We begin with a five-story building (possibly six), with the mosque or prayer hall on the ground floor, a tea room on the second, a large Islamic bookstore with books in more than ten languages on the third, a museum of Islamic culture and cultural center on the fourth and offices and international centers on the fifth. The space will be six thousand square meters, all in glass, steel and stone, as proposed by the architectural designers (who remain anonymous).
And no minaret, to avoid changing the profile of the waterfront in Darsena, the only building still to be finalized is the House of Islamic Culture. Or rather, the House of Peace, as it might be called.
Designs were directed by Alfredo Maiolese, a Genovese Muslim and president of the League of European Muslims who helped to create the possible home of the Islamic culture. These are the same designs that will be presented next week in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for the Islamic Development Bank. This is the bank that maintains an international Muslim presence abroad, likely funded by the governments of Kuwait and Qatar, and could make available the 12-15 million euro needed to buy the building and renovate it.
And Genoa? Available. “If indeed there is a need then doors are open to all” says Stefano Bernini, Deputy Mayor and Councilor for Urban Planning “If Maiolese and the European Muslim League will be able to find the resources, the municipality would support the project including town planning procedures and helping to convince the ‘neighbors’ who have doubts that this is a major accomplishment, which would be a great for the entire city.”
Bernini explains that the center would be a point of reference for the thousands of Muslims, but it could also be appealing as a cultural point of attraction for cruise passengers. And the claim that this may jeopardize security? “If there is a place that is controlled, it is the port area” replies Bernini “not to mention it is where the state police headquarter is.”
“In every home there are those that pray but this does not mean that every home is a mosque,” says Maiolese , which he discusses is the point of the “Moussala” on the ground floor, a place of prayer, it is more than a “majid,” meaning mosque. The space could accommodate between 5 and 600 people, and it would be the only space exclusively for Muslims. The rest of the building, however, will be welcome to everyone.
“The tea room will express welcome by offering Arab tea and cakes” explains Maiolese “but in the 240 square meter space we will also sell cakes and tea from the entire Arab world, which will help people better understand different food cultures” Upstairs will hold 750 square meters of Islamic books. Books will be in Italian, English, Arabic, and also French, Albanian, Urdu, Persian, Bengali, this will be a store for the visitors of the Museum of Islamic Culture,
Another 2,400 square meters will host works of art, manuscripts, and also cultural events. “We have already established contacts with universities in Medina, and also Qatar and others, in order to have works exhibited” says Maiolese. Finally, going even higher, there will be 1,230 square meters of diplomatic and commercial offices.”