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The New Arab Staff

Google launches virtual home for Mosul's 'art and soul'

'Christ of Mosul' by Moyasser Nasser [Al-Ghad Radio/Google Arts & Culture]

Date of publication: 28 January, 2021

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An art collection and a virtual tour of Mosul's old city are available on the new platform.
The art and heritage of Iraq's Mosul have been immortalised online in a platform created by Google and local radio station Al-Ghad.

Launched on Wednesday, "The Art & Soul of Mosul" featured works from local artists and includes models of historic landmarks.

It comes as the northern Iraqi city marks the second anniversary of "Return to Mosul", an exhibition of nearly a hundred paintings and sculptures from Mosul and elsewhere in the country.

The art exhibition coordinated by Al-Ghad Radio marked the 2019 re-opening of the city's Mosul Museum, where Islamic State group militants had earlier destroyed a collection of prized antiquities.

The museum, Iraq's second largest, was occupied by the extremist group in 2014.

The paintings and sculptures featured in "The Art & Soul of Mosul" are accompanied by stories or explanations by the artist.

Artist Hakam Al-Kattib explains how he was forced to hide his work during the IS occupation.

"I was hiding in my atelier, resorting to the paintings that accompanied my loneliness. It was my paintings that helped me reveal what was inside, until I had produced more than one hundred works," he said.

"The discovery of such things would lead to the amputation of the hand of the painter, at best."

Read more: Mosul: A wounded city trying to heal
'The people of Mosul city' by Ahmed Muzahim [Al-Ghad Radio/Google Arts & Culture]

The platform hosted by Google Arts & Culture also features virtual tours of Mosul's landmarks.

Visitors can take a tour of the destroyed Al-Nuri Mosque as it once stood, while other monuments - such as the Church of St Thomas - are available to view as they stand now, crumbling and in desperate need of repair.

The Al-Nuri Mosque was destroyed by IS militants during the Battle of Mosul in 2019. The extremists, forced out of the city by Iraqi forces, had vowed never to let go of the mosque, the site that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the establishment of the so-called caliphate in 2014.

The 12th century mosque is currently under reconstruction.

Mohammad Alhashimie, founder of Al-Ghad Radio, hopes the images of Mosul's neglected heritage will help attract funding for the sites' reconstruction. Al-Ghad was founded and operated secretly during the occupation of Mosul.

"These places are not really getting the focus that they need," he told The National.

"People think that it is more important to build schools and hospitals rather than reconstruct these places, but I think both are important. Our history is what brings us to where we are now. It reminds people to stand up again and to create their own future," Alhashimie added.

The online platform also features a virtual tour of Mosul's Old City, a collection of compositions by local musicians, and stories of life under the IS occupation and the years since.

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