For Mother’s Day – and the rest of the week – don’t miss a very unique and unexpected “Mummy Hug” at Prince Hussain Aga Khan’s Living Sea Exhibition in Calgary


At Calgary’s Ismaili Headquarters Jamatkhana this morning, May 14th, 2023, attending members gathered in the social hall after prayers to celebrate a birthday with a cake. Spread across the “chai” and “mandazi” table were beautiful fresh rose stems. All mothers received a rose each, followed by inspiring prayers as well as tributes to mothers around the world from the Mukhi and Kamadiasahebs (leaders of the congregation.) It was absolutely refreshing to see beautiful smiles on the faces of all the mothers of all ages that early in the morning. But it was MOTHER’S DAY!

Sea Lions, Hussain Aga Khan
Sea Lions by Prince Hussain Aga Khan at The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty exhibition, Calgary, May 11-21, 2023. Photograph: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

Hours earlier, before leaving home, I had sent individual Mother’s Day wishes to special friends I have known for many years. In response, one of them sweetly replied with fond prayers for my health and added the 4 letters HUGS!

At this, my thought immediately turned to a photograph taken by Prince Hussain Aga Khan in August 2018 in La Paz, Mexico. A small print as well as a much larger print of the photo appears at his Living Sea exhibition in Calgary that opened to large crowds on Thursday, May 11 — the stunning photographic exhibition continues at Glenbow at the Edison until May 21, and the entrance is free. The photograph is entitled “Moving Mummy Hug” and it is of a sea lion swimming with its baby, hugging it momentarily. The absolutely amazing photograph has touched the hearts of everyone who has seen it and one visitor said to me in a short interview for my first day’s report: “Prince Hussain captures moments with these animals that shows that they have this almost human characteristic — this love, this energy that really helps people relate to them and really feel for them…. He almost photographs them as if they are members of his own family…. It’s really a neat feeling that you have when you look at these, and I think of my own children and I think of these animals with their own calves, and its just unbelievable.”

Moving Mummy Hug by Hussain Aga Khan.
“Moving Mummy Hug,” captured by Prince Hussain Aga Khan in La Paz, Mexico, August 2018. Exhibited at The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty, Calgary, May 11-21, 2023. Exhibit photograph: Malik Merchant/Simerg.

So, I say to everyone visiting today and for the remainder of the duration of the exhibition, view this photograph and others from close, from a distance and from different angles. Prince Hussain notes in the photograph’s caption, “There were about 8 sea lions in that location, all moving at different speeds and in different directions. But this duo seemed organized and even purposeful. The hug lasted seconds or less. It was completely unexpected.”

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers around the world and to all specials friends who are mothers!

Date posted: May 14, 2023.


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Calgarians and Albertans: Experience the Majestic Oceans and its Sea Animals at Glenbow at the Edison – Free Visit from May 11-21, 2023


Albertans can count themselves lucky for being blessed with incredible nature and the scenic beauty of the Rocky Mountains. For example, the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper is one of the most spectacular drives in the world. Along the entire route, there are mountains, canyons, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forests and hiking trails and wildlife. The natural spaces in the province are utilized by its residents as well as visitors from around the world throughout the year. During the past 4 months, I was amazed to meet visitors from as far as Australia, New Zealand, Spain, the UK, Lebanon, Peru, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands and Brazil, among many other countries, enjoying our winter activities.

A stingray. Photograph: Hussain Aga Khan/Focused on Nature, Living Sea Exhibition, Glenbow Museum Calgary
A stingray. Photograph: Hussain Aga Khan/Focused on Nature.

As lovers of nature, and to experience nature of a different kind, Albertans travel to the oceans to swim and snorkel in warm waters as well as for relaxation. The oceans are filled with over one million species of living creatures — from the tiniest Zooplankton, to the nudibranch to the blue-ringed octopus, to the dolphin, to the shark and the whale. But how many of us, while playing and enjoying the ocean, will dive into its depths to experience the marvels of the underwater world?

Well, we have a wonderful opportunity here in Calgary as the Glenbow presents a captivating exhibition of sea animal photographs captured by Prince Hussain Aga Khan, whose love for wildlife began when he was only 5 years old. This early childhood interest has grown into a passion for diving into the oceans and mingling with sea creatures of all kinds. Over the last decade he has taken thousands of pictures and a selection of his photographs have been published in books such as Diving Into Wildlife and the most recent one The Living Sea which is also the theme of the Glenbow exhibition. Hussain’s photographs have also appeared on National Geographic blogs.

Aside from taking photographs, Prince Hussain has become an activist on the protection and preservation of ecosystems in oceans and seas. Through his organization Focused on Nature (FON), the Prince shares his passion and personal mission of conservation and the urgent need for more research and actionable initiatives on global issues negatively impacting the environment.

Glenbow’s exhibition from May 11-21, 2023, will feature a collection of his stunning photographs in large scale format. The exhibition is free and an opportunity that none of us should miss. It will be inspirational for everyone, and perhaps a turning point in many peoples lives when they see how the ocean is in danger of losing many of its species. It might even spur the youth to consider careers in oceanography. In any case, children as well as adults will be awed by Prince Hussain’s stunning underwater photographs.

Once again, this incredibly curated exhibition, The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty, is being held at the Glenbow at the Edison from May 11-21, 2023. It is FREE to attend. Please click Glenbow: The Living Sea to register.

Date posted: May 5, 2023.



From a young age, Prince Hussain Aga Khan developed a keen interest in conservation, tropical fish, reptiles and amphibians – and began scuba diving at 14. He started travelling to the tropics frequently after high school and began taking photographs of fauna and flora on a trip to the Brazilian Amazon in 1996.

Multiple photographic expeditions, often organized jointly with scientists or professional photographers, have led him to constitute extraordinary archives, covering various geographic areas and types of habitats. He has also captured many marine and terrestrial species.

His international exhibitions aim to inspire admiration for wildlife and the desire to protect it. Collections of Prince Hussain’s photographs have also been published in four books: Animal Voyage (2004), Diving into Wildlife (2015), Fragile Beauty (2022) and The Living Sea (2022). Proceeds from the sale of his books are donated, via Focused on Nature, to shark, cetacean or sea turtle conservation.


Photographs: Thousands Enjoy Stampede and Eid al-Adha Breakfast Event Organized by Calgary’s Ismaili Muslims

Malik Merchant attends and takes photographs of a special Ismaili breakfast event held on Saturday, July 8, 2022 at Calgary’s Headquarters Jamatkhana. The event shone even more as temperatures reached a high of 27° C (81° F) under sunny blue skies. With spirits running high with the celebration of Eid al-Adha on the same day, the crowd returned home feeling delighted and happy. Click HERE or on the photo below to read the post.

Please click on photo for full story.

Date posted: July 9, 2022.


Beautiful Scenes from Calgary: The Top Canadian City to Live In, According to New World Rankings

Malik Merchant has lived in more than 12 cities around the world. When he was suddenly offered an opportunity to relocate to Calgary he did not hesitate. His motto: Seek to be forward looking and be courageous and hopeful. Armed with a camera, just as he did in Toronto and Ottawa, Malik is pleased to share some of his beautiful moments in Calgary, a city that has recently been named as the third best city in the world to live in. Please click CALGARY or on the photo below.

Scenes from Calgary, Malik Merchant, simerg
Downtown Calgary. Please click on photo for complete story.

Date posted: June 26, 2022.