From Dubai to Mosul: A Shared Responsibility to Restore the Rich History of Mosul

It is our shared responsibility to restore the rich history of Mosul and to encourage the youth to deepen the understanding of their culture through the power of literature.

Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development

A few months ago, I asked Sultan Al Qassemi to connect me with Juma Al Majid Center for Culture & Heritage to ask them to support the Central Library of the University of Mosul with books. He did and put us in contact. I approached them; they offered a generous list of books.
After a few days, we had to select the books we need from that list. The list was sent to Mosul; the library staff selected 271 books.
Now I have to ship the books to Mosul! How? I can’t; it was so expensive!
I thought of contacting Nancy Jamal, Official @Coalition Representative to ask her for support, as she was always of great support to Mosul and its people. She offered to ask around, but it took a little bit of time. I didn’t want to push, and Juma al-Majid centre was asking me how I am gonna pick the books!
After a little while of hesitation, I decided to contact H.E Noura Al Kaabi U.A.E. Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.
“We have some books that need to be shipped from Dubai to Mosul, can you help us”? I said.
“With my pleasure” she quickly replied.
To be honest, I was a little bit surprised. I know there is this kind of protocols of communications with ministers and officials that I didn’t want to break them. But her! She responded as a friend. She said we are friends. This made me very happy.
I received an email from her assistant telling me that they will happily want to ship the books to Mosul within the initiative Year of Tolerance 2019.
I directly connected them with Juma al-Majid centre, the communicated and coordinated.
They asked for a letter to the Iraqi commission of customs to exempt the books from taxes. I got a letter from the Central Library and sent it back.
The books were packed, shipped and arrived within only one week!
To open the doors of Mosul to people from everywhere. Now we will always remember that H.E Noura AlKaabi helped us to resupply our library. The idea behind our books campaign is to create memories, to replace it with that of ISIS’s
That’s was my goal when I launched the campaign to revive the libraries of Mosul. Books aren’t my target, but the human connection, to reconnect Mosul with its international context again.
Our Books campaign is focusing on this kind of collaboration. The simple and fast mobilization of human efforts to avoid the bureaucracy and to focus more on the idea, not the objects.
In the end, Dear Sultan Al Qassemi, Noura AlKaabi and Juma al-Majid Center:
I can’t thank you enough, but you helped me prove that the idea of the simple and effective human mobilisation is possible.
Yours Sincerely
Omar of Mosul

The Jewish Quarter: Local efforts to Rebuild the Tomb of Daniel in Old Mosul

In collaboration with the Sunni endowments administration and local funders, the reconstruction of the Tomb of Daniel has begun.

The the mosque is believed to be built over the tomb of prophet Daniel. It is located in the Jewish Quarter (Nowadays called Al Ahmadiyya). It was destroyed by ISIS in 2014. Before destruction, the shrine had a small green dome and underneath the dome, a sarcophagus draped with green cloth.

The Revival of Mar Behnam Monastery

The French organization “Fraternité en Irak” with funds from ALIPH have finished the reconstruction of one of the most important monasteries in Nineveh “Mar Behnam Monastery”.

Monastery of the Martyrs Mar Behnam and Marth Sarah (Syriac: ܕܝܪܐ ܕܡܪܝ ܒܗܢܡ ܘܡܪܬ ܣܪܐ‎, Arabic: دير مار بهنام‎, Mar Behnam Monastery), is a Syriac Catholic monastery in northern Iraq in the village Khidr Ilyas close to the town of Beth Khdeda. The tomb of Mar Benham was heavily damaged on March 19, 2015 by the Islamic State, and the exterior murals were desecrated in all of the monastery’s buildings. Repair work restoring the monastery and the tomb of Mar Behnam to its pre-ISIS condition was completed by early December 2018.The French organization “Fraternité en Irak” with funds from ALIPH have finished the reconstrection of one of the most important monasteries in Nineveh “Mar Behnam Monastery”

Surviving Architecture of Mosul: An appeal to ALIPH foundation to preserve the surviving Arches of Mosul.

Surviving Architecture of Mosul: An appeal to ALIPH foundation to preserve the surviving Arches of Mosul.

I, Omar Mohammed, appeal to the Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) Foundation to protect and preserve the SURVIVING unique arches and passages of Old Mosul.

As the revival of Mosul’s heritage will reveal keys to humanity’s resistance against violence and division. It will reveal that the only way to live together is by believing in diversity as a mosaic, where each distinct piece is integral to the revelation of the whole, where any missing piece will in the end rob all of their shared destiny. 

The protection and promotion of this heritage in the contemporary culture will create safe spaces of communication between diverse groups of people. When you feel your identity is protected, you will act in a responsible way before the entire community.

Al Salihiyya: The Revival of an Ottoman Hammam in Old Mosul.

Hammam al Salihiyya, one of the old Ottoman Hammams in Old Mosul, built in 1755and was destroyed during the battle to retake the city from ISIS.

The owner himself decided with the support of the local community to rebuild and revive the Hammam for its historical importance. Designs have already been proposed and prepared by local companies and architects to preserve the same structure of the Hammam.

Since the Iran-backed governor of Mosul have attempted to demolish the Old City to build a hub of markets and “Modern City” full of restaurants and the people responded in promising to prevent any attempts to demolish the heritage of Mosul.

The design of the Hammam

In Pictures: The Revival Of Sham’un Al-Safa (Simon Peter) School in Old Mosul

Sham’un Al-Safa (Simon Peter) is one of the oldest official schools for Christian in Mosul established and attached to oldest church with the same name ( built circa 3rd century). The school was established in 1855 by Audishu V Khayyath (1827 – 1899) after he returned from Rome where he finished his studies in the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith.

The school was well known for its role to provide the Christian community of Mosul with modern education.

It was severely damaged during the battle to retake Mosul from ISIS. After the libration, an initiative by Young Muslim Mosulis was launched to revive the school, and after few days the school was completely recovered.

In the photos you can see how the school has revived and it is important to mention that such initiatives are not new or not a surprise for the Mosuli community that ISIS tried to destroy. Its coexistence is deep into the society of Mosul but even with that, we need to support more interaction and to convince the Christian to return back and contribute to the revival of Mosul.

I invite the Fr. Najeeb Michail the Archbishop of Mosul to call for a general congress for the leaders of different faiths in Mosul to sit together and discuss the future of Mosul to address the real problems in order to find a better social code between all the communities of Mosul and to contribute to the protection and preservation of our heritage.

Patriarch Abdisho V. KhayatJS.jpg
Chaldäisch Kath. Patriarch Abdisho V. Khayat
Audishu V Khayyath meets with Yazidi leaders in Mosul, c. 1895

First bookstore in Old Mosul reopened

Daud Salim the owner of Al Sham Bookstore has reopened his shop in al Najafi street. Daud is well known by researchers and intellectuals in Mosul for providing books in all fields of knowledge. I met with Daud several times in Cairo in 2011 when he was purchasing books for his bookstore, he spent lots of money which was all lost after his shop was destroyed. His bookstore was open during ISIS and we kept secretly buying books from him as ISIS forced all bookstores to sell only religious books. In early 2015 ISIS executed the owner of Al Arabi bookstore in Najafi street for selling (Anti Islam books).

His bookstore was destroyed during the military operation to retake Mosul form ISIS. The rehabilitation of Old Mosul is essential in any efforts to defeat ISIS. Without rebuilding the Old City, they people will lose their cultural identity.

The Mouslis are determined to protect and preserve the heritage of Old Mosul as the city is not just “Stones” as the former governor Akub said and is not for sell as the current one is trying to do. The Old City is where our history was made.


Video: Two years after the liberation, the centre of Mosul’s bookshops and stationers is still in ruins

Two years since Mosul was liberated, but half of the city is still in ruins with no clear plan for reconstructions.

We walked through al Najafi street, the center of Mosul’s bookshops and stationery and the distentions for Mosul’ intellectuals. We saw only one bookshop has reopened while 100s of shops are still closed.

Al Najafi Street used to be a hub for bookshops. But it was destroyed in the military operation to retake the city from the Islamic State group in June last year.

Unearthed: National emblem of consulat de France a Mossoul of the French First Empire (1804-1815)

Unearthed in Old Mosul the National emblem of the imperial Coat of Arms of the French First Empire (1804-1815), under Napoleon Bonaparte. The Arms depicts a shield with a golden eagle in front of a blue background, within its talons clutching a thunderbolt. The shield is surrounded by Napoleon’s red Imperial mantle, filled with golden bees. The shield is topped by a the Imperial crown, which sits atop a golden Imperial helmet. Surrounding the shield is the the chain and pendant of the Legion d’honneur. Crossed behind the shield are the Scepters of justice and mercy.

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Imperial Coat of Arms of France (1804-1815).svg

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