September 29, 2003

New Iraqi Urbanism

Until recently, the Baghdad skyline was dominated by Baath Party buildings and palaces. Those are now gone.

Iraq is rich in natural resources. So when the country gets a decent government, a healthy economy, and some new construction contracts, maybe the new Baghdad skyline will look something like this.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at September 29, 2003 10:13 PM

Before it was consumed by civil war (Thank in no small part to Arafat) Beirut was considered the Jewel of Mediterranean. A bid for Summer Olympic wasn't a laughing matter. As much damage as the civil war & the Syrian occupation have done, the city still have memory of what could've been.

Now, if they can only get the Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah out of the way, they might be able to achieve something truely special.

Posted by: BigFire at September 29, 2003 10:49 PM

Big lovely luxury buildings are, indeed, a pleasure to look at. But I actually hope that mortgages and single-family housing suburbs dominate most residential construction, and receive the most free(ish) market financing (loans at market rates with market risks).

I believe development of, and legal registration of, private home ownership is extremely conducive to responsible democracy.

But that Beirut tower is lovely; if something like that were built w/o gov't money, that would be fine...

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 30, 2003 12:30 AM

But a new thought. It might well be a wonderful time for Baghdad to solicit for a public, democratic decision about a single new multi-purpose construction commemorating the victims of Saddam, while also looking to the future.

Maybe it would be really cool if it was a mirror – sister to the New York ground zero construction.

Posted by: Tom Grey at September 30, 2003 12:43 AM

Yes, I think it's a great addition to the skyline, and every vibrant city should have one. But I share Tom's concern that a balance in city planning with the general public in mind is also needed. The ME has a lot of money and it should benefit more than the elites. I know of a seven star hotel in the United Arab Emigrants which runs $1,500 USD/night.

Posted by: d-rod at September 30, 2003 08:08 AM

oops, s/b "Emirates", sorry. Luxury suites are available too, for up to $7,000/night. Take a look if you're curious.

Posted by: d-rod at September 30, 2003 11:43 AM


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