Egyptian architects win Mosul mosque competition

The 12th century mosque, famous for its leaning minaret was damaged in 2017 fighting between ISIL, US and Iraqi forces.

The winning design is called 'Courtyards Dialogue' [Illustration courtesy of UNESCO]

Eight Egyptian architects have won an international competition for the reconstruction of the historic al-Nouri Mosque complex in Mosul, Iraq, selection organiser UNESCO said Thursday.

The complex was severely damaged by conflict in 2017, and the rebuilding of the mosque is part of the organisation’s project for the rehabilitation of the ancient city.

The mosque, built in the 12th century and famous for its leaning minaret, suffered badly in fighting between the ISIL (ISIS) group and US and Iraqi forces, known as the Battle for Mosul.

ISIL has been accused of blowing up the site before it was captured by government forces.

ISIL was accused of blowing up al-Nouri Mosque before it was captured by government forces [File: Zaid Al-Obeidi/AFP]

Selected from among 123 entries, the winning design is called, “Courtyards Dialogue”.

The reconstruction “will be a landmark in the process of advancing the war-torn city’s reconciliation and social cohesion”, said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

“Heritage sites and historical monuments are powerful catalysts for people’s sense of belonging, of community, and identity,” she added.

“They are key to reviving the spirit of Mosul and of Iraq as a whole.”

Rehabilitation of Mosul

The Egyptian team that won the competition consists of four partners: Salah El Din Samir Hareedy, Khaled Farid El-Deeb, Sherif Farag Ebrahim and Tarek Ali Mohamed.

There were also four designer architects involved: Noha Mansour Ryan, Hager Abdel Ghani Gad, Mahmoud Saad Gamal and Yousra Muhamed El-Baha.

The competition is part of UNESCO’s ‘Revive the Spirit of Mosul’ initiative for the rehabilitation of the city and its cultural life [Illustration courtesy of UNESCO]

The reconstruction work, to start late this year, aims to rebuild al-Nouri’s historic prayer hall and integrate the complex, the largest public space in the Old City of Mosul, into its urban surrounding through open public spaces.

UNESCO launched the competition in November 2020 in coordination with the Iraqi ministry of culture, the Iraqi Sunni Endowment and with support from the United Arab Emirates.

It is part of UNESCO’s “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” initiative for the rehabilitation of the city and its cultural life, and the strengthening of its educational system.

In addition to being awarded the contract for the complex, the winners will receive a $50,000 prize.

A general view of al-Nouri Mosque during its reconstruction, in the old city of Mosul, Iraq January 23, 2020 [File: Abdullah Rashid/Reuters]
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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