Qatar an attractive investment destination

Posted on : 05-02-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

DOHA: Qatar is still an attractive investment destination and Malaysian companies must capitalise on the intimate bilateral relations to boost their businesses in one of the world’s richest countries.

Malaysian ambassador to Qatar Datuk Ahmad Jazri Mohd Johar said the Qatari Government has high confidence in Malaysian companies based on their performance record in helping the country develop, especially quality infrastructural development since 2014.

“We have the abilities because many Qatari firms recognised the strengths of Malaysian companies.

“We have a very special diplomatic ties because as Islamic countries we always help each other achieve common goal at international level, especially at the Organisation of Islamic Countries,” he said here yesterday

He said total Malaysia-Qatar trade has increased by three-fold in 10 years, from US$265.5mil in 2006 to US$842.38mil in 2015.

“Qatar is the third biggest trading partner of Malaysia in the Middle East after United Arab Republic and Saudi Arabia. Its key trading partners in the world are still Japan, the United States and Germany.

Malaysia’s key exports included electrical and electronic products, machines, equipment and tools, metal and wood products and processed food. Malaysia imports raw petroleum, refined oil, chemical and chemical and metal products from Qatar.

Ahmad Jazri said Qatar was now the focussing on the construction and infrastructural sectors in the urban areas as it prepared to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

On the success of Malaysian firms in Qatar, he said, many of them were in construction and engineering services and hotel management.

“One of them, WCT Engineering Bhd, is involved in many construction projects in the new Lusail township,” he said.

He said among the projects WCT and its Qatari partner were involved in were the building of railway stations and underground railway line, power plant and informaton technology in preparation to host the FIFA World Cup.

Ahmad Jazri said the four-day visit of Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, to Qatar starting on Saturday would help boost bilateral relations and would give Malaysian firms more business opportunities.

“The visit will offer economic opportunities and jobs for the companies and Malaysians and help existing investment cooperation,” he said.

He said Ahmad Zahid’s first visit was at the invitation of its Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Sheikh Abdullah Nasser Khalifa Al Thani.

In addition to having an audience with the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim Hamad Al-Thani, and calling on Sheikh Abdullah, Ahmad Zahid would visit the National Control Centre and community projects in Lusail, Doha, Hamad International Airport and meet Malaysians in Qatar, he said.

Malaysia started diplomatic relations with Qatar in 1974 and the bilateral ties were strengthened with the opening of the Malaysian embassy in August 2004 followed by the opening of Qatari embassy in Kuala Lumpur in September 2004.

Ahmad Jazri said there were 5,000 Malaysians in Qatar with most of them working with Qatar Airways, education and petroleum industry.

He said because of the intimate relations, many Malaysians hold high positions in many government sector.

“There are Malaysians in many sectors. We have their confidence and even the chef in the palace is a Malasians,” he said.


Tourism Malaysia to make strong pitch for New York Times travel show

Posted on : 09-01-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

NEW YORK: Tourism Malaysia is making a strong pitch for the country to be a destination of North American travellers at the New York Times Travel Show from Jan 27-29.

Its vice-president in New York, Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali said Tourism Malaysia would present Malaysia as an attractive destination, highlighting three major attractions – culture, adventure and nature (CAN).

The show is the most important trade show for the travel and tourism industry in North America.

Unlike other travel shows in the region, which are highly specialised in certain segments of the tourism industry, the show attracts a large turnout of the trade and consumers.

“We will bring Malaysian costumes at the show and encourage visitors to try them out and pose for our Facebook,” Johanif said here yesterday.

Tourism Malaysia will use the colourful costumes worn in Sabah and Sarawak, among others, to catch the attention of tourists.

Johanif is a participant at a panel on travel and tourism, and will speak on Malaysia as a CAN destination.

“We have been sending our mails to invite customers to visit our stand and also our website which provides extensive tourism-related information,” he said.

In the first eight months of 2016, tourist arrivals in Malaysia from the United States declined to 149,696, down 7.9% from 162,544 in the corresponding period of 2015.

Tourism Malaysia in New York believes that the depreciation of the ringgit against the US dollar has created a favourable climate for tourism from the United States because it is making visits cheap as never before.

“Based on the feedback we have received, Americans like Malaysia because of its people who are considered to be very friendly.

“Americans have been saying that Malaysians love smiling. Another plus point is that they find it easy to travel within Malaysia because most of us speak English and the signs on the road are also in English,” he said.

Johanif said Malaysian food was also very popular.

Indeed, McCormick and Company, the US spice company, has listed Malaysian food in its 2016 Flavour Forecast as one of the popular cuisines in the United States.


Najib to lead Malaysian delegation to 28th, 29th ASEAN Summits (at Laos)

Posted on : 05-09-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International News

VIENTIANE: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will lead the Malaysian delegation to the 28th and 29th Asean Summits from Sept 6 to 8 in Vientiane, Laos. This will be the first Asean Summit held after the establishment of the Asean Community on Dec 31 2015 and after the adoption of the Asean 2025; Forging Ahead Together (Asean Vision 2025), both of which were concluded during Malaysia’s Chairmanship. Malaysia’s Director-General to the Asean Malaysia National Secretariat, Jojie Samuel said given that this marks the inaugural year of Asean Community, Laos’ Chairmanship theme of ‘Turning Vision Into Reality for a Dynamic Asean Community’ is timely and appropriate as Asean strives to turn its aspirations and vision into reality. “In addition to the Asean Summits, the Prime Minister together with other Asean leaders will also attend the Asean Plus Three, East Asia Summit and other Asean + 1 Summit with dialogue partners, which include the United States, China, Japan, India, Australia, South Korea and the United Nations,” he told the this reporter, here today. Samuel said Najib’s programme will kick off tomorrow with the opening ceremony of the 28th and 29th Asean Summits. “During the opening ceremony, the leaders are expected to witness the launch of the ‘Visit Asean@50 campaign logo. The logo will be used in 2017, as part of the visit Asean@50: Golden Celebration campaign,” he said. The visit Asean@50: Golden Celebration campaign will be held to promote the twin objectives of commemorating the 50th anniversary of Asean, and embracing the Asean region as a single and united tourism destination. “The event will be followed by the convening of the 28th Asean Summit or the plenary session. Taking into account that this will be the first Asean Summit after the Summit in Kuala Lumpur, and given the importance of realising Vision 2025, the agenda of the plenary session is mainly to discuss the progress of the implementation of Asean 2025: Forging Ahead Together or also known as Asean Vision 2025, a roadmap for the region’s continuous community building efforts,” he said. Samuel said the leaders are also expected to sign the Asean Declaration on One Asean One Response: Asean Responding to Disasters as One within and outside the region, which aims to enhance Asean’s collective prepardeness in dealing with disasters including coordination of efforts to disaster management; enhance Asean’s coordination among Asean member states in disaster management. “The prime minister’s programme on Sept 7 will begin with the 29th Asean Summit. This session will be conducted in retreat format whereby the leaders will have a closed session and will have frank and constructive discussions on external relations and Asean’s future direction. The Asean leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues,” he added. On the same day, the Asean + 1 Summit will also begin with the convening of the 19th Asean-China Summit to commemorate the 25th Annivesary of the Asean-China Dialogue Relations. “The leaders are also expected to have constructive discussions on the Asean-China cooperation throughout its 25 years of cooperation and its future direction,” he said. Apart from the Asean-China Summit, the leaders are also expected to convene the following Asean+1 Summit – Asean-Japan Summit, the 18th Asean-South Korea Summit, 2nd Asean-Australia Summit. On Sept 8, the leaders will continue their Asean+1 Summit with the 14th Asean-India Summit followed by the 4th Asean-United States Summit. “During the summit, the leaders will also issue a Joint Leaders Statement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). A statement will be made to further demonstrate Asean’s commitment in ensuring a swift conclusion of the RCEP negotiations,” he added.


China opens longest glass-bottomed bridge in world

Posted on : 22-08-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International News

Tourists who suffer from vertigo need not apply. The world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge opened Saturday in China’s spectacular Zhangjiajie mountains — the inspiration for American blockbuster Avatar.

Some 430 metres (1,400 feet) long and suspended 300 metres above the earth, the bridge spans the canyon between two mountain cliffs in Zhangjiajie park in China’s central Hunan province.

Six metres wide and made of some 99 panels of clear glass, the bridge can carry up to 800 people at the same time, an official in Zhangjiajie — a popular tourist destination — told the Xinhua news agency.

Tourists can walk across the bridge, designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan, and the more adventurous will be able to bungee jump or ride a zip line.

“I wanted to feel awe-inspired by this bridge. But I’m not afraid — it seems safe!” Wang Min, who was visiting the new structure with her husband and children, told AFP Saturday.

Following an alarming glass bridge cracking incident at the Yuntai mountain in northern Henan in 2015, authorities in Zhangjiajie were eager to demonstrate the safety of the structure.

They organised a string of media events, including one where people were encouraged to try and smash the bridge’s glass panels with a sledge hammer, and another where they drove a car across it.

“It’s crowded today and a bit of a mess. But to be suspended 300 metres in the air, it’s a unique experience,” said Lin Chenglu, who had come to see the bridge with his colleagues.

Only 8,000 people each day will be allowed to cross the bridge, Xinhua said, and tourists will have to book their tickets a day in advance, at a cost of 138 yuan ($20).

Cameras and selfie sticks are banned, and people wearing stilettos will not be allowed to walk on the bridge, Xinhua said.

Local authorities have said that one of the summits in Zhangjiajie Park inspired the floating mountain which appears in the American blockbuster Avatar.

A Hollywood photographer visited the area in 2008, taking images which were used for the film, according to media reports.


Pocket Rocketman’ Azizulhasni wins bronze (in the Keirin event)

Posted on : 17-08-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International News

RIO DE JANEIRO— National elite rider, Azizulhasni Awang finally hands Malaysia a bronze medal in the keirin event at the Rio Olympics Games here yesterday.

In the dramatic final round, the eight-lap race was restarted twice after technical infringement by the riders and in the third start,  Azizulhasni pipped world champion, Joachim Eilers from Germany to finish third.

The 28-year-old Melbourne-based rider crossed the finishing line for the bronze behind defending champion Jason Kenny from Britain and Dutchman Matthijs Buchli.

Azizulhasni, who was earmarked as gold medal prospects, won the Olympic medal in his third attempt after failing to qualify for the finals in the 2008 Beijing Games and sixth placing at the 2012 London Games.

“I dedicate this medal to all Malaysians and to my wife and kids who sacrifice a lot over the years,” the rider, who is known as ‘Rocket Pocket Man’ for his pint-size body.

“Although I was going for the gold, but the bronze is the result of hard work over the years and the beginning to mount for the gold in the 2020 Tokyo Games,” said the rider who leaves Rio for home tomorrow night.

In the one day-race, Azizulhasni was one of the six cyclists and only Asian to qualify for the final from the repechage rounds.

Azizulhasni started his podium campaign on a difficult note when needed to win the repechage after ending fifth out of seven cyclists in his first round heat.

In the repechage, he had former world champion Theo Bos of Holland, Canada’s Hugo Barrette and Czech Republic’s Pavel Kelemen in the first heat and won the top spot to qualify for the second round.

In the second round’s first heat, Azizulhasni finished third behind Jason and Matthijs, while Joachim, Poland’s Damian Zielnski and Colombian Fabian Hernando Puerta Zapata emerged top three in the second heat.

The top three in the two heats moved in to the final.

Azizulhasni is the first cyclist for Malaysia to win a medal in Olympics.  His bronze medal feat is the second medal for the country after diving pair, Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong contributed a silver in  the synchronised 10m platform last Tuesday.


“Model for power trading between ASEAN countries”

Posted on : 11-05-2016 | By : sabah today | In : International News

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia’s is moving into the power export business with the commissioning of the Sarawak-West Kalimantan 275kV transmission line, bringing much-needed electricity supply to the Indonesian province.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Ongkili said the project, which is operated by the Bengkayang Substation in West Kalimantan, is a model for power trading between Asean countries.

The interconnection began operating on Jan 21 this year and the grid has been supplying about 70mW of power per day to West Kalimantan and surrounding areas as of May 9.

“We, both the Malaysian and Indonesian teams, are proud to be able to execute this long-awaited dream of power trading between neighbouring countries,” Ongkili said.

The substation started construction in 2013 after Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) chief executive officer Datuk Torstein Sjotveit and PT PLN (Indonesian state-owned electricity company) president director Nur Pamudji signed a power exchange agreement detailing the export of electricity from Sarawak to West Kalimantan.

Both countries subsequently set up joint technical committee to expedite the process of power trading.

“I commend the committee members from both countries for their efforts, after numerous trial tests, the Bengkayang Substation is now operating very well and the people of West Kalimantan have been enjoying better electricity supply,” Ongkili said.

“Malaysia and Indonesia are proud of this successful development,” said Ongkili in a statement here.

He had earlier visited the Bengkayang substation on Tuesday along with West Kalimantan governor Dr M.H. Cornelis.

Ongkili other power export projects in the works include Malacca-Sumatra interconnection that is still under development, while the Nunukan-Sabah link is at the planning stage.

He said these projects demonstrated that the long-proposed Asean Power Grid (APG) was not impossible to achieve.

“SEB and PT PLN has already proven that power trading between countries can be done successfully despite a lot of concern regarding technical standard, grid stability and tariff pricing,” he opined.

This energy development, he further explained, is highly recommended because it comes from renewable energy resources, which are sustainable and environmentally friendly.