“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,” the Aga Khan told a big gathering at the opening of the Ismaili Centre in Dubai.
The gathering mainly comprised of Ismaili community members who traveled to Dubai from around the world to participate in the event.
The centre has been built on land donated by High Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Aga Khan, who is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shiite Ismaili Muslims, thanked Shaikh Mohammad for his generosity and said: “We welcome our new Ismaili Centre in a setting which has itself become a great hub of cosmopolitan activity and truly global crossroads. We hear a great deal these days the words ‘convergence’ and ‘connectivity’. In my judgment, Dubai is a place where those words truly come to life.”
He said Dubai has become a very embodiment of the global village, placing itself at the forefront of an enormous surge towards global convergence.
“Shaikh Mohammad has provided a powerful example of how the ethics of our Islamic faith can be taken into the world, through his affirmation of a pillar of Islamic values, the spirit of generosity towards others,” he said.
About the new Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan said the new centre is itself a profoundly spiritual place. “It’s a defining symbolism inspired by the Fatimid tradition — going back to over 1,000 years – and widely shared with sister traditions throughout the Islamic world, from Baghdad to Bokhara,” explained the Aga Khan.
He said the centre in Dubai is planned with a view to becoming a landmark in the cosmopolitan cultural picture of the city. The opening of the centre also coincided with the golden jubilee celebrations of Aga Khan being Imam of the Ismaili Muslim community for the last 50 years.
The Aga Khan Cultural Trust has also developed a park next to the Ismaili Centre as a gift from Aga Khan to Dubai residents. The 3,000sq/m park has been conceived as a neighbourhood garden based upon the concept of Islamic gardens.
The new centre in Dubai is the fourth Ismaili Centre in the world with other three in London, Vancouver and Lisbon. The centre offers a range of cultural and educational activities.
The centre in Dubai has been built over an area of about 13,000sq/m and also houses an early learning centre which has intake capacity of 225 children.
The centre will provide facilities to promote cultural, educational and social programmes from the broadest, non-denominational perspective within the ethical framework of Islam.