Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan

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Today marks the 20th Anniversary of the Death of Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan, who died on this day in 2000. Born Yvonne Blanche Labrousse in Sète, France in 1906, she was the daughter of a tramway conductor and a seamstress, growing up in Cannes and later in Lyon where she became Miss Lyon in 1924, and Miss France in 1925, when she travlled around the world as a representative of France, eventually moving to Cairo in the late 1930s and converting to Islam. In 1944, she married Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah, the Aga Khan III, the 48th Imam of the Nizari Ismaili religion, and assumed the new name of Begum Om Habibeh, later being given the title of Mata Salamat, serene or peaceful mother. After the Aga Khan’s death in 1957, Begum Om Habibeh sat on the counsel during the first seven years of the Imamat of his grandson and successor, Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, alongside supervising the building of the Mausoleum of Aga Khan in Egypt. In 1991, the Begum established the Om Habibeh Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that has contributed to health and educational facilities, including a kidney dialysis centre, several schools, and a retirement home. In her widowhood, the Begum Om Habibeh Aga Khan lived in Aswan and the Villa Yakymour in Le Cannet, remaining an active member of society in Geneva and Paris up until her death on this day in 2000.

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