Wooing Muslim tourists

One way of investing in infrastructure and services is by targeting a specific clientele like Muslim tourists. 

What kind of investments, besides getting halal certification, must non-Muslim countries make to attract Potential Muslim tourists then? 

BANGKOK: Predominately Buddhist Thailand has opened its first halal hotel as hopes to attract more Muslim visitors and boost one of the few bright spots in its economy.

Nearly 30 million foreign tourists came to Thailand last year but only about 658,000 were from the Middle East, according to industry data.

The four-star Al Meroz hotel in Bangkok, which opened in November 2015, hopes to play its part in changing that, and to cash in.

“There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. It’s a huge market,” said the hotel’s general manager, Sanya Saengboon.

“Just one percent of that market is enough for us to thrive.”

Text and photo Source: channelnewsasia 


In a Warmer World, There May Be Fewer Fruits and Vegetables

Concerns about climate change have caused researchers to warn that rising global temperatures will reduce crop yields and create food insecurity, the inability to get enough calories to survive. Now, scholars from the United Kingdom and the United States have revealed another possible result: an increase in deaths not just from hunger, but from chronic diseases that would be made worse as diets change…

…the researchers from Oxford University and the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C. predict that by 2050, more than a half-million people will die not just because not enough food will be available, but because the composition of their diets will change, losing nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables, and meats. But taking international action to reduce climate change, they say, could eliminate up to three-fourths of those deaths.

Its not all doom and gloom, read on from the link below to see suggested solutions.

Source: national geographic 

Spratly Islands Dispute – Death of the corals

The Spratly Islands are one of many islands found in the South China Sea that are part of the regional territorial dispute between nearby countries like China, Vietnam, Philippines.

All claim to have claim to various islands within the South China Sea, the largest claim being China’s ‘nine-dash line’:

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Other claims include:

Up to 5 countries are claiming parts or all of the Spratly Islands – China, Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.

Why are the Islands important?

In terms of national security, these islands are important due to their location in the South China Sea, where many merchant ships pass through to deliver  goods, people, and energy products to Asian-Pacific countries. By controlling these islands, the country in question would be able to ensure the safe passage of their goods.

In terms of energy security, the Spratly Islands are considered indispensable to countries in the region due to the potential sources of natural gas and oil found under the islands’ seabed. Whichever country wins the dispute would have the right to explore and develop these resources for their own domestic consumption. This would help in diversifying a country’s energy portfolio while making them less vulnerable to foreign oil and gas markets. At this time, however, the amount of recoverable oil and gas that these islands contain have not been fully proven.

Beyond this, whichever country gets control of the islands will also have control over activities within the area – including fishing. Economically, the fishing industries of countries in the region can be very severely affected.

Source: http://energyinasiablog.com/2011/10/the-spratly-islands-dispute-defining-sea-lane-security/

Environmental impact so far?

China has been very active within the disputed islands and in recent years have constructed artificial islands within the disputed zones.

Satellite imagery from 30 March, 7 August 2014 and 30 January 2015 shows the extent of Chinese progress in building an island at Gaven Reefs in the Spratly Islands.
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/10/28/asia/china-south-china-sea-disputes-explainer/

With the building of such islands on what used to be reefs, comes massive damage to reef systems, as discovered by experts:

Marine biologist John McManus said Chinese poachers had been using the propellers on their boats to destroy coral reefs at disputed islands Spratyls and Pag-asa, referred to as Thitu in China.

According to data, coral bleaching and reef scarring are evidence of systematic crushing through repeated scratching or scraping by Chinese poachers to harvest giant clams.

McManus added that aside from discovering the poaching method, the data also links the destruction of the corals to China’s construction of artificial islands.

“They said their scientists went there. They looked around and they say ‘Oh, this is all dead coral.’ It was! It’s the truth—it had been killed by the Chinese fishers,” he said.

Source: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/582462/scitech/science/chinese-poachers-destroyed-coral-reefs-in-spratly-pag-asa-islands-us-biologist

It doesn’t look like we are anywhere close to any solution to the dispute, those most agree that any solution should only come with negotiations and not military action. Until that happens, it is doubtful the reefs will be left unscathed.

East Asian Sea Plate – the plate that is no longer around

A previously unknown tectonic plate — one that has been swallowed up by the Earth — has been discovered in the Philippine Sea, according to a recent study. 

The Philippine Sea lies at the juncture of several major tectonic plates. The Pacific, Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates frame several smaller plates, including the Philippine Sea Plate, which researchers say has been migrating northwest since its formation roughly 55 million years ago. 
In the process, the Philippine Sea Plate collided with the northern edge of the East Asian Sea Plate, driving it into the Earth’s mantle. The southern area of the East Asian Sea Plate was eventually subducted by, or forced beneath, other neighboring plates, the researchers said.

Source: Live Science

2015 Pakistan heat wave

An impact of climate change is the increased occurrence of extreme weather conditions.

One such extreme weather condition is HEATWAVE.

A severe heat wave with temperatures as high as 49 °C (120 °F) struck southern Pakistan in June 2015. It caused the deaths of about 2,000 people from dehydration and heat stroke, mostly in Sindh province and its capital city,Karachi. The heat wave also claimed the lives of zoo animals and countless agricultural livestock. The event followed a separate heat wave in neighboring India that killed 2,500 people in May 2015.

Causes of the heatwave were

Asif Shuja, the former director general of the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency, claimed the heat wave was a symptom of global climate change, aggravated by  deforestation, expansion of asphalt superhighways, and rapid urbanisation. He maintained that “there has been a rise in the Earth’s average temperature from 15.5 °C (59.9 °F) to 16.2 °C (61.2 °F) over the last 100 years, due to which we are experiencing such extreme weather conditions both in summers and winters.” Shuja went on to say that the lack of sophisticated weather prediction technology in Pakistan contributed to the casualties of the heat wave.

Here’s a video on the impact of the heatwave – how roads are melting in India (Pakistan’s neighbour)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Pakistan_heat_wave

Living INSIDE an Active volcano

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 3.43.31 PM.pngAogashima – one of the islands of the a volcanic island arc South of Japan (see the right of the Picture for a depression in the ocean –> Izu-Bonin Trench)

Aogashima, along with several other volcanic islands, form the Izu Islands – a volcanic island arc (possibly due to the convergence of Pacific plate and Philippine(?) plate)

For the residents of Aogashima, an island about 200 miles due south of Tokyo, 1785 was an unforgettable year. Although they weren’t alive to witness the deadliest event in island history, they know what unfolded all too well—and what they know hasn’t changed their mind about living atop a real-life volcano.

They’ve heard the stories about how, on May 18, the ground began to shake. Giant plumes of gas and smoke billowed out from the mouth of the island’s volcano, shooting rocks, mud and other debris into the sky. By June 4, the island’s 327 residents had no choice but to evacuate, but only about half succeeded and the rest perished. Those who live on the island that’s home to a volcano still registered as active by the Japanese Meteorological Agency, the governmental agency responsible for monitoring the nation’s 110 active volcanoes, know that there’s always the chance that history could repeat itself. But Aogashima’s inhabitants are willing to take that risk

Source: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/

Reactions to zika 

As fear mongering and ignorance sets in, the government steps in with messages and communications to the public to educate them on the disease and possible prevention methods.

Bear in mind how they remind all that “Zika is generally a mild disease…”

Which is something the Singapore vigilantehs highlight :

Zika is not some new mutated strain of virus. It’s been around all along.

Dengue is scarier, and if we can survive dengue being endemic in SG, we can survive this increased incidence of Zika in our tiny island.

We can use this chance though to get people to do the mozzie wipeout a whole lot more regularly.