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- Japan provides commuter buses for the Yemeni Association

for the Blind in Sana'a City

The Government of Japan decided to extend a grant to a grass-roots project in the Republic of Yemen under the Japanese scheme called "Grant Assistance for Grass-roots Human Security Projects." The scheme aims at supporting small scale community-based projects in the area of basic human needs, such as primary health care, basic education and rural water supply in developing countries.

Mr. Masakazu Toshikage, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Yemen, signed today in Sana'a, an agreement to this effect with Mr. Abdulaziz Ali Abdullah BalHaj, Chairman of the Yemen Society for Care and Rehabilitation for the Blind - Sana'a Head Office.

The grant of approximately 8.7 million Yemeni Riyals will be used to purchase 2 buses of 16-seater each, in support of facilitating transportation for the blind to commute to the Yemen Society for Care and Rehabilitation for the Blind - Sana'a Head Office. The grant aims at increasing the number of blind people who can attend classes at the Society, and also encouraging them to receive necessary support and vocational training to merge into society.

During the current Japanese fiscal year (April 2008 -- March 2009), Japan has funded 3 grass-roots projects so far in the Republic of Yemen, amounting to US$197,100 under the above-mentioned Japanese scheme. In the last Japanese fiscal year, Japan funded 17 grass-roots projects in Yemen under the same scheme totaling US$1,337,350.

- Jakarta summit to discuss re-building of Palestine

Indonesia will host a ministerial-level conference for Asian and African countries to discuss technical assistance for Palestine and to plan for its future independence.

The conference, co-hosted by South Africa, will run from July 14 to 15, and will bring together envoys from some 100 countries to discuss the capacity development of Palestine in launching the multi-level development projects. Among other things, it would cover in the fields of governance, infrastructure, economy, security, health and sports.

At the summit, the supporting nations will honor their commitments towards the re-building of Palestine. The Palestine's president and the prime minister are expectedly to attend the two-day meet.

Apart from majority of Asian and African countries, Latin American countries like Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil have also confirmed participation. The NAASP Ministerial Conference on capacity Building for Palestine is a follow up to the Asian African Leaders' delegation to strongly support to the struggle of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state.

The initiative to hold the Conference was endorsed and agreed at the NAASP Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) in Durban, September 2006.

While Annapolis Conference was focused on political support and the Paris Donor Conference was aimed at mobilizing financial assistance, the NAASP Ministerial Conference emphasizes the provision of essential capacity building projects based on the respective countries' expertise.

The conference is therefore expected to gather commitments from Asian African countries in the form of capacity building projects based on the list submitted by the Palestinian government. There are over 90 development projects in 21 sectors, which would be presented by the Palestinian side at the conference

The summit is expected to play a constructive role as catalyst to the peace process, primarily through the empowerment of the various Palestinian national components, in preparing and anticipating the eventual establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state in the near future.

The conference initiative is a renewed version of the 1955 Asia-Africa Conference held in Bandung, which sought independence for all countries on the two continents. Palestine remains the only country from the 1955 conference yet to achieve independence.

Stalled peace talks between Palestine and Israel were revived in November 2007 with the U.S.-sponsored Annapolis conference, which spawned the two-state solution to end the decades-long conflict.

In December 2008, donor countries at a Paris conference pledged US$7.4 billion to help boost the Palestinian economy.

- UNDP and Yemen sign agreements worth 10 Million Dollars

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Yemen signed today four projects with the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation and respective parties. They will cover different aspects of development that fall within the mandate of UNDP.

The first project is a joint European Commission (EC) and UNDP electoral assistance to Yemen for the years 2008-2010. According to the project document, the EC and UNDP will provide technical assistance to develop the capacity of electoral institutions in Yemen including the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum (SCER). The project aims to enhance the capacity of the SCER to manage the different stages of the electoral process. Its main outcome is to help Yemen to conduct free and fair elections in the coming rounds aiming to reflect the will of the people. One of its major components also is to increase women's participation in the electoral process.

The total budget of this project is USD 5.7 million (Euro 3.7 million). EC will provide approximately

5 million dollars (Euro 3.2 million) while UNDP will provide USD 700,000. The project document was signed by H.E. Abdul Kareem Ismael Al-Arhabi, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs - Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Mr. Shaif Al-Hussaini - Secretary General for the SCER, and Dr. Selva Ramachandran - UNDP Yemen Resident Representative a.i. The signing ceremony is also witnessed by Mr. Michele Cervone D'URSO EC Charge D' Affair.

The second project contributes to the goal of creating a sustainable and well-governed path of development for the Socotra archipelago, to ensure the conservation of its significant biodiversity. The project aims to support the mainstreaming of biodiversity management considerations into the current process of "decentralizing governance for development" on the Socotra archipelago. The project's outcomes are, local governance support, mainstreaming tools, strengthening, NGOs, advocacy and benefits of biodiversity conservation to local livelihoods. Moreover, the project comes at a time when there are 'preparations for announcing the island of Socotra to be listed on the World Heritage List during the UNESCO meeting this month which will be held in Canada' as reported by the YemenTimes on 23rd June 2008: http://yementimes.com/article.shtml? i=1166&p=local&a=4.

The total budget of this project is around 2 million USD, in which the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) and UNDP will provide 1 million dollars each. The project document was signed by H.E. Abdul Kareem Ismael Al-Arhabi, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs - Minister of Planning and International Cooperation and Dr. Selva Ramachandran - UNDP Yemen Resident Representative a.i.

The third project aims to promote pro-poor economic growth in the country. It targets achieving a strong alliance through further development of a supportive infrastructure for the microfinance sector in Yemen. In direct partnership with the Social Fund for Development (SFD), this project will create the first National Microfinance Network for the microfinance industry, which will act as a storehouse of knowledge for the sector, facilitating information exchange and the promotion of industry standards and developments among its members. It will also contribute to the efficient and sustainable use of resources for job creation and growth of the industry, and in doing so it will increase the availability of high quality, cost efficient financial services to the working poor in Yemen, particularly among women and youth.

The total budget of this project is 1.5 million dollars, in which UNDP and SFD will provide

USD 750,000 each. The project document was signed by H.E. Abdul Kareem Ismael Al-Arhabi, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs - Minister of Planning and International Cooperation- SFD Executive Director, and Dr. Selva Ramachandran - UNDP Yemen Resident Representative a.i.

The fourth project aims to strengthen the capacities of the media and civil society organizations (CSOs) in transparency advocacy. The project will provide technical assistance to help the two mentioned target groups in networking and elevating standards at the national level to promote the exchange of independent and objective information on transparency and accountability issues. Accordingly, one of the major component of the project is to undertake trainings for journalists from print media to strengthen their capacity in a more professional and effective manner. It also targets raising awareness of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Yemen on the concept of access to information and building capacity in public resources monitoring techniques.

The total budget of this project is USD 400,000. UNDP is providing USD 200,000, from its core budget, and the remainder of the financing is coming from the UNDP Democratic Governance Thematic Trust Fund (DGTTF). The project document was signed by H.E. Abdul Kareem Ismael Al-Arhabi, Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs - Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, H.E. Ahmed Al Anisi -Chairman of Supreme National Anti-Corruption Commission and Dr. Selva Ramachandran - UNDP Yemen Resident Representative a.i.

The signing ceremony was attended by H.E. Mr. Hisham Sharaf Deputy Minister for International Cooperation, Mr. Mutahar Al Abbasy Deputy Minister for Planning, Ms. Dena Assaf UNDP Deputy Resident Representative for Programme, officials from the related ministries, non-governmental organizations, donors representatives, and others.

- Online tutoring program in Michigan

In partnership with the American Muslim Society, Dearborn Michigan and with the generous and proud support of Western Union and Nationwide Educational Services, the American Association for Yemeni Students and Professionals is proud to announce the launching of our first online tutoring program project. This project represents a unique collaboration effort between Yemeni organizations and business partners to initiate an innovative program in the community. The American Muslim Society serves about 400 students and many of them are expected to benefit from the online tutoring which provides interactive-multimedia courses for grades k-12 in addition to providing workforce readiness programs. Students in the school are expected to start their courses on 7/14 after the staff is trained on the program.

- Newspapers Fight "Luxury" Tax in Zimbabwe

The World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum have called for the repeal of a punitive "luxury" tax on newspapers that are imported into Zimbabwe, which is preventing independent newspapers from reaching their audience.

The tax was imposed in early June in the run-up to the widely condemned presidential election won by Robert Mugabe after his opponent quit the race in the face of escalating violence against his supporters. It aims to reduce the influence of South African-based news sources, which have been extremely important to Zimbabweans.

"Restricting access to information by punitive taxation constitutes a clear breach of the right to freedom of expression, which is guaranteed by numerous international conventions, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," the Paris-based WAN and WEF, which represent 18,000 newspapers world-wide, said in a letter to President Mugabe.

The two organisations called on Mugabe to remove the luxury tax on foreign publications and to end state intimidation of the independent media. All domestic independent newspapers and broadcasters in Zimbabwe are banned.

- Leading Dubai companies take top honours at Middle East call centre awards '08 event

Dnata as top regional call centre, RTA-Salik as best new call centre and CTS with the best regional Call Centre manager were some of the top accolades handed out to Dubai companies at the annual Middle East Call Centre Awards '08 Gala Dinner recently. With call centres at the regional centres of DHL and TNT in Dubai also picking up trophies, Dubai was the biggest winner on a fun-filled and entertaining evening that has become known as the Middle East Call Centre "Night Of The Year".

- According to Dominick Keenaghan, president of event organizers INSIGHTS: "This was the third year that the Awards have been run, and Dubai has never before featured in the two top Awards of Call Centre of the Year and Call Centre Manager of the Year, those categories formerly going to call centres in Riyadh, Muscat and Abu Dhabi. With Dnata winning the former category and Humaira Majid of CTS the latter, the two will now go forward to represent the region at the World Call Centre Congress in Phoenix, USA in September".

Continued Keenaghan: "Individual Awards are becoming more difficult to win each year because more and more regional call centres see the immense value of entering the INSIGHTS' Awards competition. Not only does the process of preparing a submission force a thorough analysis and evaluation of ongoing operations and strategies, those activities in themselves are valuable exercises to expedite ongoing, internal development and improvement initiatives; but the impact and effects of winning an Award has been demonstrated to have many unique, galvanizing benefits for employee morale and motivation. In particular, the accolades are a great way to attract senior management attention to the valuable work going on in the call centre in bottom-line affecting areas such as customer loyalty and retention. We know this because previous Awards winners continue to enter each year in the hope (they tell us) of repeating the joys of winning, being recognized by their regional peers and gaining higher status within their own company."

Other trophies handed out at the Awards 08 event this week included two to Arab National Bank in KSA for "Best Technology Platform" and "Best Quality Assurance Program", SpancoGKS of Qatar for the "Best Internally Developed Call Centre Application", BUPA Arabia of KSA for the "Best Retention & Motivation Program" Award, CrysTelCall of Jordan as "OSP of the Year (less than 71 seats)", Xceed of Egypt for "Best Career & Skill Paths" and "Special Achievement" awards to Etisalat Customer Care Centre and Nada Majid of Zain, Bahrain for "Sales Improvement Program" and "Live Cycle Strategist" respectively. In the Small Call Centre category of less than 71 seats, Brian D'Costa of DHL was "Manager of the Year" and TNT were "Call Centre of the Year".

The Middle East Call Centre Awards 08 evening was jointly sponsored by the region's leading Call Centre supplier, Avaya and the rapidly growing Dnata Contact Centre....

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Publication:Yemen Times (Sana'a, Yemen)
Date:Jul 13, 2008
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