Oakland Manor, Maryland – Under the astute leadership of Chairman Sajid Tarar, the Muslims of America hosted an enthralling cultural event that exalted the vibrant heritage of Pakistan. Distinguished guests graced the occasion, which aimed to promote Pakistan’s natural beauty, culture, and art.
The event served as a platform to showcase the extraordinary talents of two renowned artists, Gulraiz Ghouri and Sahreen Jawad, who were duly recognized and presented with Certificates of Honor by the Muslims of America.
Sajid Tarar, the esteemed host of the event and Chairman of Muslims of America, expressed his unwavering dedication to promoting Pakistan’s culture and its true Islamic identity among Americans. He commended Gulraiz Ghouri for his outstanding efforts and announced that more similar events would be organized in the United States to raise awareness about Pakistan’s rich cultural heritage.
Gulraiz Ghouri, a versatile virtuoso in the realm of contemporary creative photography, stole the spotlight at the event. Widely acclaimed for his exceptional work in capturing the resplendent allure of Pakistan’s Northern Areas, Ghouri has garnered global acclaim and adoration. His photographs have shed light on the unexplored regions and hidden treasures of Pakistan, earning him nine international solo exhibitions spanning across the United States, Sweden, Turkey, India, Muscat, Malaysia, Thailand, Korea, and Japan. Having published 13 visually captivating books, Ghouri has beautifully encapsulated the essence of Pakistan’s diverse provinces. Furthermore, he has established eight picture galleries in different cities throughout Pakistan.
The event also marked the grand unveiling of Ghouri’s 14th book, “Pakistan, Heaven of Earth,” which serves as a visual introduction to the captivating landscapes, culture, historical landmarks, and geographical marvels of Pakistan. The book comprises a collection of Ghouri’s breathtaking photographs, showcasing the picturesque northern mountainous regions, the vast plains of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, the alluring deserts of Sindh, and the coastal areas of Balochistan. Additionally, it features Pakistan’s cultural heritage, modern cities, significant landmarks of Islamic, Indus, Harappan, Buddhist, and Sikh civilizations, as well as contemporary artworks and architecture. Through vivid imagery and accompanying descriptions in English, “Pakistan, Heaven of Earth” offers readers a mesmerizing glimpse into the diverse beauty that Pakistan has to offer.
Attendees from diverse backgrounds expressed their admiration for Pakistan’s awe-inspiring natural wonders and cultural richness, as depicted in Ghouri’s book. Sarah Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American citizen, expressed that the book made her feel as if she had traversed the entire world within the boundaries of a single country. Kelly Suzanne Goldberg, a corporate lawyer who had visited Pakistan twice, shared her profound love for the country and praised the warm hospitality of its people, countering the negative perceptions often portrayed in the media.
Umar John, founder of the Hummingbird Art and Culture Foundation Ltd., has lauded the event orchestrated by Muslims of America, underscoring its significant role in demonstrating the authentic essence of Pakistan’s art, culture, and picturesque beauty. He praised the event’s conduct, which provided a distinctive opportunity to honor and recognize artists like Gulraiz Ghouri and Sahreen Jawad, celebrating Pakistan’s rich heritage in the process.
However, John’s involvement extended beyond mere commendation. He actively contributed to the organization and planning of this event, doing so under the leadership of Sajid Tarar. John, through the Hummingbird Art and Culture Foundation, is aspiring to extend his reach beyond Pakistan. His future plans include bringing in remarkable artists from across South Asia to cherish and promote the region’s diverse culture.
One of the foundation’s major initiatives, the Hollywood International Film Festival, also known as the Hi Film Festival, is slated for next year. This is part of the foundation’s endeavour to broaden its cultural palette and invite international contributions. Alongside the film festival, the foundation is set to host several live musical events and award ceremonies, all aimed at recognizing peace ambassadors’ efforts.
In essence, Umar John’s efforts are not only helping to honor the cultural richness of his homeland but are also contributing to the global appreciation and understanding of South Asian culture and art under the auspices of the Hummingbird Art and Culture Foundation Ltd.
In his remarks, Umar John underscored Gulraiz Ghouri’s exceptional talent in capturing the mesmerizing landscapes of Pakistan through his lens. He emphasized Ghouri’s extensive international exhibitions and pictorial books, which have catapulted the unexplored areas and hidden gems of Pakistan onto the global stage.
Kelly Suzanne Goldberg suggested that Pakistan streamline its visa issuance process for foreign tourists and stressed the importance of fostering human connections to enhance the tourist experience. She also commended the growing availability of on-arrival visas, noting that it facilitates easier access to the country.
Syed Mahmood Shah, director of Rang Mahal, an organization specializing in Pakistani arts and crafts, underscored the significance of the private sector’s involvement in promoting international tourism. Shah emphasized that showcasing Pakistan’s natural beauty and cultural heritage is a shared national responsibility.
The event also ignited discussions about Pakistan’s potential as a premier tourist destination. Despite boasting attractive tourism possibilities, historical sites, investment opportunities, a vibrant workforce, and cultural heritage, Pakistan has yet to achieve the same level of success in promoting its tourism sector as other countries.
According to the Board of Investment of Pakistan, the travel and tourism industries accounted for 9.5 percent of the country’s economy in 2019, with jobs in these sectors comprising 6.2 percent of total employment. In recent years, domestic tourism in Pakistan has experienced significant growth. However, the country has faced challenges due to security concerns during the Afghan war and the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a limited increase in international tourism.
Businessmen and experts emphasized the imperative for Pakistan to enhance its tourism infrastructure and bolster security measures to attract international tourists. Drawing inspiration from successful tourism models like Turkey and Egypt, Sajid Tarar urged Pakistan to take necessary steps to position itself as an enticing destination. He emphasized the importance of collective efforts from both the government and the private sector in promoting tourism within the country.
As Pakistan endeavors to illuminate its untold story and captivate global tourists, events such as the cultural gathering organized by the Muslims of America play a pivotal role in showcasing the nation’s remarkable beauty, culture, and artistic achievements. With concerted efforts from all stakeholders, Pakistan has the potential to emerge as a prominent tourist destination, captivating visitors with its breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality.