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Paris Mayor AJ Hashmi has been invited to speak at the South Asia Diaspora Convention later this month in Singapore.
The theme of the convention — organized by the Institute of South Asian Studies, a think-tank of the National University of Singapore — is: “Connecting Global South Asians.”
The event will be held Nov. 21-22 at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Center in Singapore.
It aims to provide a “one-of-a-kind platform” to tap into the investment opportunities in the region and give delegates a chance to meet first-hand a wide spectrum of business leaders of South Asia.
The convention will be attended by about 1,500 people, including prominent political, business and social leaders from South Asian countries, including India and Pakistan.
Of the presenters, only a handful are from the United States. Hashmi is the only mayor listed. But there are numerous luminaries from many walks of life, including cabinet officials from several nations.
“I have no idea why they invited me. I really don’t know,” he told eParisExtra.
“I think part of the reason is that, you know, my origin is Southeast Asia, and I have a little bit of a background of knowing that region, along with having some knowledge of local knowledge here,” Hashmi said.
His father was minister of defense for the United Arab Emirates, so Hashmi lived in Dubai growing up.
He said he received a query a year ago about the possibility of being one of the presenters at the convention. When they contacted him again recently, he accepted the invitation, he said.
Sixteen sessions bringing together speakers on different topics are spread over two days. The Paris mayor is to be part of an “interactive dialogue” scheduled from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. on Nov. 22.
S. Jayakumar, former deputy prime minister of Singapore, is the moderator of the discussion that Hashmi will be a part of.
“My presentation is going to be on local government and international affairs,” Hashmi said.
Also speaking at that session will be Sukh Deoi Muni, visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies, and Gowher Rizvi, adviser to the prime minister of Bangladesh on international affairs.
“My part is going to be about 10 minutes of speaking and five minutes of questions and answers,” Hashmi said.
Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam will be the guest of honor at the convention’s gala dinner on Nov. 21. Hashmi said he is particularly looking forward to that.
Hashmi said he probably will take a 14-hour, non-stop flight from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to Dubai either Nov. 18 or 19, lay over in Dubai for 14 hours, then take a seven-hour. non-stop flight from Dubai to Singapore. Another option is a non-stop flight from Dallas to Japan, followed by a non-stop flight from Japan to Singapore.
“By the way, it is not going to cost the City of Paris anything for me to go,” the mayor said. “The expenses of the trip are covered by the people who are inviting me – the Institute of South Asian Studies.”
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra