The series of Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centres is yet another prestigious tribute to the profound bond of friendship between Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. These three sister institutions were founded in the 1980s at Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar, under the patronage of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the then president of UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi. The primary objective of these purposeful buildings is to streamline research in Quranic teachings and Arabic studies, and to further strengthen the fraternal ties between the two countries. In acknowledgment of the benevolent gesture of His Highness Sheikh Zayed, the centres were named after him and are called “Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centres”. The Government of Pakistan accepted the complete financial and managerial responsibility for the three centres in 1985. Specially proposed for Islamic studies, the centres have been associated with Punjab, Karachi and Peshawar Universities in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar respectively. The facades of the buildings are reminiscent of the glory of Mughal heritage. The arched passageway of white marble gives an elegance and majestic appearance to the building. All the three have a central dome-like structure comprising four portions that include an academic block, hostel, colony and mosque. The ground floor of the centre consists of an auditorium and spacious classrooms, while the first floor is specifically reserved for the library. The centre has a fully carpeted, beautiful mosque that can accommodate 600 worshipers at a time. The splendid and modern auditorium, having the capacity of about 500 people, not only arranges seminars, conferences and symposiums but it also hosts pertinent events of the other departments of the university. The centrally air conditioned library contains more than 35,000 books on Islam and computer studies which serves as a sea of knowledge to learners. The Lahore centre of SZICs is ideally located across the Canal Road with vast lush green lawns all around. Just beside the auditorium there is also a small art gallery which contains some awesome calligraphic work of Syed Ahmad Bodla, a renowned Islamic calligrapher. To meet the lodging need of students, each centre has a hostel having the capacity of more than 250 students. Besides, there is also a residential colony in each centre. Each of the colonies consists of 20 houses, 14 for the teachers and six for the other employees. In short, Sheikh Zayed Islamic Centres present a sight of a small serene city which not only fulfils its noble purpose handsomely but also stands as a symbol of the cordial relationship between Pakistan and UAE.
(Mar-14, 2009. YW, Dawn)