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Aga Khan to open first Ismaili Centre in the Middle East

United Arab Emirates: Monday, March 24 - 2008 @ 12:12

The ceremony will be attended by a senior dignitary of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Ismaili Centre is situated in Oud Metha on 13,000 square metres of land gifted by the Ruling Family of Dubai. The land was presented by the current Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, the Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to His Highness the Aga Khan in 1982, on the occasion of the Silver Jubilee of the Aga Khan’s accession to the leadership of the Ismaili Muslims.

When the foundation stone of the Centre was laid in 2003, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum shared with His Highness the Aga Khan, a vision for the future in keeping with Islamic traditions of search for knowledge and contributing to the betterment of humanity. It is in this shared spirit that the construction and the development of the Ismaili Centre advanced.

At that time, the Aga Khan also expressed his aspirations for the Centre: “It is my humble prayer that, when built, the Ismaili Centre in Dubai will be a place for contemplation and search for enlightenment, where people come together to share knowledge and wisdom. It will be a place of peace, of order, of hope and of brotherhood, radiating those thoughts, attitudes and sentiments which unite, and which do not divide, and which uplift the mind and the spirit.”

Set amidst the diversity of Dubai’s architectural landscape, the Ismaili Centre is a unique expression of architecture, carefully integrating traditional features and materials. Designed by Rami El Dahan and Soheir Farid of El Dahan & Farid Engineering Consultants from Cairo, the building, inspired by Fatimid architecture of old Egypt and Syria, emanates the spirit of Islam. Adjacent to the Centre and as a gift from the Aga Khan to the City of Dubai, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has developed a 3,000 square metre park. Dubai Park was designed by renowned landscape architect Maher Stino, who also designed the 74- acres Azhar Park in Cairo Egypt, another AKTC project.

The Centre is the fourth Ismaili Centre in the world, comparable in scope and noted architectural standing to existing major Centres in London, United Kingdom; Vancouver, Canada; and Lisbon, Portugal. The Centres offer a range of cultural and educational activities, non- denominational in nature in the cities in which they are located. Plans for Ismaili Centres in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and Toronto, Canada are in advanced stages of development.

The Aga Khan is travelling to a number of countries around the world to launch and inaugurate major development projects and to meet with members of the Ismaili community as part of his Golden Jubilee celebrations. He arrived in the United Arab Emirates yesterday at the start of a 4 day visit to the country.

His Highness the Aga Khan became the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims in 1957 after the death of his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan. He is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for development activities is in excess of $350m.

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Monday, March 24- 2008 @ 12:12 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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