Paris: The United Nations' cultural agency, the UAE and Iraq have signed an agreement to finance the reconstruction of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last year by the Daesh group.
Unesco announced Monday that the UAE will provide $50.4 million (Dh185 million) to finance the project, focusing on the restoration of the Al Nouri Mosque, built in the 12th century and once famous for its leaning minaret.
During the ceremony at Baghdad's National Museum, UAE Culture Minister Noura Al Kaabi said her country would put forward $50.4 million (41.2 million euros) for the task.
"The five-year project is not just about rebuilding the mosque, the minaret and the infrastructure, but also about giving hope to young Iraqis," she said.
"The millenia-old civilisation must be preserved."
The deal was signed by Kaabi and her Iraqi counterpart, Faryad Rawanduzi, in the presence of Unesco's Iraq representative Louise Haxthausen.
"This is an ambitious, highly symbolic project for the resurrection of Mosul and Iraq," said Haxthausen.
"The work has already begun, the site is now protected we must first clear the site, remove the rubble [and] document, before we can begin reconstructing the mosque and its minaret."
The famed 12th century mosque and its leaning minaret - dubbed "the hunchback", or Al Habda, by locals - was destroyed in June 2017
Unesco Director-General Audrey Azoulay said "this is a historic partnership, the largest and unprecedented cooperation to rebuild cultural heritage in Iraq ever."
Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi declared an Islamic caliphate from the Al Nouri mosque in the summer of 2014. The extremists blew it up in June 2017 as Iraqi forces closed in.