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Reviving the Spirit of Mosul

Audrey Azoulay



Last week, the world made a great commitment to rebuild Iraq following the recent defeat of ISIS. Recognizing the immense courage of the Iraqi people and the depth of their suffering, the Kuwait International Conference for the Reconstruction of Iraq pledged to rebuild infrastructure so that the country can once again prosper.

Mosul is the living symbol of Iraqi’s pluralistic identity. For centuries, it was at the crossroad of culture in the Middle East. From the Sumerian cities to Babylon, from the walls of Nineveh to the Silk Road, the region has been a melting pot of people and ideas. For the last three years, this story of peace – the true spirit of Mosul – has been overshadowed by another story of hatred and violence.

The conference stressed the importance of putting the human dimension at the heart of our efforts for sustainable reconstruction. So we launched “Revive the Spirit of Mosul”, an initiative for the reconstruction of the Old City, both its physical infrastructure and restoring the dignity of its people. When war is waged against culture and education, response must be culture and education. This is the only long-term solution against extremism.

The destruction of the University of Mosul Library, the dynamiting of the Al-Hadba minaret and the pillaging of the Nabi Yunus Shrine, emblem of the religious coexistence of the three religions of the Book – shocked the world. Public libraries were burnt, music was silenced, artists attacked and cafes closed.

Thousands of children have learned war and been indoctrinated with an intellectually corrupt ideology. They have not received an education – the essential tool for building the future. To avoid raising a lost generation, we must teach peace but also reinfuse these communities with the culture of peace, steeped in Iraq’s rich history and cultural life.

The revival of the Old City of Mosul is the cornerstone of our initiative, supported by both UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi. This initiative means restoring architectural symbols that bring the Iraqi people together, in all its diversity. Many key actors like the European Union, neighboring countries and international organizations expressed great interest in participating in this effort that UNESCO will coordinate.

UNESCO will bring its expertise in damage assessment to restore and reconstruct the emblematic sites of the historic center. We will work hand-in-hand with the local population and the government to restore bookshops, cultural centers and museums – including the Museum of Mosul, which was tragically ransacked.

We will provide opportunities for technical and vocational training, particularly in traditional building techniques, so that Iraqis will have the skills to actively contribute to this reconstruction.

The great civilizations of this region defined the course of humanity, through a thousand-year dialogue, which gave birth to the wheel, writing, mathematics and law. We will work with our Iraqi counterparts to ensure future generations will learn of their proud heritage, through the school materials that we are developing, including a new school curriculum, which puts humanities at its core along creativity, critical thinking and values of respect. This is the only way to ensure that fanaticism does not prevail once more.

This “Revive the Spirit of Mosul” initiative will be UNESCO’s main contribution to the United Nations’ Response and Resilience program designed to help Iraq’s government fast-track the social dimensions of reconstruction.

Later this year, we will organize an international conference at UNESCO Headquarters, with the Iraqi government and all our partners, to design a blueprint for this reconstruction.

Through culture and education, we can restore trust and create the conditions for a common future. This reconstruction will take time but, brick-by-brick, lesson-by-lesson, together we can revive the true spirit of Mosul.

First published in Asharq Al-Awsat

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Building intercultural competences in Costa Rica

MD Staff



© UNESCO Participants using “Story Circles” to develop intercultural competence

In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Youth of Costa Rica, Parque La Libertad, the Costa Rican National Human Rights Institution and the Spanish Cultural Centre in Costa Rica, UNESCO conducted the third pilot of the UNESCO Manual on Intercultural Competences based on Human Rights in San José, Costa Rica, from 7 to 9 March 2018.

Building on the previous pilot sessions in Bangkok, Thailand, and Harare, Zimbabwe, the Costa Rican pilot provided an additional opportunity to test the manual’s adaptability and effectiveness in different contexts, both from the perspective of facilitation, and with regard to its ability to build individual capacities for intercultural dialogue and understanding.

Over the course of three days, UNESCO led a training of trainers session with national authorities, local NGO leaders, educators and other community leaders, as well as two pilot sessions – facilitated by the newly trained local personnel – with over 70 participants from a broad cross-section of Costa Rica’s population. The pilot sessions included a particular focus on indigenous groups, and community-level work for youth-focused violence prevention.

Ms Viviana Boza, Vice-Minister of Youth from Costa Rica, opened the proceedings, highlighting “the importance of this collaboration which allows us to enhance our comprehension of the   cultural differences and challenges facing Costa Rica to advance the resolution of intercultural and intergenerational conflicts”.

Against the backdrop of growing cultural diversity and intercultural interaction within the sub-region, the methodology proposed in this manual provides an accessible activity based on story-telling to bring people together to reflect upon their differences and challenge their preconceptions. It provides a unique opportunity for participants to improve their capacity for empathy, tolerance, listening and understanding, and therefore reflect on sources of conflict and misunderstanding.

Indeed, given the serious global challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, learning how to live together is an imperative for advancing sustainable and inclusive development. To this end, learning to be intercultural competent – in other words, having the skills needed to enhance connections and understanding across difference – is essential.

The lessons learnt from this pilot session will inform final adaptions to the manual to maximize its relevance once publically released, including within the Latin American and Caribbean context. It also contributed to the building of a strong foundation of trained facilitators to help mobilize the manual’s wide dissemination and use following its expected publication before the end of 2018.


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Ballet and Opera Set Sail With Silversea in 2018 and 2019

MD Staff



Ultra-luxury Silversea has announced a new collection of ballet and opera-themed sailings for 2018 and 2019. These Enriched Voyages, designed to blend culture and travel for a more immersive experience, will feature evocative opera shows performed by the world-renowned Accademia Teatro alla Scala and classic ballet performances by soloists from such legendary companies as the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Russia. Along with lectures and Q&A sessions, guests will have the chance to mingle with the artists at a signature cocktail party.

“We are thrilled and honored to welcome such extraordinary talent from the performing arts,” said Barbara Muckermann, Silversea’s chief marketing officer. “I know our guests on these exclusive voyages will be both enriched and inspired by the exceptional onboard entertainment experience.”

Opera Voyages

Based in Milan, Italy, Accademia Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Theater Academy) is one of the world’s foremost performing arts academies. Its internationally renowned performers and instructors offer the highest level of artistic education for aspiring and gifted singers, dancers, and musicians from every corner of the world. Four soloists from its Academy of Lyric Opera and a piano accompanist will perform a selection of opera’s most beautiful librettos for the enjoyment of Silversea guests aboard:

Silver Muse departs September 28, 2018 on a 10-day voyage from Venice to Athens with calls in Rovinj, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Katakolon, Nafplion, Santorini and Rhodes. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $9,360 per guest.

Silver Spirit departs April 25, 2019 on a 7-day voyage from Barcelona to Rome with calls in Porto Mahon, Alghero, Cagliari, Trapani and Sorrento. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $3,150 per guest.

Silver Shadow departs October 22, 2019 on an 11-day, roundtrip voyage from Athens with calls in Mykonos, Crete, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Limassol, Haifa and Ashdod. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $4,230 per guest.

Silver Muse | photo courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Ballet Voyages

Daria Khokhlova and Artemy Belyakov, acclaimed ballet solo performers of the State Academic Bolshoi Theater of Russia, one of the world’s most renowned ballet companies, are returning to Silversea for an exclusive engagement aboard Silver Muse’s August 19, 2018 sailing from Venice to Monte Carlo. The 10-day voyage will visit Opatija, Dubrovnik, Valletta, Trapani, Olbia, Portofino and Livorno. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $6,480 per guest.

Silver Muse’s March 21, 2019 voyage from Singapore to Hong Kong will feature soloists from a yet-to-be-announced ballet company. The 13-day voyage will feature calls in Koh Samui, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang. Early Booking Bonus fares start at $6,300 per guest.

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L.U.C XP Urushi Year of the dog Artistic crafts share unique perspectives

MD Staff



The elegance, the refinement and the technical nature of the ultra-thin L.U.C XP Urushi watch have made it a cult model. Each year, Chopard draws inspiration from the repertoire of Chinese astrology to offer a fresh interpretation of its Urushi dial, an ancestral Japanese technique. Staging an encounter between beauty and precision, East and West, Chopard places creativity at the heart of cultural ties and of its commitment to perpetuating traditions.

2018 marks the celebration of the Year of the Dog. Its iconography, its universal symbolism and its mythological strength are showcased in an exceptional L.U.C watch issued in an 88-piece limited series: The L.U.C XP Urushi –Year of the dog. This masterpiece of fine craftsmanship began with an encounter between two perspectives. That of the Urushi master and of the master-watchmaker at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier, both intently focused on their work. The deft hands decorating the dial of the L.U.C XP Urushi, just like those capable of developing and producing the L.U.C 96.17-L calibre, perpetuate time-honoured skills bearing authentic testimony to their respective cultures. Together, they celebrate the Year of the Dog, the 11th sign of the Chinese zodiac, for a year dedicated to generosity and loyalty.

Generosity meets loyalty

In the Chinese zodiac, each sign is the expression of a distinctive nature. The entire range of qualities associated with the dog is thus reflected in the L.U.C XP Urushi – Year of the Dog watch. Eager for justice, sensitive and faithful by nature, dogs devote all their strength to serving others, without ever impinging on others’ freedom. Their devotion withstands every trial and when they love, it is for life. They also cultivate an attitude to work based on commitment, personal involvement and a serious-minded attitude that implies making the most of individual skills, giving true meaning to their existence, and basically leading a useful, honest and consistent life. Dogs are builders and protectors demonstrating unfailing loyalty. Chopard has decided to embody this canine through a representative of the extremely beautiful Asian ‘Akita’ breed, depicted in a lush natural setting dotted with wild orchids and enhanced by the fluttering presence of a dragonfly, regarded as a lucky charm and a good omen.

Urushi: a time-honoured art

Urushi is an ancestral lacquer technique. Its name stems from the tree whose resin is patiently harvested, once a year, in very small quantities. Three to five years after being collected, the resin is treated in such a way as to become a highly resistant lacquer applied in a number of extremely fine layers. The Urushi Master then imprisons within it a number of tiny iridescent particles that endow it with distinctive depth, luminosity, and exquisitely fine nuances. Only a rare few artists have the skills required to perform this technique. Chopard called upon Master Kiichiro Masumaro to oversee the creation of the L.U.C XP Urushi dials. He is recognised as a master of his art and has been raised to the status of “national human treasure” in Japan. The dials were executed by the Urushi Grand Master Minori Koizumi. For this collaborative endeavour, Chopard secured the services of the Yamada Heiando company, official purveyor to the Japanese imperial family.

An exceptional watch Manufacture

An exceptional movement was needed to give life to this dial. At the heart of the ultra-thin case measuring 39.5 mm in diameter and 6.8 mm thick beats the mechanical self-winding L.U.C 96.17-L movement. Equipped with two barrels ensuring a 65-hour power reserve by means of Twin® technology, this calibre achieves the feat of fitting inside such a slim case thanks to the off-centred 22-carat gold micro-rotor. It is bevelled, engraved and guilloché, while the bridges are adorned with Côtes de Genève. This sophisticated movement decoration and finishing is performed by expert hands at Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier, in accordance with the highest aesthetic quality standards of traditional watchmaking. The calibre is visible through the transparent exhibition back of the 18-carat rose gold case. A single glance reveals a tradition and a fascinating range of deft skills ranging from Switzerland to Asia, shaping the frontiers of a universal dialogue revolving around the spirit of excellence.

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