In 2018 the United Arab Emirates, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Iraq signed a historic agreement to rebuild cultural heritage in Iraq. The 5-year project has a budget of 50.4 million USD, contributed by the UAE.
The project will rehabilitate and reconstruct Mosul's historic landmark Al Nouri Mosque, its leaning Al Hadba Minaret, and the adjacent buildings in the mosque complex. Further, it will include the building of a memorial/museum site, to serve as a memory and to display pieces of the mosque. The project will include community and educational spaces, for reflection and to gather the community.
In 2019, to celebrate the Year of Tolerance and with the historic visit of Pope Francis to the UAE, the project was expanded to include the restoration and reconstruction of Al Tahera and Al Sa'aa Churches. These sites were identified by the Christian Waqf as the most representative of the Christian Faith.
Thus far the project has hired 280 locals and is set to create jobs for over 1,000 Moslawis and Iraqis. Further, it includes a capacity building training program, implemented in partnership with ICCROM-Sharjah aimed at developing skills that can be used beyond the scope of the project.
The UAE chose to partner with UNESCO on this project not only because of its international credibility in safeguarding cultural heritage, but because UNESCO's proposal for the project matched the UAE's values. The project aims, not only to restore three cultural heritage sites of great importance to Iraq and the world, but also to foster hope and social cohesion in Mosul and to create jobs and skills that will impact the economy beyond the 5 years of the project.
The UAE funds the project and supervises decision-making around the milestones, making sure the project objectives are delivered according to plan.
Works on the Mosul sites have begun, and thus far the project has hired 280 Iraqis and is set to create jobs for over 1,000.
By early 2020 the first phase of work on the Al Nouri Mosque complex was completed, the site has been cleared of mines and rubble, and the remaining structures have been secured. The next phase will see the start of rehabilitation, restoration and reconstruction work.
The preparatory phase of work on the site of the two churches are underway. This includes carrying out an initial survey of the site and clearing it of rubble.
With the endorsement of the Joint Technical Committee and the Joint Steering Committee, UNESCO will launch an international competition for detailed designs for the Al Nouri Mosque and Al Hadba Minaret in November 2020.
These types of collaborations and projects with UNESCO focus on sustainability, as they intend to create jobs, provide skills that will allow Iraqis to use them for other projects and to build their careers, and revive the economy through tourism.