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Ismailis celebrate Islamic culture

Ismaili centres in Dubai and Toronto share mission to spread awareness of Islamic culture

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
Left to right: Arif Lalani, Amiruddin Thanawala and Jaime Leitao, Ambassador of Portugal to the UAE, tour the exhibition on winning projects of the Aga Khan Award.
Gulf News

Dubai: Canada and the UAEm enjoying a sense of kindred spirit thanks to outreach efforts by Ismaili centres in both countries to raise awareness about the compassionate culture of Islam, said leaders of the Ismaili community in Dubai.

Amiruddin Thanawala, president of the Ismaili community in Dubai, said he was encouraged by the opening of the first museum in North America in Toronto to showcase Islamic art and culture and said it has the full support of Dubai.

He was speaking at a suhour at the Ismaili Centre Dubai on Tuesday, held in partnership with the Agha Khan Trust for Culture and the Canadian Embassy.

Last year, in cooperation with Art Dubai and the Canadian Embassy, the Ismaili Centre Dubai hosted the first international preview of museum works now on display at the Aga Khan Museum which opened in Toronto in September 2014, he said.

The museum contains more than 1,000 Islamic artefacts and artworks from the past millennia.

Thanawala told a large gathering that the UAE’s Barjeel Art Foundation is set to exhibit works at the new Toronto Museum, in what he called the first Arab contemporary art exhibition ever to be shown in Canada and North America.

The Ismaili Centre Toronto and the new museum are “helping to increase awareness of Arab culture across North America”, he said, noting Ismailis are thankful to Canada for welcoming refugees who fled Uganda in 1972 to find a safe haven in Canada.

Canadian Ambassador to the UAE Arif Lalani said in an address that Canada’s welcome at the time to Ugandan Ismailis reflected Islamic values of helping people in need.

“If you do the right thing, if you help your fellow man, blessings will come to you,” Lalani said, adding, Canada “has certainly reaped the benefits of those blessings”.

Shiraz Allibhai, Deputy Director, Aga Khan Trust for Culture based in Geneva, said in the evening’s main address that celebrating cultural heritage can help nurture not only tolerance and pluralism but also social and economic development.

The Agha Khan Trust for Culture’s revitalisation of Al Azhar Park in Cairo, for example, from a former landfill has transformed the neighbourhood for the betterment of its citizens and establishments nearby.

The suhour also exhibited winning projects in the most recent cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture organised by the trust.


About Ismaili Centres

The Ismaili Centre Dubai is actively pursuing a mandate to enhance, facilitate and encourage mutual exchanges and understanding. It was recognised by the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patron of the Arts Award in 2010 for its contribution to the development of Dubai’s cultural sector.

Along with other Ismaili Centres located in London, Vancouver, Toronto, Lisbon and Dushanbe, the Ismaili Centre Dubai continues a tradition of hosting programmes that stimulate the intellect, encourage dialogue, and celebrate cultural diversity. Through programmes ranging from lectures, seminars and exhibitions, to cultural and social events, the Centre creates an understanding of the values, ethics, culture and heritage of Ismaili Muslims, and of the work of the Aga Khan Development Network.

SOURCE: Ismaili Centre Dubai