Honourable members of the Municipal Council of the City of Granada,
I thank you, Your Excellency the Mayor, for this great distinction which you bestow upon me this evening. It is a special pleasure to receive it in a ceremony held in this wonderful setting. To be granted such a prestigious form of recognition from the city of Granada is, for me, a particularly special honour. Granada is truly exceptional; its history is steeped in influences from several major world cultures, each of which is richly represented in the city's splendid assemblage of historic buildings and public spaces. As someone with a life-long interest in architecture, it is thrilling to move through this city, its monumental buildings, and its historic neighbourhoods. As a Muslim I am moved by the respect and care devoted to the Islamic heritage by the authorities. At the same time, Granada is clearly also a bustling modern city. Managing this combination is a great challenge, one which you and your colleagues are to be congratulated on meeting so admirably.
I am most touched, Your Excellency, by the warm welcome you have extended to me, and my wife, throughout our visit, and for everything that you and your colleagues have done to facilitate the Presentation Ceremony of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. The Ceremony is the culmination of a long and complex process designed to bring distinctive contributions to the built environment to the attention of as wide an audience as possible. The Steering Committee thought that Granada, with its rich history and excellent facilities, would provide an ideal setting for that effort. I am very pleased to say that our expectations have been more than fulfilled, in great measure, Your Excellency, because of your support and many kindnesses.
Let me also say, on behalf of everyone connected with the Award, how honoured we have been by the presence of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, who brought special dignity and high meaning to the events. This is my third visit to Granada in connection with the programmes of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. On each occasion I have deepened my knowledge and appreciation of the historic treasures of the city. I am aware that efforts are continuing to preserve the exceptional heritage of Granada, and I wish to confirm here today that the Aga Khan Trust for Culture will bring its support to these efforts. I will leave Granada tomorrow with many warm memories of my visit and the events of the last three days. One of them will be this occasion, and the very special distinction you have bestowed upon me.
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