A ten-day ‘Great British Festival’ at Dolmen City Mall marks the strengthening of business and cultural ties between Pakistan and Britain.
The combination of blue, red and white is an indisputable reference to the Union Jack and with the three colours twining through spaces of the Dolmen City Mall, one knew something British was brewing.
Friday evening marked the start of the Great British Festival, a ten-day celebration showcasing British expertise in fashion, retail, music, food, culture and creativity under the UK Government’s ‘Britain is GREAT’ campaign. Emphasis was put on the strengthening security situation in Karachi and the subsequent rise in business opportunities.
“The very fact that the Festival can take place here in Karachi is a sign of our faith in this great city,” Mr Philip Barton, the British High Commissioner said in his inaugural address. “It is a reflection of the improved security situation.”
“The ties that join the two countries are as strong as ever,” he added. “Over 100 British firms are operating successfully in Pakistan and we are working to increase bilateral trade and investment. We are also promoting the arts by working with top British creative talent, bringing high quality events to Pakistan, collaborating with local artists and cultural institutions, and connecting arts professionals from both countries. Our two countries are joined by bonds that are long lasting and deep. Business and culture are a central part of this relationship.”
UK Trade Champion, Baroness Nosheena Mobarik, had flown in especially for the occasion and was one of many entrepreneurs and dignitaries present to express their faith in the business relations between the two countries.
Fashion, of course, was the highlight of the evening and many of the industry’s successful names were present to applaud the initiative. Deepak Perwani accompanied Shaniera Akram, who has become a popular social figure of late. Also seen were Nomi Ansari and the very reclusive Faiza Samee and Bunto Kazmi. Businessman per excellence Zahir Rahimtoola and his wife Sherezad were also present. Many familiar faces dotted the audience, amongst them notably were Yasin Paracha, who has brought in several successful British franchises including Debenhams and Next.
“This festival is a fantastic way to convince people of the bond between both countries,” Yasin Paracha spoke to Instep. “It’s a strong synergy; we have a historical link. Each one of us can relate to Great Britain, even if we have never been there. A lot of Pakistanis feel that ‘London is our second home’”.
A runway showcasing a collaboration of British and Pakistani brands available at the mall marked the focal point of the evening. Curated by Maheen Khan and styled by Sadaf Maleterre, the fashion show was an interesting way to project the adaptability, if not similarity, of both cultures. Fusion was created by brands like Debenhams, Accessorize, Clarks and Next as well as Pakistani brands such as Gul Ahmed, Deepak Perwani, Gulabo and Jafferjees. Most of the looks may have appeared too western for the average bystander (and there were many hovering above on the upper level) but western wear does have a market amongst Pakistan’s teenage population and it’s a market that can do with further exploration. The clothes were sharp and the hairstyles, developed by Saeeda Mandviwalla (Toni & Guy) who understands British aesthetic so well, were edgy and outstanding.
The Festival at Dolmen Mall will feature a number of planned activities including special promotions, book readings, storytelling sessions, hair and beauty shows, and daily lucky draws over the next few days. Food lovers will be able to sample authetic British cuisine at Avari Towers in Karachi from 5 -10 October, where renowned British Chef, Dominic South will visit from the United Kingdom. And finally, British Jazz ensemble, the Julian Joseph Trio, will be performing live at Avari on October 11. Mark your calendars with whatever tickles your fancy!