Exclusive Coverage of the Aga Khan Award For Architecture, with Photos and Transcript of Extempore Remarks of Mawlana Hazar Imam in Dubai, UAE

I am also worried about the process of warming….We are seeing villages which are being wiped away by earthquakes, by landslides, by avalanches…I would like to see that as part of general education. I would like to see that as part of secondary education, so that all young people have a better understanding, particularly in our world, in the Islamic world, of the spaces in which they live, how they can ensure the security of their habitat, how they can practice good construction in these areas….PLEASE CLICK TO READ TRANSCRIPT OF THE AGA KHAN’S EXTEMPORE REMARKS

PLEASE CLICK: Special Coverage – Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to the UAE

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran, one of 6 projects to win the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Please click on photo for coverage of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran, one of 6 projects to win the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Photo: Aga Khan Trust for Culture/Barzin Baharlouie. Please click on photo for special report.

Date posted: Monday, November 7, 2016.


His Highness the Aga Khan’s “Enduring Commitment to Afghanistan” – Watch Videos of Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan


His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan (right) with His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network and 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims. Photo: European Union. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, is attending the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on Wednesday, 5 October, 2016. The conference is being co-hosted by the European Union and Afghanistan. Like previous conferences, this conference is the opportunity to signal sustained political and financial support to Afghan peace, state-building and development. Mawlana Hazar Imam has contributed significantly towards these purposes over the past several years, and has participated and spoken at previous such conferences held around the world.

We are pleased to provide links to videos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s presence at the conference in Brussels, including his bilateral meetings with conference attendees, a “family photo” of conference participants and the statement that he has made.








If you encounter technical problems in watching any of the videos, please visit https://tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/videos.

Date posted: October 5, 2016.


For more photos and videos of the conference please visit https://tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/videos

A Defining Moment – His Highness the Aga Khan on Strengths of a Global Citizen; (Transcript) the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson in Conversation with the Ismaili Imam; and Medal Symbolism

By Abdulmalik Merchant
(Publisher-Editor, http://www.simerg.com, http://www.simergphotos.com and http://www.barakah.com)


Photo: The Ismaili/Lisa Sakulensky. Copyright. Note: Superimposition of text on photo by Simerg.

There were many cherishable and memorable moments on Wednesday, September 21, 2016, at   Koerner Hall in Toronto when the inaugural Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship was presented to His Highness the Aga Khan. World renowned vocalist and songwriter Rufus Wainwright welcomed the audience with a wonderful rendition of Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah. We were reminded by Rufus that September 21 also marked Cohen’s birthday – his 82nd. A video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s congratulatory message to His Highness Aga Khan received a big applause from the packed auditorium hall, as did the actual presentation of the unique award to His Highness by Madame Clarkson. This was followed by her welcome speech and the 49th Ismaili Imam’s words of wisdom.


The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s 26th Governor General from 1999-2005, awarding the inaugural Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship to His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims, in Toronto on September 21, 2016. Photo: The Ismaili/Vazir Karsan. Copyright.

But of all the absorbing moments that the event offered, there was one defining moment in Mawlana Hazar Imam’s speech that I took to my heart. In concluding his speech, Mawlana Hazar Imam defined what it takes for each one of us to be a Global Citizen. He said:

“These are just a few thoughts as I look to the future of Global Citizenship. The challenges, in sum, will be many and continuing. What will they require of us?

“A short list might include these strengths: a vital sense of balance, an abundant capacity for compromise, more than a little sense of patience, an appropriate degree of humility, a good measure of forgiveness, and, of course, a genuine welcoming of human difference.”

It was with reference to this last sentence that Madame Clarkson then began her conversation with Mawlana Hazar Imam. The following is a transcript that Simerg has prepared from an audio recording of the event, and we invite our readers to view the video of the wonderful event through the links that we have provided at the bottom of this page.

(Prepared by Simerg from an audio recording)


His Highness the Aga Khan and the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson in conversation following the presentation of the Global Citizenship Award to the Ismaili Imam on September 21, 2016, in Toronto. Photo: The Ismaili/Lisa Sakulensky. Copyright. Ismaili.

Adrienne Clarkson: Thank you so much for those words. They are so well thought out, and over the years as we have known each other, I am always impressed by your deep sense of humane commitment and feeling that you have when you talk about things like forgiveness, and that, that is part of what we are as a society……One of the things I am very interested in, and I think everybody here is interested too, is in the fact that you put so much faith in Canada; that you have put institutions in Canada, like the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa….And you have also put the Imamat in Ottawa. And when I think about it, I think: Is that because in 1972, we welcomed so many Ismailis. Is that the beginning of it, or is there something else about us: Is it that you are a secret fan of Mackenzie King.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: No, I think the answer to that is that as I look at the world around us, and I ask myself what would define countries where I would like to see my community reside. The first word that comes to my mind is countries of opportunity. And I believe Canada is one of the greatest countries of opportunity.

Adrienne Clarkson: I think that is true, and certainly the Ismaili community in Canada has made the most of the opportunities which all people who come to this country have. And that is the reason why I think people understand once they get here: that there lives are going to be different. And that is one of the interesting things too about what you talk about to the Jamat, to the community. And I think something that people should realise in the rest of Canada that you have your community, and it is very important; but that you emphasise how important it is to be part of the world outside your community. And why do you do that?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Well, I have to go back to 1957. In 1957, many of the countries where my community was living were colonies. And those countries needed to go through the process of independence, needed to find the pathways forwards towards peace, towards development. And I have asked myself: How do countries achieve that? And if you go back to 1957, you look at the map of our world, and you try to define where all these countries that have now become independent, have created opportunity; I think one has to say that that has not been very successful.

Adrienne Clarkson: What have been the barriers? What are the barriers?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Oh, I think there is a multitude of barriers. First of all, I suppose national resources would be a major issue. The second would be the level of human ability within a given country, whether it has a human ability to develop its resources, to build opportunity. So in that sense we are looking at processes of change. And they have occurred; they have occurred. There are today countries of opportunity which either did not exist or one would not have thought of as being countries of opportunity in 1957 when my grandfather died.

Adrienne Clarkson: And that has changed.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: That has changed.

Adrienne Clarkson: Well, you have had a lifetime of opportunity to see that. It is very rare to meet somebody who has had such an effect on the world, not only on a group of people, but in the world. Because that is what you have made it in sixty years. Next year will be your sixtieth anniversary as the Imam. And in sixty years, you have seen development, you have made development happen, you made resources available to places where there were absolutely no resources. And in doing that, it cannot have been easy to decide where that would happen, to decide who would be the collaborators, to bring along people who could understand and have the capacity to help with that development. How did you go about doing that?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: [I think] what you try to do is look at circumstances on an on-going basis. And then you work through what I would call predictability, and you try to project into the future what countries have the ability to follow the path of peace and development. And where there are situations which are potentially difficult, and that, of course, is something which changes practically every day; and, of course, it has changed a lot since 1957.

Adrienne Clarkson: And they did not teach you that at Harvard.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I am not sure what they taught me at Harvard.

Adrienne Clarkson: We all wonder what we learned at university and how that was relevant to anything that we are doing today. But I think what is interesting in what you have been saying over the last, particularly over the last decade in your speeches, in your writings is that ignorance that we have. And I am always struck by the fact that we are, we speak out of such ignorance in a so-called western developed world, particularly about Islam. We do not know the varieties of the Muslim world at all, we seem not to be even interested in it, and the more people shout about it, the worse it becomes, because it is as though we shut out everything that could be various, that could be different, that could have any kind of nuance in it. How do you mitigate against that?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I think probably the first step would be to extract from Islamic history, from Islamic philosophy the great names, the great thinkers, the great astronomers, the great scientists, the great medical figures, who have influenced global knowledge. I remember courses which taught general humanities. And those general humanities caused one to read in French, or Italian, or German, or English. Arabic! Never heard of it; Urdu! Never heard of it; Farsi! We do not even know what that is. So, it was a frightening vacuum in general education at the time. And I think that that vacuum has had terrible results.

Adrienne Clarkson: No, of course it has. It is ridiculous. I mean, we met only a few years ago, William Polk who was the first translator of the great epic Bedouin poem. And to think that only practically in the 21st century did we have access to that in translation is frightening, almost. A lacunae of knowledge. Not even accessible to us in any way.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: And that I think is one of the really serious issues – is that the cultures of Islam, of the Islamic world are not present in global cultural (let us say, how would I call it) presence.

Adrienne Clarkson: Well, of course, you have given us an enormous gift to Toronto in the Aga Khan Museum and the Jamatkhana, which is now virtually in the geographic centre of Metropolitan Toronto. And I think by those wonderful Islamic gardens with the pools of water, but using native Canadian trees, and native Canadian plants. I always think of you as somebody with a motto of: No idea too big, no detail too small. Because I know how you look at everything: you know, the grouting in the marble, the bulbs that will be planted, the colours of the bulbs. And, of course, that is an enriching thing for you to have that detail in your life, but also I think it enriches us. And when I think of the role that beauty and culture play in the message that you have to the world, I think we are enormously grateful to you…..


His Highness the Aga Khan and the Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson in conversation following the presentation of the Global Citizenship Award to the Ismaili Imam. on September 21, 2016 in Toronto. Photo: Simerg.

(The Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson then went on to describe the restoration work carried out by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture at the Humayun Gardens in New Delhi and the Babur Gardens in Kabul as well as the creation of Cairo’s new Al-Azhar Park from a site that had been used for many centuries as a landfill. The description is being skipped here. – Editor).

Adrienne Clarkson……..Why do you think beauty is so important to us, even when there are so many other needs around?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Well, I think, all faiths express themselves in some cultural form or the other. And Islam is a faith which has expressed itself in cultural manifestations over centuries in different parts of the world. And I think it is very important that those manifestations should be seen and should be, I hope, admired, and that they should inspire young people who are talented young architects, land planners, whatever it may be. So that they can inspire their own buildings with a sense of continuity, but of our time. And I think it is very important that we not try to plagiarise history. (Laughter). I would get a, what would it be, a D or an E at Harvard for plagiarization.

Adrienne Clarkson: Well, of course, when you restore things or you make things new, you have to always avoid that. You have to say I am making something new. And that does not seem to fill you with any kind of fear.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: No, I think that every people in every given time should be encouraged to express themselves. And I remember that when the Pyramid was built in the Louvre, in the courtyard of the Louvre, there was immense debate as to whether this was appropriate or not. Well, it is there!

Adrienne Clarkson: Yes, yes, it is there. When we look at the world today….The rise of the Hard Right, of the really almost Fascist movements, reminds us sadly of times in the 1930s, and we have to really watch that because all that is to raise fear in people. And once fear rules people, they become blinded to all kinds of things. How do you deal with that? How do we deal with the fear?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I think in this particular case, the issue is whether these countries have been willing to prepare themselves for this situation. Canada is a country that has permanent preparation. It is the way the country thinks. It welcomes people to come from outside, it has the institutions to support them when they arrive. It helps them integrate into Canadian society. That is not true of many western European countries, because they are facing economic constraint, because there are social tensions in various European countries also. Northern Europe does not speak the same language as Southern Europe, nor do they face the same problems. So I think we are living at a time when there are real difficulties, and my sense is that they are going to have to be analysed and solutions are going to have to be found. Because the movement of people is not going to stop. I do not see that stopping. It is driven by a number of factors, and I think in many of the countries which are sending people to Europe today, are dealing with populations who are seeking opportunity. There is a great sense of lack of opportunity. Opportunity is next door, it is not (around).

Adrienne Clarkson: (You know) When you were named as Imam in your grandfather’s will, he said he felt that he had to appoint somebody who was a young man, a man who was born in the atomic age, that is, the age of the 20th and 21st century. Has that influenced the way you think of things? Do you think of things in terms of a kind of millennial way, because you were appointed so young and you took on those duties so young. You knew you were expected to do something different. That is implicit in that will.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Right. At the time and even today, many of the questions that I ask myself and that I discuss with members of my community is medium- and long-term projecting. Where are we going? And are we going in the right direction in various countries? Are we being equitable in relation to the demography of the community? Are we over-committing in certain parts of the world and under-committing in others? Are there circumstances in regions which make it impossible for our institutions to function? Or, on the contrary, are there countries that would welcome them? So we are looking at, let’s say, a semi-global situation on an on-going basis. So, in that sense, we are looking at how to plan. And planning, I think, in our case requires institutional initiative. We need to get our institutions in place before people decide to move.

Adrienne Clarkson: Well, that is the point. You are there before!

Mawlana Hazar Imam: We try.

Adrienne Clarkson: You are there before, because you have to then predict and you have to then say we are going to be out front, and when the tide is ready we will have the port built, so that the ships can arrive. How do you do that?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: You pray that Idi Amin never comes back!

Adrienne Clarkson: Yes. Well, let’s hope that that was only once in a hundred years, at least. But the idea of a threat to so many people comes up over and over again. I mean we know more about it now, because we have instant communications. So we know when whole groups are threatened, when things happen like that. But, you know, the ignorance that I talked about earlier is almost terrifying. That people do not understand the Muslim world whatsoever. And they do not understand, as you touched on in your speech, they do not understand the differences in the Muslim world. They have never read the Koran, they would not think of reading it or taking a study course in it. And I think that sort of thing really means that ignorance is promulgated and continued. And then, you know when very careless media add to that, then you really do not understand. Also, the other thing that I always like to point out is that Islam is six hundred years younger than Christianity. So, Christians should think, you know, what was Christianity like in the 15th century. And who was talking then? And how were they divided? It is very interesting to think of it in the cycles of history, as opposed to, just thinking, it is now and we are all the same and we are all equal, etc. We are not, really, because we have different heritages.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: That is true, but there was also a lot of inter-faith communication in the Middle Ages.

Adrienne Clarkson: That is right. The inter-faith communication is..

Mawlana Hazar Imam: A great deal [of inter-faith communication], particularly in the field of mystic faith.

Adrienne Clarkson: Mysticism!

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Yes.

Adrienne Clarkson: Linking Sufism and so on with Christian mysticism.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Yes. Personal search.

Adrienne Clarkson: Why have we lost that?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Probably, the requirements of modern life.

Adrienne Clarkson: Can we do anything about it? Should we be trying? Is that one of the things we should be trying, besides thinking of development, besides thinking of, you know, creating universities and schools. Can we do that?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I think we need to reflect over is generosity in society. Our faith, the faith of Islam teaches generosity. But, I think it is very important that generosity should be part of public psyche.

Adrienne Clarkson: And that means being brought up with it.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Means being brought up with it. Means recognising those in need of help. Means creating institutions to deliver that help. And, obviously, in poor countries, it is very difficult to achieve. But it should be a goal.

Adrienne Clarkson: Well, the problem is that the gap between rich and poor is growing and growing and growing, and not just in the developing world, but in the developed world. That is one of the real problems now for us, I think, as a society in the West is that disparity between the haves and have-nots. And the more that grows, the more unjust society becomes. And there seems to be very little that people want to do about that, very little that they really want to do about it. And things become charity. Charity is not the right way to go about it; development is the right vehicle now, surely.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Yes. Well, in the faith of Islam the best charity is to give, to enable an individual or a family to become independent of their economic destiny. That is known as the best charity.

Adrienne Clarkson: How often is it? Does it happen?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I honestly do not know. I would have to ask our bankers.

Adrienne Clarkson: As a final thing, I would like to ask you: What do you really think will happen now in the medium term for our future as we see Britain wanting to leave Europe, as we see the rise of very hard Right in the European countries, as we see what is happening in the United States, which is hardly even mentionable. What can we hope for now? How can we as individuals who really want to make things better, as we are faced with all of this, how does it happen, for us now?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I think we have to offer rational people, options. I think it is very important to put in front of public opinion, good options. Alternatives.

Adrienne Clarkson: Different ways of behaviour.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Different ways of behaving.

Adrienne Clarkson: And how do we do that? How do we make that? Is that through education? Is that through incentives? What is it? How is it done?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I think it is through men and women coming forward to take positions of leadership. I think it is institutions who need to engage, rather than let the field open to anything. And, I have been very impressed since 1957 in developing countries, when elections had to be held or were held in circumstances where you would assume that the population did not have access to the information they would have, in our view, needed to express themselves rationally and competently. Well, I got it wrong. They are very, very wise. Public wisdom is not dependent on education.

Adrienne Clarkson: You are practically talking about Jung’s collective unconscious there. Is that, that there is a kind of wisdom that people share.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Yes.

Adrienne Clarkson: Because of their common humanity.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Because of the common humanity. Because of the common circumstance in which they are living.

Adrienne Clarkson: But does that bring us hope – as, you know, a collection of your speeches as ‘Where Hope Takes Root”. Is that where hope will take root?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Yes. I believe so. But it means that decision makers have to be responsive.

Adrienne Clarkson: Well, it is very discouraging often when you look at the people who are elected in public office in different countries and the countries seem to vote for people that will harm them the most. Often, this is the most discouraging when you see in a democratic situation, even in free ones, where people will vote for something that is going to really harm them, and they do not seem to realise that it is very, very difficult, very difficult even because we have freedom of the press, we have enormous freedoms, particularly in North America and most of Europe. We have all those freedoms and yet we are in the dilemma that we are…Does that come back to the individual and their ability to do things?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: I think it comes back to the way the individual, or the family, rather than the individual, evaluate their position in society at a given time. Ultimately, the basic issue is: How does a family feed itself and educate the children, generation after generation? It is that clear, it is that important. And if society is able to provide that for the totality of the population in a given country, that is already a very sound foundation. But that is a condition sine qua non for a country to move ahead. If you have pockets of poverty, if you have populations or groups of populations who are marginalised, you are looking at a series of issues that one year are going to blow up. The predictability of crisis, in my view, in Third World countries is much higher than people would believe.

Adrienne Clarkson: You could predict them.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: You can predict them.

Adrienne Clarkson: Then why do not we avert them?

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Ah, that is a different question. I think predicting them is something that you can do, averting them does depend on a lot of different issues. That is not always easy.

Adrienne Clarkson: Thank you so much, Your Highness.

Mawlana Hazar Imam: Thank you. Thank you.




The medal presented to His Highness the Aga Khan for the Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship was sculpted by Anna Williams. The photo and her statement (below) are from the program booklet “Six Degrees Citizen Space 2016,” published by 6DegreesTO.com.

“Adrienne Clarkson asked me to create a medal for the Prize for Global Citizenship. I had the idea of bringing together the world of creation with that of the great mythological winged deities. Sedna is the Inuit goddess from whom all creatures of the sea spring. Atlanta, Nike, Lilith and the winged bearers of souls in Norse lore, the Valkyrie, each exist in an imperfect world. But through their strength, intelligence, independence, and compassion, they have created an iconography of champions and dissenters. Each in their own way is unyielding and stands apart as they chart a new course against buffeting waves. In the narrative of this medal, Sedna the creator emerges from the waves to pass a vulnerable world to the outstretched arms of our winged guardian.” — Anna Williams, sculptor.

Date posted: September 22, 2016.
Last updated: September 23, 2016, 15:25 (new photos added, completion of interview transcript and artist statement for Global Citizenship Medal).


Please visit http://www.theismaili.org and http://www.akdn.org for extended coverage of the presentation ceremony.

Photos: The 32nd Annual Aga Khan Foundation World Partnership Walk in Vancouver @Simergphotos

IMPORTANT NOTE FROM THE EDITOR:  If you are in any photo(s) and wish to receive a high resolution image, please write to Simerg@aol.com, subject: World Partnership Photo. We request that you provide your phone number where we can contact you. The Jpeg image will be emailed to you absolutely free of charge. We look forward to hearing from you and responding to your request promptly.

Please click: In Vancouver’s World Partnership Walk, Participants Take Millions of Steps to Fight Global Poverty and Give Hope to Countless

Children lead the way at the World Partnership Walk held in Vancouver on Sunday, May 29, 2016. Photo: Malik Merchant. Simerg. Please click on image for more photos

Children lead the way at the World Partnership Walk held in Vancouver on Sunday, May 29, 2016. Photo: Malik Merchant. Simerg. Please click on image for more photos

Date posted:
May 30, 2016.


The Fulfilment of a Mother’s Wish: Visiting the Aga Khan Foundation’s Together-Ensemble Exhibition in Vancouver

Editor, Simerg


Together-Ensemble Truck at the parking lot across from the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby, where over 300 visitors got a glimpse of the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.

It was my mother’s fond wish to view the large 53 foot truck hosting the Aga Khan Foundation’s mobile Together-Ensemble exhibition at the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby. The truck with 1000 sq ft of space has clocked 19,000 kms across Canada in the past 13 months. For her, to climb the steps leading into the exhibition area would have been a little bit challenging, so seeing the truck and walking around it, she felt, would be fulfilling. What a treat, then, for her when we arrived at the exhibition site, and to be told that she would be lofted into the exhibition space on a wheelchair lift! Like hundreds of other visitors, we were welcomed into the exhibition by the tour manager, François Grenier. I visited the exhibition last year when it was launched in Ottawa, and found the latest version to be more inviting and aesthetically appealing. This was also noted by Grenier who granted me a short interview with some great insights (see bottom of page).


This incredible piece of art work done by Shamya Jaffer is showcased at the entrance of the exhibition, along with two other winning entries, see below, in the Aga Khan Foundation’s art competition to complement the exhibition. Shamya has called her winning piece “Hidden Complexities” and notes as follows in her artist’s statement: “My piece of art work is a map of the world filled with different, detailed patterns that connect and overlap each other, symbolizing inter-connectedness between countries and continents. The patterns are inspired from Swahili and Indian designs. The incorporation of different forms of art into one piece is a representation of global diversity. At first glance, it may seem like a simple concept but it has depth and complexity just like global development and diversity.” Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.

Gesture by Safira Lakhani, 2nd winning entry. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg. Note: Photo has reflective light from camera flash and exhibit lighting.

Gesture by Safira Lakhani, 2nd winning entry. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg. Note: Photo has reflective light from camera flash and exhibit lighting.


Calypso by Queenie Wong, 3rd winning enty. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg. Note: Photo has reflective light from camera flash and exhibit lighting.


Visitors, including my mother at foreground, learn about the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada at its mobile exhibition at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby,on May 27, 2016. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.


“God created Man from One Soul. Everybody Should Help Each Other” – a thought by a visitor to the exhibition. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.


A visitor responds to a question in an interactive display exhibit that includes a large topographical map of the world. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.


A close up of the topographies of Africa, the Middle East and parts of Europe and Asia. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.


A visitor watches displays of Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s projects in Asia and Africa. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.


Voices of Change. Photo: Malik Merchant, Simerg.

An Interview with François Grenier, Tour Manager, Aga Khan Foundation Canada Together-Ensemble Exhibition

The truck was scheduled to leave on Saturday morning (May 28) for Stanley Park where thousands of Canadians are expected to participate in the  Aga Khan Foundation’s 2016 Partnership Walk.

Date posted: May 28, 2016.


“Together-Ensemble”: The Aga Khan Foundation Exhibition on 18 Wheels is now in Vancouver

Publisher-Editor, Simerg

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

The bus is travelling across Canada and offers perspectives of Global Development to thousands of Canadians. Photo: Aga Khan Foundation.

Editors’ note: After being on the road for the past 12 months, the “Together-Ensemble” is now in Vancouver. The mobile exhibition, which has covered a distance of 19,000 kms, is housed in a 53-foot truck with over 1,000 square feet of exhibit space. It will be at the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby on May 26 and 27 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm, and at Stanley Park on Sunday, May 29 from 8:00 am until 2:30 pm when thousands of Canadians are expected to participate in the Aga Khan Foundation’s Annual World Partnership Walk. The following piece was written when the exhibition was launched in Ottawa in 2015.

“Development is ultimately about people, about enabling them to participate fully in the process and to make informed choices and decisions on their futures.” – His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam speaking in 2013, excerpt on a panel display at the exhibition.

Launched on April 27th, 2015, at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building by the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, and Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, the collaborative exhibition of Global Development under the theme “Together” (French “Ensemble”) arrived at the city’s famed Le Breton neighbourhood, located by the new War Museum on Thursday, May 7, 2015 for a 7-day stop over.

I took an opportunity to visit the astonishing bus filled with educational and inspiring exhibits today (Sunday, May 10th), a much cooler day than the previous few days when the temperatures in the city had surged to 30 Celsius, not taking humidex into consideration. While thousands of local Ottawa residents and tourists were enjoying the marvellous and colourful annual tulip festival by Dow’s Lake, hundreds of parents with their children took to the Le Breton grounds to visit the Ottawa International Children’s Festival as well as take a tour of the exhibition in the “Together/Ensemble” bus, just metres away.

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation's magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by

Before reaching the Aga Khan Foundation’s magnificent Together bus, I was politely confronted by “a past British Monarch” who was measuring my loyalty to her rule. I excelled as a fine citizen, for which she offered to crown me with some kind of an Order named after the Ottawa’s River Parkway, a fine and scenic road running by the Ottawa River one hundred metres behind her! Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children's Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The Together Exhibition Bus just metres away from activity tents set up for the Ottawa International Children’s Festival. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A youth takes the time to view the interactive global map and test out his knowledge. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A panel introducing the work of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada and its founder, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The Aga Khan Foundation offices around the world are now agencies within the Aga Khan Development Network, a global network created by His Highness the Aga Khan to serve millions on this planet in all areas of human endeavour. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the though of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Children exchange their ideas and thoughts on global matters on these little leaves. They are invited to take away with them any leaf containing the thought of another child. When the leaf is cut open at home it contains wild flower seeds that children can plant in their gardens. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A young child's aspirations and hopes for a better world:

A young child’s aspirations and hopes for a better world: “No hunger, child labour, everyone being treated equally.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others:

Another child, 8 year old Hannah Saikaley, describes her thoughts of helping others: “Donating food, money, drinks and clothes and by cleaning the earth.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Another informative section of panels inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the extensions for this bus, giving the exhibition space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

The back of the Together-Ensemble Bus. The centre panel is the actual width of the bus. The two side panels show the collapsible exhibition extensions on the bus, giving the space inside the bus the feel of an actual museum gallery. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Inside the bus, an exhibit. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik

Voices of Change exhibit inside the bus. Photo: Malik Merchant/Malik


The “Together-Ensemble” Exhibition Bus at the Le Breton neighbourhood at the Canadian War Museum grounds. Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

A display inside the bus under the theme

A display inside the bus under the theme “Stronger Together.” Photo: Malik Merchant/Simerg

Stephanie, coordinating the media on behalf of the Aga Khan Foundation, was eager to participate in an interview with me, though she felt before the interview that she was a little bit nervous. “Simerg is the first media I am talking to,” she explained. But any apprehension that she felt quickly dissipated as she enthusiastically explained the exhibition with all her charm and grace. Please watch her excellent interview by clicking on the link below.

Date first posted: Sunday, May 10, 2015.
Date updated: May 26, 2016.


We invite your feedback and comments. Please click Leave a comment.

Please also visit the Aga Khan Foundation Canada Website http://www.akfc.ca for more details and schedules about the Global Development Exhibition, which will be touring Canada in 2015/2016.

This piece has been simultaneously published under a different format at Simerg’s photoblog. Please click Photoessay and Interview: Aga Khan Foundation’s Unique Global Development Exhibition on 18 Wheels

The Text of Resolution by Portugal’s Council of Ministers Authorizing the Sale of Palácio Henrique de Mendonça to the Ismaili Imamat

Lisbon’s Palácio Henrique de Mendonçae is a historical building located in an extremely exclusive neighbourhood, and is part of a panoramic green area of three hectares in the heart of the city. The turn-of-the-century palace combines stunning architecture and traditional Portuguese interiors. It was designed between 1900 and 1902 by Ventura Terra and completed in 1909, when it was awarded the Valmor Prize. The prize is named after the Viscount of Valmor, Fausto Queirós Guedes (1837-1898), who was a protector of the arts. The prize is one of the most prestigious national awards in Portugal for architecture and distinguishes reputable works and projects.


Bird’s eyeview, Palácio Henrique de Mendonça, Lisbon, Portugal. Photo Credit: Lisbonmeeting.org.pt.


The Official Gazette of Portugal contains all up-to-date enacted laws, decree-laws and ministerial orders. The following is a resolution by Portugal’s Council of Ministers published in the Gazette that authorizes the sale of the palace to the Ismaili Imamat. We hope to provide our readers with an accurate English translation of the Portuguese text in the near future. Readers may wish to utilize Google translate to obtain a free translation in English or other languages.

Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.º 27/2016 – Diário da República n.º 89/2016, Série I de 2016-05-09. Presidência do Conselho de Ministros

Determina como de excecional interesse público e autoriza a venda do imóvel denominado Palácio Henrique de Mendonça, ou Ventura Terra ao Imamat Ismaili, com vista ao estabelecimento da sua sede em Portugal.


Resolução do Conselho de Ministros n.º 27/2016

O Palácio Henrique de Mendonça/Casa Ventura Terra, situado na Rua Marquês da Fronteira, em Lisboa, é um edi-fício de características únicas, tendo sido galardoado como Prémio Valmor e Arquitetura e classificado como Imóvel de Interesse Público, em 1982. Neste Palácio, encontra -se instalada parte da Faculdade de Economia da Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

O Imamat Ismaili, que a Fundação Aga Khan tem representado, celebrou, com a República Portuguesa, o «Protocolo de Cooperação entre o Governo da República Portuguesa e o Imamat Ismaili», assinado em Lisboa, em 19 de dezembro de 2005, aprovado pelo Decreto n.º 11/2006, de 15 de março.

Adicionalmente, foi celebrado o «Protocolo de Cooperação Internacional entre o Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros da República Portuguesa e o Imamat Ismaili», assinado em 11 de julho de 2008.

Em 8 de maio de 2009, foi assinado, em Lisboa, o «Acordo entre a República Portuguesa e o Imamat Ismaili», que foi aprovado pela Resolução da Assembleia da República n.º 109/2010, de 24 de setembro, e ratificado pelo Decreto do Presidente da República n.º 94/2010, de 24 de setembro.

Posteriormente, a 3 de junho de 2015, foi assinado o «Acordo entre a República Portuguesa e o lmamat Ismaili para o Estabelecimento da Sede do Imamat lsmaili em Portugal», aprovado pela Resolução da Assembleia da República n.º 135/2015, de 27 de outubro, e ratificado pelo Decreto do Presidente da República n.º 124/2015, de 27 de outubro.

O artigo 3.º do mesmo Acordo refere que «[a] República Portuguesa assegurará as condições para o estabelecimento da Sede do Imamat Ismaili no seu território assim como para o exercício das suas funções». Já o artigo 16.º do citado Acordo prevê, expressamente, como compromisso do Imamat Ismaili, que este «[…] apoiará ativamente os esforços da República Portuguesa para melhorar a qualidade de vida de todos aqueles que vivem em Portugal, nomeadamente através do desenvolvimento em Portugal de projetos de investigação de nível mundial naquela área e, em termos mais gerais, em matérias de interesse comum da República Portuguesa e do Imamat Ismaili», providenciando este «[…] que as suas Instituições Dependentes de mais elevado nível criem as condições destinadas a atingir os objetivos definidos acima, em cooperação com os ministérios relevantes ou outras entidades do Governo Português».


Palace interior. Photo credit: Lisbonmeeting.org.pt

Considerando que a Universidade Nova de Lisboa pretende alienar o Palácio Henrique de Mendonça/Casa Ventura Terra e que o Imamat Ismaili ali pretende instalar a Sede.

Considerando que, no âmbito da «Iniciativa Conhecimento para o Desenvolvimento», o Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior e o Imamat Ismaili se encontram a estabelecer os termos de referência para a celebração de um «Protocolo de Cooperação em Ciênciae Tecnologia».

Considerando, também, que a venda por ajuste direto do imóvel supra descrito ao Imamat Ismaili em Portugal reveste-se de excecional interesse público, que decorre da natureza e das finalidades da parte interessada na aquisição e dos compromissos bilaterais assumidos, podendo o respetivo procedimento de alienação ser autorizado por Resolução do Conselho de Ministros, como resulta da conjugação da alínea l) do n.º 2 e do n.º 3 do artigo 81.º do Decreto -Lei n.º 280/2007, de 7 de agosto.

Considerando, finalmente, que o imóvel se encontra classificado como de interesse público pelo Decreto n.º 28/82, de 26 de fevereiro, pelo que o Estado e o Município de Lisboa gozam do direito de preferência na sua alienação, nos termos do artigo 37.º da Lei n.º 107/2001, de 8 de setembro, e que o Município de Lisboa declarou que não o pretende exercer.


Nos termos da alínea l) do n.º 2 e do n.º 3 do artigo 81.º do Decreto-Lei n.º 280/2007, de 7 de agosto, e da alínea g) do artigo 199.º da Constituição, o Conselho de Ministros resolve:

1 — Reconhecer o excecional interesse público da venda, por ajuste direto, ao Imamat Ismaili em Portugal do imóvel denominado Palácio Henrique de Mendonça/Casa Ventura Terra, sito na Rua Marquês da Fronteira, n.ºs 18 a 28, em Lisboa, inscrito na matriz predial urbana sob o artigo 2415, da freguesia de Avenidas Novas (anterior artigo urbano 754 da extinta freguesia de São Sebastião da Pedreira), descrito na Conservatória do Registo Predial de Lisboa sob o n.º 1407 da freguesia de São Sebastião da Pedreira.

2 — Autorizar a venda, mediante ajuste direto, do imóvel identificado no número anterior ao Imamat Ismaili em Portugal, pelo preço de € 12 000 000,00, correspondente ao valor base homologado pela Direção-Geral do Tesouro e Finanças.

3 — Determinar que o produto da alienação reverte, na sua totalidade, para a Universidade Nova de Lisboa, nos termos do disposto no n.º 1 e na alínea a) do n.º 4 do artigo 13.º da Lei n.º 82 -B/2014, de 31 de dezembro, alterada pela Lei n.º 159-E/2015, de 30 de dezembro, e na alínea c) do n.º 9 do artigo 109.º da Lei n.º 62/2007, de 10 de setembro, o qual deve ser integralmente destinado a despesas de investimento no património próprio da Universidade, para reforço das instalações.

4 — Determinar que o Estado não exerce o direito de preferência previsto no artigo 37.º da Lei n.º 107/2001, de 8 de setembro.

Presidência do Conselho de Ministros, 17 de março de 2016. — Pelo Primeiro-Ministro, Maria Manuel de Lemos Leitão Marques, Ministra da Presidência e da Modernização Administrativa.

Date posted: May 12, 2016.
Last updated: May 14, 2016.


To view the original text of the resolution in the official Portuguese Gazette, please click https://dre.pt/application/file/74385362.


“Seat of the Ismaili Imamat” — Text of the Historic Agreement Between the Ismaili Imamat and the Portuguese Republic



The Work of the Ismaili Imamat at a Glance, and the Most Famous Logos of the Aga Khan Development Network

University of Ottawa confers an Honorary Degree on His Highness the Aga Khan

“His Highness has used his own faith background to speak directly to the goodness of all people.” — President Alan Rock, University of Ottawa, January 13, 2012. Photo: University of Ottawa. Copyright.

For over 60 years the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), under the leadership of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismailis in direct lineal descent of the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him), has been building institutions and delivering essential services by creating schools and hospitals, newspapers and electricity generation plants, and social programmes of all kinds. These services have helped improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people of all races and faiths in places as varied as Cairo, Kabul, Delhi and Bamako.

We provide an organizational chart highlighting the breadth of the work of the Ismaili Imamat, and compile a piece about the most identifiable emblems, logos and seals of the AKDN.

Please click on image to enlarge

Work of Ismaili Imamat and AKDN

Credit AKDN*



1. Aga Khan University (AKU)


The Seal of Aga Khan University is a visual representation of the principles which underlie the founding of the University. The circular form of the Seal, with its different levels of imagery contained in concentric circles, has its visual roots in the rosettes of early Islamic periods. The circle also symbolises the world and reflects the international presence of the University.

At the centre of the Seal is a star, or sun. Light is a universal symbol for the enlightenment that education provides.The light emanating from the star is also symbolic of Nur (Divine light).

The star incorporates 49 points to commemorate the University’s founding by His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. The outer ring circumscribes a Qur’anic ayat rendered in classic thuluth script and reads as follows:

“And hold fast, All together, by the rope
Which God (stretches out for you),
And be not divided among yourselves,
And remember with gratitude
God’s favour on you:
For ye were enemies
And He joined your hearts
In love, so that by His grace
Ye became brethren” — Sura 3, Ayat 103.

2. Aga Khan Foundation (AKF)


In every language there are idioms and proverbs illustrating the importance of the right hand as an instrument of human skill, achievement and caring.

The Aga Khan Foundation logo is based on the right hand, and represents the humanitarian and positive philosophy underlying the Foundation and its activities.

In Islam, the hand has a number of meanings: its shape reflects its comprehensive and positive character, while its constituents represent the five principles of Islam and the five senses of the human body. The stylized fingers represent “Allah” in the Kufic script, and the interlacing beneath the fingers correspond to the anatomy of the hand and also delineates the sign, which in Chinese stands for Wisdom.

The logo of the Aga Khan Foundation was designed by Mr. Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq of Pakistan.

3. Aga Khan Health Services (AKHS)

Aga Khan Health Services

Photo: Isabelle Prondzynski. Copyright.

The emblem of the Aga Khan Health Services shown on the cup and saucer represents health care and compassion. The crescent is an ancient icon which, when used in red, has become the equivalent of the International Red Cross. The three-crescent design in its simple, poetic form creates an internal space symbolising how institutions and programmes using the symbol surround, attend and care for those in need.

4. Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA)


The logo of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture was designed by Karl Schlamminger, a German Muslim of the Shia tradition.

The Name of Allah in Kufic script, reflecting Itself and repeating Itself, forms the basis of the logo design.

Date posted: April 7, 2016.


*For original chart and related material please visit the Aga Khan Development Network link at http://www.akdn.org/publications/2015_akdn_overview.pdf.

An Anecdote Illustrating the Wisdom and Judgement of His Highness the Aga Khan: “I was Serving No Ordinary Man” by the Late Michael Curtis

Aga Khan Photos by Azhar Chaudhry - 004

His Highness the Aga Khan being greeted by Mr. Michael Curtis of the Nation Group. Photo: Azhar Chaudhry. Sultan Jessa Collection.

Mr. Michael Curtis, a British Fleet Street editor and executive, was introduced to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, just as he had been proclaimed the 49th Ismaili Imam by his grandfather, Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III.  His recruitment as a staff of His Highness was intended as a short term assignment as a speech writer and publicity organizer during a series of public appearances in Asia and Africa related to the Aga Khan’s installation as Imam. This brief assignment, however, grew into an engagement with His Highness that spanned several decades. The visionary Michael Curtis — who was noted by UK’s Guardian Newspaper as being 50 years ahead of his time in the paper’s obituary to the journalist — was asked to establish the Nation Media Group, which started publishing the Sunday Nation and subsequently the Daily Nation in Kenya, competing successfully with the existing colonial newspapers, the Tanganyika Standard and the East African Standard. At the culmination of the process of Africanising the Nation Group, Michael Curtis stepped down in 1977, after pioneering the introduction of the first web-offset presses installed outside the United States as well as increasing the Nation’s circulation to 165,000 and a readership reputed to touch three million.

Mr. Curtis moved to His Highness the Aga Khan’s Headquarters in Aiglemont, France, where he oversaw the Ismaili Imamat’s rapidly expanding non-denominational health and educational activities throughout South Asia and East Africa, until his retirement in 1994.

Michael Howard Curtis, who was born in Cambridge in 1920, died from cancer in 2004 at the age 84.

The following is an excerpt from a piece written by Mr. Michael Curtis for the Daily Nation’s special souvenir published on the occasion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s wedding in 1969 to Princess Salimah.

“I was Serving No Ordinary Man”

BY MICHAEL CURTIS (1920 – 2004)

It was 12 years ago in Dar-es-Salaam in October 1957. Prince Karim, His Highness the Aga Khan, was to be installed as successor to his grandfather in the first of a series of elaborate ceremonies to be held that year throughout Africa and Asia.

As personal aide to His Highness, I had gone ahead as part of an advance party and was greeted by the local leaders who told me that a serious problem had arisen. The only other such ceremony in living memory had taken place 72 years before in Bombay, when Aga Khan III had succeeded to the Imamate.

Not surprisingly, there was some doubt about the form the service would take and it seemed that an acute difference of opinion had arisen as to which verses of the Koran should be included. There was clearly nothing to be done but to await a ruling from the Aga Khan himself.

It was an unforgettable scene and took place in one of the state rooms of Government House where the Aga Khan was guest of the Colonial Governor at that time, the late Lord Twining. The Ismaili leaders were seated, as is their custom, cross-legged in a semi-circle around their young Imam and the two factions elaborated their different points of view.

To a non-Muslim the arguments were difficult to follow, but it was clear to me that a strong difference of opinion existed and that the Aga Khan would be called upon to resolve a ticklish point of theological doctrine.

This was the first occasion on which he had been called to exercise the responsibilities bequeathed to him by his grandfather. Still an undergraduate at Harvard, he looked very young, a trifle pale and tense as he listened to the rival claimants. There was a pause as they finished. Then the Aga Khan asked a question which obviously puzzled his followers. “Who,” he asked, “will recite the verses you wish me to decide upon?”

A chorus of voices assured him that a young man from Zanzibar had been procured for the recitation and that his fame as a psalmodist of the Koran was acclaimed far and wide.

“If that is so,” said His Highness, “let this young man suggest those verses in which his ability is most outstanding and thereafter I shall decide which particular chapters and verses will be selected.”

It was a solution that delighted everyone. The opposing factions accepted it gladly, for neither had lost face. The choirboy for certain would sing as he had never sung before — which in truth he did the following afternoon. It was a decision which reflected the instinctive simplicity of true wisdom and first revealed to me that I was serving no ordinary man.

I have related this tale before, and if I repeat it today it is because I know of no other anecdote which more aptly illustrates his wisdom and judgement.

Date posted: February 15, 2016.


Profile of Mr. Michael Curtis compiled from Wikipedia, The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. Please click on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Curtis_(journalist), and the references cited in the article.

In London Conference, His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Ismaili Imam, Calls for ‘Islands of Stability’ in War-Torn Syria

In remarks made at an International Conference under the theme “Supporting Syria and the Region Conference”, in London, England, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, today called for the establishment of ‘islands of stability’ in war-ravaged Syria that could provide areas of relative safety in the midst of conflict. The conference, co-hosted by Germany, Kuwait, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United Nations. was attended by representatives from sixty countries, including 30 world leaders.

“The situation in Syria is a close to hell as we are likely to find on this earth,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Referring to the Geneva meeting between the Syrian Government and the opposition parties that had broken down just a day earlier, he said the talks were “undermined by the continuous lack of sufficient humanitarian access, and by a sudden increase of aerial bombings and military activities within Syria”. He urged the warring sides to “get back to the table, not to secure more gains on the battlefields”.

Aga Khan 2016 Support Syria Conference London

Deploring the devastation in war-ravaged Syria, Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, called for the establishment of “islands of stability” to provide areas of relative safety in the midst of conflict. The 49th Shia Ismaili Imam, pledged $200 million towards achieving peace, stability, and reconstruction in the country.

The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, said that “if ever there was a moment to take a new approach to the humanitarian crisis in Syria surely it is now,” mentioning the huge number of Syrians who “fear they have no alternative than to put their lives in the hands of evil-people smugglers in search of a future”.

The following are the transcript and video of the remarks made by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference.


Co-hosts of the Conference on Supporting Syria and the Region,


Ladies and gentlemen,

I thank the co-hosts for organising this much-needed initiative to deepen the understanding of, and garner international support for the peoples of Syria, Alongside all those present here today, I am deeply distressed over the indiscriminate and widespread devastation of life and property, including that of irreplaceable cultural assets which are the manifestation of Syria’s stunningly rich pluralistic history.

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which is the Ismaili Imamat’s global agency for supporting development, is fully engaged with the peace process under UN leadership, and is firmly committed to helping build a Syria that continues to respect pluralism, remains secular, and embarks on a political process led by Syrians.

AKDN’s development and humanitarian work in Syria began many years before the war. In the present situation, we have committed resources and efforts to ensure that Internally Displaced People receive humanitarian assistance, and are supported to sustain their livelihoods. We are taking two approaches:

First, we are supporting local community leaders, teachers, doctors, engineers and others to foster stability, protecting their families and their communities. We are thus building and strengthening civil society to take as much responsibility as possible for their own future.

Second, we are investing in communities, by supporting agriculture, income generation, early childhood education, schools, and hospitals. We also provide vocational training to create skills. Our goal is to sustain hope.

We aim to meet the urgent needs of the present, but where also possible to protect and strengthen the foundations for the future. We seek to create “islands of stability”, where there is public consensus, in the face of war. It is my conviction that “islands of stability” can be replicated wherever security permits. Investing in them will help prevent displacement of people and anchor communities that would otherwise flee as refugees.

Since the onset of conflict in 2011, AKDN has dedicated $50 million towards these endeavours in Syria and is now committing to increasing this investment to $200 million over the next four years. Our efforts will expand to wider areas of the country. Our goal is peace, stability, and reconstruction.

Thank you.


Date posted: February 4, 2016.