VISIT SIMERG’S NEW EXCITING BLOG “ALL THINGS LISBOA”
Date posted: May 8, 2018.
VISIT SIMERG’S NEW EXCITING BLOG “ALL THINGS LISBOA”
Date posted: May 8, 2018.
BY ABDULMALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher/Editor Simerg, Barakah and Simergphotos, .com)
Note: This post will be updated at regular intervals as more information become available.
Flights to Lisbon are becoming harder to find on specific travelling dates in early July, and hotels are now quickly filling up as Jamati members respond to the official LIF (Ismaili Leaders International Forum) announcement made on Navroz, March 21, 2018 that, with Mawlana Hazar Imam’s approval, the Jamats around the world would be welcome to join the Diamond Jubilee Darbar in Lisbon. Some weeks earlier, Nazim Ahmed, the AKDN representative to Portugal and one of the 5 senior officials of the Imamat to Portugal, made a statement to Portugal’s Ministry of External Affairs that the celebrations in Lisbon would be the highest point of the celebrations of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee. This set off a flood inquiries about what form the celebration would take, and many even started preparing for the trip then.
We want to tell you not to despair about flight and hotel bookings yet, but urge you NOT TO DELAY despite the fact that registration details for the Portugal Darbar have not yet been announced on the official Ismaili community website. The Ismaili, however, has launched a special website that presently informs the Jamat about events that are planned in Lisbon. There are seats available on some of Air Canada’s return flights from Toronto; and TAP, the Portuguese airline flies directly from Boston. Please get in touch with your airlines or travel agents, many of whom are offering complete packages from various cities around North America. Of course if you are in Europe, distances are shorter and many residing there may drive or take the train, as alternatives to flying!
My recent searches at some of the hotel booking sites that I have provided below — and that I have used many times — show that there are rooms available in Lisbon’s downtown at varying prices — from as low as CAD $55.00 per night to a high of CAD $1700.00 per night.
(Note: There may be visa requirements to travel to Portugal from your country, so you have to resolve that before making any kind of booking).
From the Jamat’s perspective, while the Darbar would undoubtedly be the high point of the visit, we want to say that there are plenty of interesting activities such as the Diamond Jubilee Festival that will be staged in Lisbon during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s presence in Lisbon. The official community website, the Ismaili, mentions that the Festival will include concerts featuring world-renowned performers; an international Jamati Talent Showcase; an Art Gallery; a Film Festival; and a general Imamat Day celebration. Also, a carry forward from the Golden Jubilee is the Rays of Light exhibition depicting Mawlana Hazar Imam’s commitment to improve the human condition during his 60 years of Imamat. A Mela (get together space) for friends and family to meet, relax, and share experiences will be the central hub of the Diamond Jubilee Celebration.
The Portuguese Jamat, as we learn, are very excited about welcoming the world wide Jamat for the “high point of the Diamond Jubilee celebration.”
Over the weekend of March 24-25, 2018, I attended in Toronto the Canadian Jubilee arts festival and was impressed with stage performances and visual art exhibits. Now, that talent will converge in Lisbon from Ismaili Jamats who held local and national Jubilee events in their respective countries.
Lisbon hosts the third high profile Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre to be built after the London and Burnaby Ismaili Centres. So visiting the Festival and seeing the Ismaili Centre during Hazar Imam’s presence, meeting thousands at the Festival grounds, enjoying Portuguese delicacies at the site and Lisbon restaurants, visiting historic sites in and around Lisbon as well as shopping are some of the wonderful memories that you will take back with you, Darbar aside.
Moreover, the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat is being established in Lisbon, and we would all be very excited to visit its location in the heart of Lisbon.
The city of Lisbon itself is enchanting and has a lot to offer. Not far from Lisbon, approximately 300 kms away, is Portugal’s Algarve, one of the most spectacular coastlines in the world. Spain’s Cordoba is 500 kms from Lisbon. Then, from there it is another 2 hours to the architectural wonder of Alhambra, in Granada.
Lisbon has been at the centre of my heart for almost 56 years and it all started with Eusébio (1942-2014), the football player, who was essentially “kidnapped” from Mozambique by the great Portuguese team of the time, Benfica. Soon after joining Benfica he led the team to a 5-3 win over Real Madrid in the finals of the European Cup (now known as the UEFA Champions Cup) on May 2, 1962 in Amsterdam. As an 8 year old, I stayed awake to listen to the live commentary in Lourenço Marques (LM) at my friend Aziz Noorali’s place at the other end of the apartment complex where we stayed. “Golo de Benfica” – yes that was when I first fell in love with Lisboa! Eusébio broke the 3-3 tie, scoring the last 2 goals that made Benfica victorious, and a side to be reckoned with for the next few years with him as its superstar, like today’s Portuguese Ronaldo who plays for Real Madrid.
A few years later in the 1970’s the small Ismaili Jamat started leaving Mozambique for settlement in Portugal, and my first glimpse of Lisbon was in 1977 when I travelled there from London. The Keshavjee family hosted me, and Lutafbhai spent hours showing me the city, taking me to its most historical and charming sites. His older brother, the late Madatbhai, took me to other points of interest as well as to a coastal restaurant, where I enjoyed the tiger prawns that I had missed in Tanzania and London since leaving Mozambique.
I vividly remember one night during that first trip to Lisbon when more than a dozen family members from the Keshavjee clan took me to a very traditional Portuguese restaurant where I experienced a wide variety of local delicacies. The weight gain from that meal has not been lost to this day! During my subsequent visits, I was welcomed to Lisbon with hugs and kisses, because my parents had served the LM Jamat admirably and with distinction during their 8 year tenure there in the 1950’s! Then, in 2008, I took my daughter with me to Lisbon for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee.
What about today’s Mozambique and Portugal Jamats? I am happy to share a warm invitational letter from Aly Faruque in response to an earlier version of this post published on Barakah. He writes:
“As a Portuguese citizen currently residing in Mozambique, I would like to, in the first instance to welcome you to Portugal. We all look forward to receiving our brothers and sisters, and to experience together this incredible moment of history that our Community is celebrating.
“Your words, comments, and memories deeply touched us [referring to my Barakah post], by your humility and availability to share precious and valuable information. The history and the past that you shared from our Countries bring us nostalgia and willingness to remember even further our great memories from the past, as well as when looking at pictures that connect us back to our roots and traditions. This is indeed very heartwarming.
“But our history and tradition did not stop in the second half of the 20th century. Mozambique currently has a vibrant Ismaili community spread across the country, that includes 7 (and growing) Jamatkhanas, and, Portugal, where our community has prospered, is now the home of many brothers and sisters that are well integrated and without any doubt a part of the socio-economic fabric of the Portuguese society.
“In addition, and although Eusebio is still well respected, we are currently living the most glorious years of our football history. Portugal is the current holder of the European Cup and the best player in the world, perhaps of all times, is named Cristiano Ronaldo and started his career in Sporting Clube of Portugal, probably the best school of football talents in the world.
“As for the city of Lisbon, the highlights you mentioned are brilliant and definitely a must-see during a visit to our beautiful country and city. There are other places, those that are not on the itinerary of tour guides, and that could be a more genuine view of the Lisbon vibrant hospitality. Some of these places would be the Mercado de Campo de Ourique, where you can have a gourmet experience in an informal environment, the LX Factory, where you can visit some of the trendiest restaurants in Lisbon, and the Bairro Alto, Principe Real, Chiado and Cais do Sodre neighborhoods, suitable for both day and night experience.
“We look forward to receiving you all.”
Aly would like readers to note that his views about sightseeing and places to visit in Lisbon are personal. Readers who want more information about the city, from his perspective, may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today the city’s (and the country’s) institutions have recognized Hazar Imam’s contribution and have bestowed him with honours. The Ismaili Imamat and the Portugese government signed a historical agreement to establish the Seat of the Ismaili Imamat in Portugal. Long before that, Lisbon already had established the third high profile Ismaili Centre in the world.
There are plenty of things to do in and around Lisbon, and I would suggest that anyone travelling to the city experience its history and architecture by taking day tours or simply jumping on Tram 28 to see the best of Lisbon! Hop on and off buses are available! Aly Faruque has also provided unique insights in his letter, above.
Amin Jiná has sent me a link to the exclusive ground transportation that he offers through http://www.amiroad.pt. I normally don’t endorse services that I have not utilized myself but I would be inclined to use his services due to the extremely positive reviews and high ratings he has received at https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g189158-d7134166-Reviews-Amiroad_Luxury_Transports-Lisbon_Lisbon_District_Central_Portugal.html.
Lisbon’s subway system is great (see map, below). With regard to accommodations do not necessarily look for one closest to the Ismaili Centre. There are lovely hotels and charming Airbnb rooms and apartments available in centre city and other historical areas of the city such as Alfama. Taking a cab to the Ismaili Centre or the site of the Darbar from downtown Lisbon (or Baixa) will not take you more than 20 minutes! So be an intrepid traveller – not a boring one! Kids love excitement, remember that, if you are travelling with children and youth. And of course staying in the more traditional and popular areas of the city will allow you to walk to nearby restaurants for great coffees and pastries, and make sightseeing and shopping exciting as well as easier.
I have made bookings over the past several years through all the websites listed below, with a very high level (95%) of satisfaction. Where a hotel has not met the expected star level or service as indicated at the site where the reservation was made, their customer service representatives have been extremely considerate in fixing the problem or applying credits for subsequent stays. I have also stayed at many Airbnb accommodations over the past 2 years that have been positively reviewed and I don’t have anything to complain about. With the oncoming rush many new properties will be listed that do not yet carry reviews. If they look good in photos and the person you communicate with is responsive, go for it. Here are the sites I have made bookings through. Note that many properties offer cancellations!
Tip: Use filters (eg. price range, dates of stay, star rating, location from city centre or major attractions etc.) to narrow down search
Note: This is an updated version of a piece that was first published at http://www.barakah.com. Both the pieces now contain almost identical information.
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Please visit our sister website www,barakah.com, which is dedicated to His Highness the Aga Khan for his Diamond Jubilee. Also join/like Barakah at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and follow us at http://twitter.com/simerg.
PAGE LAST UPDATED: December 20, 08:25 AM EST (in Karachi +10h, December 20, 06:25 PM).
The purpose of this post is to provide external links to media coverage of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and its commercial capital. We we will make every effort to ensure that we skip on links that contain repetitive information – often the same news agency report is shared by different media.
COVERAGE OF AGA KHAN’S VISIT TO NORTHERN PAKISTAN: Pertinent external site links for Prince Karim Aga Khan’s visit from December 7–14, 2017 to Islamabad, Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in the northern areas of Pakistan are available at The Aga Khan in Pakistan: (1) A thorough and comprehensive coverage of his Diamond Jubilee visit to Northern Pakistan, Dec. 7-14, 2017
Videos: Conclusion of His Highness the Aga Khan’s Momentous Visit
Date posted: December 14, 2017
Last updated: December 20, 2017, 08:25 AM EST
We welcome your feedback. Please click Leave a comment
Latest updates were applied at 00:47 AM on Thursday, December 14, 2017.
The purpose of this post is to provide external links to media coverage of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Pakistan. This post will specifically cover his visit to Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan in the northern areas of Pakistan. We we will make every effort to ensure that we skip on links that contain repetitive information – often the same news agency report is shared by different media.
NOTE TO OUR READERS: All material related to his Karachi visit will now be covered in a new post dedicated to Karachi. The link will be available shortly.
Newspaper reports suggest the following darbar attendances in Gilgit-Baltistan: 150,000 in Yasin (Ghizr District) and 100,000 in Aliabad (Hunza District). Also, original estimates for Chitral, 2 locations — Booni and Garam Chashma – were 140,000.
(a) Media Coverage
NOTE: All material related to his Karachi visit will be covered in a new post dedicated to Karachi!
(a) Media Coverage
(a) Media Coverage
(b) Daily Motion Video: Welcome message to the Aga Khan from Shia Community
(a) AKDN Initiative
(b) First page coverage (Urdu newspaper)
(c) Photos with Governor Mir Ghazanfar Ali Khan
(d) Gilgit arrival, a Gbee News Twitter video (must watch, photos with children)
(e) Media Coverage
(f) Hunza preparations ahead of visit
(a) Booni Darbar video
(b) Helicopter departure video (from town of Chitral to Booni)
(c). Booni pre-darbar photos
(d) Flight Delay in Islamabad: “The C130 aircraft in which he was supposed to fly could not takeoff from Islamabad in time. The AKF Helicopter Wing however took over and proved its worth by promptly dashing over to Islamabad in marginal weather and ferried the Imam and his entourage to grace Chitral and allay the anxiety of tens of thousands of the waiting faithful at Garam Chashma and Booni. Due to the four hour delay in scheduled departure from Islamabad and extended ceremonies at both the Deedar Gahs, the Imam decided to stay overnight in Chitral” — Excerpt from ChitralNews.com
(e) Media Coverage
(a) Chitral preparations ahead of Darbar
(b) Comment on the volunteers
“Volunteers from the community have been working day and night for weeks on, to clean the area and upgrade roads and prepare two grand ‘deedar gahs’ (congregation areas) at Booni and Garam chashma, which will hold thousands of disciples of the Imam of the Ismailia community. Ismailis from all over Chitral with their women folk and children have converged on Booni and Garam Chashma the two venues where the Ag Khan would address his followers. The scathing cold has not deterred the faithful to brave the weather and catch a glimpse of their Imam.” — Excerpt from Chitralnews.com
(c) Media Coverage
(d) Social Media Tweet by Marvi Mennon
Marvi Memon, aged 45, is a Pakistani politician who serves as the Minister of State/Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Programme. She has been a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan since 2013 as a member of Pakistan Muslim League.
(e) Video (Urdu news on Aga Khan arrival in Pakistan + meeting government leaders)
(e) Expressions (Song honouring Mawlana Hazar Imam)
(a) Conventional or Social Media Coverage
Date posted: December 9, 2017.
Last updated: December 13, 2017, 11:42 PM EST.
A young boy from Chitral presented a bouquet of flowers to Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan on December 7, 2017. What then followed is a brief conversation the boy will remember all his life.
Date posted: December 9, 2017.
It was here, well over a century ago, in 1899, that a young 22-year-old Imam Sultan Mahomed Shah, His Highness the Aga Khan III, came by yacht from Zanzibar, the first Ismaili Imam ever to set foot on East African soil, in the then German East Africa….READ MORE
Date posted: August 19, 2017.
“This old town was restored and improved by the Aga Khan Foundation to provide clean drinking water, sewage system, and electricity with buried wires to all homes, in exchange for maintaining the exterior of the houses to the same look and feel as in the olden times. That way, the old town is preserved” — READ MORE
Date posted: February 13, 2017.
Links to Silk Road Series:
With 2017 getting very close, a year in which Canada will be celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1 and His Highness the Aga Khan will be completing his Diamond Jubilee or 60 years as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims on July 11, we felt we should leave 2016 with a Pictorial Summary for the articles that appeared at Simergphotos during the year. We hope the 33 Photos we have chosen will inspire our readers to delve a little bit more deeply into the detailed pieces.
Date posted: December 28, 2016.
Kindly share http://www.Simerg.com with your friends, family members, relatives and all your other contacts around the world via email, the social media and by word of mouth! Thank you – ed.
By Abdulmalik Merchant
(editor/publisher Simerg, Simerphotos, and Barakah)
SIMERGPHOTOS commenced the year with the publication of rare photographs that had never been released or seen before! The late Papa Jaan’s treasure trove of photographs of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s historic first visit to Hunza, was brought to our attention by Montreal’s Muslim Harji, and with the family’s support we published more photos that Papa Jaan (Abdul M. Ismaily, 1926-1981) took during Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to Pakistan and Uganda as well as Prince Sadruddin’s Visit to East Africa. Sultan Jessa, who worked at the Daily Nation, then shared with us a set of his colleague Azhar Chaudry’s photos of the Aga Khan’s Visits to East Africa!
Muslim Harji’s name is on the lips of all our readers! He has never failed to take stunning photographs during his countless trips around the world, and his Central Asian photo essay series from 2015 overflowed into 2016 with Tajikistan’s Stunning Landscapes. Harji later would overwhelm our readers with Photographs about Sacred Spaces and, with the year about to end, he brilliantly captured Montreal’s Celebration of the 80th Birthday of Mawlana Hazar Imam. With regard to the birthday celebration we showed Mawlana Hazar Imam Being Gifted with a Unique Piece of Art Created by Ismaili Artist Gulgee.
Even as he approached — and now has completed — his 80th birthday (December 13), a record for any Imam in Ismaili history, Mawlana Hazar Imam tirelessly visited many parts of the world. We have photos of his Parliament Hill Visit in Ottawa by Jean-Marc Carisse , the visit to Portugal Where He Introduced Officials of the Imamat and His visit to Egypt for a Business for Africa Forum. He also attended and awarded prizes in the UAE to The 2016 Winners of Aga Khan Award for Architecture. We decided to relive a Ten minute 2015 PBS episode about His Highness the Aga Khan and we know that many readers visited PBS.
We received a few pleasant surprises along the way with Juby Sprake of Vancouver offering three very sweet photos of Hazar Imam’s 1966 visit to the Nairobi Aga Khan Primary School. Linda Baxter, a niece of the late Mr. Frank Pattrick, who worked for the Daily Nation, kindly sent Letters and Photographs of His Highness the Aga Khan from her family collection.
Nurin Merchant had visited Yellowstone, the world’s very first national park, some 5 years ago with her dad (author of this post) and decided to do a photo summary about Her One-of-a-Kind Experience in Yellowstone. Her grandparents came up with Photos of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Alykhan’s visit to Mozambique where they had both served during the 1950’s.
Family members sent us inspiring stories about their children. Readers were charmed with Renaye Tejani of Mumbai Spreading Joy Through Baking. The Maherali family in Atlanta had taken their two sons to Dubai for the Ismaili Jubilee games where Riyaan Maherali met a basketball player who touched his heart. Not to be overlooked was the story about the Welcome Celebration of the Jubilee Games Lantern at the Children’s Soccer Camp in Burnaby.
Members of the Ismaili community are active everywhere in supporting initiatives for a better world, and we were immensely proud to record the inspiring work of Ismaili Educators helping with Marginalized Children in Nairobi. We also showcased thousands of Canadians participating in the Annual World Partnership Walk in Vancouver.
Ali Karim, like Muslim Harji, is an intrepid traveller and he undertook a momentous journey with his wife Dilshad to China and Northern Pakistan along the old Silk Road. His travelogue began in Shanghai, and he then proceeded to Urumqi, Turpan and Kashgar before he finally reached his last stop in China in Tashkurgan where he met an Ismaili family. His remarkable account with stunning photographs of Ismailis in Northern Hunza is a must read for everyone who hasn’t yet read the post! We have one final Hunza episode from Karim coming up within the next fortnight.
Mawlana Hazar Imam mentioned in his remarks during the celebration of his 80th birthday, that he feels he is half his age! Therefore, we look forward to celebrating his Diamond Jubilee in 2017, with a prayer and a hope that he will remain in good health, and that all communities around the world will continue to benefit from his wisdom and his selfless work that has had such a major impact on marginalized communities around the world, especially in Asia and Africa. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s support of major development projects through his network, including Ismaili institutions and the Aga Khan Development Network, has always been underpinned by the Qur’anic ethic and principle that everyone is “born out of a single soul.”
We wish all our readers around the world a New Year filled with good health, peace, happiness and success in all their endeavours, and particularly pray for a peaceful world!
Date posted: December 26, 2016.
The video of the birthday celebration for Mawlana Hazar Imam held in Aiglemont, France, on Friday December 16, 2016 can be watched at http://www.theismaili.org.
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