“Tourist Cities” in Iraq Starting from Ur 

In the context of efforts to develop Iraqi archaeological sites and transform them into cultural and tourist attractions, the Governor of Thi Qar, Mohammed Hadi Al-Ghazi, approved the basic designs for the Ur Tourist City. This city is set to become the first fully serviced integrated city of its kind in the southern province, which gained international recognition after Pope Francis visited it in the spring of 2021.

The Governor’s office stated in a statement that “the basic design was developed based on the outcomes of the Prime Ministerial Order No. 38 of 2021, formed under the chairmanship of the Secretary-General of the Cabinet and with representation from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Construction and Housing, advisors to the Prime Minister and the Presidency, as well as representatives from the Thi Qar Province.”

The Design Elements

The statement explained that “the design encompasses 5 main sectors: religious, educational, service, recreational, and residential. The total area covered is 370 acres.” Governor Mohammed Hadi Al-Ghazi indicated that “the aim of constructing the tourist city is to provide services to tourists visiting the archaeological city of Ur, which is about two kilometers away. Its plan has been finalized after fulfilling all requirements, surveys, and studies, making it a new city with a religious and tourist character.”

He revealed that “the tourist city includes a museum, theaters, restaurants, cultural centers, and a college for antiquities and marshlands.”

Project Significance

The spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities, Dr. Ahmed Al-Alawi, stated:

The Ur Tourist City project is one of the most important projects relied upon to revive and rejuvenate the tourism sector in Iraq as a whole, and in the city of Nasiriyah in particular. This region, as known, holds significant historical and heritage value, which has gained even more importance after the visit of Pope Francis in March 2021, along with the international attention it received and the increasing global demand to visit it. Thus, coordination and collaboration began between the Ministry of Culture and the General Authority for Antiquities and Heritage, along with various relevant bodies, to provide the necessary facilities for construction, allocate funds, and develop specific designs to enhance the tourism and service sector in the region and to build this tourist city. The project will offer significant opportunities to stimulate tourism, investment, and job creation in the area. This will lead to its prosperity, especially considering that Nasiriyah is currently facing a decline in employment opportunities. It’s a valuable chance to boost the national income in general by reviving the tourism industry as a fundamental economic contributor. Iraq is rich in components, landmarks, and integrated tourist sites of religious, archaeological, and natural significance, which serve as attractions for tourists from around the world. The approval of the designs for the Ur Tourist City and the ongoing collaboration between various concerned entities are promising signs. They contribute to accelerating the pace of achieving this ambitious tourism and cultural project. Creating such tourist cities is an essential necessity in Nasiriyah and in various regions and provinces of Iraq, enriched by their archaeological and historical sites. These cities will provide infrastructure to attract visitors and tourists from around the world. Iraq urgently needs such initiatives and projects, as it has suffered from 40 years of tourism isolation. It’s time to break free from it, connect with the world, and develop the tourism sector. Papal Visit

Ur was one of the most significant stops during the historic papal visit to Iraq in early March 2021. During the visit, Pope Francis held the “Prayer for the Children of Abraham” across various faiths and Iraqi sects, emphasizing the values of peace, coexistence, tolerance, and human brotherhood. This prayer, and the messages it carried, took place in the cradle of the Abrahamic faith.

According to various heavenly religions, Ur is the birthplace of the Prophet Abraham, and symbolizes the spiritual father of these monotheistic faiths.

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