I would like to say what an immense pleasure it is to be here today and to begin these few words by expressing my warmest gratitude to the authorities and the people of Faisalabad for a really wonderful welcome to my family and to me.
Faisalabad is a city renowned for its rich moghul heritage, and I am very happy indeed to be here today to lay the foundation stone of the first Serena Hotel in Pakistan.
My brother, Prince Amyn, and Mr. Amir Rashid, Chairman of IPS, have already told you about the philosophy of the Serena Hotels and the background of co-operation with the Government which has led to us all being assembled for this ceremony.
I would like to explain very briefly why our Industrial Promotion Services company has become involved in the development of tourism. There is little need for me to remind an audience in Pakistan that Islam is a total Faith, touching on all aspects of a Muslim's life, including his material well-being and his relations with family and society. This is why, as the Imam of the Ismaili Muslims, I created the IPS companies to act as an agency for the Imamat, promoting economic progress in various Third World countries, though always within the terms of the social conscience which our Faith requires.
Tourism developments can do much to assist economic progress. Hotels such as this and the hotel we are planning at Quetta, are labour intensive. They have a substantial impact on the construction industry and they affect the revitalisation of local arts and crafts. All this gives employment while hotel purchases benefit local businesses. At the same time they can bring foreign exchange into country, assisting the nation as a whole.
This is the rationale behind my encouraging IPS to develop hotels through its Tourism Promotion Services subsidiary, under the flag of the Serena chain.
I have always been committed to assisting areas of Pakistan outside the major cities, whether through the Aga Khan Schools, hospitals or rural support or through other developments, and this hotel follows that policy.
Furthermore, as my brother has explained, this hotel will, Inshallah, be a focal point for local activity and by providing facilities of a high standard for businessmen, will help in the growth of Faisalabad as a business centre. Although it will not be essentially a hotel for tourists, it is my hope that it will encourage the flow of local tourism to Faisalabad at the same time as making the visits of foreign businessmen more pleasant.
That this project is now going ahead is substantially due to the personal interest taken in it by His Excellency the President and the willingness of the provincial Government to make the land available. I know His Excellency shares my own view that it is appropriate to aim for the highest standards both of design and in operation. These are essential if the hotel is to make a worthwhile and lasting addition to the economic infrastructure of this city. The usual pattern of the fast-evolving hotel industry is that what is second class today is sub-standard tomorrow. The first class specification for this hotel will ensure, Inshallah, that this fate does not await it. I am personally delighted that the architects have produced a design which is so sympathetic to the culture and heritage of the Punjab and I look forward eagerly to seeing the completed building in due course.
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