IFA Hotels & Resorts
recently made a US$ 100,000 donation to the SA-Mali Project, an initiative taking place in Timbuktu that aims to
preserve more than 30,000 African-Arabic medieval manuscripts, the contents of which still need to be uncovered and their stories told.
Talal Jassim Al-Bahar, Chairman and Managing Director of IFA HR
said, “The restoration and conservation of the Timbuktu manuscripts are a very important part of African-Arabic heritage. As a company founded in Kuwait with operations spreading across Africa, we feel a
deep sense of responsibility in helping the SA-Mali Project achieve its aim to create a new building in which the restoration, housing and
public viewing of these scrolls can be carried out.”
Werner Burger, President & COO of IFA HR,
added, “Africa is of great importance to us as we currently have projects in South Africa, Kenya,
Namibia, Tanzania and the Seychelles, with future plans to further grow in the region. We hope we’ll be in the position to give more back to
the region and further contribute to helping contain its culture.”
The SA-MALI Project was formally initiated in May 2003. It was inspired by South African President Mbeki’s 2001 visit to Mali in which
President Toure of Mali invited President Mbeki to tour the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, which contains one of the most important
collections of medieval manuscripts in Africa. Moved by the cultural importance of these manuscripts, President Mbeki pledged South
Africa’s support for the conservation and preservation of the manuscripts through upgrading of the Ahmed Baba Institute and promised to
assist in training Malian conservators.
The most crucial and ambitious aspect of the project is no doubt the undertaking to construct a new building for the Ahmed Baba Institute.
The objective of this new building is to operate as a centre that can accommodate the ever growing collection of manuscripts under
optimum conditions for conservation repair and archival storage; to operate as a museum for the proper display of manuscripts (dating
back to 1204); to operate as an institute of higher learning that can accommodate visiting researchers coming from far to study the contents
of the manuscripts (given Timbuktu’s remoteness); and to provide administration offices for the running of the Institute. Construction is
currently underway in Timbuktu and the final date for completion is identified as May 2008.
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