Stories about tourism

Because what do overseas Pakistanis know about promoting tourism in Pakistan, right?

Recently, I found myself posing for a big fat family photograph at a wedding in Lahore, during which I was duly handed one of those decorative desi prop-style labels to pose with. Instead of the usual titles like ‘Larki walay’ (bride’s family and friends) and ‘Larkay walay’ (groom’s family and friends), can you guess which label I was handed? ‘Bahar walay’ (outsiders). As a child of the Pakistani diaspora residing in the United Kingdom, my life has been divided neatly between Birmingham and Lahore, but neither of these two worlds accept me. However connected I may be, there has always been a sense of ...

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To Baku and beyond: A melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture

Known as the city of winds, Baku offers warm hospitality, rich culture, inspiring architecture and natural beauty to amuse all kinds of travellers. The city is soaked in history, and almost every turn you take will give glimpses of its glorious past and aspirations for the future. The architecture and food are inspired by the millennia of cultural influences from Romans, Mongols and Turks. Today, the city is a melting pot of ancient history and modern architecture. Baku ticks all the boxes on the list of any discerning traveller and I couldn’t resist the first opportunity I got to visit ...

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The sea is calling: The crumbling reality of Karachi’s Hawkesbay beach

With its 27-kilometre long coastline, Karachi is lined with beaches in the south. Dotted with fishing villages, these beaches are one of the main sources of recreation and entertainment for the citizens of the metropolis. One of the most frequently visited of these is Hawkesbay, a public beach with free access situated near Kemari town. The tragedy, however, is that it has little to offer to the residents of the city. Cleanliness and hygiene, bumpy roads, absence of basic infrastructure including huts, public toilets and restaurants, are some of the issues that need to be addressed but so far very ...

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Pakistan is ‘Asia’s best kept secret’ – what will it take to reveal it globally?

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it” – Martin Parr. Pakistan, unfortunately, is a country that has been at the receiving end of such mythology and perception for a good while now, even as things on ground have changed quite drastically over the last few years. According to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), terror-related incidents have declined 58%, from 2,060 incidents in 2010 to 681 in 2017. These figures are testament to the success of our Army during the massive military operations conducted in the northern areas of ...

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No country for Kiki challenge: Forget corruption, ‘goras’ dancing with our flag is the bigger problem

The entire world is familiar with the rather infamous ‘Kiki challenge’ by now. It is yet another one of those social media influenced fads, readily embraced by the younger generation, along with celebrities of course, and involves dancing on the song In My Feelings by Drake. However, one particular challenge landed both a vlogger and the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in trouble, and left Pakistanis wondering – why? Eva zu Beck is a Polish tourist and vlogger currently on a world tour, who recently filmed herself doing the Kiki challenge in collaboration with PIA; the latter being eager to promote ...

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Paradise from a different perspective: Maldives is more than just turquoise waters and sandy beaches!

Whenever the phrase ‘vacation to the Maldives’ rings our ears, turquoise waters and luxurious resorts instantly flash into our minds. In order to fully utilise their vacations, the general preference of tourists is to spend time relaxing and soaking in the beauty of beaches.  Land of clear waters. Photo: Ahsan Nadeem Turquoise waters. Photo: Ahsan Nadeem Conversely, my idea of traveling and vacationing is slightly different, for my chief aim is always to explore the historical and cultural aspects of different places. Therefore, my very brief yet unique trip to the land of the clear blue waters – ...

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Because I own Karachi

Standing somewhere in the middle of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, I guess my attire gave it away and they all greeted me with a seemingly customary “jeevay, jeevay Pakistan!” Towards the end of my trip, the salutation actually became comical – until this random shopkeeper asked me where I was from and what I felt my city represented. Before travelling to Turkey last month, I was told about Turkish hospitality and I got to witness their warmth towards desi tourists for myself. But for a total stranger to ask me what Karachi means to me, was something entirely new – I’ve ...

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Quetta: Where hospitality has no bounds

When I received an invitation from the University of  Balochistan informing me that five of our engineering projects had been accepted for the first Invention to Innovation Summit – the first comment my director made was,  “Umair, do you know the halaat (conditions) in Quetta? Taking students there can be risky!” The 1st Invention to Innovation Summit in Quetta It wasn’t easy trying to make him understand that all universities from Sindh and Balochistan were participating; hence it was mandatory for us to attend. However, we were finally able to convince him. There were nine of us, out of which seven were visiting ...

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The story of Hyderabad, Sindh

Hyderabad is one of those cities where the magnetic pull of nostalgia can be felt to a maximum, owing to the ever glorious landmarks of a bygone era. It is one of those cities where the past silently trudges along with a noisy and loud present. Apart from its new face where it is adorned with high rise buildings, bustling, busy markets thronged with heavy locomotive traffic; there is another face where the past lurks behind colonial buildings, hiding under electrical wires and large hoardings. The same old face can be seen written over the aged, gnarled and wrinkled face of ...

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You can work as a waiter or a driver in the US, but not in Pakistan

My love for Pakistan is unfathomable! From the lush green valley of Chitral to the hustling bustling streets of Lahore, my love for my country has, in fact, grown over time. Pakistan is my home – mom’s food, sister’s amazing chai, random hangouts with school friends, street food, the streets of Lahore; the list of things I absolutely adore about my home is unending. When I came to the US, initially I thought this journey was more like a survival challenge for my existence. I was nostalgic and missed everything about home. But now I feel those things are not missed so much ...

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