Posted: Fri Apr 24, 2009 4:04 am Post subject: ACTIVITIES AT THE ISMAILI CENTRE DUBAI
Majid Bin Mohammed inaugurates "reminiscing heritage"
Apr 23, 2009 - 04:19 -
WAM Dubai, Apr. 23, 2009 (WAM) -- Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of The Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), last night inaugurated the "reminiscing heritage" photographic exhibition at the Ismaili Centre.
This exclusive four-day photographic exhibition showcases around 61 historic and rare images captured through the lens of Royal Photographer, Noor Ali Rashid taken in the 60s categorised by the themes of people, places and occasions.
Sheikh Majid was very impressed with the collection on display and praised Noor for his efforts and dedication to conscientiously documenting the UAE's culture and progress. "Preservation of the past is critical to the passing of the knowledge of our history, culture and heritage to our future generations. We are pleased to extend our support to Noor Ali Rashid and congratulate the Ismaili Centre for bringing this exhibition to the public," Sheikh Majid said.
He later toured the Ismali Centre and extolled the different facilities and services being offered at the centre such as the early childhood learning centre and associated courtyard of learning overlooking the main courtyard of the centre featuring an intricate geometry of channels carrying water by gravity from the central fountain. He also visited the educational classrooms and seminar halls designed to host different cultural and educational events.
The exhibition is part of a new initiative called the ‘Ismaili Centre Cultural Series’ which represents a spectrum of initiatives to be hosted at the Ismaili Centre, comprising many forms of cultural expressions in visual and performing arts. It aims to promote culture, inspire and celebrate historic identities. Future exhibitions will showcase the work of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Historic Cities Programme, and the Education and Culture Programme. AKTC is one of nine agencies of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
Also commenting on the show, Aziz Merchant, Member for Communications of the Ismaili Centre Management Board said: ‘We are very proud to be associated with The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority and intend to jointly promote the Dubai ethic of providing cultural inspiration and celebrating historic identities to its people”.
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"Stress even acts as a motivating force but beyond a certain point, it stops being helpful and becomes ‘silent killer'," said Dr Firdous Jahan, Consultant Family Physician at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) - a well-known non-profit health care facility in Pakistan.
•Published: 00:00 October 21, 2009
Dubai: Small doses of stress can help an individual perform better, but it causes major health damage after certain limits, said a visiting medical consultant.
"Stress even acts as a motivating force but beyond a certain point, it stops being helpful and becomes ‘silent killer'," said Dr Firdous Jahan, Consultant Family Physician at Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) - a well-known non-profit health care facility in Pakistan.
In her lecture, organised by the AKUH Representative Office as part of its programme ‘Signs, Symptoms and Care' at Ismaili Centre, Dubai, Dr Jahan spoke on stress management and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She defined stress as, "pressure that exceeds one's perceived ability to cope."
She said that one third of mental and physical illnesses are caused by stress, either directly or indirectly. "Too many positive or negative changes occurring in a short span of time can tax an individual's adaptive capacity leading to increased susceptibility to illnesses," she noted.
Symptoms of stress can range from a simple stomach ache to major heart disease, affecting the entire body, rather than just a single part. It also impairs the immune system, leading to greater vulnerability to infections. Individual responses to stress, however, may vary from person to person, depending on environmental, work-related and interpersonal factors, and from life events.
Dr Jahan stressed on the benefits of physical activity which can help release stress. Deep breathing techniques with the imagining of a warm, comfortable, safe and pleasant place, and progressive muscle relaxation are also effective in relaxation.
Meanwhile, Dr Zeba Iftikhar Ali, assistant manager of patient referral at AKUH, Dubai, said the AKUH in Karachi is an integrated, health care delivery component of Aga Khan University.
"It is a philanthropic, non-profit, private teaching institution committed to providing the best possible options for the diagnosis of disease and team management of patient care. Some 73 per cent of patients treated at AKUH come from low to middle-income areas. Those who are unable to pay for treatment receive assistance through subsidies including Patient Welfare Programme.
Ismaili Centre, Dubai joins with Architectural Heritage Society to host lecture series
In November 2004, at the Ninth Award Cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, Mawlana Hazar Imam observed that “in recent years, Islamic architecture seemed to have lost its identity and its inspiration.” He added that this resulted in “cities, villages, and rural areas transformed by the insidious introduction and expansion of inappropriate and irrelevant architecture and planning.”
ATHAR participants pose for a photograph. The 2009 lecture series was held at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai. Photo: Rafiq AllyThe
International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) is an intergovernmental organisation that advocates the conservation of cultural heritage. In its mission statement it describes itself as “the only institution of its kind with a worldwide mandate to promote the conservation of all types of cultural heritage, both movable and immovable.” The Centre focuses on improving the quality of conservation practice, whilst increasing awareness of the importance of preservation of cultural heritage.
Launched in 2004, the Centre’s ATHAR Programme focuses on the management of heritage sites in the Arab region. The annual six-week lecture series brings together experts from all over the Arab world, and draws participants from a range of professions including architecture, engineering, and archaeology.
Dr John Yarwood described the traditional architecture and urbanism of Al-Muharraq, an important historic town in the Bahrain. Photo: Rafiq Ally
The Architecture Heritage Society in the UAE, in conjunction with the Ismaili Centre, Dubai, hosted the ATHAR public lecture series in October and November 2009. Dr Zaki Aslan, Project Manager for ATHAR, described the Ismaili Centre as a fitting and “excellent atmosphere” to have discussions on cultural heritage. Attended by an average of 70 participants per event, the lecture series aimed to promote regional education and professional development opportunities in the conservation of cultural heritage and community development.
Facilitated by internationally acclaimed conservation experts, the lectures provided individuals an opportunity “to learn what is happening at the cutting edge of conservation in other parts of the world, and to consider how this experience might best be applied locally,” according to Peter Jackson, the Chairman of the English-speaking Chapter of The Architectural Heritage Society of UAE. Rashad Bukhash, Chairman of the Architectural Heritage Society for the UAE and Director of the General Projects Department at Dubai Municipality, also noted the role of the lecture series in enhancing “knowledge capacity in the (UAE) with regard to architectural conservation.”
The ATHAR lecture series brought together architects, engineers, archaeologists and other professionals to hear experts from all over the Arab world. Photo: Rafiq AllyA case study showcasing the Aga Khan Trust for Culture’s (AKTC) work in the Darb al-Ahmar district of Cairo was presented in the final lecture, “Reconciling Conservation and Development: The Case of Cairo.” It highlighted some of the strategies employed by the AKTC, which reconcile conservation and development in urban rehabilitation. These include micro-credit and employment generation, institutional strengthening, restoration of monuments, and open space and infrastructure upgrading.
Dubai Culture recognises Ismaili Centre as a patron of the arts
The Ismaili Centre, Dubai. Photo: Gary Otte
The Ismaili Centre, Dubai was recently recognised by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) with the inaugural Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts Award.
The award — whose establishment was announced in March 2009 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai — recognises individuals and organisations that have made a significant contribution towards the development of Dubai’s cultural sector. Over 50 patrons of the arts were honoured this year, and according to Dubai Culture, they have collectively “contributed more than AED 220 million towards the arts sector of Dubai over the past three years.”
Naushad Rashid, President of the Ismaili Council for the UAE, received the award at a ceremony held on 18 March 2010. The presentation was made in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.
Ismaili Council President Naushad Rashid (L) receives the Patrons of the Arts award on behalf of the Ismaili Centre, Dubai from His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai. Photo: Mohammed Shahin“Patrons are not merely sponsors of art events,” said His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “They do not seek the limelight but stand as pillars of continued support for the arts community. Indeed, they are the very foundation of cultural initiatives and projects.”
Like other Ismaili Centres around the world — including the London Centre, which just marked its 25th anniversary — the Ismaili Centre, Dubai is a place of gathering and cultural exchange. At the opening of the Centre in March 2008, Mawlana Hazar Imam said: “this building exists fundamentally as a place for peaceful contemplation, but one that is set in a social context. It is 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.”
During the past two years, the Ismaili Centre, Dubai has hosted performances, exhibitions and speaker events that have contributed to furthering an appreciation and understanding of Islamic art and culture. The recent ATHAR programme lecture series focused on the architectural and cultural heritage of the Arab world through a series of public lectures. Together with Dubai Culture, the Centre also hosted Reminiscing Heritage — a photographic exhibition that provided a rare glimpse through the lens of Noor Ali Rashid, the acclaimed Royal Photographer of the United Arab Emirates. The German Consulate General in Dubai held a classical opera night at the Centre, where guests enjoyed a performance and the opportunity to foster new relationships.
“[Development] initiatives cannot be contemplated exclusively in terms of economics, but rather as an integrated programme that encompasses social and cultural dimensions as well.”
— Mawlana Hazar Imam speaking at the Prince Claus Fund’s Conference on Culture and Development in Amsterdam, 7 September 2002Dubai Culture believes that “culture, arts and heritage are vital to the success of Dubai’s expanding economy because they are the key building blocks of civil life and public dialogue.” It sees culture as a means to improve the quality of life and education of Dubai’s residents, while fostering creativity.
Other recipients of the Patrons of the Arts Award included H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, H.H. Sheikha Latifa bint Maktoum Al Maktoum, H.E. Sheikh Sultan Saud Al Qassimi, Emirates Foundation, Majid Al Futtaim Group, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Van Cleef & Arpels.
The Ismaili Centre of Dubai: a monument of tolerance
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi
Last Updated: Oct 31, 2010
Nestled in one of Bur Dubai's older districts is one of the emirate's best kept architectural secrets: the Ismaili Centre of Dubai. It is a 13,000-square-metre structure designed by the Egyptian duo Rami El Dahan and Soheir Farid, who drew inspiration from Cairo's Fatimid mosques.
This prime plot of land was generously given to the Ismaili community by Dubai's then Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, in 1982 to celebrate the Aga Khan's Silver Jubilee as the imam of the community. It is a testament to Sheikh Mohammed's long-term vision and respect for other cultures that such a generous donation was given when he was 33 years old. Today, because of this long-term vision, Dubai is a culturally and architecturally richer emirate.
The structure was inaugurated in 2008 by Prince Karim, the Aga Khan, in the presence of senior UAE officials. A 3,000-square-metre public neighbourhood park was also created on parts of the land based on Islamic garden themes.
With its magnificent domes and arches, the limestone-coloured structure transports visitors back to an era of craftsmanship: a large, white marble fountain greets visitors in a high-ceilinged lobby with an octagonal entrance and a brick-inlaid dome. This was the structure, I felt, that the master craftsmen of bygone eras would have produced if they had had today's technology. The masons were flown in from Cairo and learnt this rare skill from some of the greatest brick-dome builders in Egypt, including Hassan Fathy.
The architecture is an amalgamation of everything that is beautiful in Islam. From the outside, honeycombs of amber and limestone embrace the building. The sun's shadow creates ever-changing patterns that merge in and out of each other as the day proceeds. The tranquil sounds of the fountains soothe the soul as one wanders around, admiring the antique Islamic artifacts on display. The building is crowned by a magnificent Ibn Tulun Mosque-like dome, not too different from the one above the Museum of Islamic Arts in Doha. The Morning Prayer Hall courtyard features a salsabil, or paradise water fountain, as its centrepiece, while the main garden is inlaid with a network of small water canals connected to a central fountain.
The Ismaili sect of Islam dates back to the branching out of the Sunni and Shia schools of thought many centuries ago. While it is considered to be an offshoot of Shia Islam, it has maintained an independent religious authority.
The most recognised member of the Emirati Ismaili community was the late Noor Ali Rashid, the pioneering photographer who passed away last August at the age of 80, a short time after the centre hosted an exhibition of his works.
As a result of the tireless efforts of the Aga Khan, the Ismailis are perhaps best known today for their respect for art and culture. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture, which dates back to 1977, was established by the current leader of the Ismailis "to identify and reward architectural concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of Islamic societies" in fields as varied as contemporary design, social housing and community development. Projects that lead to the improvement and restoration of historic structures are also highlighted and awarded.
However, it is far from being an award strictly for Muslims. In fact a number of non-Muslims have won the award, including Jean Nouvel, the French architect behind the Louvre Abu Dhabi, for his designs of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Many other projects that have been awarded the prize also serve multi-religious and multi-ethnic communities, such as those in Africa, India and parts of the Middle East.
For the first time next month, the awards will be held in the Gulf, when the state of Qatar plays host. Two Gulf-based projects are among the 19 finalists vying for the award: the Wadi Hanifa Wetlands in Saudi Arabia and Qatar's very own 164,000-square-metre century-old open-air market known as Souk Waqif, which went through a major three-year renovation project.
In addition to hosting classical music concerts, the Ismaili centre in Dubai recently inaugurated a modern school for children where instruction in English and Arabic are given equal emphasis, a rare phenomenon for non-Arab schools in the UAE.
Having just returned from a visit to southern Spain, it wasn't just the architecture of the Ismaili Centre of Dubai that seemed familiar. The spirit of tolerance and respect embodied by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid allowed Dubai the opportunity to flourish. That was the very spirit that existed in Andalusia for centuries under wise Islamic rule where Jews, Christians and Muslims lived, worked and created side by side in peace and harmony. When the history of modern Dubai's architecture and tolerant spirit is written, this building will occupy a very special place indeed.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is a non-resident scholar at the Dubai School of Government
Book launch at the Ismaili Centre Dubai: Reflections on Quranic Prayer According to the Teachings of Imam Ali, by Dr. Reza Shah Kazemi
May 6, 2011 by ismailimail 2 Comments
Book launch at the Ismaili Centre Dubai: Reflections on Quranic Prayer According to the Teachings of Imam Ali, by Dr. Reza Shah KazemiITREB UAE in association with the Institute of Ismaili Studies, is pleased to inform you that renowned author, Dr. Reza Shah Kazemi will be in Dubai to launch his new book titled, Spiritual Quest: Reflections on Quranic Prayer According to the Teachings of Imam Ali.
The presentation will be on Friday, May 20 at 8:30 PM at the Ismaili Centre Dubai Social Hall.
Dr. Kazemi will sign purchased books at the event.
A journey into the past on the notes of ancient music
Members of 12-piece band leave lasting memories
By Habiba Basiony, Staff Reporter
Published: 00:00 October 15, 2011
Dubai: There was no room for chatter at the Remix 2011 concert last week. All attention was on the 12-man band on stage at the Ismaili Centre in Dubai.
The talented musicians captured the attention of hall as they played their instruments. Lured into submission by one composition after another, the audience surrendered in blissful silence.
In an attempt to immortalise the musical legacies of the Middle East and Central Asia the Aga Khan Music Initiative organises such performances and educational programmes among young artists across several countries.
"Not only the archaic instruments but the Ismaili Centre with its scenic structure in the heart of Dubai inspired by the Fatimid era transported us back to an ancient time," a member of the audience said.
At the Ismaili Center, Dubai – Harvard Club UAE Book Talk moderated by Sajida H. Shroff, CEO, Altamont Group
Harvard Club UAE Hosts Book Talk with Harvard Professors at Ismaili Centre Dubai
In March 2016, Harvard Club UAE hosted a panel with Harvard Graduate School of Education professors Fernando Reimers and Connie Chung to discuss their new book: Teaching and Learning for the Twenty-First Century: Educational Goals, Policies and Curricula from Six Nations; which highlights the importance of preparing students for civic and economic participation in the new century as well as the need for key competencies such as digital, civic, self-knowledge, and interpersonal.
Held at The Ismaili Center, Dubai, the book talk engaged over 30 attendees particularly Harvard Alumni as well as members of Young Arab Leaders.
The panel was moderated by Sajida H. Shroff, Harvard alumni and Executive Board Member, Harvard Club UAE (CEO, Altamont Group), who focused discussions on key learnings that could be applied to the GCC context.
In addition to Harvard Professors Dr. Reimers and Dr. Chung, the panel included a key research partner, Dr. Ee-Ling Low from the National Institute of Education, Singapore. The panellists shared their findings regarding national education policies in Chile, China, Mexico, Singapore and the United States as well as how each prepare students for life, work, and civic participation.
As the book is dedicated to Soraya Salti, Mr. Waleed Albanawi, Founder & Chairman of JISR Venture Partners and founding member of INJAZ Saudi, 2009-2013, shared the impact of her legacy and outlined the ‘Soraya Salti Social Impact Scholarship Fund’ which he has established at INSEAD.
The discussion ended with Sajida asking each panelist to outline how research for the book ‘shifted their paradigm on education.’ Panelists emphasized the importance of sound policy, access, and a strong education system.
The event was sponsored by Altamont Group (Education Advisory and Investment) and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
An oasis amid Bur Dubai’s sprawling office towers, the Ismaili Centre and its verdant gardens, Dubai Park, offer welcoming respite from the busy city streets.
Something of a hidden gem in the heart of Dubai, the peaceful gardens are maintained as a gift to the city’s residents. This is one of six centres around the world – each as architecturally stunning as the last.
A great option if you’re visiting the city, it’s regularly open for cultural events and architectural tours. Open Skiesspoke to the president of the Ismaili Council UAE, Amiruddin Thanawalla, to discover more.
The centres are symbolic markers of the permanent presence and core values of Ismaili communities around the world. Architecturally unique, they are bridges of friendship and understanding, and serve to enhance relationships among communities, government and civil society.
The main purpose of the centre is to encourage mutual exchange and understanding between diverse peoples, communities and faiths. Each building incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and reflection, as well as spiritual contemplation. Through its design and function, the centre reflects a mood of humility, forward outlook, friendship and dialogue. The centres [globally] are not only places for spiritual search, but also spaces for broadening intellectual horizons and fostering an appreciation of pluralism.
The centre hasn’t yet conducted a census of its community, but whenever it hosts a special congregation or a high-profile event, it witnesses a gathering of around 2,500 people.
Egyptian architects Rami El-Dahan and Soheir Farid sought inspiration from the Fatimid mosques of Cairo. Maintaining their focus on the human scale and the recent past, they also drew on the insights of the late Hassan Fathy, who was renowned for his “architecture for the people”. Architecture is very important to His Highness the Aga Khan (the imam of Ismaili Musims). He founded the Aga Khan Award For Architecture in 1977 to highlight architectural projects of excellence in communities where Muslims have a significant presence. The prestigious global award unveiled its shortlist of 19 nominees at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai, in May.
The gardens are a gift to Dubai’s residents. Extending what the Aga Khan suggested at the foundation-stone laying ceremony, the centre seeks to create a sense of equilibrium, stability and tranquility. This sense of balance and serenity finds its continuum in the wealth of colours and scents in our adjacent Islamic garden, which the Aga Khan Trust For Culture helped to develop as a public park.
Ismaili Centres seek to foster knowledge and understanding both within Muslim societies and with other cultures. Events include musical performances, book launches, seminars, lecture series, professional training for early childhood educators in our early learning centres, exhibitions, suhoor, museum previews and architectural tours. The centre was also recognised by the Dubai Culture And Arts Authority, with the inaugural Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons Of The Arts Award in 2010 for its significant contribution towards the development of Dubai’s cultural sector.
Dubai: Artefacts and artworks depicting Syria’s history in the ‘And the Conversation Continues, Syria: A Living History From the Atassi Collection,’ art exhibition were on display in the Ismaili Centre Dubai.
The exhibition marks the fourth year of partnership between Art Dubai, The Aga Khan Museum, the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai and the Ismaili Centre Dubai.
The exhibition also took place in collaboration with Atassi Foundation, and The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), an initiative of Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.
Building Bridges Through Enabling Pluralism - A Dialogue
(MENAFN Editorial) Dubai, UAE, June 7, 2017: The Ismaili Centre Dubai, in collaboration with The Embassy of #Portugal and The Consulate General of #Canada observed the holy month of Ramadan, a month of giving, with the message of enabling pluralism. The event, attended by over 200 dignitaries and guests of the Embassies of #Portugal and #Canada brought together voices from various backgrounds in hopes of attaining a world where difference is a powerful force that can help us build together a better life for all.
The event, held at the Ismaili Centre Dubai, reflected a strong partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and the two countries, #Portugal and #Canada who together, aim to support the vision of pluralism and attain peaceful ways to overcome the challenges of living amongst diverse societies. The Ismaili Imamat, through various partnerships and agreements with the two countries has established itself in contributing towards knowledge, research and dialogue to understand and extend the values of pluralism.
Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne leads session on future of space exploration
The Ismaili Centre in Dubai, in collaboration with the Belgium embassy in Abu Dhabi and VITO, a European research organisation, hosted a talk last week led by Belgian astronaut Frank De Winne, who is head of the European Astronaut Centre.
The talk, entitled “The New Space Economy in Europe — A Focus on Earth Observation and Exploration”, discussed the future of space technology and the frontiers that space travel will open up for humankind.
As stated by the Aga Khan in 2003, during the centre’s foundation stone-laying ceremony, a key mandate of the Ismaili Centre is to “be a place for contemplation and search for enlightenment, where people come together to share knowledge and wisdom.”
The diverse group of guests included Dr Rashid Aleem, chairman of Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority; Dr Walter Buydens of VITO; diplomats and Belgian community members.
Aziz Merchant, vice-president of the Ismaili Centre in the UAE, said: “It is our pleasure to host and partner with the Embassy of Belgium and VITO at the Ismaili Centre. Not only is it a great honour for us to share the platform with Frank De Winne, the first Belgian astronaut, but also the choice of Ismaili Centre could not have been more appropriate, as Islamic achievements in scientific inquiry encompass a wide range of subject areas, especially mathematics, astronomy, medicine, physics, alchemy and chemistry.”
Dominique Mineur, ambassador of Belgium to the UAE, said: “I hope that this conference will generate future ideas and avenues for cooperation. It is only by combining our strengths, experiences and desire to progress that we will be able to offer a better world to the future generations.”
Education opportunities in Romania showcased
17 universities represented at reception hosted by Ismaili Centre Dubai
Dubai: A special reception at the Ismaili Centre Dubai highlighted educational opportunities in Romania.
Prince Radu of Romania and Sorin Cimpeanu, former acting prime minister and former minister of education, organised the reception along with the consulate-general of Romania in Dubai.
Around 17 Romanian universities were represented at the event attended by diplomats, dignitaries, members of the Ismaili community as well as by prospective students.
The gathering was also told about the Aga Khan Early Learning Centre (AKDN) located within the Ismaili Centre Dubai (in Oud Metha).
The centre’s bilingual (English/Arabic) curriculum is offered to members of all communities.
AKDN oversees a global portfolio of early childhood development and education initiatives across Africa, South and Central Asia, which date as far back as the early 1900s.
Prince Radu praised the UAE’s vision to build bridges between cultures, faiths, economies and higher education systems.
He stated that the activities and programmes of the Ismaili Centre Dubai promote the values of tolerance, love, generosity and hope.
The Ismaili Centre, Dubai, is one of six such centres. The others are located in Vancouver, London, Lisbon, Dushanbe and Toronto.
Meet the ‘Skate Girls of Kabul’ through photo exhibition
Series of portraits show young girls participating in a unique programme called Skateistan
Dubai: A new photo exhibition showcasing a series of striking portraits of young Afghan girls skateboarding in Kabul opened at the Ismaili Centre in Dubai on Tuesday.
Captured through the lens of award-winning photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson, the ‘Skate Girls of Kabul’ tells the story of a group of young women participating in a unique charity programme that provides skate parks as a means of enabling girls from disadvantaged families to return to the educational system.
The engaging photographs on display bring to life the powerful spirit of the young girls as they confidently glide down ramps in their flowing traditional clothing and also captures them as they stand proudly holding their skateboards in a country where it is considered taboo to even ride bicycles.
Approximately 25 children of determination from 20 different schools participated in the event.
Children of determination took to the ramp at the 'Walk of Confidence' fashion show on Thursday, wearing their favourite dresses and slickest suits.
The show was part of the Sambhavana Festival, a week-long series of events being held in the run-up to Ramadan, aimed at promoting the inclusion of children with physical and mental challenges. The event was held at the The Ismaili Centre in Bur Dubai, with 17 categories of titles ranging from Mr and Ms Congeniality, Mr and Ms Photogenic to Mr and Ms Talented. Cash prizes were also awarded for enthusiasm, proactiveness, beautiful smiles, dancing and singing.
Approximately 25 children of determination from 20 different schools participated in the event and Young Zara Shafiq won the Ms Talented prize. The confident Zara who sang as she strutted down the catwalk, is severely autistic. The show organisers say that before, she wouldn't make eye contact with anyone and respond only minimally to people.
Zenofer Fathima, CEO of Zen Productions and Dr Alka Kalra, founder of Eduscan Institute Group of Companies and CEO of Zen Productions, praised Zara and the other children for overriding their disabilities and showcaisng their talents beautifully.
Unlike most charity events, this festival was not about just donating money but about giving time to those who need it most. Fathima said: "I do charity work all around the world and many countries do need financial assistance as the first point of call. But in Dubai, there is financial support for these children; therefore, we wanted to give these children time and attention, as the main focus instead."
Fathima expressed surprise at how quickly the children picked up on catwalk guidance and presentation, during the show rehearsales. She said: "It really made me realise that we have such non-issues in life and these children have much bigger problems but just get on with it. We really need to stop worrying about the small things and realise how easy our obstacles are, in comparison."
Amongst other VIPS, Sheikha Hind Al Qassemi attended the show as a chief guest.
On 2 June, 2018 the first graduating intermediate class of computer programmers were awarded certificates on successful completion of Programming with Python, at Ismaili Centre Dubai.
The coding course was launched in the summer of 2017, for the age group 13-18, by the education portfolio, to offer students a chance to be at par with their international counterparts in the Western world. Our technological age language has expanded from reading, writing and mathematics to include computer programming, a fundamental skill required in most industries. “I thoroughly enjoyed the python programming class: the logical coding concepts along with the fun projects plus the enthusiastic teachers created an amazing learning environment.” quoted Ayan Shariff, a student who completed our intermediate level course. To date, two groups have completed the beginner level course along with the intermediate level graduates.
Congratulations to our programming team for keeping us ahead of the learning curve.
Webcast: Ismaili Centre International Lecture with Karen Armstrong
Dr Karen Armstrong, an internationally acclaimed scholar and best-selling author of numerous books on religion, will deliver an Ismaili Centre International Lecture at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai. Dr Armstrong will speak about the Charter of Compassion which she launched with religious leaders globally. The charter has over two million signatures and brings to light the reason and urgency of practising compassion in a polarised world.
The address will be webcast at the.ismaili/live on Saturday 22 September 2018 at 7 PM Gulf Standard Time.
Ismaili youth participate in the First LEGO League
For the first time, Ismaili youth from a range of schools and backgrounds gathered at the Ismaili Centre Dubai in March 2018 to participate in i-Robotics, an event held to prepare participants to enter the First LEGO League. Such i-Robotics events are attended by over 100 schools with over 1000 participants around the world.
Leadership Skills Forum held for youth aged 13-18 years in the Ismaili Centre Dubai
A Four- day workshop, entitled Skills Incubator for the youth aged 13 to 18 years, was held at the Ismaili Centre Dubai in August 2018. Experienced professionals from the community presented insights into various topics on leadership, entrepreneurial thinking, practical money management and additional key soft skills required for a successful career.
Day 1 began with an introduction by Program Facilitator, Muneer Samnani, followed by the first module - business planning with T.P. Anand, a professional Strategist with over 30 years of experience in business advisory. Topics covered included business modelling, new market trends and testing the feasibility of an idea. The day ended with a session on positivity through body image and healthy living by Mitun De Sarkar, a Licensed Clinical Dietitian and Nutritional Consultant.
Day 2 was filled with high energy at the onset as Manu Mahdi, CEO of the e-commerce start-up, organicandreal.com spoke about his journey and engaged in a Q&A session. The day continued with the second module - financial planning with T.P. Anand, and concluded with a fun-filled session of marketing and brand campaigns with Zubeida Khetsi. Participants worked in teams, to prepare a full marketing plan for their assigned products, within 15 minutes. This session proved to be a balanced blend of quantitative information and creativity.
Day 3 and 4 were team working sessions. Each team was given a broad business idea – a nursery in Jumeirah, a polyclinic in Karama, a retail chain and restaurant in Dubai Marina. The goal was to create a business model specific to the cultures of the consumers in their respective regions. The final business models were presented to the panel of judges - Manu Mahdi, Sajid Nathani and Zubeida Khetsi. Parents were invited to view the presentations.
“To hone participants’ leadership skills, we placed them in the shoes of an aspiring entrepreneur and made them work in teams to develop a business plan that would impress our panel of judges. Each team was given a defined business idea around which to create the plan, putting them in a box, yet, we challenged them to think outside of the box.” Commented Sahil Ahmed of the Education Portfolio.
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The Ismaili Centre Dubai – a reflection on the first decade
Over the past decade since its opening, the Ismaili Centre Dubai has become established as a multidisciplinary hub of culture, faith, education, and community identity. Exemplifying the core values of Ismaili Muslims, the Centre offers a platform for dialogue, unity, and progress within the Jamat and the wider community.
The Ismaili Centre, Dubai was opened on 26 March 2008 by Mawlana Hazar Imam in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum and His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, senior members of the ruling families of the United Arab Emirates. Like other Ismaili Centres around the world, the Ismaili Centre, Dubai incorporates social, cultural, and spiritual spaces, and extends a hand of friendship to other communities.
“This building exists fundamentally as a place for peaceful contemplation, but one that is set in a social context,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Centre's opening ceremony. “It is 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.”
Over the past decade, the Centre has realised the vision Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke about. In 2018 alone, the Centre hosted numerous events showcasing the work and impact of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) including exhibitions, lectures, and seminars. The recent Ethics in Action exhibit impressed visitors with a display of the positive long-term impact of AKDN’s work around the world.
In May 2018, the Ismaili Centre, Dubai in collaboration with Art Week, the Aga Khan Museum, Roshan (the largest telecom operator in Afghanistan), and the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai, hosted an event in celebration of the opening of a photographic exhibition by the award-winning British photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson entitled “Skate Girls of Kabul.” The exhibition documented young girls skateboarding in the unique setting of Skateistan — an international NGO founded in 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan, to provide girls with a place to skate safely and a route into education.
In September, Dr Karen Armstrong presented the inaugural Ismaili Centre International Lecture in Dubai, calling for increased compassion and harmony in an uncertain world. The lecture was attended by His Excellency Sheikh Mohamed Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, who acknowledged the Ismaili community for bringing Dr Armstrong to the United Arab Emirates to speak at the event, and engage with distinguished guests.
Earlier this month, a cultural evening of Flamenco at the Centre showcased this captivating and characteristic part of Spanish culture, while bringing together the Spanish Ambassador to the UAE, various diplomats from Spain and other countries, dignitaries and journalists — many of whom were visiting the Ismaili Centre for the first time — and the leadership and other members of the Ismaili community.
Throughout 2018, the Centre held a number of programmes related to engaging youth in the field of science and technology. The Aga Khan Education Portfolio in the UAE organised a series of courses on coding for students aged 13-18 years. The courses aimed to introduce students to computer science and basic programming concepts. Classes were designed to build logical thinking skills and help students write programmes to solve basic and advanced technical problems. Ismaili youth from a range of schools and backgrounds also gathered at the Ismaili Centre Dubai in March 2018 to participate in i-Robotics, an event held to prepare participants to enter an international competition which introduces a scientific and real-world challenge for teams to focus and research on.
The Aga Khan Early Learning Centre is an important element of the Centre, making a marked impact on Early Childhood Development. The Early Learning Centre has been educating children from various backgrounds and nationalities in both English and Arabic. It has elevated best-practice standards in the UAE, and was the proud recipient of the 2018 International Nursery of the Year Award.
The resource centre houses a range of books from children’s stories, to Islamic philosophy and history, while the sports room supports indoor activities from table tennis to chess. Across the road, the Dubai Park, developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, fosters health and well-being, human connections, and engagement with all the elements of the environment.
Since its inauguration, a steady stream of prominent guests have visited the Centre including members of Mawlana Hazar Imam's family, national and regional leaders, international ambassadors, and members of the global Jamat. Visitors are often struck by the magnificent architecture of the Centre, including its indoor and outdoor spaces.
“I am very honoured to have been received at the Centre today. It is a lovely centre architecturally, and an important centre for the promotion of education and tolerance. I look forward to further cooperation between the USA consulate and the Ismaili Centre,” USA Consul General Philip Frayne said of the Centre.
Roman Catholic Bishop Paul Hinder said, “Very impressed by the outstanding architecture, the spirit of openness and tolerance, and the care for people who are the most in need.”
At the Foundation Ceremony in December 2003, Mawlana Hazar Imam expressed his wish for the Centre to “be a place of peace, of order, of hope and of brotherhood, radiating those thoughts, attitudes and sentiments which unite, and which do not divide, and which uplift the mind and the spirit.”
As the Ismaili Centre, Dubai concludes its first decade, we can reflect on how it has proudly served as an ambassadorial building, providing a sense of identity, pride, and belonging to the Jamat, while also acting as a worthy host and partner to the greater community. We are inspired and grateful for the enrichment over the past decade, and look forward to furthering this growth through friendships and brotherhood in the coming years while honouring the strength of diversity and blessing of pluralism.
AKDN Lunch, Florilege Concert & Celebration of Switzerland's Musical Heritage at the Ismaili Centre Dubai
Ismaili Centre hosts inaugural Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) Diplomatic Lunch at Ismaili Centre, Dubai.
4 March, 2019 - The Ismaili Centre, Dubai hosted an inaugural Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) diplomatic lunch on Monday 4 March 2019. His Excellency Amin Mawji, the AKDN resident representative for Uganda, made a powerful and informative presentation on how this contemporary endeavour of the Imamat Institutions has benefited vulnerable societies throughout the developing world. Included in the 90 guests present, were Ambassadors from numerous countries where the AKDN has a presence, other members of the Diplomatic Community in the UAE, Government representatives, leaders in the fields of business, the Arts and Civil Society.
FLORILEGE Flute and Piano Concert at Ismaili Centre, Dubai.
28 March 2019 - Renowned Belgian Flutist Christian Plouvier and acclaimed international Concert Pianist Avenline Gram, delighted an audience of over 200 with an extensive repertoire of music, exquisite in choice, harmony and presentation. The artists were synchronized during the entire 90 minutes of melodies ranging from classical to popular. The event was co-hosted by the Belgian Business Council, the Belgian Embassy and the Ismaili Centre Dubai. His Excellency Peter Claes in thanking the audience and the Ismaili Centre, Dubai, said of the Centre… “ It is always a privilege to enter its beautiful halls and enjoy its tranquility and hospitality….”
Celebrating Switzerland’s Musical Heritage at Ismaili Centre, Dubai.
13 March 2019 - The Embassy of Switzerland and the Ismaili Centre, Dubai hosted a celebration of Switzerland’s musical heritage on the occasion of the International month of the Francophonie. Swiss duo, Marc Aymon, and Ephraim Salzmann enthralled and engaged their audience with a collage of poetry, percussion and modern renditions of traditional folksongs providing a unique insight into the musical heritage of Switzerland, primarily through the medium of the French language. Her Excellency Maya Tissafi, Ambassador of Switzerland to UAE and Bahrain was the chief guest.
Ismaili Centre Dubai is knowledge partner for Harvard Club of the UAE sponsored Harvard Student-Led Innovation Challenge Dubai 2019
Just last month, the Ismaili Centre Dubai was pleased to be the site for the first-ever high school innovation challenge in Dubai, led by a team of Harvard College students. The conference, known as the HGEM Innovation Challenge (HIC), brought together some of the brightest students in the UAE. The Innovation Challenge was organized by the Harvard Undergraduate Global Education Movement (HGEM), a recognized student organization at Harvard College, in partnership with Harvard Club of the UAE, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai, and the Ismaili Centre Dubai.
The Ismaili Centre Dubai provided a beautiful venue as well as shared knowledge about the AKDN and the Academies that provided the students with food for thought as they developed innovative solutions. The Innovation Challenge attracted 110 of the region’s top high school students, all of whom competed in teams to pitch the most innovative solution to a pressing issue relevant to the Dubai region in front of a panel of Harvard alumni, including Harvard Club of the UAE President, Sajida H. Shroff. Students were given the opportunity to address an issue in one of three areas: public health, education, and sustainability.
Upon presenting their proposed solutions, student teams were interviewed by HGEM. The sentiments of the students were unanimous: the Innovation Challenge was unlike any other high school conference offered in Dubai before. When asked about the overall impact of the conference, one student remarked, “I think the most important thing I’ll take away from HIC is working with so many people … it was great getting to collaborate with everyone.”
At the end of the three-day conference, students were given the opportunity to present their ideas regarding innovation in the Dubai region. The results were very impressive. “I was blown away by the creativity of all of the students in attendance. Their proposals were very well-thought out. These students show great promise. Overall, it was a job very well done. We are so grateful to have been able to host this event in the beautiful Ismaili Centre Dubai” remarked Emily Hunter, Harvard College student and Co-President of HGEM. The rest of the organization members shared similar perspectives and echoed the importance of Ismaili Centre Dubai which represented the ethic of inclusiveness and tolerance espoused throughout the conference.
The Ismaili Centre & Art Dubai: Why is Shakespeare, Shakespeare?
Dubai 22 March 2018 - The Ismaili Centre Dubai together with Art Dubai (a collaboration now in its sixth year), The Aga Khan Museum Toronto and the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai, hosted a performance by Master Orator and critically acclaimed veteran actor Zia Mohyeddin.
Zia Mohyeddin, performed “Why is Shakespeare Shakespeare” at the Ismaili Centre Dubai and enchanted the audience with his narration of Shakespeare showcasing an astute mastery of style, tone and rhythm.
Zia Mohyeddin who is a recipient of the prestigious Hilal -I -Imtiaz (Crescent of Excellence- awarded by the President of Pakistan) started his reading career reciting short selections from English poetry delivered over radio and television in the United Kingdom. He is the founder of the National Academy of Performing Arts, Pakistan, of which he is currently the President and CEO. A highly acclaimed international performer, he has recently performed twice at The Aga Khan Museum, Toronto.
Her Excellency Marcy Grossmann, the Canadian Consul General, speaking of the event said, “The relationships between the Ismaili communities across Canada and the UAE are strong, much of which is due to the hard work of our partners in building the bridge between our two nations. We applaud their work and look forward to celebrating unity, peaceful pluralism and art this evening.”
In his opening address, Amiruddin Thanawalla (President of the Ismaili Community in the UAE) noted…, “Today’s partnership event with Art Dubai is an example of how the Ismaili Centre Dubai is actively pursuing a mandate to foster knowledge and facilitate mutual exchanges and understanding.”
This model of collaboration represents a unique partnership between a civil society institution, a diplomatic mission and a Canadian museum with a global mandate. In recent years this partnership has showcased presentations and artefacts and this year we turn to the performing arts”.
In an effort to highlight the importance of tolerance, President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has proclaimed this year the ‘Year of Tolerance’. With this in mind, an event called DiversiTree was recently held at the Ismaili Centre Dubai. The project, which is part art installation and part performance art, brought together the collective creativity of the community to design a transformative experience for children and adults. This collaborative installation and performance brought to life the concept of diversity, while at the same time developing a breathtaking creation of artistic beauty.
Tolerance is an important and universal concept and, in order to progress together, it is important to engage in dialogue with different cultures. The world is now a global village where interactions with people from different parts of the world have become very common, which is why promoting tolerance and co-existence has become increasingly important.
“DiversiTree was an amazing experience for all of us,” Ishaan Virani said “We learnt about ourselves and each other, and how we are unique and similar at the same time. The events were great and everybody had an amazing time. I would love to do it again.”
After months of fieldwork, two full-day sessions were organised where the participants were asked to demonstrate their artistic skills. The final output was displayed on the tree itself and each output carried the message of diversity and inclusivity. There were handmade art pieces that formed the birds, nests, and leaves of the tree, each with calligraphic quotes on them. The nest, for instance, had eggs of different sizes and colours, which symbolised coexistence. The leaves of different shapes and sizes carried quotes of inspiring figures from Mahatma Gandhi to Oprah Winfrey to William Shakespeare.
“DiversiTree showed me how to be open minded and to accept other cultures and differences through the medium of art,” Aaliya Ladhani said.
Participants were introduced to the idea that a single word can be said and written in several ways. Participants were taught how to write the basics of calligraphy not only in the script that they are familiar with but in other languages as well.
Once the tree was complete, it was unveiled in front of the invitees which included the parents of the participants, as well as dignitaries. There were performances, monologues, poems, and presentations under the tree that formed a collective effort of the youth present in the hall.
Kiran Amin Mohammad, the project manager of DiversiTree, called the event “an exhilarating journey of colours” and “an amalgamation of art, literature, and dialogue.”
It demonstrated to all the attendees that, in this world which is full of differences, we must try to be a bridge of communication between the people of the world and their various cultures, creating an environment of openness and respect and we must, at all times, promote coexistence and a better world for tomorrow.
“The power of nature is such that it’s what all art strives to be,” said Zubeda Khetsi, the project leader of DiversiTree. “The more we can get in tune with the harmony of the planet, the more our art and our minds can benefit from this relationship. For me, it was the vision of harnessing this relationship between nature, art, and the young minds that made DiversiTree so unique and special.”
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