Foreign Office Minister for Human Rights Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon attended the official opening of the new Aga Khan Centre in King’s Cross today (26 June) as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour of His Highness the Aga Khan.
The centre is a positive symbol of diversity, cross-cultural learning and shows Britain as a multicultural, multi-faith and tolerant nation.
The new development will be home to institutions and agencies including those of the non-profit Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a group of international agencies dedicated to improving the quality of life in in the poorest countries of the world.
The UK Government works closely with the AKDN in Central Asia and Tanzania, as well as in Afghanistan where the Aga Khan Foundation implement Department for International Development (DfID) programmes including delivering an education programme under the Girls’ Education Challenge.
Speaking at the opening, Lord Tariq Ahmad said:
The opening of this spectacular new building in London is a concrete example of the privileged relationship the UK enjoys with the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community and is the ideal way to mark the Diamond Jubilee tour of His Highness the Aga Khan.
The work we do together makes a huge difference to people’s lives, not least in Afghanistan where 300,000 more girls are going to school thanks to our girls’ education programme there.
One of the Foreign Secretary’s key priorities is ensuring the world’s poorest girls receive 12 years of quality education. Appallingly, 90% of world’s poorest children leave school unable to read and write. That’s why we’ve committed £500 million of UKaid to help over 1.5 million vulnerable girls to learn.
Also in attendance for the official opening were His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the Mayor of London.
The new centre in King’s Cross, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki includes gardens, terraces and courtyards inspired by different Muslim civilisations, although the centre will serve as an academic centre only and will not have a religious function. It brings together under one roof the
Aga Khan Foundation (UK), Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS) and Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC).
Tomorrow His Highness will be attending a lunch at Lancaster House in his honour hosted by the International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, with Foreign Office Permanent Under-Secretary, Sir Simon McDonald, attending.