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Opening Ceremony of Fourth Islamic Games solemnly held in Baku - UPDATED-2

In the artistic part of the ceremony Mina, a little girl from Baku, plays in Philharmonia Garden with her grandfather. He completes the kite she’s holding by adding a fourth ribbon to its tail.

She explores the beautiful park, sharing laughter and light with everyone and everything around her. Happy, she wonders how to bring peace and harmony to the whole world.

Her grandfather explains: to change the path of our future, we must first understand our past. And so he sends Mina on an exciting journey of knowledge and discovery, with the kite as her friendly guide.

120 cast join Mina in Philharmonia Garden, including 20 members of the Azerbaijan State Children’s Philharmonic.

 

Mina’s grandfather is played by Nuraddin Mehdikhanli, a renowned stage and film actor and People’s Artist of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

A huge projection screen, measuring 85m in width and 35m in height is lit by 130 projectors.

It took 12 months to create the projections, ranging from hyperreal animations to stunning cinematic sequences.

 

 

Mina magically flies far from Baku with her kite, across the ancient land of Azerbaijan to discover the age-old petroglyphs at Gobustan.Soaring over glorious landscapes, with eternal fires that burn from the ground at the Ateshgah Fire Temple and Yanar Dag, Mina enters the world of myth to meet the simurgh, a fantastical bird of many colours that she helps to hatch from its egg.Mina leaves with a beautiful feather – a gift from the grateful simurgh. If the little girl is ever in danger, burning the feather will bring her wondrous new friend to her side in an instant.

 

Four aerialists hanging from large spiral structures fly with Mina. 70 women perform with feathers. 20 performers do amazing acrobatic fire tricks.The crescent moon rises over the Caspian and the mesmerising voice of Alim Qasimov – legendary mugham singer of Azerbaijan and the world – rings out from the top of a minaret.This is the call to prayer. It draws Mina towards the Heydar Mosque, a magnificent place of devotion and tolerance where all denominations of Islam can pray together in unity.

 

Hundreds more people, holding lamps, are drawn in by the power of Islam. The flames of their faith flicker and swirl before Mina’s eyes like stars in a galaxy.A film plays on the screens showing people of all ages from across the Islamic world going about the rituals of daily life. It is about water.Water has a great power, to cleanse. In Islam, it forms an essential part of prayer, a path to purity of body and spirit. We are all different, but the rituals and knowledge we share bind us together.

 

Wherever we come from or go, whatever our colour or gender, however old we are or young, water is a universal connection. It reminds us, across great distances and in all our diversity, that we are united in our beliefs and our humanity.

Filming for tonight’s Ceremony took place in three locations: Azerbaijan, Australia and the Philippines.

 

 

Mina travels back in time and across the world to come face to face with intrepid travellers, ornate domes, enchanting poets, the universe beyond our planet, and ingenious mechanical devices. These are among the treasures of the Islamic Golden Age when extraordinary advances in human civilisation were made in areas such as exploration, architecture, literature, astronomy and invention. 570 people perform in these scenes called Knowledge. More than 40 animals – horses, camels and donkeys – appear in this section. Trained for three months to perform in the Ceremony, they are looked after in stables built specially for them at the Stadium.

 

 

32 bicyles are used to move some of the larger scenic items on and off the stage. Fikret Amirov’s ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ is heard throughout this tribute to the Islamic Golden Age. Mina’s journey begins in a bustling caravanserai – a place where the flow of commerce, culture and knowledge spread across a network of trade routes covering large parts of Asia, North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Over 70 performers, a large trade wagon, live horses and camels, and puppet eagles and hawks bring the scene to life.

 

Elements drawn from the cultural heritage of every nation participating in the Games all play their part in this celebration of the Islamic Golden Age. They appear on stage as characters, scenic pieces, props and costumes, as well as on screen.Mina arrives on stage on a white horse. 16 horses perform in unison, creating a pin-wheel and crossing paths. Mina, carrying her kite, interacts with the caravanserai traders and travellers. She stops to admire Azerbaijani carpets and musical instruments.Flying through the air on her loyal kite, Mina has much to learn.

 

During the Islamic Golden Age, people loved to travel and learn. Seafarers developed maps and course-plotting instruments, and became master navigators – important for both discovering more about the world around them and building strong trade routes. One of Islam’s greatest astronomical contributions was the perfection of the armillary sphere. It was used to tell time, predict sunrises and sunsets, survey land and calculate the height of buildings. It was the equivalent of a medieval calculator. Islamic architecture is utterly distinct: a skyline of minarets and domes. We see a large blue dome on stage tonight, framed by our two minarets. Smaller domes and arches feature exquisite fretwork – interlaced geometric designs common throughout Islamic architecture.

 

A large spiral of books represents the House of Wisdom, an intellectual powerhouse in Baghdad during the 9th to 13th centuries that played a major part in the spread and development of knowledge. Al-Farabi, a renowned 9th-century polymath, stands on the book spiral. He spent most of his life in Baghdad and established logic within Islamic culture, which earned him the name ‘the Second Teacher’, Aristotle being ‘the First’. A giant model of the solar system is created on stage with the sun, the earth and moon, and five more planets.

 

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn were visible to the unaided eye and therefore known to astronomers during the Golden Age, before the invention of the telescope. Uranus and Neptune were discovered in the 18th and 19th centuries. Bicycles on stage celebrate the quadrant.

 

The quadrant was one of the most important astronomical and navigational instruments used by scientists and scholars in Islamic culture. It was used to determine the height of a celestial body above the horizon.

 

Large wheels show the phases of the moon.

 

90 cogs feature here in honour of the mechanical inventions and turbine technologies of the Golden Age. A variety of highly-accurate astronomical clocks for use in mosques and observatories were constructed during the period, including the first geared clock. By the 11th century, mills operated throughout the Islamic world. The invention of water turbines meant many industrial tasks were mechanized. The Elephant Clock appears, carrying two performers, and all the action freezes. Mina, sitting on her flying kite, drops a ball representing the moon into the serpent’s mouth and the Elephant Clock activates. The serpent tips down to reset the mechanism.

 

A sudden sandstorm sweeps everything from the stage. 24 female dancers from the Azerbaijan State Ensemble perform in cloaks during the sandstorm. Mina is left feeling lost and afraid for the first time on her journey. But she has the feather of the simurgh and in a flash of flame her fantastical friend appears, flying down to her aid. Mina is lifted high into the sky to safety – above the storm, above the clouds, up among the constellations. The simurgh’s wingspan is 15 metres. It weighs 750 kilograms. There are 785 little lights, like stars, on the simurgh’s body.

 

Gold-dust shimmers off the wings of the simurgh. In the end she disappears into the starry sky. Everything she has learned about her culture and faith, her heritage and self has Mina bursting with joy – all thanks to the beautiful kite, her constant companion on this adventure. As the pair dance together in friendship, Mina thinks of her grandfather. She misses him. The time has come to head home.

 

Three puppeteers bring the kite (and its tail) to life. Flying through Baku with her kite, Mina sees her birthplace in a new light.

 

Beyond the pretty city parks where she plays, Mina finds many beautiful buildings, old and new. Proud historic palaces and towers at the city’s heart, as well as architectural masterpieces of the modern day – places of culture and commerce, thrilling sport and entertainment, cutting-edge enterprise and learning.

 

Her future is here. Home for Mina is a place of hope. Mina flies above 700 performers holding kites. Hundreds of thousands of tiny hexagon kites flutter down over the audience. Catherine wheels on the ground and in the air ignite and spin, as fireworks light up the night sky above the Stadium. Overflowing with the light of all she has learned, Mina wants to share the shining spirit of the kite with the world. And there is more than enough inspiration for everyone. 150 kilos of confetti in the shape of tiny hexagon kites falls over the audience.

 

And so we are back where our story began, to the quiet of Philharmonia Garden. Mina is happily reunited with her proud grandfather. Together with her grandfather once again after her long journey, Mina sets her kite free to fly out of the Stadium. Ten days of worldclass sport is about to begin, with over 2,800 athletes of the Islamic World competing across 20 sports for more than 1,500 medals.

 

Fireworks over the Baku Olympic Stadium. Fireworks over the Caspian Sea, along the Baku Boulevard.

 

***

23:35

 

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has declared the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games open.

 

Fireworks exploded from the Stadium roof, spelling out ‘Baku 2017’ and lighting up the night sky.

 

Ten days of worldclass sport is about to begin, with over 2,800 athletes of the Islamic World competing across 20 sports for more than 1,500 medals.

 

***

 

22:40

 

The Parade of Athletes begins in the opening ceremony of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games being held in the Baku Olympic Stadium.

 

Teams enter the Stadium in English alphabetical order.

 

Each team is led into the Stadium by their flag, a man holding a placard designed to look like an Islamic armillary sphere – a tribute to the distances the athletes have travelled round the globe to be here tonight – and a woman carrying a Baku 2017 Water Vessel.

 

The host nation, Azerbaijan, will conclude the Parade.

 

***

22:01

 

The opening ceremony of the 4th Islamic Solidarity Games is being held on the Baku Olympic Stadium. Art masters are present samples of Azerbaijani and Islamic culture, parade of sportsmen and salute will be organized.

 

Over 3,000 athletes from 54 countries, around 2,000 representatives of teams and technical staff are taking part in the games.

 

Azerbaijan is represented by 325 athletes. Turkey has the most representative delegation consisting of 345 athletes. Iran with 300 athletes ranks third.

 

Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games launched the Journey from the Caspian, which started with a ceremony at the Stone Chronical Museum on April 5. During the launch ceremony, 16 children from across Azerbaijan were presented with a copper Baku 2017 Water Vessel, containing water from the Caspian Sea, which they took back to their home towns and cities. In doing so, they brought the spirit of the Baku 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games to the people of Azerbaijan.

 

Over the course of its journey, which exceeded 3,000 km in 37 days, the Journey from the Caspian visited spectacular water locations across Azerbaijan.

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