By Linda Hales
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 27, 2004; Page C01
In the Muslim world, the Aga Khan is also larger than life. As a direct descendant of the prophet Muhammad, the 67-year-old holds the hereditary title of 49th spiritual leader to an estimated 20 million Shiite Ismaili Muslims in 25 countries. In that role, he oversees a complex of Geneva-based trusts dedicated to education and development.
Over nearly three decades, design has become an essential tool in his efforts to bridge the gap between traditional Islamic societies and today’s world. In Cairo, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture funded the $30 million, 74-acre Al-Azhar Park, which was completed this summer. The massive urban revitalization project transformed a 500-year-old dump into an oasis of citrus and palms, with lake, waterfalls, sports facilities and a restaurant.