Baghdad’s ‘Facelift’ before Arab Summit

We reported recently that the Iraqi government has earmarked $300 million to upgrade Baghdad’s hotels for next year’s Arab summit.

Azzaman now reports that the Baghdad Municipality of Amanat al-Asima is racing against time to upgrade some of Baghdad’s run-down neighborhoods in advance of summit.

The Iraqi government has expressed a willingness to host Arab leaders in Baghdad and the authorities are trying to give the city a new ‘facelift’.

Baghdad has been the scene of massive car bomb attacks recently which have killed and wounded hundreds of Iraqis.

Many of its streets are dotted with cement blocks and checkpoints and certain streets and neighborhoods are no-go areas.

But Saber al-Aysawi [Saber Al-Issawi], Baghdad’s mayor, claims conditions will be different by the time Arab leaders flock to Baghdad.

Though it is not yet certain whether the summit will be held in Baghdad, given the spate of the latest upsurge in violence, the authorities are selling the meeting as an indication of relative quiet.

Aysawi said the municipality will “open 22 streets in preparation for the Arab summit next year.”

The streets in question are among the most guarded in Baghdad, full of concrete barriers and checkpoints, which Aysawi claims will be removed.

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