February 2017, (ISESCO) – ISESCO Director General hails request by 154 French deputies and senators for recognition of the State of Palestine

The Director General of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, hailed the request addressed by 154 French deputies and senators to French President François Hollande to recognize the State of Palestine.

The Director General called on the French president and his government to take this request into consideration and accordingly recognize the State of Palestine as did the Swedish government before.

By the same token, he called on all European states and parliaments to adopt similar decisions to enable the Palestinian people to establish their independent state and put an end to the Israeli arrogance and the policies of occupation, settlement and aggression.

Back to top

Jordan PM: More Efforts Needed To Spur National Economy

AMMAN, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Petra) – Prime Minster Hani al-Mulqi said the government should direct its efforts towards spurring the national economy, and promoting investment within the comprehensive economic reform efforts.

Presiding over a ministerial economic team meeting, al-Mulqi said effective mechanisms were needed to stimulate economic growth in line with government drive to cut expenditure.

The prime minister noted the importance of the Social Security Investment Fund (SSIF), as a sovereign fund that contributes to stimulating the national economy and creating new investment opportunities without risk.

Al-Mulqi highlighted the need for new mechanisms to ensure better fund investments, stressing the need to launch highly rewarding investments. Chairperson of the SSIF, Suhair al-Ali, said the fund’s investments at the Amman Stock Exchange represent nearly 11 percent of the bourse’s market value.

The fund, Al-Ali noted, has established a JD400 million-capital company to boost its inevstments. The Al-Daman Financial Leasing Company, founded in August 2016, will provide leasing services across the Kingdom.

The Fund, in cooperation with the Finance Ministry, is funding two pivotal projects that include the new Amman Customs Project (Madona) at a total cost of JD95 million, and the JD40-million project of Tafilah Hospital, said al-Ali.

Back to top

Jordanian PM Pays Surprise Visits To Disability Centres

AMMAN, Jordan, 2 March 2017, (NNN-PETRA) – Jordan’s Prime Minister, Hani al-Mulki, on Wednesday, paid surprise visits to public and private disability services centres, in the Zarqa sub-district of Al-Dhlail and in Jerash and in Amman.

The prime minister said, the visits aim to take a closer and firsthand look at services and level of care, these centres provide to the disabled, who need special care and attention.

In the Zarqa sub-district of Al-Dhlail, Al-Mulki checked on services provided by the region’s disability and rehabilitation centre and learned about its needs, particularly more qualified human resources.

The prime minister commended the efforts exerted by the cadres of these centres, saying, such work is more of a humanitarian effort than a job.

In Jerash, the prime minister looked firsthand at work underway, to upgrade the city’s Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled.

The prime minister also visited a special education centre in Amman, and was briefed by its director, of services provided to the disabled.

On Tuesday, the minister of social development visited a number of disability and rehabilitation centres and ordered the closure of one of them, and giving two others warnings, over major violations.

Back to top

Jordan to Grant Yemenis And Sudanese Medical Tourism Visas

AMMAN, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Petra) – The Cabinet’s recent decision to adopt a specific mechanism to grant Yemeni and Sudanese nationals entry visas to the kingdom for the purpose of treatment, is a serious government step to encourage medical tourism in the Kingdom.

Interior Minister Ghaleb Zu’bi said in a press statement on Thursday, that medical tourism supports the national economy as well as plans and strategies to develop the economies of countries that seek practical solutions that meet their needs and aspirations of their citizens.

“At this stage, and in light of the difficult economic conditions, we are in urgent need of immediate and quick measures that would reflect on all economic sectors in the Kingdom,” the minister added.

Jordan Al Zu’bi said has become an attractive destination for medical tourism as it has an advanced infrastructure, hospitals and medical centers as well as qualified human cadres.

Regarding Yemeni patients, he said airlines can submit lists of those willing to acquire entry visas to the Kingdom to the Interior Ministry, which will respond to these requests in 48 hours.

“As for Sudanese patients, those who are over 50 years, old and have at least $5,000 will be allowed entry to the Kingdom with a maximum of two companions,” the minister said.

Back to top


Back to top

IMF Team To Hold Annual Consultations With Algeria March 7-20

WASHINGTON, 3 March 2017, (NNN-APS) – An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission will visit Algeria from March 7 to 20 for annual consultations with Algerian officials, says the head of the mission to Algeria, Jean François Dauphin.

The mission is part of consultations conducted annually under Article IV of the IMF statutes and will involve discussions with the relevant Algerian authorities on the economic situation and the economic policies being implemented to boost growth, said Dauphin.

The IMF has kept unchanged its growth projections for Algeria for 2017 at 2.9 per cent and assumes a recovery in growth to 3.4 percent from 2021, as well as for inflation in 2016 at 5.6 per cent against 4.4 per cent in 2015 and at 4.8 per cent in 2017.

The current account in the balance of payments recorded a deficit of 15.1 per cent of gross domestic product in 2016 and this is expected to drop to a deficit of 13.7 percent of GDP in 2017. The downward trend in the deficit is expected to be maintained until 2021 when it is projected to reach-6.3 per cent.

Back to top

Algeria seeks to achieve sustainable security, prosperity in region

LONDON, 05 March 2017 (Algeria Press Service) – Algerian Government is working to achieve sustainable security and prosperity in the country and in the region, said the British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Minister for Middle East and North African), Tobias Ellwood.

“We assess that the Government of Algeria is working to achieve its goals of sustainable security, stability and prosperity in the country and wider region”, said the British minister in response to a written question from British Conservative MP Edward Argar, on the recent assessment of the British government of the political and international security situation in Algeria.

“The United Kingdom and other members of the international community are supporting Algeria in this work,” added Ellwood.

Back to top

Algerian researcher receives Strategic Innovation Award in London

LONDON, 28 February 2017, (Algeria Press Service) -Algerian researcher Abdou Attou received Monday in London the Strategic Innovation Award in aerospace science from the British government for his pioneer invention that consists of software able to locate distressed aircrafts in real time.

The British Minister of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy awarded the Strategic Innovation Award to the Algerian researcher, who is Founder and CEO of “Wisscom Aerospace” company, based in Oxford, one of the world’s bastions of scientific research.

Developed in 2015, the integrated system was brought to the market in 2016 and has already received two awards.

In a statement to APS on the sidelines of the award-winning ceremony, Attou said he was “very proud” as an Algerian to see his company succeeding in technology, one of the most developed fields in the United Kingdom.

“The award is a motivation and an official recognition that will allow us take advantage of the British funds for support to high technology and will help us market innovation and further invest in research,” stressed Attou.

He expressed the hope Algeria would “benefit from” high technology to get out of dependence on oil revenue.

The economic model for diversification sought by Algeria “requires technology and intelligence, “which are profitable and affordable.”

Back to top

Algerian, Italian designers exhibit in Algiers

ALGIERS, 05 March 2017, (Algeria Press Service) – An exhibition by Algerian and Italian designers, exploring graphic design and household objects design, was inaugurated Saturday in Algiers.

Organized on the occasion of the Italian Design Day in the World that the Museum of Contemporary and Modern Art of Algiers (MaMa) celebrates for the first time, the exhibition includes the works of 19 Algerian and Italian designers.

The artist Leila Mammeri exhibits objects for household and professional use meeting the concern of storage space.

Graduated from Fine Arts School, Radia Zitouni proposes a cushion made of tennis balls and cardboard cylinder in a ludic design while Liess Vergès exhibits two black and white arabesque paintings.

On the Italian side, design studios and artists disclosed to the visitors household objects (armchairs, chairs, lamps, ….) whose design is represented through strange artistic touches, in addition to a poster exhibition relating the history of the Italian design.

Minister of Culture Azzedine Mihoubi and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Algiers attended the exhibition which will be held until March 18.

Back to top

American Brand’s New Collection Inspired by Morocco

05 March 2017, (MENAFN – Morocco World News) – ‘For spring 2017, Kate Spade New York heads to Morocco, drawing inspiration from dusky desert landscapes, the pattern play of candle lit lanterns, rose petals, the sensory overload of the souks and the oasis of calm in the majorelle gardens. throughout the collection, textured fabrics and detailing; eyelets, pom poms, applique roses and ruffles sit against softly flowing and feminine silhouettes. more is more,’ explained Kate Spade New York on its website.

The collection’s video ad shows the model Fernanda Ly walking a camel loaded with the brand’s bags through the busy streets of New York.

Later, the model attaches the camel’s leash ta fire hydrant, as if a pet, before buying a bagel and coffee.

The colors used in this collection are reminiscent of “colorful spices and paint pigments in markets,” says Deborah Lloyd, creative director of Kate Spade, on the site.

The prices of these clothes and accessories range from 88 for a key ring to 358 for a pair of high heels, 598 for a leather bag, to 168 for ahat inspired by Berber headwear.

“No matter where we go, we are always surprised by what we have in common. In a way, Marrakech and Midtown Manhattan are not that different after all,” said the brand.

Back to top

Moroccan tourism revenues reach $6 billion with 10.3m tourists in 2016

Rabat, 02 March 2017, (IINA) – The number of tourists who visited Morocco in 2016 reached 10.3 million, an increase of 1.5 percent compared to 2015, Morocco World News reported. The increase in the number of tourists in 2016 hit 1.5 percent amid a difficult international context. It contributed to Morocco’s GDP with $ 6 billion representing an increase of 3.4 percent in the sector’s revenue.

In an interview with Agence France-Press (AFP), Head of the National Observatory for Tourism Said Mouhid stated that the figures are “honorable” and “very positive,” especially under the political instability that affected international tourism.

In its statistical bulletin released earlier this month, the National Observatory for Tourism revealed that the number of tourists from Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium rose respectively by 2, 2 and 1 percent. Also, the number of visitors coming from the United Kingdom, Germany and France increased by 7, 3 and 2 percent respectively.

According to the same report, the number of Russian tourists rose by 3,240, reaching a total of 22,240 Russian tourists, for 2016. The National Observatory for Tourism also indicated that, based on data from tourism professionals, the overall number of overnight stays in all the certified tourism institutions increased by 3.3 percent compared with the previous year.

Back to top

Morocco’s economy projected to grow 4.1% this year

Rabat, 5 March 2017, (IINA) – The Moroccan Business Center (CMC-Centre Marocain de Conjoncture) anticipates a growth rate that could reach up to 4.1 percent in the current year, nearly three percent higher than the previous year.

Due to the favorable climate condition since the start of the current agricultural year, the CMC’s economic forecasts at the beginning of the year predicts a strong recovery.

The CMC pointed out in its monthly business newsletter that this recovery is also due to expected improvements in major industrial, commercial and service activities, Morocco World News reported.

This improvement in the business cycle should lead to improvements in domestic demand, income, and living standards. However, employment rates are not expected to be significantly impacted by this turnaround. The Moroccan Business Center further stated in the special edition devoted to the internal market that the development of the Moroccan internal market in 2017 hinges upon several parameters, including changes in the final consumption of the main economic players, public investment and purchasing power.

In January, the High Commission for Planning (HCP) foresaw an increase of 3.9 percent in Morocco’s gross domestic product due to the recovery of 11.1 percent in the agricultural sector, which contributed to a 1.3 percent growth of the GDP.

Back to top

Tunisia: 1st edition of Medina Beauty & Fashion Festival Apr 16-19

3 March 2017, (African Manager) – Yasmine Hammamet’s “Medina Mediterranée and the National Hairdressing Chamber in Tunisia – under the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) are organizing the first edition of the international festival “Medina Beauty & Fashion Festival”, which will take place from April 16 to 19, 2017 at the Medina Yasmine Hammamet.

This international event will see the participation of 8 countries (Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Algeria, Libya, Jordan, Iraq and Syria) and will be marked by the invitation of hairdressers of international renown and experts in beauty.

More than 400 participants will take part in the various activities of the festival during 03 days.

Back to top

Tunisia: Rekik and Jhinaoui Lay down first stone of “tourist diplomacy”

27 February 2017, (African Manager) – The Ministries of Tourism and Foreign Affairs signed a framework agreement on the promotion of tourism and handicrafts at a recent working meeting between Salma Elloumi and Khemaies Jhinaoui.

According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Tourism, this strategic partnership agreement is based on several axes and aims to:

  • Strengthen the efforts of both ministries.
  • Promote the Tunisian destination.
  • Develop exports of artisanal products.
  • Attract investors and tourism professionals.
  • Update hotels and travel agencies.
  • Update exporting artisanal industrial enterprises.
  • Annual program of fairs and exhibitions.
  • Visiting programs for tourism delegations

Back to top

German Chancellor Starts Official Visit To Tunisia

TUNIS, 5 March 2017, (NNN-XINHUA) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Tunisia for an official visit to discuss several issues including the return of Tunisian illegal immigrants now in Germany.

At the invitation of the Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi, Merkel is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Secretary of State for the Economy and Energy, and heads of some German companies.

The German chancellor will hold meetings with Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, and will deliver a speech to the Assembly of People’s Representatives (ARP) in an extraordinary session.

She will also preside at the Tunisian-German Economic Forum organised by the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Commerce with the collaboration of the Tunisian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Back to top

ECOWAS: Stepping-Stone for Morocco to Conquer Africa

5 March 2017, (MENAFN – Morocco World News) – Promoting the ideal of collective self-sufficiency for its member states, the overriding concern of ECOWAS is to create a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation. This will have the effect of reinforcing security and peace on the continent by creating a borderless region, whereby African citizens will benefit from the abundant resources of the continent.

ECOWAS offers stable commercial activities so that Africans will be able to live in dignity and peace. This goal echoes the statement of Moroccan Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister, Salaheddine Mezouar who said, prior to Morocco’s return to the AU, that the Kingdom’s helping hand is outstretched to everyone. Morocco’s goal as a leading nation is for each African citizen to be able to hold his or her head high, free of the insults and injustice they now experience.

Morocco’s Pragmatic Diplomacy

Following Morocco’s decision to join ECOWAS, Moroccan Professor-Researcher at Mohammed VI’s Institute of African Studies in Rabat, El Moussaoui Ajlaoui, told Morocco World News that the decision goes hand in hand with Morocco’s return to the AU. ‘Morocco’s diplomacy [in Africa] attempts to penetrate all of Africa’s geographic and economic block,’ which includes the ECOWAS in the west of Africa.

Ajlaoui went on to say that the current list of African nations forming Morocco’s core social and economic relationships is located in the west due to the ‘difficult’ status quo the Maghreb and North Africa are experiencing.

RIP Maghreb Arab Union

Ajlaoui sees that the ‘death of the Maghreb Union’ (AMU/UMA), which was created to unify north African countries including Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania, has pushed Morocco to consolidate its relationships with west African countries.

‘The issues in the north of Africa might not be over within the upcoming ten years,’ Ajlaoui said. ‘The political future in Algeria is at stake — no one can predict what will happen, not to mention the difficulties that Tunisia faces to reach a democratic transition — while Libya has become a black hole.’

‘North-West Africa’: Earthquake in Africa

Nigeria, Ghana, and Guinea represent three of the 15 member countries currently making up ECOWAS. Over the course of three months, King Mohammed paid official visits to each of these nations.

During his visit to Nigeria’s Abuja, the King and President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, signed a bilateral cooperative gas pipeline project, which represents one the most important bilateral agreements to have been signed between the two countries yet.

While in Ghana, a longtime supporter of the Polisario, the King turned his visit into a springboard for Morocco to court the nation and to further strengthen aSouth-South partnership. This will be achieved by revamping ties with the rest of the continent and by tightening the grip on the self-proclaimed Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).

Overall, Morocco and Ghana signed 25 governmental and public-private partnership agreements in different sectors of cooperation.

This forward expansion of Morocco’s diplomacy into the rest of the African continent and into ECOWAS, is viewed by Ajlaoui as efforts which will create a new ‘North-West Africa’ geographical block.

‘This block follows several factors, including geopolitical bilateral cooperative relations with the member states of ECOWAS,’ Ajlaoui told MWN. ‘Morocco’s entry into ECOWAS will be an earthquake in the African continent.’

Morocco’s Leadership in Africa

When asked if Morocco could curb South Africa’s influence on the rest of the continent, Ajlaoui brought up the outbreak of xenophobic and violent attacks against Nigerian communities in South Africa.

Ajlaoui stressed that ‘Morocco’s dominance in Africa will follow its adherence to all the African blocks,’ including the Southern African Development Community in Africa’s south, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, theEconomic Community of Central African States and theCommunity of Sahel-Saharan States, in addition to theEast African Community and theIntergovernmental Authority on Development.

“If Morocco wants to be strong and a leader in Africa, it should become part of part [the continent’s] communities,” Ajlaoui underlined. “Therefore, its request to join ECOWAS is a future preparation to join other communities.”

Back to top

Germany Pledges 500 Million USD to Support Egypt’s Economy

CAIRO, Egypt, 4 March 2017, (NNN-MENA) – Germany will provide Egypt with 250 million U.S. dollars, in support of its economic programme, in addition to another 250 million dollars, said Gernan’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, in a statement.

“The German step meant to give a push to Egypt’s micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and to support the Egyptian workforce, with more training,” Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr said, at the meeting of the Egyptian-German Business Forum, which was held, late Thursday.

During the meeting, Nasr told German businessmen that, the government is keen on improving the investment climate in Egypt, and overcoming all obstacles facing foreign investors.

She expressed hope that Germany’s ranking, which currently occupies the 20th position, on the list of countries investing in Egypt, would go up in the coming period.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Thursday, asserted here that, Egypt is a key economic partner to Germany and voiced keenness of the German companies, to increase investments in Egypt.

Back to top

Tourism: Algeria at 51st ITB Show in Berlin

ALGIERS, 5 March 2017, (Algeria Press Service) -The National Tourism Office (ONT) will represent Algeria at the International Trade Show of Berlin ITB (Germany) between 8 and 12 March.

This participation aims to “highlight Algeria’s tourist strengths and riche legacy through movies, photos and flyers,” and “inform visitors of investment opportunities the country provides,” said Sunday the ONT in a communiqué.

Moreover, this participation is part of “the implementation of the strategy to develop tourism in Algeria under the Tourism Master Plan for 2030 (SADT 2030), which aims to, promote the Algeria destination.”

Algeria’s stand will bring together “representatives of hotels and tourist facilities with a view to showcasing their products and meeting foreign operators,” stated the source.

Craftsmen will hold workshops throughout the show to present a facet of Algeria’s cultural heritage.

The ITB Show is one of the major shows in the world since it offers operators an opportunity to exchange their experience and expertise, and discover investment opportunities provided by the sector.

Back to top

Oran to host 6th Algerian-Spanish Forum on 22 March

ORAN, 5 March 2017, (Algeria Press Service) -The 6th Algerian-Spanish Forum, which is expected to gather over 150 economic operators from both countries, will take place on 22 March in Oran, said Sunday the Chamber of Trade and Industry of Oran (CCIO).

Held by the Algerian-Spanish association Mediterraneo in collaboration with the province of Oran, this edition will bring together representatives of one hundred Algerian companies and 45 Spanish ones operating in various sectors, said Abed Mouad on the sidelines of the International Food-Processing Fair (SIAG).

The next meeting of the Forum will be an opportunity to prospect partnership opportunities between both countries’ investors, said the official, stressing that it also aims to develop existing partnerships between Algerian and Spanish companies, notably in the fields of processing-food industry and agriculture.

The Forum will also be an opportunity to broach productive investment in Algeria under its legal and economic frameworks, and indentify new public and private investment projects.

Both parties bank on “a win-to-win” partnership to create wealth and jobs, the transfer of knowhow and technologies, stated the source.

B to B meetings will be held between Algerian and Spanish economic operators, in addition to the signing of partnership agreements.

Back to top

Water At Algeria’s Dams Nears A Record 5.0 Billion Cubic Metres

ALGIERS, 2 March 2017, (NNN-APS) – The total volume of water stored in dams throughout Algeria has reached 4.95 billion cubic metres (m³), says Minister of Water Resources and Environment Abdelkader Ouali.

“This is a large volume which has been stored following heavy rainfall in recent days,” he said Tuesday in Boumerdes, about 50 kilometres east of here during an inspection visit to Keddara Bouzegza Dam, which supplies the provinces of Boumerdes and Algiers with drinking water.

“If we have further rainfall in the upcoming days, we will exceed the 5.0 billion cubic metres threshold for the first time in Algeria,” added the minister.

He disclose that nine new dams would be built in the country by 2019 under a programme to construct 31 dams. Five of the dams will be completed this year and the four others in 2018 and 2019.

Back to top

Lower House: Consideration of 18 amendments to bill on SMEs development

ALGIERS, 23 November 2016, (Algeria Press Service) – The People’s National Assembly (APN) Committee on Economic Affairs, Development, Trade, Industry and Planning discussed Wednesday in plenary session 18 amendments to the bill on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The meeting which took place in the presence of the representatives of the authors of the amendments was chaired by the President of the Committee Mohamed Boukhras.

Back to top


Back to top

ADB Workshop On Kazakhstan’s Urban Water Supply, Sanitation Issues

ASTANA, 2 March 2017, (NNN-ADB) – Urban development experts, private sector specialists, key government officials, representatives of oblast (provincial) administrations, and experts from international financial institutions are taking part in Astana for a two-day workshop to discuss Kazakhstan’s urban water supply and sanitation infrastructure needs.

The workshop, which will focus on the infrastructure investment needs and financing modalities of the sector, is jointly organized by the Ministry of Investment and Development, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

“ADB is currently preparing its Kazakhstan Country Partnership Strategy for 2017-2021 and is keen to include water supply and sanitation as one of the priority sectors for operations to assist the government ensure safe and sustainable water supply across the country’s oblasts,” said Giovanni Capannelli, ADB’s Country Director for Kazakhstan.

On the second day of the workshop, oblast administrations’ representatives will present their infrastructure investment plans for ADB’s and EBRD’s consideration. The workshop includes focused discussions on project financing modality, ranging from sovereign operations to private sector investment, and blended financing schemes — where public sector money are leveraged to attract private sector investment.

“ADB has a strong experience in the urban and water supply sector. We have been supporting our developing member countries in transforming their water sector operations through technical assistance and investments. The workshop shares good international practice in sector operations and knowledge solutions showcasing the roadmap for undertaking transformations for utilities that can support modernization of Kazakhstan’s urban water supply and sanitation services.

Ek Sonn Chan, Secretary of State, Royal Kingdom of Cambodia will be the keynote speaker to share the remarkable transformation of Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority,” said Yong Ye, ADB’s Director of the Central and West Asia Regions Urban Development and Water Division.

Since joining ADB in 1994, Kazakhstan has received over $5 billion in sovereign and nonsovereign operations for agriculture, irrigation, education, finance, transport, as well as water supply and sanitation sectors. ADB’s support helped the country open up transport routes, foster private sector enterprises, support social equality, and develop knowledge products.

Regional cooperation initiatives under the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation program remain an integral aspect of ADB operations in Kazakhstan.

Back to top

Chechen leader’s daughter makes fashion designer debut

2 March 2017, (TASS) – Head of the Firdaws fashion house Aishat Kadyrova presented her first collection in Grozny. The head of the Firdaws fashion house and daughter of Chechen republic head, Aishat Kadyrova, presented her first collection, which included 30 works.

Kadyrova’s collection features modest, floor length designs that comply with the Chechen Republic’s strict Islamic dress code.

Back to top

“Silk Road Today”: Kyrgyzstan on the ancient Silk Road

05 Mar 2017, (Khabar News Agency) – The Great Silk Road, which appeared in the III century BC and existed until the sixteenth century has played a big role in the historical fate of the Kyrgyz people, as well as other peoples of Central Asia.

It got its name from the silk which was the main article of Chinese merchants: the Western countries did not know the method of its manufacture, and so it was appreciated there like gold dust. The total length of the longest shopping road was about 7 thousand kilometers and it took merchants three years to overcome it on horses and camels. A huge flow of various commodities was being delivered on the Silk Road from the East to Central Asia. Here one could buy silk and other fabrics, iron products, dishes, gold, silver and other jewelry.

Besides, Ferghana horses, high-value goods: skins of wild animals, grape wine, pomegranates and nuts also were being delivered from Central Asia to other countries. The slaves –the prisoners, who were captured by nomads during the attack on other tribes were also being sold.

In ancient times, the territory and the people of current Kyrgyzstan were the source and at the center of formation of the greatest economic and cultural phenomenon in the world history of the Silk Road. Occupying a favorable geographical position on the trade routes, and soaking up the cultural achievements of East and West, Kyrgyzstan was the bridge that connected the East and the West. Three branches of the ancient caravan route had passed through the territory of Kyrgyzstan, namely, the Pamir-Alai, south and north, which runs through Tien-Shan and Pamir high mountain passes.

The first route had passed from Termez through Samarkand, along Kyzyl-Suu to Alai and went to Kashgar via the current Irkeshtam pass. The Ferghana branch went through Khujand to Osh. Osh was the main trading point from where the caravans moved on to Urumqi and Kashgar through Torugart Pass. The third branch runs from Zamin Rabat to Tashkent, Ispedzhab, Taraz, Nuzket (Kara-Balta) and Balasagyn (Burana). From here caravans were going through Boom canyon to Issyk-Kul, and further to China via San Tash pass in the Issyk-Kul basin.

Rich cities, trade and craft settlements, caravansarais like Jul, Suyab, Novokent, Balasagyn, Barskoon, Tash-Rabat, Osh, Uzgen emerged on the routes of caravans and flourished. Thus, the medieval Kyrgyzstan became one of the cultural centers of ancient Turkic peoples.

These routes linked the East and the West about 15 centuries. It is characteristic that the direction of the Great Silk Road had been changing constantly for thousands of years, but the caravan routes through the Kyrgyz land has always remained the same, ie, Kyrgyzstan is a kind of “keeper of mountain gate” of this ancient caravan route.

Until now the territory of Kyrgyzstan keeps these memoirs in the form of monuments located on the Silk Road: Manas Kumbez, Tash-Rabat caravanserai ( IX century) Burana Tower, Mount Suleiman, Uzgen architectural complex, Shah-Fazil mausoleum.

The Great Silk Road gave a boost not only trade, but also contributed to active exchange of spiritual values of the Kyrgyz people with the peoples of other countries. For centuries, there were multilingual noisy bazaars, hundreds of years, silk and precious stones, spices and dyes, gold and silver, exotic southern birds and animals were carried for sale to Europeans on dusty caravan roads.

It is also worth noting that the most extended and the main portion of the Silk Road passed through the territory of Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan.

Along with the traditional nomadic cattle-breeding, in that ancient time, a settled farming has begun to be developed. The growing number of towns was accompanied by the emergence of such social groups in society such as craftsmen and merchants ( tradesmen). Cities, villages and caravanserais were situated along the road at the foot of the mountains or at the entrance to the valley on the Silk Road.

Currently, there is a need to restore much of the ancient Silk Road, and the process of globalization has made the New Silk Road project the most attractive platform for the implementation of the integration megaprojects.

Back to top

Bishkek hosts int’l exhibition “Fashion Industry: Products and Equipment”

Bishkek, 2 March 2017 (Kabar News Agency) – Bishkek hosts international exhibition “Fashion Industry: Products and Equipment”.

The opening was attended by Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Zheenbekov.

“This exhibition will help to bring domestic products to a new level, and let our companies to sign profitable contracts with foreign representatives. In addition, the exhibition will be of interest to all citizens and guests of the capital,” he said.

The International exhibition “Fashion Industry: Products and Equipment” has been opened at the Sports Palace in Bishkek.

56 manufacturing companies of light industry represent their products, including clothing products, washing materials, leather goods and national products made of felt.

Back to top

Kyrgyz diaspora participates in Fashunity 2017 fair in the UAE

Bishkek, 27 February 2017, (Kabar News Agency)- Kyrgyz diaspora took part in the exhibition Fashunity 2017 in the United Arab Emirates, the press service of Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported.

In the period from 23 to 25 February 2017, the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charity of Dubai, together with the Islamic Cultural Center of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid organized an international exhibition-fair Fashunity 2017.

This exhibition was attended by 21 countries – the United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Philippines, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Peru, Pakistan, China, Brazil, Colombia, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, etc.

The aim of this exhibition is to introduce the culture and traditions of the member states, as well as the opportunity to present their tourism potential.

Kyrgyz Diaspora under the auspices of the Consulate General of the Kyrgyz Republic also took part in the fair. The Kyrgyz pavilion presented national costumes, cuisine, traditions, way of life and presented the tourism potential of the country.

Back to top

Southern Osh city celebrate Kalpak Day

Bishkek, 6 March 2017, (Kabar News Agency) – Solemn festive events dedicated to the Kaplak Day took place in Osh city in the ethno-cultural complex “Alymbek-Dakta” on March 5, the Osh Mayor’s Office reports.

Deputy Mayor of Osh city Nurbek Kadyrov, deputy of Osh city council Ashim Osmonov, elder people of the city, residents, youth, sportsmen and activists took part in the festive events.

In his welcoming speech, Nurbek Kadyrov congratulated everyone on the holiday – the Kalpak Day and said that kalpak is not only an attribute of national clothes. “It is a part of our culture, our history and traditions. No festive event take place without a kalpak. It is a symbol of our pride and patriotism, the greatness of our people,” Kadyrov said.

Within the framework of the celebrations, a wide celebratory program was held with the participation of the young people of Osh city, who performed national dances, songs and creative numbers.

Also winners of republican sports events, sportsmen who won victories in republican competitions and international arena were awarded with kalpaks.

A kalpak made of balloons of 1.5 meters height flied over the sky.

The Committee on Youth Affairs of the Osh Mayor’s Office, as part of the celebration of the Kalpak Day an action on distribution of national headdress to citizens in public transport and on the streets of the city.

Back to top


Back to top

US researchers find fasting may slow aging, burn fat

SAN FRANCISCO, 16 February 2017, (Anadolu Agency) – Mimicking starvation for five days per month could reduce the effect of aging and help fight certain diseases like hypertension, according to a new study published Wednesday.

In a study of 100 participants, half ate normally for most of the month but then consumed between 700 – 1,100 calories per day for five consecutive days in what researchers called a “fasting-mimicking” diet. Participants, most of whom were overweight but not obese, repeated the fasting process for six months. The other half of participants ate normally.

By the end of the study, dieters lost an average of 5.7 pounds (2.6 kilograms). Weight loss was not the only benefit researchers noticed — health metrics such as blood pressure was also reduced.

The research was funded by the National Institute of Aging and the National Cancer Institute and published in the journal Science Translational Medicine. The research was led by scientists at the University of Southern California.

“Body weight, BMI, total body fat, trunk fat, waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin‐like growth factor 1 (IGF‐1) and C-Reactive Protein (a marker of inflammation) were significantly reduced, particularly in participants at risk for diseases, while relative lean body mass (muscle and bone mass) was increased,” researchers said in the study. “Low levels of IGF-1 are associated with a lower risk of cancer and diabetes. No serious adverse effects were reported.”

Fasting diets in which dieters consume only water or a very low amount of calories, are becoming popular, but researchers note those extreme diets are dangerous and difficult to maintain.

They believe the “fasting-mimicking” concept is safer and easier for dieters to endure. The team now wants to conduct a much larger study, especially because they found that those with the greatest risk of obesity-related disease received the biggest benefit.

“A larger study is needed to replicate these results, but they raise the possibility that fasting may be a practical road to a healthy metabolic system,” researchers wrote.

Back to top

Singapore’s Mustafa Center To Invest 200 Mln USD In Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 3 March 2017, (NNN-Xinhua) – Singapore’s Mustafa Centre will go head with a 200-million-U.S. dollar mixed development project in Sri Lanka, the head of the country’s investments agency said on Friday.

Board of Investments (BOI) head Upul Jayasuriya was quoted as saying that the Mustafa’s project in Sri Lanka will have a hotel and apartments as well as a shopping mall.

The mall will come up in the Kotahena area of Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo.

The popular Singapore retailer – where many Sri Lankans made a beeline for shopping – is returning to revive its mixed development project in an agreement that was signed in 2012.

The project will feature a 975-room hotel, a retail development store, 400 serviced apartments and a 1,000-vehicle car park with a gross floor area (GFA) of 142,125 sq metres.

The Mohamed Mustafa Group has already made an upfront 10-million-U.S. dollar investment with a bank guarantee of 3 million pledging to bring 60 million U.S. dollars within three years during the project construction period, Jayasuriya said.

Back to top

FBCCI delegation visits Brunei

DHAKA, 2 March 2017, (BSS) – A delegation of Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) visited Brunei from February 28 to March 1 at the invitation of the Brunei government.

During the visit, the delegation led by its president Abdul Matlub Ahmad held meetings with Brunei’s foreign and energy ministers, said a press release today.

They also had separate meetings with top officials of Brunei’s agriculture, planning and technology ministries.

Bangladesh high commissioner to Brunei Air Vice Marshal Mahmud Hussain were present at the meetings.

Back to top

German Government Unveils “Marshall Plan With Africa” With AfDB Leadership

ABIDJAN, 3 March 2017, (NNN-AfDB) – The German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, has unveiled his Government’s proposed “Marshall Plan” with Africa at the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), saying the Plan can help resolve some of the challenges facing Africa.

Briefing the Bank’s leadership in Abidjan, Müller noted that while Africa remains a continent of opportunity with very dynamic development and a strong and promising youth, it faces many challenges.

The continent, he said, would have to create 20 million jobs per year and expand training and education facilities for a growing population expected to reach 2 billion by 2050.

This scenario, he said, calls for a new initiative with the dimensions of a “Marshall Plan with Africa (not for Africa),” a term, which, he said, underlines the strong concerted efforts from Africa, its partners and the global multilateral system.

With the African Union’s 2063 Agenda as the framework, the Minister said the plan will focus on economic mobilization, education, training and entrepreneurship programmes that would give millions of Africans better prospects that are vital for Africa’s future and for Europe and the world.

The blueprint proposes a “new level” of equal cooperation between Africa and western countries in areas such as education, trade, business development and energy.

It also calls for better and more equitable market access for African exports, an end to illicit financial flows from Africa and tax evasion by multinational companies. The plan, he said, would further support the development of agricultural value chains within African countries to enable them derive appropriate benefits from the products, citing cotton in Burkina Faso and cocoa and coffee in Côte d’Ivoire as examples.

“If you do not invest in development, if you do not reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, you will not have peace,” Müller said, noting that misery, poverty and hunger are often the triggers of terrorism and radicalization.

African governments also have a role to play by fighting corruption, ensuring good governance and improving the situation for women. Müller said his Ministry would increase German development support for Africa by 20% in countries that undertake necessary reforms.

Noting that public funding would not create jobs in the long term, just as government measures were not likely to produce sustainable economic development; increased private investments and more entrepreneurship would be required to replace subsidies and state support, he said.

“Our aim is to provide clear incentives for creating an enabling environment for private investments. We are seeking to establish reform partnerships with African countries based on shared values of accountability, transparency and binding commitment,” he said.

According to the Minister, good governance and anti-corruption efforts will play a substantial role in determining the distribution of the country’s Official Development Assistance funds with the greater part benefitting reform-oriented countries.

Reform partnerships will be the contribution of Germany’s development cooperation to the Compacts with Africa laid out by the G20. Together with international partners and the private sector, Germany will provide substantial support for countries willing to be Agenda 2063 champions, he said, citing Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Rwanda as potential beneficiaries.

The Plan supports fair trade rules, an efficient framework against tax avoidance and illicit financial flows and clear rules and strong incentives against land-grabbing and the exploitation of resources. This would help to increase the amount of domestic funds African governments would need to meet reform-oriented goals.

On the Bank’s operations, Müller advised that it should endeavour to improve its reserves to increase its loan portfolio and scale down budget support operations.

He expressed the German Government’s commitment to contribute significantly to AfDB’ capital increase, noting the Bank has considerable comparative advantage on the continent. “We see your Bank as the voice of Africa, a depository of knowledge and experience on the continent’s development,” he said.

Contributing to the debate, the Executive Director for Morocco, Abdelmajid Mellouki, who stood in for the Board’s Dean and other Board members who are on mission, suggested that the Plan be embellished with data to give a clearer picture of its objectives.

In closing, the Bank’s Senior Vice-President, Frannie Léautier, who represented President Akinwumi Adesina, thanked the Minister for sharing the plan, which she said, proposed a high level of ownership and placed Africa at an equal level with partners among other issues that are central to the Board’s continuous dialogues. She underscored the close alignment of the Plan’s four foundations with the African Development Bank’s High 5 priorities.

“We are all in the same boat. We sink and swim together. Africa has a chance to achieve real transformation,” Léautier said.

Back to top

Air France Launches Direct Accra-Paris Flights

ACCRA, 2 March 2017, (NNN-GNA) – Air France has launched direct flights between Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris and Kotoka International Airport in Accra as part of its efforts to increase services between Europe and Africa.

Addressing a media conference here Wednesday to mark the start of the new service on Feb 28, Jean-Marc Janaillac, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Air France- KLM, said the introduction of the direct flights on the Paris-Accra route was the latest step taken in the airline’s long-term initiative to increase services in Africa.

Air France-KLM, he added, already had an extensive presence in Africa; with flights to 51 destinations on the continent and more frequencies through its partnership with Kenya Airways.

The launch of the Accra service, he said, would strengthen the partnership between France and Ghana, reinforce business relations and improve tourism, especially as Ghana celebrates its 60th independence anniversary and also the 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between the two countries this year.

Air France will operate three flights a week between Paris and Accra, using an Airbus A330 aircraft with a capacity of 208 seats until March 2017 and thereafter a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, with 312 seats, both in three-class configurations.

Back to top

AfDB President Discusses Bilateral Cooperation With Sudanese President

KHARTOUM, 3 March 20017, (NNN-AfDB) – African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina paid a courtesy call on the President of the Republic of Sudan, Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir, in the company of the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Badre Eldin Mahmoud Abbas, during an official visit to the country.

Adesina was accompanied by the Executive Director, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, who represents Sudan on the Bank’s Board; the AfDB Director General (East), Gabriel Negatu; and Sudan Country Manager for the Bank, Abdul Kamara.

The hour-long meeting created an opportunity for the two leaders to chat on a number of issues critical to their bilateral cooperation. President Bashir welcomed the AfDB President and congratulated him on his ascension to the Bank’s Presidency and the tremendous achievements that he has made over the past year and a half.

President Adesina briefed the Sudanese President of the purpose of his visit, stressing that it will avail him with first-hand information on the development potential and challenges facing the Sudan as well as the measures taken by the Sudanese Government to address them.

He informed the Sudanese President of his meeting with the Minister of Finance and his intention to hold similar high-level consultations with other Ministers and other Senior Government Officials on priority areas for future cooperation between the Bank and the Government of Sudan.

President Adesina also reiterated that the Bank and Sudan have a long and inseparable history, as the Bank was established in Khartoum in 1963 its first President, Mamoun Beheiry, was Sudanese.

The Sudanese President was pleased with the visit and indicated that many opportunities exist for Sudan advance its development in spite of numerous challenges. He also alluded to possible areas and opportunities for collaboration with the Bank, including his initiative to erect a power transmission line from Sudan to the renaissance dam in Ethiopia, which he said was important for stimulating economic activities in the Blue Nile corridor.

Bashir explained the important role that Sudan plays in the regional integration and stressed the pressure that is mounting on his country from migrants from neighbouring countries. He alluded to the dilapidated state of the country’s railway due to the sanctions, as most of the parts are banned from entering Sudan. He encouraged the Bank President to consider assisting in this area.

The Sudanese President indicated other areas of cooperation, such as power infrastructure and electricity generation, and his intention to extend power network to Darfur and to Chad. He requested the Bank’s assistance in the area of debt relief as non-concessional borrowing is expensive. Bashir said he was doing his best to achieve peace, as peace and development are two sides of the same coin.

For his part, Adesina reiterated that the Bank has been steadfast in its engagement with Sudan despite the sanctions, with a current portfolio that has reached US $200 million despite the country’s arrears with the Bank. He took good note of the requests made by the Sudanese President and indicated the opportunities for collaboration in those areas, provided that the right conditions exist on the ground.

In particular, Adesina encouraged the Sudanese President to make unreserved efforts to speed up political outreach in search of Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief. He indicated that the temporary lifting of the U.S. sanctions until July 12, 2017 creates a window of opportunity that Sudan needs to take advantage of to gain political will for a permanent removal of the sanctions and advance political outreach to creditors on debt relief.

He emphasized the importance of the 2016 Addis Ababa Roadmap to Peace in Darfur and the need for all parties to adhere to its conditions and meet their obligations, so that permanent peace can prevail in Sudan. He concluded that the opportunity for the future is great, especially for agriculture, power and other areas of the High 5s, but that the conditions on the ground had to be right, with, among other things, debt relief out of the way.

President Bashir reassured the AfDB President that he will do his utmost best to achieve peace in accordance to the 2016 Addis Ababa Roadmap, create the conditions for a permanent removal of the U.S. sanctions by meeting the set benchmarks, and that he will engage with his South Sudanese counterparts to cooperate on the political outreach for debt relief.

Back to top

Ghana To Boost Ties With Qatar, Gulf States To Attract Investments

ACCRA, 3 March 2017, (NNN-GNA) – President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says Ghana will build strong diplomatic and economic relations with Qatar and other Gulf States to attract investments to develop and return Ghana to the path of progress and prosperity.

President Akufo-Addo said this when Dr. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al Kuwari, an adviser to the Emir of Qatar, paid a courtesy call on him at his Flagstaff House office here Thursday.

He told Dr Hamad that his preoccupation was how to build the economy, so as to be able to bring employment, and generate prosperity for the people. “We think that a country like yours could play a very important role in helping us achieve our objectives,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo acknowledged that Ghana over the years had not done enough to develop relations with Qatar and told Dr Hamad that many investment opportunities were available in Ghana for Qatari businesses, including the oil and gas sector and development of infrastructure.

Dr. Hamad said his visit was aimed at fostering relations between the two countries, as there exists tremendous opportunities and areas of co-operation for the two countries.

“We need to work together to explore the possibilities in all the fields mentioned. The political will is there, and I promise that my visit is an important step for (strengthening) relations between our two countries.”

He also took the opportunity to seek Ghana’s support for his candidature for the position of Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco).

Back to top