London, United Kingdom, 2 July 2008 - His Highness the Aga Khan, arrives later today on an official seven-day visit to the United Kingdom on the occasion of his Golden Jubilee.
During this visit, the Imam (Spiritual Leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims will attend a dinner hosted by Her Majesty the Queen to mark his Golden Jubilee and to acknowledge the close relationship he and his family have had over generations with the British Monarchy and the UK.
The Aga Khan is scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary as well as the Secretary of State for International Development. The Lord Chancellor, Secretary of State for Justice, will host a lunch in his honour. He will also meet with the Leader of the Opposition and the Mayor of London. During his visit, the Aga Khan will meet with members of the Ismaili community.
The Aga Khan Development Network has had a longstanding relationship with development partners in the United Kingdom. Over the past 25 years, AKDN has received approximately $100m in complementary support of its development activities from UK institutions, primarily the Department for International Development (DfID) and its predecessors. The geographic areas of cooperation between the British Government and AKDN include Africa, Central Asia, Afghanistan, India and Pakistan, where UK support has played an important role in making a difference in the quality of life of tens of millions of people.
During his visit to the United Kingdom, the Aga Khan will host a dinner for senior members of the Government, diplomats, distinguished leaders from industry, academia, the arts, faith communities, the NGO sector as well as leaders of the Ismaili community. The evening will provide an opportunity for the Aga Khan to thank the British Government and the civil society representatives for their unwavering support and commitment.
During the past 50 years, the Aga Khan has fostered and overseen the growth of one of the largest private development networks in the world. The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is engaged in a wide range of activities in education, healthcare, rural development, cultural and economic development. These activities are undertaken for the common good of all citizens, regardless of their gender, origin or religion in some of the poorest regions of the world. The work of the Aga Khan Development Network is undertaken through its nine agencies in partnership with Governments and leading multilateral agencies.
The Aga Khan has received numerous awards and decorations. The title ‘His Highness’ was bestowed to him by Her Majesty the Queen in 1957.
This visit to the United Kingdom is one of many that the Aga Khan is undertaking around the world in commemoration of his Golden Jubilee year – the 50th anniversary of becoming the Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims – an ethnically diverse community whose members reside in some 25 countries, including the UK. He is founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network.
For more information, please contact:
Head of Communications Department
Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
Tel. +33 68 30 85 233
Aga Khan Council for the UK
Tel. : +44 776 677 1188
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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 is expected to travel to a number of countries to meet with members of the Ismaili community and visit projects of the AKDN. He is also likely to 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$ 300 million.
Institutions in the UK The Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) operates on four continents and concentrates its activities in the areas of health, education, rural development and the strengthening of civil society. AKF is the Ismaili Imamat’s principal grant-making agency for social development. Aside from Dfid, AKF in the UK also works with a number of other charities and development agencies in the UK.
The Aga Khan University (AKU) is a self-governing institution with teaching and research programmes in Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Afghanistan and the United Kingdom. In the UK, AKU’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (ISMC) provides a unique and multifaceted approach to research and teaching regarding the heritage of Muslim societies in all their diversity.
The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) is an international academic institution based in London which seeks to promote scholarship and learning on Muslim cultures and societies, historical as well as contemporary, and a better understanding of their relationship with other societies and faiths.
The Ismaili Centre, which was opened in 1985 by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, was a project to commemorate the Aga Khan’s Silver Jubilee. The building is a cultural, religious and social space designed for the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. In keeping with the spirit of its architectural design, the Centre also fosters friendship, understanding and dialogue through its various activities.