Major renovations planned for mosque at Boeung Kak Lake, plus new school, house of worship for Ratanakkiri province
The Ministry of Labour’s Othsman Hassan (left) and Sen Tith discuss renovations to the mosque at Boeung Kak Lake.
KUWAIT has pledged US$5 million for
Cambodian Islamic institutions, including renovating the dilapidated
International Dubai Mosque near Boeung Kak Lake. The earmark allays
concerns the mosque will be forced to close once the slated development
of the lakeside is under way.
Ahmad Yahya, government adviser and mosque committee vice chairman,
said the donation was announced privately by Kuwaiti Prime Minister
Sheikh Nasser Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah during his state visit earlier
"Almost two hectares of land will be used to build a centre, consisting
of a mosque, school, meeting room for about 1,000 people and a hostel
for students from the provinces," said Ahmad Yahya, adding that the
funds were much needed. "Many people feel that the [current] mosque was
not built properly, and the roof is leaking," he said.
Ahmad Yahya said that $100,000 will go towards building a mosque and
school in Ratanakkiri province, where about 60 members of the Jarai
ethnic minority have converted to Islam. He said the government will
also contribute 50,000 copies of the Koran and 10,000 prayer mats once
the new centre is completed.
Ahmad Yahya said new facilities are necessary to cater to the steadily
growing Muslim community. "After 20 or 30 years, there are a lot more
people. At Friday prayers we get about 1,000 [worshippers]. Students
also come to stay, so we need more room," he said.
In February 2007, the municipal government signed a 133-hectare
leasehold agreement around the lake with local company Shukaku Inc. to
develop the area as "a commercial, cultural, tourist, housing and
recreation centre." Some fear the development will displace as many as
3,900 families and hundreds of businesses, and that the mosque, which
sits on the shore of the lake, might also be forced to relocate.
But the mosque's Imam Osman Mohammet, 76, said municipal authorities
assured him the institution will be untouched by development of the
"Phnom Penh Municipal Governor [Kep Chuktema] told me the mosque will
not be affected by private developments. He guaranteed that the land
title belongs to [us]," he said.