The event ‘Empowering Citizens through Heritage Restoration, Culture and Education in Mosul and Basra‘ was the opportunity to highlight the achievements and impact of the project ‘Reviving Mosul and Basra Old Cities‘ funded by the European Union, within the framework of the UNESCO’s initiative “Revive The Spirit of Mosul”, since its launch in 2018.
This initiative has highlighted the incredible resilience and determination of the people of Mosul and Basra, as well as the fundamental role of culture and education for recovery. It is the people and especially the young people and women of these communities that will ensure the sustainability of this initiative rebuilding cities that are culturally vibrant and inclusive.Mr. Ernesto Ottone R.
UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture
A celebration of Iraqi empowerment
During the event, three young Iraqi architects and engineers shared their experience of taking part in the rebuilding of Mosul, stressing how central this engagement has been for the professional and personal development.
Guests also had the chance to dive, via a photo exhibition and short videos, into the historic centres of Mosul and Basra. They witnessed the reconstruction of iconic historical buildings, the vocational training of young people, including the transmission of ancestral craftmanship techniques, and the revival of the vibrant multicultural life in Mosul after Liberation from ISIL. Seven short movies were displayed. They were produced by talented young Iraqi filmmakers who have been trained in partnership with Belgian theatre NTGent and the Mosul Fine Arts Institute.
The event ended with a powerful and moving live performance of traditional Iraqi music by four talented artists from the diaspora. Led by Layth Sidiq, they played diverse musical pieces from both the North and South of the country.
Also an outdoor photo exhibition on the fences of the “Parc de Bruxelles” providing additional insight on the impact of the UNESCO flagship initiative ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ supported by the European Union and other partners, took place from 23 January to 17 February 2023.
Revive the Spirit of Mosul
The ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul‘ initiative was launched in 2018 by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay as the Organization’s response to the recovery process of one of the most iconic cities of Iraq following years of conflict. The overall aim of the initiative is to contribute to the city’s recovery and social cohesion through citizen empowerment. Together with the United Arab Emirates, the European Union is UNESCO’s main partner in this endeavour, joined by thirteen other donors.
Without culture, there is no future. Building back culture, education and jobs was therefore critical for livelihoods and society. ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ has provided sustainable opportunities, in particular for young people, and has amplified the necessity of a human-centred approach to cultural heritage. It must be done by the community for the community.Ms. Chiara Adamo
Acting Director for Human Development, Migration, Governance and Peace, Directorate-General for International Partnerships, European Commission
The initiative supports the revival of the educational and cultural sectors in Mosul and provides young people with skills and jobs for the reconstruction of its historical centre’s most emblematic landmarks, such as the Al Nouri Mosque and its famous leaning minaret, Al-Tahera and Al-Saa’a churches. After an extensive preparation phase, the actual reconstruction works for these sites started during the first semester of 2022. Thanks to the European Union, the priority has also been given to rebuilding historic houses so that families can return to live in Mosul. UNESCO is rehabilitating 124 historic houses. This intervention is comprehensive: from reconstruction of existing structures to rehabilitation of surrounding public spaces including new road surfacing and public lightening. The EU funding has also allowed the complete rebuilding of the Al-Ekhlas Primary School where works are under way based on the ideas of the school’s daily actors including the children themselves.
This event is a reminder of what has been achieved to revive the spirit of Mosul. The city is the beating heart of Iraq, a living symbol of Iraq’s pluralistic identity and a place of coexistence between different ethnicities and religions.H.E. Mr. Ahmad Berwari
Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to the Kingdom of Belgium
Thanks to the EU support, so far more that 4,100 jobs were created , more than 1,500 vulnerable youth trained in restoration and more than 47 historic houses rehabilitated and handed over to their owners, showing its positive impact on cultural and social regeneration.