Warm Uzbek welcome for Mawlana Hazar Imam as Samarkand proudly hosts Award ceremony

President Islam Karimov, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, personally received Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn Mohamed at Tashkent International Airport on their arrival in Uzbekistan on September 17, 1992. He then invited Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn Mohamed to the Presidential dacha for lunch, where they had discussions. At the luncheon reception, President Karimov placed a ceremonial Uzbek robe and hat on Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prince Amyn and warmly welcomed them the Uzbekistan. He then invited Mawlana Hazar Imam to join him on his presidential aircraft and accompanied him to Samarkand to a tumultuous welcome.

At Samarkand airport, the Governor of Samarkand Region, Mr. Pulat Majidovich Abdur Rakhmanov, Samarkand Mayor Aziz Nasirov, various civic officials and leading personalities of the city received Mawlana Hazar Imam and President Karimov. An orchestra, specially commissioned from Tashkent, played Uzbek music, while children dressed in colourful Uzbek national dress scattered rose petals on the path of the arriving dignitaries. The airport was decorated with flowers and flags of Uzbekistan and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Earlier in the evening international guests and Award winners had also arrived in Samarkand.

On the evening of the September 17, Hazar Imam and the Steering Committee of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture hosted a dinner in honour of President Karimov and all the overseas guests.

President Karimov paid glowing tribute to Hazar Imam for his untiring efforts to uphold the cultural values of Islam. He referred to Hazar Imam's humanitarian endeavours and the Aga Khan Development Network's work worldwide. He also expressed gratitude to Hazar Imam for choosing Samarkand as a venue for the 5th Award Ceremony, to which outstanding architects, sociologists, art historians, clients and writers from all over the world had been invited.

Samarkand itself was bustling with activity as the fabled Timurid city prepared for one of the Islamic world's greatest cultural events. Its historic Registan Square was transformed into a major venue for the event, as hundreds of workmen attended to the logistical arrangements.

The 1992 awards singled out five achievements in enhancing urban environments in different parts of the Muslim world honouring projects in:

- Kairouan, Tunisia (the Kairouan Conservation Programme); - Istanbul, Turkey (Palace Parks Programme); - Cairo, Egypt (Cultural Park for Children); - Amman, Jordan (East Wahdat Upgrading Programme); - Yogyakarta, Indonesia (Kampung Kali Cho-de).

These projects range from the conservation and re-use of a historic median to the upgrading of informal settlements.

The Master Jury cited the remaining four projects for their success in generating new architectural languages:

- The Stone Building System used for school construction in Dar'a Province, Syria; - The Demir Holiday Village (Bodrum, Turkey) - The Panafrican Institute for Development (Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso); - The Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India (Ahmedabad).

Referring to all nine winners, the Jury stated that it "believes that these economically sustainable, humanistic solutions are relevant for the developed countries as well as the developing world."

Thanking President Karimov, the Government of Uzbekistan and the officials of Samarkand, the Uzbek Union of Architects and the people of Samarkand for making the 1992 award ceremony possible, Hazar Imam referred to Samarkand as an especially appropriate venue for the conclusion of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture's three year cycle. "Two generations of inspired building by Timur and his grandson, Ulugh Beg, have shown us how determined patronage and the skills of different schools and practice can be brought together to create great architecture," he said.

(Source: Ismaili Canada September 92)

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