United Nations tribute to Ibn Al-Haytham and 1001 Inventions film screening

Photos © Alison Bert

International Year of Light celebration and tribute to Ibn Al-Haytham held at UN in New York

New York, 2 February 2016: The United Nations hosted today an event to celebrate the International Year of Light (IYL2015) with a special 1001 Inventions tribute to the remarkable 11th century scientist Ibn al-Haytham. The celebration was organised as a side event to the 2016 ECOSOC Youth Forum held at the United Nations headquarters on February 1-2.

Distinguished representatives of UN delegations and international organisations addressed the nearly three hundred event participants. Those included H.E. Ambassador Abdallah Y. Al-Mouallimi, Permanent Representative of Saudi Arabia to the UN, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi , UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Ms. Marie-Paule Roudil, Director of UNESCO Office in New York and Ms. Nihal Saad, Chief of Cabinet and Spokesperson for the High-Representative of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations.

Photo © Alison Bert

In his opening remarks Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi , UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, said:

I commend the work of 1001 Inventions in presenting the fascinating story of Ibn al-Haytham. The achievements of Ibn al-Haytham and his peers serve as an inspiration to youth as they take action to implement the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Ms. Elizabeth A. Rogan, Chief Executive Officer of the USA-based Optical Society (OSA) also addressed the audience highlighting how every day around the world, optical technologies help improve the quality of life – from powering cutting-edge surgeries to generating clean energy and how the science of light impacts nearly every facet of our modern economy.

A key part of the celebration was the special tribute to the 11th century scientist Ibn al-Haytham with screening of legendary actor Omar Sharif’s final film “1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham”. Also throughout the event speakers reiterated Ibn al-Haytham’s seminal contributions to the understanding of vision, optics and light.

Ahmed Salim, Producer and Director of 1001 Inventions, said:

The United Nations proclaimed International Year of light commemorated a number of important milestones in the history of the science of light, most notably approximately 1000 years since the great works on optics by the pioneering scientist Ibn al-Haytham. As a Founding Partner of the International Year of Light, we are delighted to organise, with distinguished partners from the international community, the first-ever tribute to Ibn al-Haytham at the United Nations.”

Photo © Alison Bert

Hanan Dowidar, 1001 Inventions Head of Strategic Partnerships, said:

 It is particularly important that this event is organised as part of the ECOSOC Youth Forum. One of the key aims of celebrating the Year of Light with a special tribute to Ibn al-Haytham at the United Nations today is to inspire youth to rise up to the challenges of the 21st century. The story of Ibn al-Haytham, who lived during the golden age of Muslim civilisation that stretched from Spain to China, also offers a unique opportunity to highlight to young people the importance of intercultural dialogue, mutual understanding and respect.”

The side event also presented an interesting platform for young people and delegations attending the Youth Forum, as well as representatives from Permanent Missions to the UN, NGOs and the media to learn about the central role of light and light-based technologies in promoting sustainable development and providing solutions to global challenges.

In 2015, the global educational campaign “1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham” engaged 25 million people around the world. The campaign will continue to reach out to the public through a National Geographic children’s book on Ibn al-Haytham, the short film staring legendary actor Omar Sharif, a music album and a music video based on the film by international acclaimed British musician Sami Yusuf, in addition to interactive exhibits, hands-on workshops and learning materials.

Photo © Alison Bert

About the ECOSOC Youth Forum

The forum discusses ways in which young people can play an active role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will also address how the youth can best communicate on the Agenda, bringing on board the innovative use of social media and communication tools.

The Youth Forum brings young leaders from around the world to the UN Headquarters in New York. It is a platform for youth to engage in dialogue with Member States and contribute to policy formulation on global economic, social and environmental issues.


About 1001 Inventions

1001 Inventions is an award-winning, British based organization that creates international educational campaigns and engaging transmedia productions aiming to raise awareness of the contributions to science, technology and culture from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation.

Over the last five years, 1001 Inventions has engaged with over 200 million people across the globe. The organization works with a network of international partners, including UNESCO, and leading academics to produce interactive exhibits, short films, live shows, books and classroom learning materials that are being used by hundreds of thousands of educators around the world.

1001 Inventions is a founding partner of the United Nation’s proclaimed International Year of Light 2015.


About International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health. With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015—from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today.


Photos © Alison Bert

Movie Trailer The Album

Music Video The Book

Learning Materials