The Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee commemorations in Portugal included parliamentary address, arts festival and cultural events, according to the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).

61 years after he first acceded to the Ismaili Imamat, becoming the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, His Highness the Aga Khan concluded the year-long commemoration of his Diamond Jubilee in Lisbon.  Portugal, an important and long-standing partner for the Imamat and for the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), served this week as the host of a global celebration of His Highness’ Jubilee, a celebration that included an address to Portugal’s members of Parliament, meetings with the President and Prime Minister, the inauguration of a special exhibit of leadership values, and exhibitions highlighting the scope of the work carried out by the AKDN all over the world.

In his address in the Senate Chamber to Portugal’s members of Parliament, His Highness praised Portugal as a leader on the global scene, one that is widely acknowledged as a country of opportunity, and thanked Portugal for a “progressive partnership” with the Ismaili Imamat. He noted the longstanding ties between the Ismaili Imamat and Portugal, which serves as the site for a Seat of the Ismaili Imamat, following the signing of an historic agreement in 2015.  The Ismaili Imamat and the Government of Portugal share a long history that has encompassed partnerships to help improve quality of life for people in Portugal and around the world.  The Aga Khan Foundation, an agency of the AKDN, has been active in Portugal since 1983, working on initiatives related to early childhood education, poverty alleviation, economic inclusion, strengthening of civil society, and care for the elderly.

Following his address in the Senate Chamber, His Highness and His Excellency President Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues opened a special exhibit of objects on loan from the Toronto-based Aga Khan Museum entitled Ideals of Leadership: Masterpieces from the Aga Khan Museum Collections.  The stories depicted in the images and conveyed through the objects, relate to some of the most important and timeless ideals of leadership that rulers have aspired to throughout the ages.

The celebrations also included an exhibit on the work of the AKDN, entitled Ethics in Action, as well as Rays of Light, an exhibition on the history and impact of the Ismaili Imamat.  The events in Lisbon served as an opportunity to bring together Ismaili Muslims from many different countries for both cultural and religious events, at the conclusion of a busy year in which His Highness has travelled around the world, meeting with members of the Ismaili community and local partners to lay the groundwork for continued partnerships and stronger institutions.

During this Diamond Jubilee year, His Highness has visited a number of countries around the world including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, India, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, Canada, France, the United Kingdom, and Portugal, at the invitation of their respective governments. During those visits, His Highness met with various leaders of the government, civil society institutions, development organizations and other partner agencies of the AKDN, as well as with project staff, volunteers and beneficiaries.  These meetings and visits have enabled His Highness to announce, strengthen and expand a number of key AKDN initiatives.

A number of projects and initiatives, whose impact will extend for generations, were reportedly launched during the Diamond Jubilee to create knowledge and share best practices in development work, strengthen civil society institutions, increase capacity and dedicate additional resources to alleviate poverty and improve the quality of life for people around the world.