-Top News Asia News

Taliban cleric killed by bomb hidden in prosthetic leg

He was among the Taliban officials who supported the education of women and girls, in a BBC interview, he stated that no rationale in Sharia law prohibits female education…reports Asian Lite News

Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, a prominent Taliban figure, was killed in a suicide attack on a seminary in Kabul on Thursday when the attacker blew explosives placed in a prosthetic leg, according to Taliban authorities and sources.

Taliban’s deputy spokesperson, Bilal Karimi, confirmed the veracity of the incident and stated that the explosion in the Shash Darak area of Kabul’s Police District 2 “martyred” Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, Khaama Press reported.

He had previously been a target of the Islamic State (IS) group, albeit it is now unclear who killed him as no group has claimed responsibility so far.

Sheikh Haqqani was a steadfast opponent of the Islamic State Khorasan Province (IS-K), and a supporter of the Taliban administration, Khaama Press reported.

He was among the Taliban officials who supported the education of women and girls, in a BBC interview, he stated that no rationale in Sharia law prohibits female education.

Since taking control when international forces began to withdraw almost a year ago, the Taliban claim to have restored security.

However, there have been frequent attacks in recent months, many of which have been claimed by Islamic State.

He is one of the highest profile figures to have been killed in the country since the Taliban returned to power last year, BBC reported.

Despite sharing the same name, he was not related to Afghanistan’s Haqqani militant group network.

Afghanistan has witnessed a series of blasts in recent weeks. The blasts have occurred in a number of areas in the capital city of Kabul including Chandawal, Pul-e-Sokhta and Sarkariz.

At least three people were killed and seven others suffered injuries in a blast that occurred near the Pul-e-Sokhta area in the west of Kabul on August 6 local media reported citing the statement of the commander of PD6 in Kabul, Mawlawi Zabihullah.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has condemned the recent blasts in Afghanistan that have killed and injured more than 120 people.

“Following the Islamic State-claimed blasts in Kabul in recent days that killed and injured more than 120 people, the UN family in Afghanistan urges greater security for minorities so that Ashura can be marked without further attacks,” the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) tweeted.

The US also condemned the ISIS-K-claimed attacks during Ashura, which targeted Hazara and Shia-majority areas in Kabul.

Since the Taliban regime took control of Afghanistan, blasts and attacks have become a regular affair with unabated human rights violations involving ceaseless murder of civilians, destroying mosques and temples, assaulting women, and fuelling terror in the region.

Last month, a bomb exploded near Karte Parwan Gurudwara in Kabul, a month after the holy place was attacked by members of the Islamic State. Religious minorities in Afghanistan, including the Sikh community, have been targets of violence in Afghanistan.

The human rights situation has been exacerbated by a nationwide economic, financial and humanitarian crisis of unprecedented scale.

At least 59 per cent of the population is now in need of humanitarian assistance – an increase of 6 million people compared with the beginning of 2021, according to UNAMA.

ALSO READ-One year since Taliban ended Afghan hopes

India News Lite Blogs

The lady whom Gandhi addressed as his mother

Among all her children, Maulana Shaukat Ali and Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar became famous in Indian history as the ‘Ali brothers’ who started the ‘Khilafat Movement’ against British rule…writes Mohammad Suaib Khan

Among the few Muslim women who had actively participated in the Indian Independence movement, Abadi Bano Begum (Bi Amma) was a prominent face.

Her active participation in the struggle to liberate the country from the British Raj, even led Mahatma Gandhi to call her his mother.

Bi Amma was born in 1850 in Uttar Pradesh and was married to Abdul Ali Khan, a senior official of the princely state of Rampur who later died of cholera. He had five sons and a daughter.

Among all her children, Maulana Shaukat Ali and Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar became famous in Indian history as the ‘Ali brothers’ who started the ‘Khilafat Movement’ against British rule.

Professor Ajay Tiwari, who retired from Delhi University, told IANS: “Bi Amma came from a conservative family. Due to her husband, she was in great debt, and it was impossible for her to raise six children after his demise.

“When her brother-in-law advised her to sell-off some of their property, she refused saying that the property belonged to her children.

“Seeing her passion for the country, Gandhi ji addressed her as his mother and called himself her son. Imagine how impressed he must have been, that despite being a popular leader at that time, Gandhi ji called her his mother!”

Bi Amma, despite her poor financial condition, from 1917-1921, donated Rs 10 every month to protest against the British Defense Act, after Sarojini Naidu’s arrest.

Highlighting her contribution to the freedom struggle, Ajay Tiwari said: “Despite her poor economic condition, Bi Amma had won everyone’s heart with her spirit. The Defence of India Act influenced her religious beliefs and the idea of women’s independence after which, she changed herself.”

“When Congress leader Subramaniam Iyer was presiding over a meeting, Bi Amma wrote him a letter for the first time which later came to be known as a ‘document of the freedom movement’. In the letter, she stated she is writing to him even though according to their Sharia law, talking to another man is ‘kufr’ (sin).”

Bi Amma, despite her progressive nature, believed in the concept of ‘purdah’ (an Islamic custom of covering a woman’s face). However, when she had come to address a gathering in Punjab and removed her burqa on stage, panic spread among the Muslim community.

At the meeting, she said that she is older than most of the audience members and they all are like her sons. Therefore, she doesn’t have to follow ‘purdah’ in front of them. And this incident made her the unanimous mother of all those who fought in the freedom movement.

In 1917, she joined the movement for the release of her two sons from prison. Mahatma Gandhi encouraged her to speak up and get the support of women in the freedom movement. She travelled extensively across India to support and raise funds for the Khilafat and Indian Independence movement.

Talking about honouring her, Ajay Tiwari said: “She died in 1924 and 66 years after her death, the Pakistani government recognised her contribution to the freedom struggle by issuing a postage stamp in her honour.

“But in India we are not doing any remarkable work to remember her. If we try to save the memory of these extraordinary personalities like Abadi Bano Begum, then our celebration of independence will be worthwhile.”

ALSO READ-Tulu queen who united Hindus, Muslims against Portuguese

India News Lite Blogs

Tulu queen who united Hindus, Muslims against Portuguese

Ullal port was a prosperous port and hub of the spice trade to the outer world and the Portuguese, Dutch and British had clearly set their eyes on it…reports Asian Lite News

Rani Abbakka, the great Tulu queen regarded as the first female freedom fighter of India, is not only known for her valour who repulsed the Portuguese army, but also her strength to unite people of different faiths against the armed forces of a foreign state.

The queen hails from Karnataka, which is, currently, communally divided. A region witnessing revenge killings among Hindus and Muslims, this state has a great lesson to learn from the legacy of Rani Abbakka, when Muslims and Hindus unitedly fought under her leadership against the Portuguese.

Rani Abbakka Chowta was the first Tuluva queen from Ullal province of the present Dakshina Kannada district. She represented the Chowta dynasty which ruled Tulu Nadu, comprising strategic regions of coastal Karnataka.

The Portuguese forces, after establishing their rule in Goa, turned their focus on capturing Mangaluru, Ullal ports. The brave Rani Abbakka, who left her husband and came back to her father, repulsed the Portuguese attacks for four decades, leading the army from the front.

She is regarded as one of the foremost woman warriors and bravest of the fighters. Historians say Rani Abbakka has not been given her due place in India’s as well as Karnataka’s history.

Abbakka’s uncle Tirumalaraya crowned her as the queen of Ullal. She married Lakshmappa Arasa Bangaraja II. However, the marriage did not last very long, as Rani Abbakka returned to Ullal.

Ullal port was a prosperous port and hub of the spice trade to the outer world and the Portuguese, Dutch and British had clearly set their eyes on it.

Knowing about the crouching foreign forces waiting for a chance to take over Ullal, the local chieftains united, forgetting their communal reservations.

Rani Abbakka gave equal representation to Hindus, Jains and Muslims. During her rule in the 16th century, the coastal region was an example of unity and integrity for the entire nation, as Hindus and Muslims stood shoulder to shoulder in every aspect.

When the Portuguese, unable to find traitors, came to know that Rani Abbakka’s estranged husband nursed a deep grudge against her, they launched attacks on Ullal from 1555 to 1568.

After Ullal was captured, Rani Abbakka took shelter in a mosque. She gathered an army and launched an attack on the Portuguese, in no time. Her army fought with valour and killed General Joao Peixoto after which the Portuguese had to retreat.

She forged an alliance with the Bijapur Sultan and the Calicut (Kerala) rulers. However, she was captured by the Portuguese army and sent to jail later.

Folklore has it that even in prison she revolted and died fighting. Her tale has been told through Yakshagana, the famous local art form of the region.

The Veera Rani Abbakka Utsava is held every year to commemorate her bravery and awards are given in her name. In 2003, the Indian postal department issued a special cover on Rani Abbakka. The bronze statues of the late queen are installed in Ullal and Bengaluru. The Indian Coast Guard Ship ICGS is named after Rani Abbakka.

Karnataka, which is presently in the news for Hindu-Muslim clashes, was once united and together repulsed attacks by foreign occupying forces.

The foreign enemies could not find internal enemies and destroy their local kingdoms as Hindus, Muslims and Jains were united. Patriots are still waiting for the day when people of different faiths will unite against the common enemy.

ALSO READ-US report claims rise in online Hinduphobia

Business Travel

IndiGo adds Ras Al Khaimah as 100th destination in 6E network

These flights are designed to cater to business and leisure travellers who are constantly on the lookout for new and affordable flying options…reports Asian Lite News

IndiGo, India’s leading carrier, announced Ras Al Khaimah as its 100th destination in 6E network. The airline will commence new direct flights between Mumbai and Ras Al-Khaimah, effective September 22, 2022. Ras Al-Khaimah was also named as Gulf Tourism Capital for the year 2020 and 2021 by Gulf Cooperation Council.

Mr. Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer, IndiGo said, “We are pleased to announce our entry into the fourth Emirate with Ras Al-Khaimah as our 26th international and 100th overall destination. These new flights will cater to the high demand for travel to Ras Al Khaimah, with India being the third largest international source market for the city in 2021, and traffic expected to reach pre-pandemic levels this year. RAK is also focussing on becoming the regional leader in sustainable tourism, which aligns well with our overall focus on sustainability. The increased connectivity will not only bolster trade but also strengthen sustainable and responsible tourism between the countries. Our expansion to connect the 100th destination is a testament to our efforts to stay true to our promise of affordable fares, on-time performance, courteous and hassle-free service across a wide network, onboard our lean clean flying machines.”

Apart from being the 100th destination, Ras Al-Khaimah is also the 4th city in the emirates, 11th destination in Middle East, and 26th international location in 6E network. The passengers can experience nature as well as authentic offerings along with beaches and Hazar mountains. Some of the tourist destinations at Ras Al-Khaimah include Sunset at Jebel Jais, Zipline Down Jebel Jais’ slope, Dhayah Fort, National Museum, Khatt Springs amongst others. RAK is a popular destination for leisure travellers, destination weddings and incentives targeting the MICE segment.

These flights are designed to cater to business and leisure travellers who are constantly on the lookout for new and affordable flying options to access destinations which help in building businesses and are known for their tourist attractions. Customers who wish to plan their travel can book tickets via our official website The introduction of these flights will further bolster the airline’s domestic and international connectivity.

Flight Schedule:

His Excellency Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Chairman of The Department of Civil Aviation Ras Al Khaimah & Ras Al Khaimah International Airport said: “Ras Al Khaimah International Airport’s partnership with IndiGo airlines is a significant step forward in getting back to a normal footing post the pandemic. We welcome them whole heartedly and we are enthusiastic to address the increased passenger flow from the Indian subcontinent. Ras Al Khaimah’s thriving tourism & industrial sector will benefit from this connectivity and I am confident that this partnership will prove to be an important piece in our ongoing expansion strategy for the airport.”

The CEO of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport, Mr. Atanasios Titonis commented: “We are happy to have IndiGo airlines as our partner. Our team along with IndiGo’s team have been working several months together to achieve this main step for our airport and to boost tourism for Ras Al Khaimah as an Emirate. Indigo’s working values are great, and their vision is commendable, and they are the right airline partners in our portfolio as we are on our way to transition into a destination airport. We envisage a huge array of opportunities coming in from the Indian subcontinent with the start of this operation as Mumbai is a major airline hub and it can further connect our passengers to several destinations within India and also other international destinations served by IndiGo.”

About IndiGo

IndiGo is amongst the fastest growing low-cost carriers in the world. IndiGo has a simple philosophy: offer fares that are low, flights that are on time, offering a courteous, hygienic, and hassle-free travel experience. With its fleet of 280+ aircraft, the airline is operating over 1600 daily flights and connecting 74 domestic destinations and 26 international destinations. For more information, please visit or download our mobile app. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

ALSO READ-Indigo revenue rises four fourfold, hits 130.2 bn

Lite Blogs UAE News Woman

SHE STEMS to prepare Omani women for nation’s manufacturing 

Emphasizing hands-on skills development and on-the-job training, SHE STEMS aims to prepare more Omani women for the nation’s manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors…reports Asian Lite News

Believing in the importance of joint work between the public and private sectors, as well as emphasizing the principle of integration between the service units of the state’s administrative apparatus, and in order to achieve the objectives of Oman’s Vision 2040, the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MoHERI) on Tuesday 9 August 2022 signed the SHE STEMS social development program agreement with Oman Cables Industry (OCI) and the Ministry of Labour (MoL).

The program was signed on behalf of MoHERI by Her Excellency Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al-Mahrooqi – Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation; for the MoL by the Ministry’s Undersecretary for Human Resources Development Salim bin Musallam al Busaidi; and for OCI by the company’s CEO Cinzia Farisè.

Emphasizing hands-on skills development and on-the-job training, SHE STEMS aims to prepare more Omani women for the nation’s manufacturing and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) sectors.

Registration in the program starts in September 2020 with a first cohort of 20 Omani women who will attend an extensive 6-month practical “Operating Maintenance” course certified by MoHERI. The training will be supervised by a number of highly proficient, qualified instructors. Upon completion, each participant will receive a SHE STEMS certificate recognized by MoHERI.

The eligibility criteria for participants are: Omani nationals aged between 18 to 28 years who are registered as job seekers with the Ministry of Labour, and who have a General Education Diploma as a minimum academic qualification. (It should be noted that this training will not be applicable if the candidate has attended other training supported by the Oman government). For enrollment, interested parties apply through before August 25th, 2022.

Speaking about the SHE STEMS program, Her Excellency Dr. Rahma Ibrahim Al-Mahrooqi stressed the importance of engaging all vital sectors in the effort to achieve the goals of the nation’s comprehensive development plans, and to implement Oman’s ambitious Vision 2040 with regard to building promising national employees in all fields. Her Excellency Al-Mahrooqi explained that she valued OCI’s initiative in collaboration with the MoHERI and MoL, which would serve to develop the skills of Omani women, and open new horizons for them in the labour market.

Her Excellency Al-Mahrooqi also indicated the Ministry’s keenness to cooperate with many sectors to ensure the quality of programs directed at female graduates and job seekers is maintained. This would ensure that participants receive high quality practical skills and work ethics, which would qualify and empower them to compete in local and international labour markets.

Underlining its support for SHE STEMS, the Ministry of Labour affirmed its full readiness to cooperate in this qualitative program and to provide the necessary support and incentives to contribute to the upgrading of human resources in the Sultanate of Oman.

According to Cinzia Farisè, CEO of Oman Cables Industry, the SHE STEMS program is considered an important milestone in OCI’s social ambition to support the local community. “We are very pleased and honored to launch this program in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, and the Ministry of Labour. SHE STEMS forms part of a global initiative that has been molded, initiated, and launched within the Sultanate of Oman. This is an exciting program that aligns closely with OCI’s stated values of Innovation, Empowerment, and Excellence. We are confident that it will attract and empower more Omani unemployed women to achieve excellence in their individual career fields within Oman,” Cinzia Farisè explained.

The CEO added: “As part of the Prysmian Group, OCI is launching SHE STEMS as a joint amalgamation with Prysmian’s sustainability development strategy and goals, and within the framework of the Prysmian Social Ambition 2030 objectives of Diversity; Equality and Inclusion; Digital Inclusion; Community Empowerment; and Employee Engagement & Upskilling.”

ALSO READ-CSIR gets first woman Director-General

-Top News Africa News

Food crisis worse than ever in Ethiopia

The trio called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address their immediate and long-term food needs in line with international commitments…reports Asian Lite News

The World Food Programme (WFP), UN refugee agency, UNHCR, and Ethiopian Government Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) made the plea for assistance because without it, WFP will run out of food for the refugees by October.

The impending crisis will leave vulnerable families at risk of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, and increased susceptibility to diseases, the agencies warned.

“Three quarters of a million refugees will be left with nothing to eat in just a matter of weeks unless we receive funding immediately,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP’s Representative and Country Director for Ethiopia.

Support needed

The agencies have established an effective system to identify the food assistance needs of refugees through biometric verification, accountability mechanisms and programmes to grant monthly food and cash assistance.

The trio called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address their immediate and long-term food needs in line with international commitments. 

Meanwhile, WFP, UNHCR and RRS will continue to count on donors for extended funding support based on the principle of shared responsibility to implement basic humanitarian life-saving activities.

Cutting rations has been an issue with which WFP has long had to grapple.

Food rations for refugees in Ethiopia were first reduced by 16 per cent in November 2015, then 40 per cent in November 2021, and finally 50 per cent in June 2022.

The impact of these cuts has been heightened by global limitations on food availability, widespread economic shock, rising food and energy costs, the COVID-19 fallout, and armed conflict.

Impact of cuts

To understand the impact of ration cuts on refugees, WFP, UNHCR and RRS conducted in April, a rapid assessment on 1,215 refugee camps households throughout relevant regions.

The results show that most had coped with food insecurity by reducing the number of meals eaten in a day, consuming less expensive foods, or limiting meal portions. 

The joint assessment also revealed that households are going to desperate measures to make up for funding cuts.

Funding repercussions

Funding cuts have forced refugees to rely on an ever-finite supply of food, which increases the likelihood of resource-based conflicts.

Data shows that many families have been relying on children to generate extra income to afford food.

Other households were forced to borrow cash, relying on friends or relatives for sustenance.

“We have a shortfall of $73 million for refugees’ minimum needs and we are deeply concerned that if funding cuts continue, they may consider returning to their places of origin when it is unsafe,” warned Mr. Jibidar.

Taking action 

More resources must be mobilized to meet immediate food demands, and smart investments should be taken to prioritize sustainable farming.  

“The priority for us all must be to restore assistance to at least minimum levels for refugees, all of whom are solely reliant on WFP’s cash and food assistance for survival,” said the UN Country Director.

With an immediate donor response, WFP would be able to buy food available in the region to meet the dietary needs of the refugees and also transfer cash to the refugees, providing them the choice of how to meet their immediate needs and stimulating local markets.

Support needed

The agencies have established an effective system to identify the food assistance needs of refugees through biometric verification, accountability mechanisms and programmes to grant monthly food and cash assistance.

The trio called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address their immediate and long-term food needs in line with international commitments. 

Meanwhile, WFP, UNHCR and RRS will continue to count on donors for extended funding support based on the principle of shared responsibility to implement basic humanitarian life-saving activities.

$73 mn appeal for over 750K refugees

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Ethiopian Government Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) have launched a $73-million joint appeal to provide food rations to more than 750,000 refugees living in the east African country.

In a joint press statement, the three organizations on Tuesday said the funds are essential to meet the food ration needs of the refugees for the next six months, Xinhua news agency reported.

“WFP will completely run out of food for refugees by October, leaving vulnerable families who are dependent on food assistance at risk of undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency, susceptibility to diseases and increased protection risks,” the statement added.

“Due to protracted funding shortfalls, WFP has already been forced to cut rations for 750,000 registered refugees living in 22 camps and five sites in hosting communities in Ethiopia’s Afar, Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambella, Somali and Tigray regions,” the statement further said.

Food insecurity among refugees in Ethiopia has risen as a result of the cuts and is even further compounded by current global limitations to food availability, conflict, rising costs of food and energy as well as the fallout from Covid-19.

The three organisations further called on all partners to strengthen efforts to address both the medium and long-term food needs of refugees in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia is the third largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, with 870,507 refugees and asylum seekers as of June 2022, UNHCR figures show. The majority of the refugees originate from South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.

ALSO READ-Egypt, US discuss global food crisis

Dubai Parenting

Al Jalila offers awareness activities for kids’ life skills

These activities included three workshops that were presented at AJCCC, held on 19 July, 27 July and 9 August…reports Asian Lite News

As part of its efforts to educate children on basic life skills throughout its 2022 summer programme, Al Jalila Cultural Centre for Children (AJCCC), an entity of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), offered awareness activities in cooperation with Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) as a means of spreading awareness among children of various emergencies and how to deal with them safely.

These activities included three workshops that were presented at AJCCC, held on 19 July, 27 July and 9 August. The workshops were attended by 118 children of different ages, who gained insight into the work of firefighters and rescuers as well as listened to fire safety instructions and learned the steps and measures to take regarding home fires, such as contacting DCD on 997 to report the fire and seek help in addition to identifying ways to get out of the fire, the priority of self-rescue, and how to reduce the fire’s spread.

The activities and events of AJCCC’s 2022 summer programme commenced on 4 July and will continue until 26 August, in cooperation with partners Iqraa Arabic Language Centre, ‘Project You,’ and the Centre for Musical Arts, introducing children and adolescents to a variety of cultural, artistic and recreational activities aimed at developing their creative talents and unleashing their imaginations within four age groups: 4-5, 6-8, 9-11 and 12-16. To register, please send an email to or call 055-1822510.

ALSO READ-‘Namami Gange’ enters Guinness World Record

UAE News

NAMA to expand footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide

Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under FPI have enhanced the capacities of more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains…reports Asian Lite News

During a recent field visit to South Africa, NAMA Women Advancement (NAMA) reviewed  both the achievements and challenges of its “Stimulating Equal Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs” flagship programme, launched in the country in partnership with UN Women in 2018 to remove structural barriers to gender equality and foster women’s economic empowerment.

Participating in a series of roundtable discussions, briefing meetings, and field visits with HE Mahash Saeed Al Hameli, UAE Ambassador to South Africa, Fatima Yousuf Al Suwaidi, First Secretary at the UAE Embassy in South Africa, stakeholders, national partners, and beneficiaries of the programme during the five-day visit,  NAMA also identified areas for improvement and new opportunities to expand its footprints in empowering women entrepreneurs worldwide.

With a focus on South Africa and the UAE, the Flagship Programme Initiative (FPI)  is designed to build and maximise the capacity of women-owned businesses to benefit from public and private sector procurement contracts, especially in non-traditional sectors. By leveraging the commitment of the government and corporate sectors, the programme aims to foster the creation of an SME support ecosystem and facilitate access to new procurement markets and finance, while also addressing the demand and supply constraints of buyers and entrepreneurs.

Leading the NAMA delegation, Her Excellency Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, outlined the transformational potential of creating an enabling ecosystem for women entrepreneurs by leveraging gender-responsive procurement as a force for strengthening the capacities of women business owners to access finance and enterprise development.

A broad range of stakeholders including representatives of UN Women, officials from the South African government, private sector entities – namely signatories of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), representatives of women associations, local NGOs, and training institutions were part of the visit that highlighted the progress of NAMA’s flagship programme activities in South Africa to identify best practices and lessons learned.

Creating an equitable future

Implemented in partnership with UN Women, governments, the private sector, investors, civil society, women entrepreneurs, and women’s enterprise associations, the ongoing Flagship Programme Initiative offers capacity building to women-owned enterprises. Under the FPI, UN Women has also spearheaded high-level advocacy and dialogue to place gender-responsive procurement as a strategic lever for driving women’s enterprise development.

Commenting on the visit, Her Excellency Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA, said: “We are committed to promoting gender equality and empowering female entrepreneurs and business owners, by creating market opportunities for women-led businesses worldwide. Providing them with equal opportunities enables women entrepreneurs to grow and thrive as leaders, innovators, and high-impact changemakers.”

She added: “Guided by the vision and strong leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of NAMA, our strategic collaboration with UN Women in launching the Flagship Programme Initiative is aiming to transform the business landscape and close gender gaps in South Africa by promoting women’s economic empowerment. Together with the unwavering support of our partner, UN Women, NAMA is fulfilling its vision of uplifting women and creating a more equitable future for women worldwide.”

Aleta Miller, South Africa Multi-Country Representative for UN Women said “UN Women’s long standing partnership with NAMA Advancement for Women, & the South African Government & people, has led to positive,  tangible outcomes for women across South Africa.

What’s made the programme implemented with support of  NAMA Advancement for Women so successful, is working at all levels to overcome systemic structural barriers .This included two key strategies: facilitating women’s access to procurement opportunities from both the public and private sector by creating an  enabling environment; and providing  consistent capacity support to women-owned  enterprises

South Africa demonstrates the power of bringing women into the economy, & NAMA Advancement for Women has played a key role in supporting a host of successful initiatives.”

Reaching over 16,000 women in South Africa

Since its commencement in South Africa, projects initiated under FPI have enhanced the capacities of more than 16,000 women-owned enterprises to participate in various value chains.

A total of 6,452 women entrepreneurs have benefited from skills and capacity development programmes, enhancing their participation in procurement processes and increasing their access to business opportunities, income, and growth. Five sustainable and scalable capacity-building ecosystem approaches and models for women-owned businesses have also been developed here to date.

Leveraging the technology of Buyfromwomen, an innovative e-commerce platform, the flagship project has connected Women Owned Enterprises (WOEs) in Energy, Transport, Agriculture and General Entrepreneurship to improve access to markets.

With x7 modules, the Learning Management System (LMS) assisted women in assessing online self-paced training during Covid-19. Of the 3,693 women who were profiled, 1,264 enrolled on the LMS.

UN Women’s advocacy efforts further delivered results when the President of South Africa earmarked 40 per cent of public procurement projects for women-owned enterprises. Key government sector departments such as the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and the Department of Women, Youth & Persons with Disabilities have commenced procurement spending on women-owned businesses in the sanitary dignity value chain. 

In line with the programme goals  in 2019, the Amathole District Municipality reviewed its supply chain policies and set specific targets for women-owned enterprises, effectively increasing its procurement spend on women-owned businesses from 4% to 38%. Together with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), UN Women worked with the municipality to mobilise 300 WOBs within the targeted district to learn about their participation in supply chains and create a database of women-owned enterprises in the Amathole District.

ALSO READ-NAMA, UN Women economically empower 340,000 women globally

Travel & Tourism

Turkish tourism rebounds after years of losses

Volkan Yorulmaz, a board member of the Professional Hotel Managers Association of Türkiye, told Xinhua that this would be a reasonable target…reports Burak Akinci

Türkiye’s tourism industry is headed for a good year as revenues nearly tripled in the second quarter, which is a boon for the vulnerable economy hit by both the COVID-19 pandemic and a sharp decline of local currency, tourism professionals and operators said.


The number of foreign tourists visiting Türkiye in the quarter rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels as the lira’s decline against hard currencies turned Türkiye into a more attractive holiday destination.

Tourism revenues are key to the Turkish economy suffering from a currency slump, near 80-percent inflation and widening current account deficit.

Türkiye earned 8.72 billion U.S. dollars from tourism in the second quarter of this year, almost tripled from 3 billion dollars in the April-June period of 2021, putting it on course for a record year, according to local media.

Last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Türkiye aimed to generate 37 billion dollars in tourism revenues and attract 47 million tourists this year, revising the previous targets of 35 billion dollars and 45 million tourists.

Volkan Yorulmaz, a board member of the Professional Hotel Managers Association of Türkiye, told Xinhua that this would be a reasonable target.

“Overall it won’t be difficult to reach a total of over 40 million foreign visitors this year, including 12 million in Antalya, Türkiye’s biggest tourism hub on the sunny Mediterranean coast,” Yorulmaz said.

Yorulmaz, who is also the general manager of a holiday resort in Antalya’s Kemer District which is very popular with Russian and Ukrainian tourists, explained that the industry had a rough start this year due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict that broke out in February.

“We were hopeful for this year until the conflict erupted. Our expectations decreased a bit, but after May, the industry rebounded here with the arrivals of Russian planes which were a relief for the sector,” he said.

In April-June 2022, foreign visitors jumped to 11.9 million from 4.07 million a year ago, according to recently announced official data.

Tourism income in the first half of the year totaled 14.2 billion dollars, exceeding that of 2019, which was a record year.

Tour company owner Recep Yavuz, who conducted research on the tourism activity in Antalya by interviewing more than 50 hotels, said that daily entries of foreign tourists amounted to 80,000-90,000.

Explaining that many hotels are trying to direct those who cannot find a place in Antalya to alternative destinations, Yavuz said that local hotels are currently experiencing the peak season of 2019.

“It looks like Antalya will experience one of its best seasons this year,” Yavuz said.


Türkiye is seeking to boost revenues from tourism to help finance a current account deficit that has widened alarmingly this year due to interest rate cuts and a surge in imports.

The bigger deficit has pressured the lira, which has lost more than a quarter of its value in 2022 after declining by 45 percent last year.

Tourism revenues account for nearly 9 percent of the Turkish gross domestic product (GDP) and are crucial for the already low foreign currency reserves of the Turkish central bank.

Türkiye’s tourism GDP is projected to grow by 5.5 percent annually over the next decade, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, representing 11 percent of the total economy by 2032.

Irfan Karsli, head of the Istanbul-based Ligarba Travel Agency, told Xinhua that things were looking better for this year, especially with a big rise in numbers of tourists visiting Istanbul, the biggest Turkish city and another tourism hub.

“Istanbul is one of the top 50 most visited cities in the world. Also, the decline of the lira has been good news for foreign holidaymakers,” he said.

With its rich cultural and historical landmarks, Istanbul has become one of the largest shopping centers in the European region by consisting of shopping malls and centers. According to the official statistics, 7 million tourists visited Istanbul in the first six months of this year.

Known as a destination where Europe meets Asia that has long captivated visitors with its culture, art and history, Istanbul is seeing a significant increase in the number of foreigners arriving for shopping and health tourism, Karsli added.

But while the decline of the lira turned Türkiye into a more affordable destination than rivals Greece, Italy or Spain, it has a downside for Turkish resorts which have seen their costs skyrocketing because of high inflation.

“Runaway inflation has considerably increased our costs in every single field. Income is high but so are costs, and some resorts and hotels are suffering from this situation,” Yorulmaz added.

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Lebanese cancer patients struggle to find medicines amid crisis

For those who are unable to pay for their medicines, they have to stop their treatment, which could have a detrimental effect on their health…writes Dana Halawi

Abbas Nasreddine, a Lebanese citizen in his 60s, has been battling lymphatic cancer for more than two years. But four months ago, he was forced to stop treatment temporarily due to a lack of cancer medicines in Lebanon.

Nasreddine, who was prescribed Imbruvica for life, was finally able to purchase his medicines from the local market recently. Still, he is not sure if he could buy it in future as Lebanon’s lingering financial crisis has made it increasingly difficult to obtain such medicines.

“I am very worried, because I do not know if my treatment could continue or not,” he said.

Since Lebanon was hit by a financial crisis in 2019, the value of the Lebanese currency against the U.S. dollar has decreased by more than 90 percent. Lebanon’s central bank has steadily reduced subsidies for a variety of commodities that were pegged to a fixed exchange rate, Xinhua reported.

Lebanon still subsidizes patients suffering from a number of chronic diseases, such as cancer. However, due to a lack of medicines, wealthier patients have to buy medicines either on the black market or from other countries through family or friends at higher prices.

For those who are unable to pay for their medicines, they have to stop their treatment, which could have a detrimental effect on their health.

Mohamed Jaber, a pharmacist and secretary-general of the Order of Pharmacists of Lebanon, blamed the drawn-out procedure of Banque Du Liban (BDL), Lebanon’s central bank, for the medicine shortage.

Due to the financial crisis, the BDL asks medicine importers to obtain prior authorization. Such authorization is necessary for BDL to open letters of credit, which is required to import subsidized medicines, said Jaber.

The procedure usually takes a long time and delays the delivery of new shipments, sometimes making it difficult for patients to receive what they need, he said.

The shortage of cancer medicines has forced a big number of patients to stop their treatment, which has led to the deterioration of their health, said Nizar Bitar, a hematology and oncology medicine professor at the Sahel hospital in Beirut.

“Cancer patients have to take their medicines regularly, on time and in accordance with specific guidance. Because of a lack of medicines, we were sometimes obliged to provide outdated or less effective treatments to patients rather than new ones that would have improved their quality of life,” Bitar said.

Bitar said that some treatments involve the prescription of several medicines, but when one of them is unavailable, the doctor is compelled to change the treatment without being able to evaluate its consequences properly.

Some cancer patients in Lebanon have expressed their worry and concerns over the country’s failure to ensure necessary treatments for patients with cancers and other chronic diseases.

Fawzia Fayad, a woman who failed to survive cancer under the medicine shortage, was among one of a few outspoken Lebanese to voice concern about the country’s medicine shortage. She passed away on March 3 at 24, after failing to get proper medication.

In the past few months, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has on many occasions called on international bodies and donor countries to support Lebanon’s cancer-fighting patients amid the current economic crisis.

At a parliamentary health committee meeting on Monday, he promised to allocate more funds for cancer medication.

However, Jaber believed that the Lebanese government wouldn’t be able to resolve this problem anytime soon because of the severe financial crisis.

The best solution now is to allow importers to bring in non-subsidized cancer medicines to ensure they are available on the local market, even if at higher prices, he added.

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