Organizers hope first Utah Muslim Heritage Festival will build bridges, and knowledge

Organizers of Utah’s first Muslim Heritage Festival are counting on their shared love of learning, invention and the arts to build bridges of friendship and understanding with the community.

And there will be plenty of ethnic food, crafts and dramatic and dance performances, too.

Sponsored by the Al-Mustafa Foundation of Utah, the festival will be held Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Holladay City Hall, 4580 S. 2300 East.

Spokeswoman Suryani Omar said the festival aims to bring Muslim and non-Muslim youths together to explore contributions by the religious minority and Islamic peoples of the past and present in myriad fields.

One display features Zaha Hadid, a world-renowned architect from Iraq who died last year in Miami. She is credited with nearly 40 projects, among them the famed London Aquatic Center, Beijing’s Galaxy SOHO building, the Board Art Museum in East Lansing, Mich., and the Vienna University Library and Learning Center.

“Muslims have, and will continue to contribute to various fields, and this is an opportunity to highlight some of these contributions,” Omar said.

Another of several Muslim luminaries being honored include 11th-century inventor Ismail Al-Jazari, whose mechanical and hydraulics devices were precursors to both the steam and internal combustion engines; Al Hasan Ibn Al-Haytham, a ninth-century physicist, astronomer and mathematician credited with discoveries leading to photography; and Abbas Ibn Firnas, born A.D. 810 in Spain, who made the first successful attempt at human flight.

Organizers hope for at least 200 attendees. Children under age 12 can come for free; a $5 fee will be charged for those 12 years and older.

Tickets can be purchased ahead of the event by visiting this website: http://www.almustafautah.org/muslim-heritage-festival.html.