By Leanne Case.
Years of war and suffering in Iraq have left a legacy of destruction which includes ancient monuments and broken cities. During my time there I pestered those that I knew to share both their stories and images of what once was. One doesn’t have to go far to discover a land of awe inspiring architectural feats, ingenuity and adventure.
However, this is not the place that I have seen from behind the compound walls or the thick glass of my vehicle. This is not the expanse of mud and wreckage I have seen on my travels but I know that it existed and have seen it proudly displayed in the gait of the people I have watched, and in the proud histories of those I have been honoured to meet and listen to. This is the essence of what draws me to Iraq, proud, resilient and beyond belief.
This is exactly the reason that Iraq should not seek to recreate the bland architecture endemic in modern cities but should be brave in seeking new architectural paths. History is not something that should hold us back but should rather be proudly incorporated into the future. History is a recognised commodity in Iraq and the Tourism Board are very actively pursuing growth in tourism as a key economic opportunity. Although I realise that the thought of Iraq’s tourism potential is ludicrous to those that cannot see beyond the current security situation; Iraq is a cultural Mecca and that has always meant and will always mean tourism. The kind of tourism growth will very much depend on the future security situation and the preservation, development and tourism polices of the Iraqi government.
Basra known in the 17th century as the Venice of the Orient, rich in history and oil, once a cornerstone of Islamic civilisation is once again central to the re-emergence of Iraq. In December 2010 the Friends of the Basra Museum held a fundraising event in London. The first formal event in the plan to re-establish the Basra museum in a new location and a welcome one, after all any well thought out plan that recognises Basra’s place in history is a vitally important one.