Caravan Stops Crumble Along Abandoned Silk Road

Al-Monitor found that many young people know nothing about these khans. When asked, Ahmad Kazem, a 20-year-old university student from Babil, said that they were “a hitching post for animals and livestock,” while another student, Lamia Saleh, 22, said they were “a police station from the Ottoman era.”

In the countryside of Haydariyya, where Khan al-Noss is located, these sites survive only stories told by the elderly.

Al-Monitor spoke to Ali Lami, a 65-year-old tribal sheikh living near Khan al-Noss, who said, “My father, who lived through the last period of prosperity these khans knew in the Ottoman era [1535-1918], told me that these khans belonged to wealthy merchants who had built them so that travelers would gather there to exchange goods and make profits.”

Al-Monitor spoke to Hussein Yasser Abboudi, the director of the Karbala Antiquities Committee affiliated with the Iraqi General Directorate of Antiquities. He said, “The local government of Karbala is planning to develop these historic sites to turn them into touristic sites that generate revenue and help eradicate unemployment, as these khans will be turned into rest houses.”

Iraqi parliamentarian Ibtisam Hilali of Karbala told Al-Monitor, “Given the current financial crisis, the best way to benefit from these places is through drawing investments and turning them into restaurants, hotels and entertainment facilities, especially since thousands of pilgrims come to Iraq each year to visit the holy shrines.”

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