The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in France and permanent delegate to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Ali Abdullah al-Ahmed, highlighted the importance of the project in which the Gulf country is participating for the restoration of the monuments of the city of Mosul, in Iraq, among which the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri and its minaret of Al-Hadba stand out.
In an interview with Radio Monte Carlo Doualiya, Al-Ahmed stated that this initiative began in 2018 as part of plans to rebuild the city of Mosul following the destructive activity of the Daesh terrorist group in the area, and that there is a Joint Steering Committee consisting of 16 members representing the Government of Iraq and the relevant authorities of this Middle Eastern country, UNESCO and other experts focused on the issue. The diplomat indicated that the project consists of several stages that will be coordinated between UNESCO and the Emirates, represented by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, with the participation of the Iraqi Executive.
The UAE Ambassador to France and UNESCO delegate also stressed that the mosque represents a cultural and historical legacy of human civilization as a whole, not only for Muslims.
Ali Abdullah al-Ahmed pointed out that the project also includes the restoration of two other religious centres; specifically, the church of Al-Saa'a and the church of Al-Tahira, which was built at the end of the 19th century and is considered an important part of Iraq's historical heritage.
This five-year project, worth $50.4 million, also sends a message to young Iraqis with the slogan of hope called 'Towards a better future'.
The Great Mosque of Al-Nuri became a representative building of the Iraqi city of Mosul, known for its sloping minaret. Its construction dates back to the second half of the 12th century, and was destroyed on June 21, 2017 by the Daesh jihadists, who blew up the mosque and the minaret itself.
It was from this Islamic temple that the leader of Daesh Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, killed in late October 2019 in a US Army operation against the Hurras al-Din (Guardians of Religion) group, linked to Daesh himself and Al-Qaeda, in the village of Barisha, in Idlib, northwest Syria, launched his proclamations.
It was precisely in the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri that the jihadist leader proclaimed himself ruler over the territories then dominated by the terrorist formation in Syria and Iraq.
The mosque had been the most representative of Mosul for centuries. A rare, overhanging minaret known as 'the Hunchback' became the symbol of the Iraqi city for almost 900 years, until it was destroyed by Daesh. After surviving more than eight centuries of invasions and conquests, it finally succumbed to the jihadist organization on June 21, 2017, the same year the terrorist group was defeated on Iraqi soil by international forces led by the United States. This 45-meter-high brick minaret had hovered over the ancient city in northeastern Iraq since 1172, when it was built next to the mosque and madrasa (religious school) of Al-Nuri under the orders of Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, a leader famous for his victories against the Crusaders.
The peculiar angle of inclination of the minaret gave it the name 'Al-Hadba', or 'the Hunchback', in the 14th century. A local tradition suggested that it acquired this inclination by bowing to Muhammad as the prophet ascended to heaven.
Although Al-Hadba was part of an Islamic religious architectural complex, the minaret was the imperfect and beloved embodiment of Mosul for all the residents of a city with an impressive diversity, which has welcomed Assyrians, Christians, Yazidis and Kurds. After Daesh took Mosul in June 2014 and proclaimed his caliphate in the area that year, he began a campaign of destruction of the ancient legacy of the city and its surroundings, including Nineveh, Nimrud and the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Finally, in 2017 Daesh was officially defeated on Iraqi territory, and in 2018 the valuable heritage reconstruction project, which also includes the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri, began, as could not be otherwise.