Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some news articles from last month:

The Dallas Morning News has an article on the first official tour group to visit Iraq's major historic sites since mid-2003. Hinterland Travel ran the tour:

Insurance, which is not provided by the company, is nearly impossible to come by. For that reason, the tourists tend to be on the older side because they have financial support networks and, Hann said, "because in the end you've been to places and you don't really worry as much, if you know what I mean."
Iraqi officials said they expect more tourists and Koa Van Chung, from New York City, agrees.
"Sure, there's military checkpoints, there's bureaucracy ... but in a few years this could be a viable tourist spot," he said.

Over 4,000 ancient artifacts have been dug up in the past two years on 19 ancient sites in Iraq:

The Iraq Museum has opened its doors to visitors but the pieces on show are only a fraction of what the museum had on display prior to U.S. invasion.

However, Taqani said more than 50,000 original museum pieces were still locked in secure areas.

Antiquities Department officials say they will have them displayed once conditions return to normal in the country.

AFP reports that Iraq plans to open a Saddam Hussein museum:

"We will look for a big building. I think one of the presidential palaces in Baghdad probably will be the place of the museum," said Talqani, noting that clothes, documents and various gifts given to Saddam by foreign leaders were among the possessions.

I'm not sure if the museum will be to remind people of the horrors of his rule (like the torture museum in Sulaymaniyah), or rather the so-called glories of it:

"They will be displayed for all the people of Iraq, future generations and visitors from of all over the world to admire."

Meanwhile the Christian community in Iraq is at risk of total decimation, the KRG is consolidating its separate parts, bombings are still going off in Baghdad here and there, and several gay Iraqi men have been killed recently after being disowned by family. And, I would guess, killed by the family to restore their honour.

And lastly the British Business Secretary Peter Mandelson led a delegation to Iraq to investigate investment opportunities.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Babylon opening, BMI to fly London-Baghdad?

The ancient site of Babylon will be open to tourists from June 1:

"The city, located 85 kilometers south of Baghdad, was transformed into a military camp by American and Polish troops and a heliport was built on its ruins. The reopening will take place despite archaeologists expressing their concerns about further damages to what remains of one of the world's first great cities which is pending registration on UNESCO's list of protected World Heritage sites. Iraq's State Board of Antiquities and Heritage now says Babil's provincial government has illegal control over the ancient city, using it for tourism interests regardless of its critical condition. " - from PressTV, Iran.

Meanwhile British airline BMI is considering reintroducing flights between London and Baghdad, no doubt to cater for the large Iraqi expat community in the UK.

"Last week, BMI announced it was keen to re-establish flights between Heathrow and Baghdad as soon as the British government allows. "A small number of scheduled services are being launched within the region," says BMI boss Nigel Turner, "and it makes geographical and economic sense to add Iraq to our network."" - from The Guardian.