DUBLIN, 25th November 2016 (WAM) – President Higgins visited the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland on its landmark occasion of the 20th anniversary and officially announced “A Celebration of Islamic Art” exhibition.

As part of the Neighbourhood week, the exhibition featured renowned calligraphy artists from China and France as well as craftsmen from Morocco, all of who displayed and demonstrated their varied skilled art talents and craftsmanship.

After a customary short recitation from the Qur’an the guests were greeted by the choir from the Muslim National School Clonskeagh, performing three songs in English, Arabic and finishing with an energetically performed song in the Irish language.

In his opening speech, Dr Nooh Al-Kaddo, CEO, welcomed all guests to the Centre’s momentous occasion.

Looking back at the start of the Centre, Dr Nooh remarked “when we opened our doors in November 1996 we did so with heightened anticipation of the path that lay ahead of us”.

Through generous funding of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and the founder of Al Maktoum Foundation, the Centre was opened by then president of Ireland Mary Robinson in November 1996.

“Although we embraced our task with optimism” Dr Nooh said “we remained conscious at all times of the necessity to adopt and project a positive interactive work ethic to the wider community and this we maintain to this day”.

Commenting on the role of the Muslims in Ireland, Dr Nooh continued “I believe our future is bright in Ireland, today’s Muslim community is generally an educated integrated part of society”. He further emphasised that Muslims in Ireland “have a duty to society and they possess the ability to effectively contribute to making Ireland greater in a variety of fields and specialties”.

Imam Sheikh Hussein Halawa, welcomed all esteemed guests, with the words of ‘peace’ remarking that “our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught us that those who do not thank people, do not thank Allah” and so, on this occasion, he said “we must thank all who have contributed to these 20 years”.

As such Imam Halawa particularly thanked Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum for his generous donation, which enabled building and work of the Centre possible, Mirza Al-Sayegh for his unwavering support over the years as well as many nameless Muslim students who took it upon themselves to initiate building of the Centre.

Imam Halawa also praised and “thanked the people of Ireland and the Government, who opened their arms to us in welcome” and he continued to say “they were our support over the 20 years.”