DOHA — In a room flowing with dignitaries, scholars, architects and other invited guests, the Aga Khan called for the need to close the gap of ignorance between the Muslim world and the West, asking in particular: Can these societies exchange knowledge but on an equal footing?
It was a challenge very much embodied in the Aga Khan Award for Architecture (AKAA) when established in 1977, and which was conferred for the 11th time this year in Qatar on November 24. This year’s ceremonies were hosted by the Amir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani and Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned (with other notables in attendance). Behind the pomp and protocol, however, was a very important but two-fold message. Certainly, there was the continued recognition of projects that contribute in multi-faceted ways to the societies in which Muslims live. Yet, the Award in a very stark manner recognized a project — the Bridge School in Fujian Province in China — that was wholly unrelated to the Muslim world, except for the fact that it was an initiative (the Award) inspired by the ethics of Islam that was conferring the recognition.
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