The Houston branch is the third largest Consular Corps in the United States after Washington, DC and New York City. On Friday, June 7, 2019, the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center hosted the inaugural Houston Consular Corps luncheon in Sugar Land, Texas. Over 90 countries were represented to engage in discussions on economic development by fostering foreign relations. Amongst the attendees were guest speakers Fort Bend County Judge KP George, Ambassador Juan B. Sosa, Consul General of Panama and Dean of the Consular Corps of Houston, and Jeffrey C. Wiley, President & CEO of the Fort Bend Economic Development Council.

In his introductory remarks, Murad Ajani, President of the Aga Khan Council for Southwestern United States, shared his vision for Fort Bend County’s growing opportunities and promising partnerships. He alluded to the emblematic significance of the venue itself, one inaugurated in 2002 by former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Mawlana Hazar Imam.

The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center is part of the global network of the Ismaili Centers that are created to fulfill a broader vision that provides places for cultural awareness and exchange of knowledge. The architect of the Center was tasked with fabricating a structure that expresses Islamic values of pluralism, intellectual pursuit, and service to humanity in a modern Western context.

The Houston Consular officials develop economic, commercial, scientific and cultural relations between the countries they represent and the areas in which they serve. Fort Bend County has a rich history and exceptional growth potential as it continues to embark on the foundations established by the original settlers of Texas. The county is now home to over 800,000 residents with 29% of its population being foreign-born. With the presence of varied cultures, demographics, and beliefs, the community seeks to work in collaboration with city and state officials, business and community leaders to ensure continued growth throughout the County.

“Fort Bend County, as the most diverse county in the country, will continue to strengthen the cultural, social, and economic fabric with all nations across the world,” said Judge KP George. He continued: “This historic meeting of the Consular Corps, the first time ever in Fort Bend, will discuss how we can partner together and continue making Fort Bend the best place for families to live, work, and play.”

Judge George also expressed his gratitude to the Ismaili community for its efforts on providing platforms for civic engagement. He reflected upon the unique history of Fort Bend County that evolved from 300 settlers who arrived with Stephen F. Austin. Judge KP George highlighted the attributes of the County, one of the fastest and best places to live in the United States.

Ambassador Sosa, together with other prominent leaders, founded the U.S. Panama Business Council, the organization that took the initial step for a U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement. He hopes to provide the continuance of developing new alliances, embracing diversity and investments in economic growth to ensure a better quality of life for all. He expressed his admiration of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center and stated, “More than the facility, the people are great here in the Ismaili community which makes everything so much greater for organizations like ours.”

The event concluded with a discussion forum that engaged representatives of many countries present to discuss matters most relevant to their future engagements within the County. Many attendees also participated in a tour of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center.