April 10, 2005


A slow rebirth for Baghdad the beautiful (Rory Carroll, April 9, 2005, The Guardian)

It boasts alliteration but the concept seems fanciful: beautiful Baghdad. Iraq's capital is famous for violence, degradation, occupation and blackouts, not aesthetic appeal.

Everywhere there are concrete blast barriers, sandbags and razor wire. Rubbish lines streets which are sometimes ankle-deep in sewage. Bombed buildings remain in ruins. Giant mosques commissioned by Saddam Hussein lie unfinished on idle building sites.

April 9 2003 was the day American troops took the city and toppled the dictator's statue in Firdos square.

Two years later debate over the war still rages, but one point Baghdadis agree on is that today marks the anniversary of when their city became an eyesore.

"The place looks awful," said Hussein Abd Emir, 52, a cafe owner in Karrada, a district for the well-heeled. "It's like a military base. A dirty military base. My God, it's ugly."

But in big and small ways things are changing.

City authorities and residents themselves are injecting colour and vitality through initiatives designed to beautify Baghdad.

In ten years it will be a popular tourist destination.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2005 6:55 PM

the benefits of a city wide rennovation are myriad; some material but also many intangible, spiritual benefits as well. maybe they can pick up some nice stuff in paris, cheap :)

Posted by: cjm at April 10, 2005 8:29 PM

Ten years. No way. Two, maybe even less if the attacks stop.

Posted by: erp at April 10, 2005 8:42 PM

Japan and Germany demonstrated the tremendous advantages of starting from scratch. The problem is Iraq isn't as homogenous nor its people as dronelike.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2005 8:57 PM

oj: but they do like their money, in iraq. i think we will be able to take up the constructio slack with american/allied companies subcontracting out as much work as is feasible to local companies. like dallas in the 80's, the national bird will be a "crane" :)

Posted by: cjm at April 10, 2005 9:54 PM
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