UAE to rebuild Iraq’s iconic Mosul mosque destroyed in Daesh fight

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A view of the destroyed Al-Nuri mosque in the old city of Mosul is seen on April 23, 2018. (AFP)
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Updated 23 April 2018
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UAE to rebuild Iraq’s iconic Mosul mosque destroyed in Daesh fight

  • UAE donates over $50mn to reconstruct Mosul’s Great Mosque of Al-Nuri
  • The five-year project aims to give hope to Iraqi youths

BAGHDAD: The United Arab Emirates and Iraq on Monday launched a joint effort to reconstruct Mosul’s Great Mosque of Al-Nuri and its iconic leaning minaret, ravaged last year during battles to retake the city from militants.
During the ceremony at Baghdad’s National Museum, UAE Culture Minister Noura Al-Kaabi said her country would put forward $50.4 million (41.2 million euros) for the task.
“The five-year project is not just about rebuilding the mosque, the minaret and the infrastructure, but also about giving hope to young Iraqis,” she said.
“The millenia-old civilization must be preserved.”
The deal was signed by Kaabi and her Iraqi counterpart, Faryad Rawanduzi, in the presence of UNESCO’s Iraq representative Louise Haxthausen.
“This is an ambitious, highly symbolic project for the resurrection of Mosul and Iraq,” said Haxthausen.
“The work has already begun, the site is now protected... we must first clear the site, remove the rubble (and) document, before we can begin reconstructing the mosque and its minaret.”
The famed 12th century mosque and its leaning minaret — dubbed “the hunchback,” or Al-Habda, by locals — was destroyed in June 2017.
The Iraqi army accused Daesh militants of destroying it with explosives as Iraqi forces steadily retook ground in the embattled city.
It was in this mosque in 2014 that Daesh’s self-proclaimed “caliph,” Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, made his only public appearance as leader. His whereabouts are still unknown.
Kaabi, the Emirati minister, called on the international community “to unite to protect universal heritage sites, especially those in our Arab region” in theaters of conflict.
The Al-Nuri mosque is named after Nureddine Al-Zinki, who once ruled over Aleppo and Mosul and ordered the construction of the mosque in 1172.
Al-Habda, which maintained the same structure for nine centuries, was one of the only remnants of the original construction.
Decorated with geometric brick designs, the minaret was long a symbol of the city.
It was printed on 10,000 Iraqi dinar banknotes before it became a symbol of Daesh rule, when the militants planted their black flag at the top of its 45-meter spire.
“This is a historic partnership, the largest and unprecedented cooperation to rebuild cultural heritage in Iraq ever,” UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said in a statement.
The first year of reconstruction will focus on documenting and clearing the site, UNESCO said.
The following four years will focus on the restoration and “faithful reconstruction” of the mosque, its minaret as well as the city’s historic gardens and open spaces.


Cyclone Mekenu pummels UNESCO-protected Socotra island, several feared dead, others missing

Updated 40 min 40 sec ago
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Cyclone Mekenu pummels UNESCO-protected Socotra island, several feared dead, others missing

  • Cyclone Mekunu hit the Yemeni island of Socotra Wednesday night, causing severe flooding and damage to houses
  • 150 families had been evacuated and moved to government facilities after downpours caused houses and streets to flood, trapping people in their homes

SOCOTRA: Hundreds evacuated from their homes after Cyclone Mekunu hit the Yemeni island of Socotra Wednesday night, causing severe flooding and damage to houses, officials said.
Several are feared dead and others reported missing. Four crew members on board a boat that sunk when the storm hit the island in the Arabian Sea were missing, a fisheries ministry official told AFP.
Another official said that 150 families had been evacuated and moved to government facilities after downpours caused houses and streets to flood, trapping people in their homes.
Some residents carrying children tried to escape through the flooded streets, an AFP correspondent said.


In neighboring Oman, authorities announced through the official news agency they were taking “necessary precautions” in case the cyclone hits the Gulf sultanate.

Millions of Yemenis are living in dire conditions as a result of a long-running civil conflict, which since 2015 has pitted a Saudi-led coalition against the Iran-backed Houthi militias.
But Socotra has been spared involvement in the violence, which has claimed nearly 10,000 lives since March 2015 and triggered what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.