UAE-backed reconstruction of Iraq's Great Mosque of al-Nuri to complete in 2023

The five-year project will create 1,000 jobs, the UAE's Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development said

The UAE is backing the reconstruction of Iraq's Great Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul [image: ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP/Getty Images].
The UAE is backing the reconstruction of Iraq's Great Mosque of Al-Nuri in Mosul [image: ZAID AL-OBEIDI/AFP/Getty Images].

The committee overseeing the reconstruction of Iraq’s Al-Nuri Mosque and Al-Hadba’ Minaret, also known as Great Mosque of al-Nuri, in Mosul met in Abu Dhabi over the weekend to review progress on the project. The $50.4m (AED185.2m) development comes as the UAE celebrates the 100th birth anniversary of Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan.

Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said the project reflects “Sheikh Zayed’s legacy and his unflinching commitment to supporting Arab brothers and contributing positively to the prosperity of their countries”. The development, she added, reiterates the UAE’s role in safeguarding world heritage “and conserving its cultural resources in war zones”, and the country is “committed to supporting such projects for restoration of historic and cultural landmarks, especially those destroyed by terrorist organisations such as Daesh”.

According to Al Kaabi, the five-year project will create 1,000 jobs and training opportunities, will be implemented by experts from the UAE and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco). During the meeting, the project’s joint steering committee agreed to complete the development by 2023, agreeing to hold “regular meetings every six months to review the progress of the project”.

The Al-Hadba’ Minaret, built more than 840 years ago, is a 45m-tall leaning structure within the Al-Nuri Mosque.

READ: Gulf governments, investors commit $30bn to Iraq reconstruction

Year 1 of the redevelopment programme will “focus on documenting and clearing the site as well as drawing up plans for its reconstruction”, according to a report by WAM.

“The following four years will focus on the restoration and historically faithful reconstruction of the leaning minaret, the Al-Nuri Mosque, and adjacent buildings,” the report continued.

“The city’s historic gardens and other open spaces and infrastructures are also part of the plan, which foresees the building of a memorial and site museum.”

The UAE and Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding for cultural cooperation in April 2018, which included the reconstruction and restoration project. The development also included the construction of a new memorial site with community and educational spaces for the public.

Additionally, the UAE signed an agreement with Unesco to fund the reconstruction of both monuments, build infrastructure for the project, and rebuild the memorial site and its gardens.

Notable Emirati and Iraqi organisations are included within the project’s committee, such as the Iraqi Sunni Endowment, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Sharjah regional office of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property.

Commenting on the project’s significance, Al Kaabi said: “The landmark restoration project sends a message of hope and optimism to Iraqi young generations as active enablers and contributors to the reconstruction process. In the end, it will contribute to building a viable, prosperous city where values of tolerance, reconciliation and openness will prevail. The city will restore its shine as a centre for science and culture.”

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