12TH September 2015: After a lapse of fifteen years, Pakistan returns to the Flanders Trade Show with resounding success. The 70 year old traditional trade fair opened at Ghent, Belgium on 12th September 2015 with Pakistan as the Guest of Honor Country. The opening was attended by a large array of VIPs including ministers, EU government officials and ambassadors of different countries. Representatives of the King of Belgium, Minister President of the Government of Flanders, Governor and Deputy Mayor Flanders were among the attendees.
In his opening address, Ronald Everaert, the chairmen of Ghent Trade Fair welcomed Pakistani delegation and exhibitors. He spoke about the trade potential between the two nations and described at length the ancient history and cultural diversity of Pakistan. He hoped that occasions such those today would develop important trade and cultural linkages between the people of the two countries.
Pakistan’s ambassador to Belgium Naghmana Hashmi was also present at the event and spoke about the efforts that the government is taking in national development and the road towards Pakistan vision 2025.
It was the Secretary TDAP (Trade Development Authority of Pakistan) Rabiya Javeri Agha who made the deepest impact through her very moving speech. She described the scenic beauty of Pakistan, saying that it was “A country steeped in history, and in culture and in romance. Its beauty inspires poetry .It is a land where UNESCO world heritage sites dot the varied landscape of barren and lush plain and white snow clad mountains.”
She talked about the potential of Pakistani products in the international market, and said “Cotton is one of our agricultural and export mainstays. Pakistan has the complete value chain of textile and cotton products. The strength of this sector can be seen in our considerable trade growth to the European Union. Pakistan’s trade figures to Belgium itself show a good increase of over 11 percent this year, with home textiles reflecting a growth of 26th percent”.
While describing Pakistan’s display at the event she said, “Pakistani display at the exhibition is not just about trade and commerce and Euros and cents, it is about understanding Pakistan. It is a glimpse into the heart of what comprises our country, what inspire us, what defines us and makes us distinctly who we are”
The Trade Development Association of Pakistan (TDAP) constructed a large number of customized display spaces to showcase the different products of Pakistan. From leather to textile to surgical and sports goods, it was a wonderful selection of companies and their presence generated a good response from the visitors present. People showed interest in the different products, the embroidered handicrafts, the carved furniture and intricate jewelry on display.
The Pakistan pavilion at Ghent trade fair also showcased the cultural side of the country and presented a display of cloth paintings by Masuma Halai. An elaborate and mystical installation of calligraphy by renowned Pakistani artists Meher Afroze made an exquisite impact at the entrance of the Pakistan Pavilion. Well known curator Nilofer Farrukh designed and conceptualized the entire art presentation. According to visitors, the sophistication of the art products on display was excellent and appealed to the audience sensibilities.
A colorful display of truck art at the pavilion generated great public enthusiasm. The Phool Patti artists painted a model rickshaw during the exhibition which was gifted to the Mayor of Ghent upon completion. Furthermore, ‘Young Achievers of Pakistan’ was a showcase of young Pakistani who had made a name and won international acclaim. This included portraits of Malala Yousufzai, Arfa Karim and Naseem Hamid. Additionally, a live performance by Akhtar channal Zehri added music and energy to the show.
In all, it was a wonderful representation of not only all the many varied products that Pakistan has to offer but its cultural vitality as well.
The fair will continue in the city of Ghent in Belgium from 12th till 20th September. The fair is a platform for active commercial engagement directly between businesses and consumers. The Ghent Fair has a strong professional, economic dimension and is organized under the patronage of H.M. the King of Belgium.
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