Iraq Restores Historic Ottoman Site

By Omar al-Shaher for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

At the restoration site of the Ottoman governor’s headquarters, known as Qishla, near the Tigris River in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Imad al-Khafaji says, “I feel, as the work proceeds, that we are builders.”

A few months ago the Iraqi government launched a campaign to restore the building of Qishla, built by the Ottomans in Baghdad in 1855 to serve as the headquarters for their forces. During the 1920s, it was transformed into a serail. Nowadays, it is known as the “old Green Zone,” in reference to the "Green Zone" in Baghdad where many government facilities are located.

“I was glad to see the restoration works moving so fast. Reviving the Baghdadi architecture of this site is an achievement by itself,” declares Khafaji, a well-known television figure. Khafaji believes that letting people into the site before the renovation is completed is a way of showing transparency to the modern world.

“It means that you see things as they grow; they are not accomplished in the shadows. Such works are no longer a clandestine ritual as they used to be,” he added.

According to Khafaji, “We spent significant amounts of money on other projects, while this place was neglected for years. We lost tourist investment in this place while we have spent a fortune on spurious projects.”

Taking a tour of the site, the governor of Baghdad, Salah Abdul Razzak, shared that “the initial idea of this project was to restore the Qishla tower clock. We included this project in last year’s allocations and, indeed, renovated and set the clock in operation in a way that preserves its historical architectural style.

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