OIC delegation visits Cambodia

Updated 19 July 2014

OIC delegation visits Cambodia

A delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recently visited Cambodia to participate in an international conference organized by the Council for Development of Cambodia under the slogan “Islamic Education and Economic Development in Cambodia” in the capital Phnom Penh.
Located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia, Cambodia has a population of over 14.8 million with a Muslim population of more than 700,000, mostly from the Cham ethnic minority group.
The Cham Muslims suffered serious purges, with half of their population exterminated, during the reign of the notorious Khmer Rouge in the mid 70s.
The country’s current constitution guarantees freedom of religion and worship. There are around 200 mosques in different parts of Cambodia and nearly 100 charitable societies and organizations.
Yet Cambodia is not so actively engaged with the Muslim world and there are a few Islamic countries that have resident ambassadors in Phnom Penh including Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Kuwait, Pakistan and Turkey.
“It was the first a high-ranking official visit by the OIC to Cambodia and the delegation was impressed by the government’s plans to properly treat the Muslim minority and expressed this during its meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Svega Sun An, and other Cambodian officials,” said Talal Daous, adviser to the OIC secretary-general.
The OIC delegation, which included Ali Abolhassani, director of the Political Affairs Department, as well as the executive director of the Islamic Solidarity Fund, Ibrahim Al-Khuzayem, and Kunrat Wirasubrata, the manager of the Islamic Development Bank Regional Office in Malaysia, took part in the conference.
“The objective of the conference was to highlight the importance of the various stages and types of education to the Muslim community in Cambodia and to get to know the constraints and difficulties facing the educational process,” Daous said. The conference was also aimed at discussing ways to provide resources that enable achieving economic development and to discuss mechanisms that achieve this development.
A number of professors and specialists in education and economics from inside and outside Cambodia participated in the conference. Their lectures highlighted the aspects that help achieve economic and educational development for the Muslim community in Cambodia.
“The conference recommended the establishment of specialized committees in the fields of education, Halal food, zakat and Islamic ‘waqf’,” the OIC official said. It also called for setting up a unified base for the religious education curricula for the Islamic schools in Cambodia, he added. It also advised Muslim population to send their children to public schools to help them get modern education. It stressed the need for systematic plans for economic development of the poor Muslim society in the country.
In addition to its meetings with officials, the OIC delegation visited the primary Simia Private International School, the site of the Islamic University project, about 300 km away from the capital.


Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

First prize winners of this year’s tournament came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. (Photo/Social media)
Updated 40 min 33 sec ago

Traditional Saudi game jumps to the digital world

  • First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW

RIYADH: Baloot, a card game similar to bridge, has developed from a traditional game — usually played at family gatherings — to an online game for your mobile phone.
The Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports launched in Riyadh the third baloot tournament, which has attracted more than 18,000 participants including 40 female teams. The total prize money is SR2 million ($533,234).
The third baloot tournament showed an unprecedented number of players this year, bolstered by the participation of female players.
First prize winners of this year’s tournament, Fahad Al-Shibani and Saud Al-Shibani, came home with cash prize of SR750,000 and a BMW. Second prize winners received cash prizes of SR500,000 and third place players won SR100,000.
The electronic version is now more popular among Saudis than the original, which requires at least four players.
“The main feature that these baloot apps provide is that I can play the game anytime and anywhere, I don’t need to wait until I find three more people to complete the team,” said Saad Al-Amri, an undergrad student from Abha. “I also don’t lose control as I sometimes do when I play it with my relatives,” he added.
However, Al-Amri admits that playing baloot online made him more addicted to the game, saying that some days he spends 3 hours playing.
Baloot apps are not new and the market continues to grow. Apple’s App Store boasts over 30 Baloot apps. In Android’s Google Play store, the number of apps is even higher, ranging from platforms for playing the game, to apps that teaches the rules, to calculators that help users track their scores in the traditional version.
On top of the list of apps are two famous versions called “Kammelna” and “Baloot VIP,” with both reaching over 1 million downloads.
There are other apps that are less popular but also have strong downloads figures. “Tarbeeat Baloot” and “iBaloot” have just over half a million and 100,000 downloads respectively.
According to the website of “Kammelna,” a Saudi app, they started working on it in 2008, and currently have more than 1 million subscribers, with an updated ranking list for the best 100 players published daily.
Baloot apps can charge paid subscriptions, ranging from monthly, quarterly, semiannually or annually. Some apps sell points to customers who can replace them with special features in the game.
Subscriptions start from around SR30 per month, giving users additional features such as access to a special playing room and the ability to start private conversations with other players. Some apps have unique tournaments to encourage users to compete with each other and win points that they can use in future games.