Damascus, Syria, 24 August 2008 - His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam, (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, and founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), arrived in Damascus today, on a 6-day official visit to Syria. He was received at the airport by Deputy Prime Minister Mr Abdullah Al-Dardari, Minister of Tourism, Dr Sadallah Agha Al-Qala, various faith leaders as well as leaders from the Ismaili Community in Syria and officials from the AKDN.
The visit comes in response to an invitation from the Syrian Arab Republic Government, and within the context of His Highness’ Golden Jubilee - the Aga Khan acceded to the Ismaili Imamat on 11th July 1957 and is visiting some 30 countries around the world which have long-standing and close relations with the Imamat to express his gratitude and friendship with governments, leaders, and other partners of the AKDN.
During his visit to Syria, the Aga Khan, is scheduled to meet with Dr. Bashar Al Assad, President of the Syrian Arab Republic, and to hold meetings with the Syrian Prime Minister and a number of political and spiritual leaders in Syria to discuss ways of furthering cooperation and coordination in the areas of healthcare, nursing, education, microfinance, tourism and culture. Within this framework, a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding are expected to be signed to further development in these areas and enhance sustainable integrated development in the country.
In a ceremony to be held in Aleppo on Thursday 28th August 2008, the Aga Khan will also mark the completion of cultural revitalisation work on the Citadels of Aleppo, Salah ad-Din and Masyaf, carried out by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in partnership with the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums.
For more information, please contact:
M. Adham Al-Sayed
Aga Khan Development Network, Syria
Abou Rumaneh, Rawda Square
Abdul Kader Al-Jazairi St., Bldg No. 15
Damascus - Syria
Golden Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan His Highness the Aga Khan completed his 50th year as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims on 11th July 2007, succeeding his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah. The Aga Khan leads a community of 15 million Ismaili Muslims living in some 25 countries around the world and is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family). In the Ismaili tradition, the Imam’s Jubilee celebrations offer occasions to launch new social, cultural and economic development projects. In keeping with the ethics of the faith, these projects aspire to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable in society. During the Jubilee year, the Aga Khan will travel to a number of countries to meet with members of the Ismaili community, visit projects of the AKDN and announce the creation of new development institutions and projects and the significant expansion of existing ones.
The Aga Khan Development Network His Highness the Aga Khan is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of private, non-denominational development agencies working to empower communities and individuals to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, Central and South Asia, and the Middle East. The Network’s nine development agencies focus on social, cultural and economic development for all citizens, regardless of gender, origin or religion. The AKDN’s underlying ethic is compassion for the vulnerable in society. Its annual budget for social development is in excess of US$ 350 million.
AKDN in Syria In Syria, programmes of the Aga Khan Development Network AKDN span six provinces (Aleppo, Damascus, Hama, Lattakia, Sweida and Tartous), serving both rural and urban populations. AKDN programmes in Syria focus on healthcare, education, microfinance, culture, cultural tourism, rural development, institution-support and the promotion of economic development. All activities undertaken by the AKDN in Syria are implemented under the Framework of a Development Agreement signed in November 2001 by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Syria.