Retrospective: Youssef El-Deeb ’92 Interview with Mata Salamat: Begum Aga Khan – Faithful to the Man and the Place


Some people say that your story is the greatest love story?
Well you know, I love Aswan but it’s because of my husband and the mausoleum that I am here….

Do you feel his presence?
Oh yes. He is always with me, He doesn’t leave me. I am thinking of him all the time. As long as you live and you are thinking of someone he is alive. When you die, he will die. Because he is in me, he lives with me. Now it’s 35 years (since his death) and I am very grateful that he left me the possibility to build this mausoleum. I am very proud.

Some people call this house Noor El-Salam?
It is me. Because Noor for me is the light. Noor El-Salam is a wonderful light, it’s what this house is for me. The house in Cannes is called after my initials and love, Yakimour. The people call me Om Habibeh, but they also call me Yaki. I was called Yvonne Aga Khan, YAK. And I put an “i” to make it sound better then you have amour. Yakimour.

Why are you called Om Habibeh?
My husband called me that. He said it’s the name of the last wife of the Prophet. (It means Beloved Mother)

“I have at last been granted the real and wonderful haven of finding in and with my wife a true union of mind and soul .”

– World Enough & Time – The Memoirs of Sir Sultan Mohammed Shah, Aga Khan III, page 275

Images courtesy of

These values have been upheld and embodied by your family to the highest degree. In welcoming you here this evening we also pay homage to the memory of your grandfather, His Highness the 48th Imam, who had the onerous task of being Secretary General of the League of Nations in 1937 and 1938, in a political climate requiring courage from all who were advocates for peace.

We also recall his French wife, Begum Mata Salamat, Mother of Peace, who will always be remembered, particularly by all those she helped, and who rests by her husband’s side on the banks of the Nile in Aswan.

– French Minister of Culture and Communication, M. Frédéric Mitterrand, November 9, 2010


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