By Robert Tollast.
Luay al-Khairullah has reason to be optimistic. As Chairman of the Dhi Qar Provincial Investment Commission, I spoke to him last year about the planned Nasiriyah Integrated Project (NIP) a 300,000 barrel a day capacity refinery not far from his home town.
It's a project that will create much needed jobs and provide cheaper fuel for Iraqis.
The NIP is just one of several vital strategic projects for Iraq, some progressing such as the multi billion dollar Grand al Faw port project and the Karbala refinery (a Hyandai led project).
Other projects are still in the blueprint stage. Zaha Hadid’s avant garde design for a new Central Bank of Iraq is one such audacious project, and many more are in the pipeline- Iraq's second biggest resource is surely ambition.
But Dr.al Khairullah's humble, quiet demeanor quickly turned to near excitement when I mentioned the possibility of greater tourism in Iraq's famous southern marshes.
This was "already being prepared for" and soon the province was planning an international showcase for the many sites to visit in the south such as the iconic Sumerian Ziggurat, the Mudhifs of the ancient Marsh Arab culture and the museums of antiquities.