The circular RAYS OF LIGHT structure, set up in the Social Hall of the Ismaili Centre, Dubai. Courtesy of the Ismaili Council for the UAE
Visitors from the Middle East, North Africa and nearby countries had a chance to take in RAYS OF LIGHT: Glimpses into the Ismaili Imamat earlier this year, when the exhibition opened at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai on 30 March.
A Golden Jubilee International Programme, RAYS OF LIGHT depicts 50 years of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Imamat, against the backdrop of the Jamat's 1 400-year history. The exhibition was inaugurated in France by Mawlana Hazar Imam and his family in December 2008, and has since visited Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Visitors experience the Enlightenment Dome, situated at the centre of the RAYS OF LIGHT exhibition. Courtesy of the Ismaili Council for the UAE
The exhibition's circular structure was set up in the Social Hall of the Ismaili Centre, under the Hall's elegant wood paneled ceiling, distinguished by its three raised openings. Long before the modern concept of the skylight was conceived, Fatimid architects had portions of their ceilings raised to bring natural light into the room. These openings are referred to as lanterns. Setting RAYS OF LIGHT under the “light of the lanterns” enhanced the ambiance and provided visitors with a unique viewing experience.
The United Arab Emirates and the surrounding Gulf region is characterised by the diversity of its population – from the Middle East, North Africa, India, Pakistan and other parts of the world. The exhibition was an opportunity for Ismailis and the wider public to explore Mawlana Hazar Imam's extraordinary work across the globe.
“I know a lot about the work of His Highness but had not fully appreciated the extent of the care and concern that he has for the less privileged in society,” said one guest, who returned for a second visit with members of his family.
Jamati leaders take in the RAYS OF LIGHT exhibition at the Ismaili Centre, Dubai. Courtesy of the Ismaili Council for the UAE
“I wanted my children to understand what selfless humanitarian work is at the root of His Highness's work and how this crosses all barriers of religion and ethnicity.”
A number of diplomats and dignitaries also visited the exhibition, including Francesco Alonso, Mexico's Ambassador to the UAE; Giraud Telme, Counselor General of France in Dubai; Semakula Kiwanuka; Ugandan Ambassador to the UAE; Dr Omar Al Muthanna, CEO of the Community Development Authority, Dubai. Naushad Rashid, President of the Ismaili Council for United Arab Emirates, welcomed them to the Ismaili Centre.
The Minister of the State Office, Dubai, Dr Tarek Shayya said that he “learnt about the incredible achievements of the Ismaili Imamat and the work that the community does all around the world.” He added that “we should all be proud of the work that represents the true essence of Islam.”
A boy is drawn to photographs of a younger Mawlana Hazar Imam, who skied at the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. Courtesy of the Ismaili Council for the UAE
RAYS OF LIGHT inspired moments of upliftment, joy, amazement, silence, awe, pride and humility. One Jamati member described that “it was as if looking through a keyhole, viewing only a portion of the Imam's endeavors, that the Imam's initiatives were much more vast and far reaching and yet untold… the exhibit captured the very different initiatives of the AKDN and Imamat, which was wonderful to see.”
Having completed its showing in Dubai, RAYS OF LIGHT is now heading to Kampala, Uganda in East Africa, where it will be on display between 12 – 16 October 2012. For more information email email@example.com.