ZEENAT CHAUDHARY: How important, and in what way(s), will hosting AdAsia 2019 be to the city of Lahore?
KAMRAN LASHARI: Lahore, particularly old Lahore, is the cultural capital of Pakistan, so it is extremely significant that an event of this magnitude is taking place here. I am told that there will be delegates from the world of advertising, marketing and the media from 50 countries attending. It is heartening for us to be able to host this event because in the last decade, Pakistan has been through difficult economic and political times, which caused tourism to decline. However, now that security concerns have been addressed and we are back to what I like to call normalcy, an occasion such as AdAsia will further help put a ‘safe to visit’ stamp on the country.
ZC: Will the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) be implementing any special security measures for the event?
KL: Security is always required no matter the event, and for AdAsia too there will be security measures in place, but not to the extent that they will be disconcerting to the public. The city will remain as it usually is: buzzing with life. We will welcome international delegates with open arms, especially at the Walled City.
ZC: What preparations has the WCLA undertaken as the event’s official cultural partner?
KL: Our most important role is to clean and spruce up the sites that will be part of AdAsia’s opening and closing ceremonies as well as the social events. Our greatest attraction is the Hazuri Bagh – a monumental garden bordering Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque and Roshni Gate. This location exudes grandeur and cannot be compared to any other monument in the world.
ZC: What is the WCLA’s core role in organising the event?
KL: We are responsible for preparing guided tours for the AdAsia delegates. We plan to take them to the Walled City, as well as other areas, in rickshaws and golf carts. We are also working on sourcing and packaging traditional giveaways for delegates, such as choorian and matkas, so that our guests can take a piece of Pakistan back with them. We want our guests to know that Lahore is not only known for its historical monuments, but for its people’s hospitality and taur tareekay. We would like them to witness how vibrant and full of life our city is.
ZC: Are the tour guides outsourced or part of the WCLA?
KL: They are young boys and girls from the WCLA who have in-depth knowledge of the sites, as well as prior experience in giving guided tours. Earlier this year, WCLA introduced different types of tours of Lahore for local and international visitors; for instance the ‘Royal Trail to Lahore Fort’ tour and the ‘Taxali Gate to Food Street’ tour.
ZC: Was there any rationale behind choosing Hazuri Bagh, Haveli Asif Jah and Food Street as venues for the cultural activities, rather than other historic landmarks?
KL: The sites were chosen through mutual consultation between AdAsia’s Organising Committee and WCLA. Furthermore, no other site compares with Hazuri Bagh as all of Lahore’s historic sites converge around it; you can even see Minar-e-Pakistan from there. It can also easily seat 800 or more people. So why choose another site?
ZC: What precautions will WCLA take to ensure that these sites are not damaged as a result?
KL: There are always a set of do’s and don’ts for visits to historic landmarks. Similarly, we have drafted SOPs for our sites and forwarded them to AdAsia’s organisers, which I’m sure everyone will respect.
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