The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), in coordination with the Republic of Azerbaijan and the OIC institutions, announced Qabala (Gabala) as the OIC City of Tourism 2020.
The Capital of Islamic Tourism is selected annually by the OIC in consultation with the Member States. The program aims at developing the touristic and economic capabilities of the selected capitals, and enhancing Islamic solidarity through exchanging products and services, and supporting infrastructure in the tourism sector.
The OIC, in coordination with the Republic of Azerbaijan, is developing a comprehensive program to enhance tourism, showcase culture and arts, and host Islamic tourism exhibitions to the city and region. 2020 is set to be an extremely busy year for Qabala as the city is also playing host to the eleventh ministerial OIC conference in 2020.
“This is a significant honor for Qabala. The OIC is a powerful voice globally representing 57 states and a population of over 1.8 billion. This designation will afford Qabala with a unique opportunity to increase global awareness of the city as well as boost tourism and the local economy. Azerbaijan is already known globally for its ancient history, fascinating culture and long-standing traditions, but the regions and cities outside the capital Baku are yet to be truly discovered and put on the map. I hope that 2020 marks a tourism watershed moment for my spiritual home and this 4th century ancient capital of Caucasian Albania. I would encourage all tourists, not just those in the Islamic world to discover this ancient and all-season cultural city,” said Mr. Tale Heydarov, the founder of the European Azerbaijan School, Azerbaijan Teachers Development Centre, Libraff bookstores network, TEAS Publishing House. He was recently served as the President of Gabala FC football club (Azerbaijan Premier League) and Gabala Sports Club.
“Recognition of Qabala by the OIC only validates the breadth of cultural and tourist experiences that it offers to young and old alike. I have been closely associated with Qabala all my life and have tried to contribute to enhancing its sports culture directly. I established the Qabala Sports Club and Football Club from scratch which to this day are a resource for the local community and source of great pride for the local populous. The process of establishing such institutions, a premier league football club especially, has afforded me great joy, learning, and binds me to this region eternally.
For those who may be keen to experience Qabala but are not familiar with the city, rest assured that any visit can be filled with numerous exciting activities. The city of Qabala offers a bouquet of activities for every season and tourists across all ages. Qabala annually hosts an International Classic Music Festival while also being home to the Tufan Ski Complex, one of the largest ski resorts in the entire Caucasus region. Indeed, the Nohur Lake and the Seven beauties waterfall are locations are a must-see for any nature lover. Travelers who are keen to experience great culinary delights will enjoy visiting the annual International Jam Festival as well as enjoying the city’s rich and varied culinary offering.
Qabala is also home to a plethora of archaeological sites. Its rich historical past has been documented by ancient authors such as Pliny to as far back as the 1st century. Some of these sites include the stunning Juma Mosque, the Imam Baba Mausoleum, and the Museum of Historical Ethnography.
The OIC’s designation of the city of Qabala gives it the opportunity to further showcase itself to the world and to create an enduring legacy. The city now has the chance to boost tourism and enhance its name recognition throughout the Islamic World, and more broadly. As someone who is extremely passionate about promoting Azerbaijani history and culture, I could not be more excited about this special occasion,” added Mr. Heydarov.
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