A couple from Aylesbury are completing the final touches to an event this weekend celebrating Muslim culture.
The first ever Muslim Lifestyle Expo (MLE) will take place from August 1-2 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry and an estimated 6,000 people are expected to attended.
Organised to celebrate the diversity of Muslim culture, exhibitions will cover a variety of areas including food, fashion, travel, health and finance.
The founders, Tahir and Shabana Mirza, from Aylesbury, were inspired by attending a halal food exposition three years ago.
Since then, they have been organising the event from an office set up on the family’s dining room table.
Esan Khan, Mrs Mirza’s brother and fellow organiser, said: “With all the negativity around Muslim culture, we wanted to show the good side.”
Alongside trade stands, MLE will feature live entertainment including a fashion show, and performances from comedians Guzzy Bear and Sadia Azmat.
In addition, the charity Zoe’s Place will be running a Kids’ Zone to raise funds.
The couple, who have two children, hope that the event’s inclusive and family friendly atmosphere will also appeal to non-Muslims who share similar values in choosing ethical products and services.
As well as promoting the positive aspects of Muslim culture, the team are keen to stress their Aylesbury roots.
Mr Khan said: “We’re all born and bred in Aylesbury. Whoever we speak to, we’re always trying to promote Aylesbury’s good name.”
The event has provoked world-wide interest, attracting exhibitors from California to Malaysia, and has been covered in the UAE and Australia. The small team, made up of members of Mr and Mrs Mirza’s family, say they are overwhelmed with the level of interest.
“We anticipated 40-50 exhibitors – we’ve actually got 80. We’ve run out of space and we’re having to turn people away.”
The team already plan to repeat the event next year and in 2017, with the aim of eventually expanding into continental Europe. Organisations such as Tesco and Turkish Airlines have expressed interest in getting involved with future events.
Tickets for the event cost £11 for adults and £6 for children and can be bought online from www.muslimlifestyleexpo.co.uk.