05 November 2010
Let me begin by saying how happy I am to be back in Istanbul, a city which lies close to my heart and to which I have returned regularly since I was a schoolboy. That, incidentally, in case you had not guessed, was a very long time ago.
Istanbul holds a very special position, both geographically and in the history of world culture. The City has for me a special meaning, too, since historically it has been the bridge between Asia and Europe, between the cultures of the East and the West, between the world of Islam and the non-Muslim world. Istanbul embodies a theme which is of particular interest to me, personally, which is the dialogue of cultures. Whether it occurs along the great trade routes, over land or over sea, or whether it occurs for reasons essentially geographic, this dialogue of cultures has nearly always resulted in an upsurge of creativity, in a continuing cultural renewal.
In my view, this dialogue is more essential today than ever.
I should like also to express my most sincere thanks to the Sakip Sabanci Museum and in particular to the Chairperson of its Board, Ms Güler Sabançi, as well as to Dr. Nazan Ölçer, for hosting this presentation of some of the works from the collection of the future Aga Khan Museum. I am delighted that this should take place precisely this year, when Istanbul is being celebrated as the Cultural Capital of Europe, a distinction which, if I may be permitted to say so, is amply justified.
Full Speech at AKDN