Prince Karim opens ME’s first Ismaili Centre

DUBAI — Middle East’s first Ismaili Centre was inaugurated yesterday in the emirate, five years after its foundation stone was laid. The centre would serve as the focal community centre for nearly 8,000 Ismaili Muslims living in the UAE.

By A Staff Reporter

Published: Thu 27 Mar 2008, 11:31 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:49 PM

Opening the centre in Oud Metha, in the presence of Ismaili Muslims from the UAE and other countries, spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan called the new centre a place for “peaceful contemplation.”

Shaikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Emirates Airline and President of Dubai Civil Aviation, were also present.

The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) has developed a 3,000-square-metre park, as a gift from Aga Khan to Dubai, which was also opened yesterday.

The Aga Khan said, “We gather today at a special time and at a special place. We welcome our new Ismaili Centre in a setting which has itself become a great centre - a hub of cosmopolitan activity, a truly global crossroads. We hear a great deal these days about convergence and connectivity. In my judgement, Dubai is a place where those words truly come to life. Dubai has become the very embodiment of a global village, placing itself in the forefront of an enormous surge towards global convergence.”

He added that this was not a place to hide from the world, “but rather a place which inspires us to engage our worldly work as a direct extension of our faith,” the Aga Khan told a big gathering at the opening of the Ismaili Centre in Dubai.

The land for the centre gifted by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to the Aga Khan in 1982, on the occasion of the silver jubilee of the latter’s accession to the leadership of the Ismaili community.

The centre, built on 13,000 square metres, is equipped with two huge prayer halls that can accommodate 1,800 people and an Early Learning Centre for young children. It is the fourth such centre in the world, the other three being in London, Vancouver and Lisbon.

“Shaikh Mohammad has provided a powerful example pf how ethics of our Islamic faith can be taken into the world, through his affirmation of a pillar of Islamic values, the spirit of generosity to others,” said Aga Khan.

While echoing Shaikh Mohammad’s words, he described the Middle East as a “tough neighbourhood” and a “region of powerful potential and promise.”

He also termed this as a new beginning because it coincided with his 50th year as the Imam of Shia Ismaili Muslims.

Diplomats and representatives from several countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and India were present at the event.

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