“In our excavations and our historical investigations, I constantly have been reminded that we were touching the very foundations of my ancestors, the Fatimids, and the pluralistic history and intellectual profile of this city and this country to which they contributed so profoundly …
I am very humbled by the opportunity to return to Cairo, founded over a thousand years ago by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Muiz, to build on that history.”
– His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, inaugurating Cairo’s Al-Azhar Park
March 25, 2005
The Al-Azhar Park in Cairo was inaugurated on March 25, 2005 in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam and Madame Suzanne Mubarak. Mawlana Hazar Imam had signed an agreement on behalf of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in December 1990 to create a park in one of Cairo’s last remaining open spaces. The 30-acre park is close to the Islamic monuments of Old Cairo.In his address, Mawlana Hazar Imam said, “Twenty-one years ago we had a vision that launched us on a journey of inquiry, exploration and discovery that took us through some 1,000 years of history of this extraordinary city. It was a journey in which we engaged with historians, archeologists, architects and horticulturalists. We worked with engineers, statisticians, sociologists and urban planners. We met with neighbourhood residents and businessmen, artisans and entrepreneurs, young people and old. Like some of the great Muslim explorers such as Al-Idrisi, Al-Biruni or Ibn Batuta, our journey of discovery was an act of faith. We did not know what lay ahead, other than excitement and unpredictability. And we knew that it could be enthralling but would require patience, determination and tenacity. The path we followed has led us finally to this evening, at the inauguration of this magnificent park with so many who have contributed to this historic achievement.”
Elaborating on the vision of the initiative, Mawlana Hazar Imam continued, ” Her Excellency Madame Suzanne Mubarak understood from the very beginning we were creating not just a park – as great an achievement as that would be. The First Lady recognised we were giving birth to a catalyst for social, economic and cultural renewal and improvement that would grow for many years to come. She knew it would have far-reaching consequences for the urban fabric of one of the city’s most historic, yet poorest neighbourhoods, touching some 200,000 individuals. The agencies of the Egyptian government were quick to see that as well, and they helped to create the enabling environment that made the project achievable. Our experience in creating Al-Azhar Park has taught us important new lessons that will contribute to the international body of knowledge about preservation and development in world heritage cities, a substantial portion of them in the Muslim world.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam than concluded with, “In our excavations and our historical investigations, I constantly have been reminded that we were touching the very foundations of my ancestors, the Fatimids, and the pluralistic history and intellectual profile of this city and this country to which they contributed so profoundly. I am very humbled by the opportunity to return to Cairo, founded over a thousand years ago by the Fatimid Caliph Al-Muiz, to build on that history. Thirty-five generations later, through the work done here by my institutions, it is my prayer that this park will be a continuing contribution to the people of this great city.”
Read the complete speech at AKDN | Speech by His Highness the Aga Khan at the Inauguration of Al-Azhar Park (Cairo, Egypt)
- AKDN | Press Centre | Aga Khan and Madame Mubarak inaugurate Cairo’s Al-Azhar Park
- AKDN | Press Centre | His Highness the Aga Khan welcomes HRH The Prince of Wales to Al Azhar Park
- Sasaki | LA Mag features Al-Azhar Park
Research by Nimira Dewji
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