Tuesday, 18 December 2018 09:23

Foundation stone ceremony of the Al-Nouri Mosque in the Old City of Mosul

Al-Nouri Mosque, Mosul, Iraq. Monday 16th December 2018-The Sunni Religious Endowment (Waqf) of Iraq successfully held a symbolic foundation stone ceremony at the iconic Al-Nouri mosque & Al-Hadba minaret complex in West Mosul, the historic heart of the Old City, devastated by insurgency occupation and intense combat over a three-year period. The mosque and its distinctive leaning minaret having represented an iconic landmark across the city scape of both modern and ancient Mosul.

The ceremony marked the effective starting point of an ambitious project implemented by UNESCO and funded by the United Arab Emirates to preserve and reconstruct the monumental buildings at the complex. The project is carried out in close consultation with the Sunni Waqf, the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, local authorities and the community of the Old City. “Today, as we are laying the foundation stone of the al-Nuri Mosque, we are starting a journey of rebuilding at the heart of the Old City. It is also a journey of revival of the life of the community and of the “Spirit of Mosul”, which the al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba Minaret embody. This endeavour is at the very core of UNESCO “Revival of the Spirit of Mosul” Intiative launched by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay at the Kuwait Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq, earlier this year”, said UNESCO Iraq Country Representative, Louise Haxthausen.

Dr. Abdulatif Al Hemyem, Head of the Sunni Waqf, stressed that “the reconstruction of the al-Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba are symbols of peaceful co-existence for the people of Mosul and Iraq. As we engage with UNESCO in this reconstruction we contribute to bringing life back to the Old City, as well as to lasting peace in our country”.

Alice Walpole, Acting UN Special Representative to the Secretary-General was also present at the ceremony and emphazised that “the reconstruction of the al-Nuri Mosque is integral not just to the repair of the physical environment in Mosul but to the rehabilitation of Mosul’s community. This religious, cultural and historical symbol is at the heart of sustainable recovery for Mosul. The United Nations family in Iraq will continue to support the Government’s efforts accros the country”.

Attended by some 200 people, including many residents from the Old City and the neighbourhoods directly surrounding the Al-Nouri mosque complex, the event marks the official start of a detailed four year phased programme of conservation, restoration and rehabilitation to commence. The official commencement of Phase I will include essential operational activities such as site clearance, historic documentation and preparatory planning. UNESCO will cooperate with the UNMAS on explosive ordnance disposal and ‘heritage aware’ debris clearance, representing a new joint venture between the two agencies in Iraq. Phase II include the restoration of the base of the Al-Hadba Minaret, construction of a replica of the historic leaning minaret on site, reconstruction of Al-Nouri mosque, rehabilitation of the gardens and the establishment of a museum of memory or memorial.

Complementing this project, the European Union will support the pilot reconstruction and restoration in the neighborhoood surrounding the al-Nuri Mosque, with a view to foster resilience, cultural identity, social cohesion and inter-community reconciliation through the creation of job opportunities and the development of youth skills among IDPs/returnees of the Old City’s local communities. EU Ambassador to the EU, Ramon Blecua who was also present at the ceremony stressed that “the reconstruction and preservation of Old Mosul’s cultural heritage is a venue for skills development, livelihoods and job creation for the people of Mosul, in particular its youth. Our efforts aim at the victory of humanity over intolerance and conflict”.

The foundation stone ceremony at the Al-Nouri Mosque and Al-Hadba minaret complex forms an integral element of the initiative, ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’, launched by the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, during the International Conference on the Reconstruction and Development of Iraq (Kuwait City), in February 2018, and is fully aligned with the Government of Iraq’s Reconstruction and Development framework.

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Additional Info

  • Agency: UNESCO

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