WAM Dubai, March 26th, 2008 (WAM) — Spiritual Leader of the Ismaili Sect Prince Agha Khan praised Wednesday Dubai as a hub of cosmopolitan activity, a truly global crossroads.
”We hear a great deal these days about the words ‘convergence’ and ‘connectivity’. In my judgment, Dubai is a place where those words truly come to life. Dubai has become the very embodiment of the global village, placing itself at the forefront of an enormous surge toward global convergence,” the Agha Khan said in his inaugural address at the opening ceremony of the new Ismaili Centre in Dubai, the fourth facility for the group worldwide and the first in the Arab World.
Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of Dubai Civil Aviation Department, HE Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, a number of dignitaries and ambassadors attended the opening ceremony.
The Dubai ethic, he added, is one that honours a generous exchange of knowledge and ideas that welcomes the opportunity to learn from others, that celebrates not only our historic identities but also our open horizons.
”This ethic of exploration and interconnectedness is one that is deeply shared by the Ismaili community. It is an ethic, in fact, that is firmly rooted in our faith – a value system which grows from deeply spiritual roots.
”It understands that human diversity is itself a gift of Allah – that pluralism is not a threat but a blessing. It sees the desire to explore and connect as a way to learn and grow – not to dilute our identities but to enrich our self-knowledge.
”This ethic emanates ultimately from a relationship to the Divine which inspires a deep sense of personal humility – and a relationship to humankind which is infused with a spirit of generous service and mutual respect.
”As its architects have so effectively realized, 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.
According to the Agha Khan, The new Centre is itself a profoundly spiritual place. Its defining symbolism is inspired by the Fatimid tradition – stretching back over 1000 years – and widely shared with sister traditions throughout the Islamic world – from Baghdad to Bokhara. As its architects have so effectively realized, 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.
”Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum 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 toward others.
”As he wrote recently, and I quote him, ‘I always ask: How can I help? What can I do for people? How can I improve people’s lives? That’s part of my value system. The Dubai narrative is all about changing people’s lives for the better” In that spirit, he indicated, Sheikh Mohammed, in describing Dubai has replaced the word ‘Capitalist’ with the word ‘Catalyst’- in that it inspires those who live and work here to greater levels of personal accomplishment.
”Of course, we must be realistic about the challenges we face. This is a region, after all, which Sheikh Mohammad has described as a ‘tough neighbourhood’ – the locus in recent years of tragic clashes and cleavages, including many divisions within Islam itself.
”And yet at the same time, this is a region of powerful potential and promise. That promise will be increasingly fulfilled as the Islamic world learns to embrace ever more effectively the spirit of fundamental cohesion expressed so well in the Amman Declaration of 2005, along with its affirmation that the variety of expressions within Islam is not a curse but ‘a mercy’. That spirit of comity, in turn, can become a great Islamic contribution to the future of this region – and to the future of our world.
He expressed profound thanks to Sheikh Mohammad for providing the land for the 13,000 square metre Centre.