Damascus, (SANA)- Prime Minister Mohammad Naji Ottri and His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, Head of Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), on Monday discussed fields and prospects of cooperation between the Syrian government and the Network in the economic, social, cultural, development and tourist areas in light of the cooperation agreement signed between the two sides.
Both sides reviewed a set of projects which the AKDN intends to initiate in Syria, particularly rural development, broadening and expanding the program of funding the small-size projects and infrastructure services.
Premier Ottri highlighted the projects which that AKDN is carrying out in Syria, pointing out to its distinguished role in the field of restoration of ancient places and the revival of Arab and Islamic civilizations.
His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan expressed his Network keenness on launching new social and development projects, underscoring the support given to its activities in Syria.
The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism Dr. Sadullah Agha al-Qala’a and Mohammad Mufdi Seifo, AKDN Resident Representative in Syria.
Deputy Premier for Economic Affairs Abdullah al-Dardari also discussed with His Highness Karim Aga Khan the growing cooperation between his Network and Syria.
Mr. Dardari briefed Prince Karim on the situation of investment in Syria and prospects of big and diversified investment and the possibility of the Network’s funding of several development projects as well as the facilities given by the Syrian government to the investors.
Later, in the presence of Premier Ottri and Prince Karim Aga Khan, the Executive Order document to initiate small-size funding in Syria was signed between the Syrian Central Bank and Aga Khan Agency for Small-Size Loans, along with launching new tourism projects in Damascus.
Also a Memo of Understanding was signed between Aga Khan University and the Syrian Ministries of Health and Higher Education.
After the signing ceremony, Premier Ottri and Prince Karim Aga Khan exchanged friendly speeches, expressing common desire to enhance and develop the existing cooperation between Syria and the AKDN, highlighting the agreements signed today.
They also voiced willingness to establish new development projects in different fields.
Ahmad Fathi ZAHRA
Ali Muzzaffarag will soon no longer have to drive all the way to and from Porterville twice a day, six days a week, for prayer meetings and religious courses, thanks to action Monday night by the Visalia Planning Commission.
Muzzaffarag is a member of an Islamic religious sect known as the AGA Khan Shiaimami Ismaili Council for the Western United States, with a congregation of about 50 members in Tulare County.
“We are peaceful,” Muzzaffarag said. “It will be wonderful to not have to drive to Porterville for every meeting.”
The AGA Khan Ismailis follow the Islamic teachings of Karim Aga Khan, who started the sect in the 1940s, according to Web sites recommended by Muzzaffarag.
“It is worldwide,” Muzzaffarag said of the Ismailis. “India, Pakistan and many other countries, including the U.S.” AGA Khani Ismailis represent only about 0.1 percent of all Muslims, online sources say.
Planning Commission members voted 4-0, with member Larry Segrue absent, to allow the AGA Khan Ismailis to convert a 1,974-square-foot portion of an existing 6,426-square-foot building into an Ismaili worship and cultural center.
The building, located on the 1500 block of Lovers Lane near Tulare Avenue, is designed for three tenants. It currently houses one primary business — Mineral King Produce. The Ismaili center will be the second tenant, city reports show.
“Were neighbors notified?” asked Planning Commissioner and chairman Vincent Salinas.
“Yes,” answered Paul Bernal, associate planner for Visalia who prepared a staff report on the Ismailis’ proposed center. “There were community meetings and “they [neighbors] attended. There were no issues or concerns.”
The proposed center would be on the same block as a proposed Social Security Administration field office, the builders of which have been forced to seek an alternate site because of strong, organized neighborhood resistance.
However, the Ismaili center is a completely different idea, embraced by neighbors in the area, unlike the stormy, two-year-old Social Security building controversy, said group leader, area resident and Tulare teacher Kimberlie Tyler.
“This is very much within the designed use of that building,” Tyler said. Further, the Ismaili center does not require the construction of an entirely new facility as did the Social Security proposal.
The Ismaili Muslim Community of B.C. and the B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre will host a walk in Stanley Park today to raise funds for women’s healthcare research.
The two groups have already raised more than $250,000 and hope to surpass the $300,000 target on walk day. All funds raised will go to the Women’s Health Research Institute at the B.C. Women’s Hospital and Health Centre.
The seven-kilometre walk will start at Lumberman’s Arch at 11 a.m. and run until 3:30 p.m. There is also a shorter 3.5-km walk for children and families with strollers.
For more info, visit www.ismailiwalk.bcwomensfoundation.org/ richmond