To acknowledge his support in the planning and construction of the first Ismaili Center in the US, the event included a luncheon in honor of Mayor Turner, at which elected officials, civil society leaders, and friends and partners of the Jamat were present.
In a moment of special recognition, Mayor Turner awarded the key to the city of Houston to Mawlana Hazar Imam, which Prince Amyn accepted on his behalf. The distinguished honor is a symbol of trust and friendship that dates back to medieval times.
“I would like to begin my comments this afternoon by saying how touched I am by the recognition that you have given to my brother, His Highness the Aga Khan. It is with great happiness that I receive, on his behalf, the Key to this wonderful city. He has previously remarked on this old historical tradition that has existed in many countries in many parts of the world and has said quote: ‘I am going to use these keys to open as many doors as possible. Doors to happiness, doors to peace, doors to unity, doors to human progress.’”
Prince Amyn also expressed appreciation for the warm reception in Houston, highlighting the role of the upcoming Ismaili Center as a hub for cultural exchange, intellectual growth, and community engagement. The ‘topping out’ ceremony celebrates the completion of the building’s superstructure and the placement of the final beam, marking a milestone in the construction journey.
The Center’s expansive gardens and public spaces will welcome people from all walks of life, beliefs, and backgrounds to engage in enriching programs and meaningful dialogue.
During the ceremony, President Al-Karim Alidina of the Ismaili Council for the USA spoke of the crucial support provided by Mayor Sylvester Turner and his office, emphasizing the collaborative efforts that have propelled the project forward.
“We are grateful for the Mayor’s support and proud that the Center’s development occurred in large part during his time as Mayor,” he said.
“We are thrilled to honor Mayor Turner as we mark the topping out of the Ismaili Center, and look forward to the Center contributing to Houston’s rich, vibrant, and pluralistic fabric for decades, or perhaps centuries, to come.”
In his remarks, Mayor Turner underscored the importance of promoting sustainability in a rapidly expanding urban environment, praising the Ismaili community's dedication to environmentally responsible construction practices.
In an onstage conversation with award-winning journalist, Linda Lorelle, Mayor Turner spoke of his time as mayor and his engagement with the Jamat.
“As excited as I am about the construction, I am equally excited about the message that it sends and brings. It focuses on tolerance, inclusion, diversity, pluralism, and I can’t think about a better place than right here in the City of Houston,” he said.
To commemorate the occasion, Prince Amyn, Mayor Turner and a small number of guests visited the construction site and signed the final beam that will complete the superstructure of the building. Prince Amyn and Mayor Turner together planted a Texas Red Oak tree, intended to grow and mature alongside the Ismaili Center, symbolizing progress and stability, and offering wishes for peace and prosperity.