MANCHESTER – The second Muslim Lifestyle Expo took place in Manchester over the weekend, bringing together a diverse selection of activities and entertainment catering for the diversity that is the British Muslim population.
From luxury car displays to cooking to comedy to a catwalk fashion show, thousands of visitors had a chance to discover over a hundred exhibitors covering everything from traditional items associated with Muslim culture to displays from a local museum showcasing objects of Islamic heritage. And if excessive dining at one of the many food stalls was a problem, even the Muslim Doctors Association had a presence on site offering everything from general advice to basic checks, such as one’s BMI.
“I was pleasantly surprised to be thoroughly entertained and impressed by the Muslim Lifestyle Expo,” comedian Aatif Nawaz, who has appeared on multiple British Muslim satellite TV channels and even did a stint at the Edinburgh Festival, said at the event.
“As a stand-up comic, you learn to dread non-traditional performance environments. I.e. A catwalk on a stage in a noisy exhibition center. But contrary to my expectations, a large crowd and a captive audience made me super comfortable and able to deliver what I felt were two strong performances.
“In between sets, I tried some of the diverse and delicious food, learnt about some worth causes and discovered the latest entrepreneurial efforts in the Muslim community. Needless to say… a good time was had!” he added.
Among the food stalls was Haloodies, a brand delivering convenient Halal certified meat products both on-line as well as in our leading supermarkets.
“The Muslim Lifestyle Expo in Manchester is an important event in the calendar for brands aimed at millennial Muslims like Haloodies,” the company’s co-founder Managing Director Imran Kausar said.
“There are still very few occasions where brands can engage with consumers, face to face, in order to build rapport and gauge feedback on important sensory perspectives (taste, flavor, etc). Feedback which can’t be reliably given on social media.
“Although the event format will no doubt evolve over time, the organizers have done a great job in bringing brands and customers together. For halal business to thrive, the entire consumer ecosystem needs to exist – consumer events are an important part of this. We look forward to returning next year.”
There was also great excitement for the artwork on display.
One of the artists, Siddiqa Juma, is well-known for her creative representation of the Kaba, the House of God, in the centre of her pieces, reverberating outwards.
She writes, “I was totally astounded and humbled when this young man who helped in the putting up of the exhibition on Friday, came back yesterday and told me that my artwork made him feel emotional.”
The draw of the event was such that attendees could meet with and interact with a diverse set of individuals.
“I remember when I went to the first screening of Freesia, the first movie to tackle Islamaphobia, and today, proud to be presented with a DVD copy (by the director, Conor Ibraheim),” Seima Iqbal said.
“The thing that struck me the most was the artwork, simply stunning,” she added.
Coverage of the Muslim Lifestyle Expo could be found on the broadcast news channels such as ITV and the BBC, in newspapers such as the Manchester Evening News and The Guardian, as well as on radio.
One of the co-founders, Tahir Mirza said, “Now this is something I wasn’t expecting. I’ve only gone and made it on (BBC) Radio 4. My English teacher would be so proud.”
As the UK’s biggest Muslim lifestyle event, traditional as well as Muslim centric brands are in a stage of learning. The global Muslim consumer market is growing and will continue to do so as education empowers individuals granting them higher disposable incomes.
The days of simply adding a ‘halal’ stamp on a product are also fast disappearing as empowered with better awareness, the Muslim consumer is seeking a better quality of product.
From environmentally friendlier electric cars all the way to better farming practices, with a growing demand for organic instead of traditional factory farmed.
The information age is empowering millennial Muslims who do not necessarily want more, rather, want better. This shift can best be summed up by Samira Rashid who said,
“Absolutely amazing event. Went with my family and children today. Everyone really enjoyed it all. Khaled Sadeeq was good and the Fashion Show was amazing. Such a nice variety of stalls, we did lots of shopping. Food was ok, but overall, yes, very pleased we attended.”
For the second year in a row, the Muslim Lifestyle Expo have set the standard. And it is just a question of time before this model permeates across to other Muslim celebrations, such as `Eid, ensuring that Muslims to know how to follow the sunnah of celebrating celebrations well, and of course following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad, upon whom be peace, who is known to have attended the best fairs of Arabia.