The Vatican Pope’s visit to Iraq last year contributed to the revitalization of the historic city of Ur and its emphasis as an international tourist destination, as it witnessed the influx of a number of foreign tourists in a movement that boosts domestic tourism enjoyed by Mesopotamia.
To this end, an Iraqi-Italian meeting was held, during which the Minister of Planning, Khaled Battal Al-Najm, discussed with the Italian Ambassador Maurizio Cricante and his accompanying delegation the two projects for the development of the historic Bridge and the construction of a dam in Shatt al. -Arab.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Planning states that “During the meeting, which was attended by the Director General of International Cooperation at the Ministry of Planning, Saher Abdel-Kadhim, aspects of joint cooperation between the two friendly countries in economic fields were discussed. , investment and trade and the ways of their development ”.
Both sides confirmed the depth of bilateral relations and the efforts of the two countries to develop these relations in the service of development trends in Iraq and Italy.
During the meeting, according to the statement, a number of projects financed by the Italian loan were discussed, especially in connection with the development of the historic city of Uri in the province of Dhi Qar and the construction of a water dam in Shatt al-Arab in the province of Basra, for prevent the rise of the salty tongue.
Development of the ancient city of Ur
In this context, the General Secretariat of the Iraqi Council of Ministers announced a government plan to allocate a sum of 10 billion dinars (approximately US $ 7 million) for the development of the ancient city of Ur.
A spokesman for the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, Haider Majid, told the Iraqi News Agency (INA) that “the committee attached to the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, chaired by Secretary Hamid Al-Ghazi, continues its meetings. for the development of the city of Uri “, emphasizing that the last meeting led to the allocation of 10 billion dinars from the Governor’s Fund of Dhi Qar, in order to direct the construction of the infrastructure of the tourist city near Uri.
Majid stressed that “all measures have been taken for the development of Uri, after a contract has been signed with a local company”, emphasizing that “the company has started work on setting up infrastructure for the resort town in preparation for the rest of the work within the development project ”.
Earlier, the Council of Ministers confirmed the existence of a government vision for the development of the city and that it is working with the Ministry of Culture, Planning, Finance and the local administration of Governor Dhi Qar to initiate and refer the project in discrete. companies.
The Secretary General of the Council of Ministers, Hamid Naim Al-Ghazi, had confirmed last September that the Ur city development project would contribute to the revival of Dhi Qar Governor’s economy and provide job opportunities.
Al-Ghazi said during his chairmanship of the city development committee that “the Iraqi government showed great interest in the project, especially after receiving an international gesture after His Holiness the Pope’s visit to the Vatican,” noting that “the development process will contribute to the revival of the economic reality of the province and the provision of thousands of jobs ”.
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He added that “the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers worked to allocate the necessary funds for the development of infrastructure through the Reconstruction Fund of Governor Dhi Qar and that the committee had reached advanced stages in the preparation of basic projects for the new city, in coordination with the local government administration ”.
Al-Ghazi instructed the commission members to prioritize the plans to be implemented, provided they take on a legacy and historical character in a modern style and the need to establish a mechanism for starting the first phase after the approval of the projects, which include the establishment of a center for interfaith dialogue and exchange of cultures, a mosque and a church, as well as buildings for basic services that will be presented to visitors.
Last year, the Directorate of Antiquities Dhi Qar announced the visit of a tourist delegation from America and Britain to Ur, while revealing a plan of the American travel company “Explore” to attract tourists to the city of Nasiriyah.
Reviving Iraq’s rentier economy
Political and economic scholar Saleh Lafta believes that any effort or contribution to the development of the city or other antiquities of Iraq will contribute to the revival of Iraq’s oil-dependent rentier economy, increasing the number of tourists and those interested in the sector. of Iraqi Antiquities. , many of whose cities and secrets are still unknown and unknown. Revealed to the world, especially if the aid comes from Italy, which has archeological sites and has the greatest reference to the Christian world, which can take advantage of its potential to support and develop the tourism and archeological aspect in the province of Dhi Qar .
He acknowledged that “the city of Ur, which has a unique feature because it represents a sacred heritage for more than one billion followers of the Christian faith, increased interest in him after His Holiness the Vatican Pope visited him while offering services It is certain that the Dhi Qar Governorate will witness a market boom and provide opportunities Work for a city already suffering from a lack of services, unemployment and rising poverty, and millions are making pilgrimages to this great archeological landmark. ”
He added, “There are many countries and organizations that offer assistance and are willing to cooperate, but unfortunately there is reluctance and slowness on the part of officials and the failure to take this issue more seriously to accelerate its development. More than one “A year has passed since the Pope’s visit and so far we are still planning, meeting and concluding agreements and there is nothing tangible on the ground,” he said.