Monday, November 07, 2005

Sunbathing by the Euphrates

Saddam Hussein left behind lavish palaces and expansive pleasure gardens built at such a massive scale that they were symbolic to the rotten an inhumanity of his regime. To build such things is of course a dictator's prerogative, and such ostentatious building campaigns are far from unique in the history totalitarian leadership. The bad part wasn't the buildings themselves as it was the means by which he built his palaces: hording all the wealth of his country for himself and his amusements. This act further debased the value of his people in his eyes and consequently lowered the level of political legitimacy in order to maintain power.

So it was with pleasure that I found this article about future hotel development in Baghdad. As I've mentioned in previous posts, real-estate prices and speculation is evidence of the upward trend in the quality of life among Iraqis. Amazingly, it seems that Iraq is the only country in the Middle East where the future is contemplated on and to which people have set their sights. The most interesting nugget in the article reveals:

Another plan is to turn Saddam Hussein's former palaces at his home town of Tikrit into a themed tourist destination. The complex, which contains 18 palaces and 118 other buildings, is surrounded by rolling gardens overlooking the Tigris.
Mohammed Abbas, a regional official, said: "Ordinary Iraqis were never allowed into these palaces. It will be an opportunity for them to see how their money was spent. International visitors will also be able to see the kind of lifestyle Saddam enjoyed."

I really couldn't think of a better use for his palaces. Just as the French have preserved the palace of Versailles and the Soviets their Romanov Palaces in St. Petersburg, it's only fitting to maintain Saddam's legacy of architectural megalomania. I look forward to learning all about Saddam while going down the water slide on my eventual trip to Baghdad someday...

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