Tuesday March 12, 2002-- Zilhaj 27,1422 A.H. The News

Musharraf opens Serena Hotel

ISLAMABAD: President General Pervez Musharraf on Monday afternoon inaugurated the Serena Hotel Islamabad in the presence of the Aga Khan. Prince Karim Aga Khan is the Chairman of the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), has made a substantial investment in an underdeveloped sector of Pakistan's economy.

In his remarks, President Musharraf said that it was not "a matter of creating facilities for accommodation, catering and leisure alone," but that "the project adds to the existing infrastructure that strengthens the economy also in terms of employment generation and income generation."

He complimented AKFED and its subsidiary, Tourism Promotion Services "for making a very valuable contribution to private investment and employment opportunities in Pakistan, other than through beautification of Islamabad city itself." "The project," he said, "is indeed a symbol of trust and confidence in the capital city." Musharraf lauded, in particular, the almost exclusive use in the hotel of Pakistani material and reliance on indigenous artisans and professionals.

In his welcome speech, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Chairman of the Executive Committee of AKFED and of its subsidiary, Tourism Promotion Services (Pakistan), referred to distinctive aspects of AKFED's tourism development in Pakistan. As an example of regionalisation he mentioned the use of Pakistani manpower, experience and expertise from the Serena chain to convert a house in Khorog, Tajikistan into a small inn, says a press release.

He also explained how TPS's decision to begin operations in "cities where private enterprise had shown a disinclination to invest in hotels" reflects precisely the role that a development agency like AKFED should play." Prince Amyn described how the choice of an award-winning Pakistani architect, Nayyar Ali Dada fitted within "the Serena development ethos which focuses on promoting local forms of architecture, on reflecting and expressing local cultures."

Developed to the highest standards of construction and design, using indigenous material, all worked by hand, ranging from hand-hewn marble to specially carved furniture, traditionally woven fabrics and thousands of square feet of individually hand-painted wooden ceiling panels, the Islamabad Serena Hotel disguises with elegance the most advanced levels of technology, service and safety in the hospitality industry in the country today.

With the Islamabad Serena completed, the group has some 1,800 Serena rooms spread across 21 hotels and lodges in East and sub-Saharan Africa and Pakistan. The Aga Khan, who is in Pakistan on an official visit at the invitation of the government, is accompanied by his wife, the Begum Aga Khan and by his brother, Prince Amyn Aga Khan.