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UAE reiterates support in restoring Iraqi heritage monuments

Committee for the Reconstruction and Restoration of Al Nuri Mosque holds first meeting

Abu Dhabi: The Joint Steering Committee for the Reconstruction and Restoration of Al Nuri mosque and Al Hadba’ minaret in Mosul, Iraq, held its first meeting in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

In her opening address, Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, reiterated the UAE’s support for Iraq in its efforts to maintain security and stability and build effective state institutions capable of realising peace, progress and chart a flourishing future for the generations to come.

Al Kaabi urged committee members to work as one, team motivated by one spirit, to deliver the $50.4-million (Dh185 million) landmark project, which is expected to build a harmonised, integrated community.

Al Kaabi said: “The restoration and reconstruction Al Nuri Mosque and the Al Hadba’ Minaret in Mosul came while the UAE is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of founding gather, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. This project reflects Shaikh Zayed’s legacy and his unflinching commitment in supporting Arab brothers and contributing positively to the prosperity of their countries. The project sets a model for highlighting the UAE’s role as a champion for safeguarding world heritage and conserving its cultural resources in war zones by adopting sustainable initiatives that guarantee the rights of generations to archaeological and cultural sites.”

The original Al Hadba’ was a famous leaning 45-metre minaret, built more than 840 years ago.

“The landmark restoration project sends a message of hope and optimism to Iraq’s younger generations as active enablers and contributors to the reconstruction process. It will generate 1,000 jobs and training opportunities over the five years and once completed, stimulate cultural tourism and development in Mosul. Finally, it will contribute to building a viable, prosperous city where values of tolerance, reconciliation and openness will prevail. The city will restore itself as centre for science and culture.”

In a statement to the news agency WAM, Al Kaabi said the UAE is committed to supporting such projects for restoring historic and cultural landmarks, especially those destroyed by terrorist organisations like Daesh.

“The first steps of reconstruction should focus on the restoration of Mosul’s heritage sites, reviving its cultural life and its educational institutions,” she said.

She added that the five-year cultural project will be undertaken by experts from the UAE and Unesco.

Restoring history

At her recent participation in Unesco’s first international meeting on the ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ initiative in Paris, Al Kaabi highlighted the importance of focusing strategic partners’ efforts on humanitarian aspects in Mosul, to ensure cultural and educational sustainable development.

The meeting discussed means of engaging the local community and youth in the reconstruction process and the return of internally displaced persons.

The committee agreed on a time schedule for the project, to be completed by 2023. They also agreed to hold regular meetings every six months to review its progress.

The committee includes representatives of the UAE, Iraqi, Unesco, the Iraqi Sunni Endowment, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, EU, and the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) Regional Office in Sharjah.

In April 2018, the UAE and Iraq signed an MoU on cultural cooperation and announced the Mosul project, which will also include a new memorial site with community and educational spaces for the public.

The UAE also signed an agreement with Unesco to fund and support the two monuments’ reconstruction and build the necessary infrastructure, and rebuild the historical gardens.

The first year will focus on documenting and clearing the site, and on drawing up plans for its reconstruction. The following four years will focus on the restoration and historically faithful reconstruction of the leaning minaret, Al Nouri mosque and adjacent buildings.

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