Unesco and Germany sign deal to restore Mosul's Al Aghawat Mosque

The initiative aims to 'safeguard Mosul's enduring cultural diversity'

Al Aghawat Mosque in Mosul, Iraq. Courtesy Unesco
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The United Nations cultural agency and Germany signed an agreement this week to restore Al Aghawat Mosque in Mosul in efforts to rehabilitate the war-torn city after a three year occupation of ISIS and Baghdad's slow reconstruction response.

Unesco partnered with the Iraqi government last year as the coordinator to rebuild some of the city's most famous landmarks that were destroyed by urban warfare between the insurgents and the Iraqi forces during nine months of fighting for the city that ended in July 2017.

"The stabilisation, restoration and rehabilitation of the Al Aghawat Mosque Complex in the Old City of Mosul represents another key element to safeguard Mosul's historical heritage and its enduring cultural diversity," Paolo Fontani, Unesco's director and representative to Iraq told The National.

A picture of Al Aghawat Mosque in Mosul, Iraq, before ISIS took control of the city. Courtesy Unesco

Known for its large white dome, the 18th century Aghawat Mosque complex is located in Mosul's ruined Old City on the west bank of the Tigris River.

Rebuilding Mosul, which suffered extensive damage during the battle, will take at least $2 billion in reconstruction support, the Iraqi government said last year.

Unesco has vowed to restore the city’s heartbeat, diversity and history, while directing its educational programmes towards combat extremism.

Its Mosul plan includes restoring the library of Mosul University, two churches, the city’s market and a Yazidi temple.

Germany announced €100 million (Dh415 m) in aid to help rebuild and stabilise the war torn city last December.

The Aghawat Mosque project will be split in to two stages, the first will focus on the clearance of the site and the safeguard of the surviving historic architectural elements of the building.

In December, Iraq, began rebuilding Mosul’s Nuri Mosque, with the assistance of Unesco and the UAE.

The twelfth century mosque and its famous leaning minaret – nicknamed Al Hadba or “the hunchback”– adorns Iraq’s 10,000 dinar note. It gained international notoriety in 2014 as the location where ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi declared his “caliphate”. In the summer of 2017, ISIS fighters demolished the mosque to deny Iraqi Security Forces the symbolic victory of retaking it intact.

In April 2018, the UAE pledged US$50 m (Dh183.6 m) to rebuild the mosque.