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Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok's complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

In Lombok we have a saying: “You can see Bali in Lombok, but you can't see Lombok in Bali” – and that's certainly been true over the past couple of weeks!

It's been an active time for our Balinese-Hindu communities in Lombok. Galungan, on 18 March, marked the commencement of a 10-day religious cycle – a period in which the spirits of dead family members are believed to return and join clan members via prayers and offerings at family temples.

In a larger sense, Galungan is also the celebration of the victory of good over evil in the unseen world.
Galungan was followed by Nyepi on 26 March, observed by a day of silence in Bali and marking the start of the Hindu New Year. The Ogoh-ogoh parade in Mataram on the eve of Nyepi was an exciting event, with around 30 000 people in Lombok joining in the fun of the parade. See Local Scene on page 20 for our special photos of the day.
The ten day cycle ended on Saturday, 28 March with the festivities of Kuningan drawing large crowds at the temples at Batu Bolong and in the cities. Happy New Year to all the Balinese Hindu people across Indonesia… Om Santi Santi Santi Om.

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Guide from the locations listed on page 30 or visit us at www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you'll be enchanted!

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Reports by The Jakarta Globe on 14 and 16 March 2009, stating that Emaar Properties was cancelling its planned development in Lombok sent shockwaves not only around the nation, but throughout the world investment community.

The news had Lombok government officials reeling and national authorities scrambling to confirm or deny the reports. While it appears that the news was incorrectly reported, the reports have raised a number of issues regarding the planned investment by the United Arab Emirates giant and, as a positive result, have spurred local authorities to act in finalising their responsibilities in the deal.

Swift action by the BKPM (National Investment Coordinating Board) resulted in The Jakarta Globe publishing a retraction of its story on 19 March. In his letter to the newspaper, BKPM Chairman Muhammad Lutfi said, “Your articles have irresponsibly damaged the national investment climate, as it has been widely quoted by other media, locally and internationally.”

The statement went on to say that the BKPM and Emaar Properties PJSC will continue the commitment to a $600 million property investment project in Lombok. The main terms of the joint venture agreement between Emaar and the Bali Tourism Development Corp (BTDC) are that the BTDC will inject the land into the project company and Emaar will develop the site.

Under the terms of the JVA, the BTDC was to comply with the conditions regarding land titles by 19 March 2009. When the JVA expired on 19 March, the BKPM, on behalf of the government of Indonesia, in this case the BTDC, requested an extension.

The BKPM now reports that Emaar has agreed to a three month extension of the deadline, until 19 June 2009.

The facts

The fact remains, however, that Emaar has closed its office in Jakarta and will reportedly conduct its business from Dubai during the 3 month reprieve period. And, although the Jakarta Globe retraction included the statement that none of the allegations of corruption and bureaucratic delays on the part of the Indonesians were made by an official Emaar spokesperson, the newspaper stands by its publication of unofficial statements made by Emaar employees.

True, too, are rumblings that the UAE based investment company may be in financial trouble. It is also fact that Emaar recorded a loss of US $479 million in the fourth quarter of 2008, precipitating a sharp fall in its publicly traded share price. Its most significant loss came from investments in John Laing Homes, one of the largest home builders in the US.

Addressing shareholders after the losses, Mohammed Ali Alabbar, Chairman of Emaar, said the company would focus on completing projects this year and suspend all new projects to assist in reducing supply to meet the new market conditions. Dubai property prices fell 8 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, the first quarterly decline since foreign ownership became legal in 2002, according to Colliers International.

Indonesian response

The Indonesian government has given itself time until mid-April to clear all bureaucratic obstacles to the Emaar Lombok investment, a provincial administration spokesman said.

Steps to speed up the settlement of a number of administrative matters were discussed at a meeting at the vice-presidential secretariat in Jakarta on 20 March, said Andy Hadiyanto, the NTB Chief Public Relations Officer.
The meeting, led by two senior officials at the vice presidential secretariat, Muhammad Abduh and Sunaryo Sumeji, was held following Emaar Properties' decision to extend the lead time for its investment project in Lombok island by three months as of 19 March, 2009.

Present at the meeting were also NTB Vice Governor, Badrul Munir, the secretary of the Central Lombok District Administration, Lalu Zubudi, and a number of relevant central and regional government officials.

“To speed up the process of accomplishing various yet-to-be settled matters, the meeting agreed to set 14 April, 2009 as the deadline,” Hadiyanto said, “There is no need to wait until the June deadline.”

Among the processes that need to be speeded up is the issuance of a decree giving PT Bali Tourism Development Coorporation (BTDC) the right to use the land (HPL) on which Emaar´s investment project would be located. The responsibility for issuing the decree rests with the central and provincial National Land Agency (BPN).
Before the issuance of the land use decree by BPN, the finance ministry has to issue a relevant regulation on the value of the land by 2 April at the latest.

Another process requiring acceleration was the holding of a PT BTDC general shareholders´ meeting to form a subsidiary on 6 April and the establishment of PT Emaar Lombok as a subsidiary or joint venture corporation of PT BTDC and Emaar Properties LLC on 10 April.

The Head of the BKPM is expected to have issued the needed investment permit by 12 April, as PT Emaar Lombok is scheduled to be capitalised on 13 April. The Law and Human Rights Minister is due to issue a document legalising PT Emaar Lombok´s formation on 14 April, Hadiyanto said.

Emaar Properties has planned to invest a total of Rp 21 trillion over a period of 15 years, divided into three periods during each of which it would sink Rp 7 trillion in the project.

The project will be an integrated tourism resort at Pantai Kuta and Tanjung Aan on the south coast of Lombok, comprising two luxury Georgio Armani and Ritz hotels, a condominium and a golf course on 450 hectares of an overall land area of 1,250 hectares designated for the resort.

The airport

The question on everyone's lips since the Emaar furore started has been whether the planned Lombok International Airport would go ahead if Emaar pulled out of the deal. Government officials last week assured The Lombok Guide that “BIL (the international airport) will go ahead, with or without Emaar investment.”

“BIL (the international airport) will go ahead, with or without Emaar investment.”

The local government has pointed out that it is a misconception that the proposed Emaar development and the construction of an international airport for Lombok are linked. Although the two projects are being developed at the same time, there is in fact, no co-dependency between the two. Emaar money is not being used in the construction of the airport, which is being built by Indonesian company, PT Angkasa Pura I (the managers of Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport) and is being carried out in cooperation with the provincial Government of NTB (Pemprov) and the Central Lombok Government (Pemkab Loteng), at an estimated cost of Rp 665 billion.

“The government is 100% committed to the international airport,” said a Lombok official, who asked not to be named. “Regardless of whether Emaar goes ahead with its investment, the airport will open and then investment will really flow in Lombok.”

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Stammtisch (or the regulars' table) at Asmara Restaurant is still a fun way to meet people. The Stammtisch is an informal gathering where Lombok regulars get together to catch up over a drink or two, and has been running at Asmara weekly for many years. Now the evening is further enlivened by the music of popular local musician Ary Juliyant who entertains with fine acoustic guitar, woodwind and percussion, and is frequently joined by other aspiring musicians from amongst the crowd.

Stammtisch is held every Friday night, except for the first Friday in the month when it changes to Wednesday night (to avoid clashes with the Cellar Party). Just come along and join the group around the big table at the front of the restaurant for a delicious meal or a few drinks – it's a good opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and newcomers are always welcome.

Rumah Oleh Oleh has just opened in Batu Bolong, on the left before the temple if you're coming from Senggigi. The art and handicrafts centre has a huge range of artwork, local paintings, wood carvings, statues, wind chimes and decorator items, all at very good prices. There is also a good selection of Lombok pearls, t-shirts, sarongs and delicious “dodol” and local snacks; all of which make great souvenirs and gifts (oleh oleh means “gifts”). It's a handy location for tourists staying in and around Senggigi, as well as a great place to pick up a little something for the home, or for a friend!

It's always so hard to find real bread in Lombok, but a trip to Barokah Bakery in Ampenan the other day was a delight! Big loaves of super fresh, light and fluffy real bread with a sprinkling of sesame seeds on top… plastic wrapped and cut into sensible sized slices. Delicious when fresh or light and crispy toasted, it keeps well too. Equally delicious are the loaves of raisin bread – light, not stodgy, and chock-full of juicy raisins. There's also a good range of tasty snacks such as mini pizzas, pastels (small pastries filled with minced meat and diced vegetables) and sambusas (similar to a samosa, with curried meat). There are many other styles of bread yet to be tried, although we'll give the green one a miss!

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Local school children from Nusa Alam International School in Lombok joined with other eco-aware people from around the world in supporting Earth Hour 2009 on Saturday, 28 March. The students wrote letters to friends and businesses, and helped spread the word about the global event aimed at raising awareness of global warming and environmental issues.

The Sheraton Senggigi Resort and both Qunci Villas Resorts in Mangsit also showed their support for Earth Hour 2009 by turning off lights in the hotel for one hour from 8.30 9.30pm on Saturday night. Sheraton Senggigi joined with other Sheraton Hotels and Resorts around the world in turning off the lights and using torches and candles in public areas such as the beach, restaurants and bars; while Qunci Villas decorated their beautiful grounds with glowing candles and distributed candles to guests for the event.

Earth Hour is an initiative by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and began in Sydney, Australia in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. Organisers wanted to demonstrate what people can do to reduce their carbon footprint and save energy, thus drawing attention to the problem of climate change. By 2008 the message had grown into a global sustainability movement, with 50 million people switching off their lights as a way of voting for saving the earth.

In 2009, Earth Hour was taken to the next level with a target of 1 billion votes, which will be presented to world leaders at the Global Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this year. In 2009, for the first time in history, people of all ages, nationalities, race and background had the opportunity to use their light switch as their vote.
In 2008, global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco, Rome's Colosseum, the Sydney Opera House and the Coca Cola billboard in Times Square all stood in darkness. This year, those landmarks were joined by Beijing's most prominent Olympic venues, the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, Edinburgh Castle in Scotland, St Peter's Basilica in Rome, Paris' Eiffel Tower, the Egyptian Pyramids and New York's Empire State Building. Fast-food giant McDonald's also pledged to dim its “golden arches” at 500 locations.

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, backed the initiative in a video posted this month on the event's YouTube channel. “Earth Hour is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message,” he said. “They want action on climate change.”

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This year’s Ogoh-Ogoh Parade through the streets of Mataram
was the biggest ever, with an estimated 30 000+ people participating.
Even the late afternoon rain and melting monsters couldn’t dampen the fun!

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It was a trumpeting affair for Fatimah, a female elephant in Bali, who gave birth to a 70 kilogram progeny at the Taro Elephant Safari Park.

Fortunately, nature took a smooth course as Bali's Elephant Safari Park near Ubud welcomed the arrival of a bouncing baby girl on Sunday, 15 March, 2009. Weighing 70 kg and measuring 110 cm in length and 80 cm in height, the Sumatran elephant was born “naturally” without the intervention of a veterinarian. This was probably just as well, given the fact that the baby probably would have weighed more than the doctor.

The first birth among the captive elephant population of the Elephant Safari Park, the baby girl elephant, named Jegeg, is the daughter of father Seng Wong and mother Fatimah. The latest addition brings the population of elephants at the Park, managed by Australian Nigel Mason and his wife Yanni, to 28 animals.

Fatimah's gestation period stretched nearly 19 months, dating from her conception in July 2007.

A regular supply of mother's milk is being supplemented by a special diet for Fatimah that includes 250 kilograms of grass and elephant stems, 5 kilograms of high-protein peanuts and handfuls of multi-vitamins.

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The Gilis are three remarkable islands with extensive reef systems and are home to diverse colonies of underwater creatures. Schools of colourful tropical fish, sharks, crustaceans and protected turtles live in the warm waters surrounding the islands but changes in the world's climate and the encroachment of thousands of visitors to the Gilis means that we must all take steps to protect and conserve this unique environment for future generations.

The Gili Eco Trust is one way that western business operators and the local community work together to raise awareness on the islands and help protect the environment from unnecessary damage. The Eco Trust is involved in community awareness programmes, anchorage and mooring buoys, fishing agreements, snorkelling and diving activities, water-sports, and the highly successful Biorock projects, which are used to create artificial reefs around the Gilis.

Travellers to the islands are usually amazed at how beautiful and natural the Gilis are, with clean waters and abundant snorkelling and diving opportunities. As a visitor to the islands you can preserve these natural attractions for the future, with just a few simple eco friendly practices…

As with many island communities, waste disposal is a constant issue for the Gilis. Please help to set a good example by disposing of your rubbish responsibly. Take your rubbish with you from the beaches – the sea is not a waste bin or an ashtray! Water bottles can be refilled with safe drinking water, minimising the need for more plastic.

All of the islands have harbours with dedicated anchoring areas. If you have a boat or are visiting on a live-aboard, please ensure that boats are responsibly moored. Anchors are one of the largest reasons for coral destruction on the islands.

Currently all divers pay a nominal donation of Rp 40,000 towards Eco Trust projects. This money is greatly appreciated but, as is always the case, more is needed. Please donate as much as you can afford to help keep these precious islands intact and fund more projects.

The water close to shore is shallow; please swim, don't walk, to reefs and fish.
If snorkelling please ensure you don't touch, kick or stand on coral, even if you think it is just rock.
Keep your fins on the surface of the water so you don't kick and break fragile corals.
Do not touch any of the marine life including turtles! You can cause the turtle to drown by preventing it from reaching air.

If you see any damaging behaviour, please report it to any of the following:
The Gili Eco Trust: contact Delphine at Big Bubble Dive or 0813 3960 0553
The local SATGAS Organisation: contact Rais on 0812 376 3491 or Usman on 0856 4696 4612
Or report the problem to any of the many dive shop operators on the islands.

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