A historic minaret dating back to 16th century is embedded in the Bell tower within the courtyard of Mosque-Cathedral Alcazar Fort in Cordoba
British or French Muslim tourists that are not currently counted. “Spain is one of the most dynamic tourism markets,” says John Kester, Market Trends director at the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). “In 2013, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries generated 92 million euros at the visited destinations, more than 10% of the world’s spending on international tourism, and have more than doubled their combined spending since 2005. Besides, these countries are increasing their position as (tourism) destination and currently receive around 180 million international tourists that generate more than 100 million euros,” Kester adds. This year, these numbers are expected to increase as Spain will be hosting the first ExpoHalal Spain 2015 in Madrid on October 22 and 23. This is primarily aimed at attracting Muslim tourists. “In recent years, the sector has showed a growing interest to attend to the needs of Muslim visitors through specialised agencies, hotels and restaurants with Halal menus. Even luxury firms and Spanish fashion establishments are looking for personal shoppers specialised on this public,” says Maria Salvador, Manager of ExpoHalal Spain 2015 and Project Manager of Ambar Connect. Spain is already a leader in the tourism industry and this exhibition will be the first in Europe to highlight the growing Halal tourism sector. “Among the major Spanish attractions for the tourists are the Islamic historical heritage in Andalucía (south) and the high-quality services, business infrastructure, shopping opportunities and football league,” Salvador adds.
Art and architecture The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, which is in the heart of Madrid, offers visitors an overview of art from the 13th century to the late 20th century. It has around 1,000 works on display and visitors can contemplate the major periods and pictorial schools of Western art such as the Renaissance, Mannerism, the Baroque, Rococo, Romanticism and the art of the 19th and 20th centuries up to Pop Art. The museum also features works from some movements not represented in stateowned collections, such as Impressionism, Fauvism, German Expressionism and the experimental avant-garde movements of the early 20th century. In addition, it boasts an important collection of 19th-century American painting not found in any other European museum institutions. Aside from its panoramic perspective, the collection housed in the ThyssenBornemisza Museum also offers us a glimpse of the tastes and preferences of the two persons principally responsible for its existence, Baron Heinrich ThyssenBornemisza (1875-1947) and Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza (19212002). Well versed in the Central European artistic tradition, both men showed a particular predilection for portraits and landscapes. Like all architecture, Spanish architecture is about buildings and buildings are not merely physical structures but also a means of communication. Within Spanish architecture, they reflect community values or pursuits (e.g. Roman coliseums or theatres, Christian, Muslim, Jewish houses of worship). They inform the visitors of the movement of people, who take their architectural traditions with
them in the form, for example, of temples. Spanish architecture also conveys the impact of political events in, for instance, the construction of castles or palaces. As in other countries, Spanish architecture also reflected internal ideological divisions or regional rivalry. Castles, for example, didn’t always signify a means of defence against a foreign force; they might be built by a ruler to reinforce his control within his own territory. In other instances, castles were a visible expression of the power, wealth or prestige acquired by an individual, in which case they were more likely to be palatial than military in their structure. Cordoba calling A trip to Spain is incomplete without a visit to Cordoba (Qurtuba), which is frequented by millions of tourists every year. The world’s three major religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam - have been coexisting here for hundreds of years. Cordoba, which is about a two-hour journey by train from Madrid, has a number of tourist attractions including the great mosque, royal palace and well-decorated houses. “Cordoba is a historical city with deep connections with Islam. We want more people to visit the city and enjoy the experience,” said Jose Fernandez Linares, General Manager of Cordoba Tourism Board
Etihad Airways has launched non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Madrid and to introduce these flights, the media from GCC countries were taken for a guided tour of Madrid. QATAR TODAY > JULY 2015 > 85