Neptunus provides temporary facilities for Ahmadi Muslim convention
The Jalsa Salana UK Annual Convention of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK (AMC) has been running for over 50 years and is the UK’s largest annual Islamic convention attracting thousands of people from around the world to a gathering for ‘prayer, discussion and spiritual rejuvenation’. The event is staged at a 200-acre farm in the picturesque village of East Worldham near, Alton, Hampshire, which is owned by the AMC. The convention, featuring a daily address by His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the Spirtual Leader to tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims, is broadcast globally by MTA (Muslim Television Ahmadiyya) and Voice of Islam Radio Station.
The Coronavirus pandemic meant the 2020 event was cancelled while the 2021 convention was restricted to just 4,000 invited guests from the UK. However, 2022 saw the popular gathering start to return to normality with over 26,000 people in attendance on each of the three days. Organisers say the 2023 Jasla hopes to attract more than 35,000.
The mammoth event is managed by a dedicated in-house AMC team that oversee dozens of contractors responsible for power, lighting, toilet and washing facilities, marquees, trackway, fencing, air-conditioning and other vital services. More than 5,000 volunteers from across the UK’s Ahmadi Muslim communities take responsibility for security, traffic management, car parking and stewarding.
The convention provides a 24-7 complimentary food and drinks service for all visitors with teams of chefs and helpers cooking pots of dhal from 150 burners in the kitchen. More than 90,000 small naan breads are produced freshly daily from an on-site bakery. Organisers describe their food operation as ‘the world’s busiest Indian restaurant’.
Neptunus’ assignment was to provide the key high-profile temporary structures at the heart of the convention where discussions and prayers were held each day.
The convention is very much a peaceful family occasion, but Ahmadi Muslim tradition requires there are dedicated exclusive separate facilities to accommodate men and women. Neptunus built two giant Alu Halls as the centrepiece of the gathering. A 6,750 square metre air-conditioned hall in the men’s area, with a stage and large TV screens, was the location for the Caliph’s daily address broadcast across the convention and to the wider global TV audience. A replica hall of 5,000 square metres housed the women’s convention space. Each temporary structure had five entrance areas to accommodate easy access for the large audiences.
It took a 26-strong crew of technicians two weeks to build the two giant halls and just a week to dismantle and clear all equipment from the site.
The convention is governed by strict regulations. Organisers, working closely with the local authority, have to ensure that all temporary facilities required for the event are constructed and removed from site within 28 days.
Neptunus ensured enough technicians were available to meet the deadline with over 25 articulated lorry movements operating to a meticulous timetable to transport thousands of tonnes of equipment swiftly and safely.
One of the key factors in selecting Neptunus was the superior guttering systems used on Neptunus’ temporary structures. However, for the 2022 convention the build team had to operate amid a heatwave in the UK with record breaking temperatures. Organisers, however, are aware that staging such a massive event on farmland means it is essential structures are able to cope in wet conditions, if necessary.
Mohammad Nasser Khan, Chief Office Jalsa Salana UK 2022 said: “We are very pleased with how Neptunus helped us meet our 28 days deadlines. The deliver, installation and removal on time were a major achievement. We are also very pleased with the quality and performance of the marquees, especially the roof structure which was very sturdy and was found to reduce wind vibrations and noise. The built-in down drainpipes to direct away water to the drains, away from the marquees, was one important reason for choosing this product.”