The Aga Khan concluded year-long celebrations to mark his 60th anniversary as the spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims with a State visit to Portugal last week.
During the visit, he met President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at the Belem Palace where he was conferred with State honours.
President Sousa and the Aga Khan discussed areas for mutual collaboration, including health, education, science and research as well as culture and environmental conservation.
The President later hosted the Aga Khan to dinner at the Queluz Palace, where he commended the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) for spearheading development projects across the world.
The Aga Khan lauded the cordial relations between Portugal and AKDN.
“We have a very welcoming environment in Portugal; we have shared values – an appreciation for diversity, and a commitment to improve the quality of life where we live around the world. We have a global outlook,” the Aga Khan said.
The Aga Khan also met Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who hosted a luncheon in his honour and presented him with commemorative First Day Diamond Jubilee stamps issued by Portugal’s Postal Service.
COUNTRIES OF OPPORTUNITY
In addition, the spiritual leader addressed Portugal’s Parliament and concluded with an address to a global gathering that brought together the Ismaili and dignitaries from various parts of the world.
Addressing the Parliament, the Aga Khan underlined the value of intercultural and interreligious connectedness.
He called on developing countries to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by technological innovations to spearhead their own developments.
He said nations that sought to prosper must become “Countries of Opportunity”; those that build on the strengths of their past and tackled challenges of the present and established values and systems that respected and promoted diversity.
“A Country of Opportunity is one that encourages cooperation among diverse interests, fostering partnerships between government and the private sector, for example, while also encouraging those private organisations that are designed to serve public goals, what we often called institutions of civil society,” he said.
He saluted Portugal for fitting the bill – meeting the threshold of a Country of Opportunity – by pursuing economic and political growth and at the same time promoting cultural, spiritual and social well-being of the citizens.
Portugal, he said, played a central role in world’s history, producing the early adventurers and discoverers who toured the world and created connections between continents and peoples of different races.
The Diamond Jubilee celebrations started last year and saw the Aga Khan travel to various countries around the world, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.
He also visited Canada, France, UK and the US. He launched various projects during the visits.
His Highness the Aga Khan has been the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims for 61 years.