A brief review of Al-Khimyah: A must-see film by Prince Aly Muhammad on his father’s, His Highness the Aga Khan, amazing Al-Azhar Park project in Cairo

Aga Khan visiting Al-Azhar Park.
Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, visiting the Al-Azhar Park site during its earlier days of development. Photo: Captured from Al-Khimyah film.

Publisher-Editor Barakah, Simerg and Simergphotos

Al-Khimyah,* a film written and directed by Mawlana Hazar Imam’s youngest child, Prince Aly Muhammad Aga Khan, is a brilliant narrative and a comprehensive account of the history of the Al-Azhar Park from the time that Mawlana Hazar Imam proposed a gift to Cairo following his visit to the city for the Aga Khan Award for Architecture seminar in 1984.

The Governor of Cairo proposed three spaces in Cairo for Mawlana Hazar Imam’s wish of a gift; two plots for small gardens and a vast area of 35 hectares that had been used as a dumping ground for five centuries. Mawlana Hazar Imam said he would opt for the dumping ground, a decision that even surprised Cairo’s Governor (hear the anecdote at the 7:55 minute of the film). Thus, the mission to build the park began.

For a project that lasted for than 20 years — the park was inaugurated in 2005 — Prince Aly has done an incredible job of identifying and capturing information from key individuals who participated in the development of the Al-Azhar Park and the revitalization of its immediate neighbourhood, as well as people living in the neighbourhood who were threatened by the Park’s possible intrusion into their livelihoods. Throughout the film, the Prince remains totally anonymous, and his well- researched insight into the project becomes the key to the film’s outstanding quality and educational value.

For me, this is the best film I have ever watched on the work of the Ismaili Imamat carried out through the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). I urge every Muslim, every Ismaili and everyone concerned about the environment to watch this truly magnificent film.

The film is informative, inspiring, and breathtakingly captures Mawlana Hazar Imam’s conception and implementation of AKDN projects. Mawlana Hazar Imam’s foresight, vision, planning, patience, consultation, inclusiveness, and his constant strive for excellence are clearly illustrated in this must-watch film prepared by Prince Aly Muhammad! Please click Close to Home and then click on the icon “Cultural Revitalization Cairo”.

Date posted: June 6, 2020.

Before departing this website please take a moment to visit Barakah’s Table of Contents for links to more than 200 pieces dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam, his family and the Ismaili Imamat.


*alkimiyah, in Arabic, or khēmiakhēmeia from Greek, all mean alchemy or the art of transmuting metals. A forerunner to modern day chemistry, in medieval times the natural philosophy of alchemy was concerned with the conversion of base metals such as lead into “noble” metals such as gold. The film is aptly named, because what we have witnessed is the transformation of a 500-year-old rubbish dump into the lush green Al-Azhar Park.


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Please follow us at http://www.facebook.com/1000fold and http://twitter.com/simerg. This website, Barakah, is a special project by http://www.Simerg.com and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan and members of his family, as well as the Ismaili Imamat.


Malik Merchant is the founding publisher/editor of Simerg (2009), Barakah (2017) and Simergphotos (2012). A former IT consultant, he now dedicates his time to small family projects and other passionate endeavours such as the publication of this website. He is the eldest son of the Late Alwaez Jehangir Merchant (1928-2018) and Alwaeza Maleksultan Merchant, who both served Ismaili Jamati institutions together for several decades in professional and honorary capacities. His daughter, Dr. Nurin Merchant, is a veterinarian. He may be contacted at Simerg@aol.com.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I am awed to know of Prince Hussain’s passion for taking photos of sea animals, and now I see that Prince Aly Muhammad is into making films, including the newly released superb film on the making of the Al-Azhar Park in Cairo.


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