In Cairo, Egypt the restoration of the Khayrbek Mosque Complex has been a key initiative of the Trust, comprising the Mamluk Palace of Alin Aq, the mausoleum and sabil-kuttab of Khayrbek and two Ottoman houses, covering a total area of approximately 8,000 square metres.

AKDN / Adrien Buchet

But how, in the age of many competing concerns, could culture be considered an essential part of development? How, during war or deprivation, could we consider restoring monuments? The question then became, “How to leverage culture as a catalyst for positive economic and social change?”

“The Aga Khan Historic Cities Programme (AKHCP) was created to test the hypothesis that culture was, and is, an integral component of the development equation,” says Shiraz Allibhai, Deputy-Director of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), “and that it can be a powerful tool to improve quality of life.” AKHCP devised a unique approach to urban regeneration that involves restoration and conservation, the creation of parks and gardens, urban rehabilitation and employment and vocational training programmes.