UN: Iraq government willing to rebuild Mosul four years after ISIS destruction

Restoration is essential for the country to move forward, says UN cultural agency official in Iraq

There is "real" willingness from the Iraqi government and citizens to unite and rebuild historic sites and cities torn apart by ISIS, a UN cultural agency official told The National.

Four years ago, the terror group turned Mosul’s Grand Mosque of Al Nuri to rubble.

Since then, crucial steps have been taken to restore the site, including its famous Al Hadba minaret, known as the hunchback because of its lean.

“The idea of destruction is something that is really what we have in front of us every day, so what’s important is to move forward and to keep on track,” Paolo Fontani, Unesco’s Iraq director, told The National.

“I’ve been here for a few years and there is a big willingness from the part of the government to work together to preserve their heritage."

The mosque's restoration project was announced in Unesco’s “Reviving the Spirit of Mosul” scheme several years ago, in which the UAE announced in April 2018 that it would donate $50 million.

Two churches near by will also be restored, as part of the project to advance the country’s reconciliation after three brutal years under ISIS control.

“The idea is to bring the city alive,” Mr Fontani said.

The project intends to revive Mosul’s cultural life and diversity. For thousands of years the city was a commercial and intellectual centre, and a crossroads.

With the help of the EU, the UN agency is also rehabilitating historic houses in Mosul’s old city.

It was from Al Nuri Mosque that Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, declared a caliphate after the insurgents took over large areas of northern Iraq and parts of Syria in 2014.

ISIS then blew up the mosque and the minaret in 2016 after US-backed Iraqi security forces drew closer to the city.

“We want to keep a timeline in our schedule and also bring back the identity that was stolen. The destruction is a sad reminder of what could happen when people lose track of what’s important,” Mr Fontani said.

The UN official stressed the importance of how Iraqis should focus on standing together to rebuild.

Iraqi society must gain strength so they can focus on their heritage, he said. Heritage and identity are the most important steps to create a solid, stable and peaceful society.

Lack of funding for Iraq’s crucial historic sites

Unesco is fortunate to have had the UAE and others on board to support Mosul, Mr Fontani said, but other sites in Iraq needed the same attention.

“Attention means funds,” he said.

Mosul needs about $88 billion to rebuild and undo the damage brought on by ISIS, which is a lot more than what is being pledged by authorities.

However, as the country faces continuing economic, political and security crises, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, restoring its cultural heritage is not a top priority.

But Mr Fontani said he was “confident” that Iraq would move towards a more stable and peaceful society with the support of Unesco and other partners.

Updated: July 1st 2021, 1:07 PM
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Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

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Our family matters legal consultant

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Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

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Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

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Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.