Unesco to rebuild two historic Iraqi mosques

‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ initiative also aims to provide employment opportunities and job training to Iraqi citizens

Plans have been unveiled for the reconstruction of two architectural landmarks in the old Iraqi city of Mosul. The plans were announced by the Joint Steering Committee of Unesco’s rehabilitation and reconstruction project of the Al Hadba Minaret and the Al Nouri Mosque of Mosul.

According to a statement, the decision was taken during the third session of the steering committee and marked the launch of the second phase of Unesco’s ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ initiative. The project is being supported by the UAE and aims to restore and reconstruct the historic landmarks of Mosul, notably the Al-Nouri Mosque and its 45m tall leaning Al-Hadba Minaret, which was built more than 840 years ago.

“Today marks the culmination of many months of hard work, but also of cooperation, dedication and determination to ensure that we all move ahead together, side by side, to revive the spirit of Mosul. At the end of phase one of the reconstruction of the Al-Nouri Mosque complex, I wish to reiterate Unesco’s firm commitment to the successful implementation of the project for Mosul, for Iraq, and for the world,” said Unesco director-general Audrey Azoulay.

In line with the decision, Unesco will launch an international architectural competition for the reconstruction of Al-Nouri Mosque. It will consider input of the residents of Mosul, who will be invited to take part in a large-scale consultation concerning the main reconstruction options for the Minaret and the Mosque. The timetable of activities will depend on the ongoing response to COVID-19 in Mosul.

Azoulay added, the second phase of the project involving the consolidation of the remaining base and reconstruction of the Minaret and Mosque, will begin once field and soil investigations are completed, and after an extensive consultation with the local community on the design of the edifice and on whether to make the Minaret lean to one side as the original did.

The Joint Steering Committee has currently endorsed the reconstruction of the Al Hadba Minaret in its original location, and opted for an intermediate solution for Al Nouri Mosque, aimed at maintaining the visual aspects of the building as it was before its destruction in 2017.

As per the statement, the project is an integral part of Unesco’s Revive the Spirit of Mosul initiative. The initiative was launched in February 2018 and represents Unesco’s response to the recovery of one of Iraq’s most iconic cities, through the revival of education, heritage and cultural life.

“We have come a long way since the project’s inception. This progress would have not been possible without the relentless efforts made by the technical committee and the steering committee. We have witnessed significant developments on the ground. Al Nouri Mosque represents a historical and a cultural asset,” said Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.

She added, “We are all aiming at the same goal and we shall agree on the principle of safeguarding this Cultural Heritage. This project has invested a great deal in the local community. We will continue to engage Maslawis throughout the process and are committed to train and hire more Iraqis in the project.”

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