The following is a Haider Ajina translation of a headline and article from the August 23 Iraqi Al Sabah Al Jadeed, on August 23rd, 2006.
Najaf has Large Activities in Building Development and Public Works
The City of Nejaf (Najaf) is witnessing large building activity. Building and development is on a strong pace in public works, public services, road repair and reconstruction and public park beautification. While all this is going on the citizens of Nejaf are demanding more. More development and more improvement in services, services that affect everyday life. Such as improvement in water services, electrical services (now running 12-16 hours per day), sewage services public toilets and baths. Although Nejaf is a religious, political and educational center, it has suffered decades of neglect. However, Local residents want more for their city; they want it to show reflect its importance.
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The Iraqi Treasury reports show that Nejaf is amongst the top cities to receive funds (public and private) for reconstruction, improvement and development. Iraqi treasury minister Mr. Bajer Alzubeidi thanked Nejafi officials for the building development, private investment and the completion of many projects, private and public.
Engineer Haider Almayali chairman of the Nejaf development committee said; ‘There is a long, long list of projects for Nejaf. Public works projects, building a religious tourism center or city, chains of first class hotels in the Bahar Alnejaf area etc. Hasan Abtan, Deputy Governor of Nejaf said, the funds allocated for Nejaf from the central government are not enough and do not measure up to the stature of the city. This is not a normal city; this city can be the number one city in Iraq, number one in construction and development, development from the private and public sector. More private investment money from outside of Iraq is waiting to come to us as soon as the new privatization laws are written by the parliament. Many contractors in Nejaf have expressed their ability and willingness to carry out many of these projects, which the city needs, especially developing new residential areas and building new homes. Nejaf municipal government is working closely with Nejafi merchants, Nejafi investors to set up offices for foreign companies. This will bring more private investment and expertise in building and development. This is already happening with Turkish, Iranian and Kuwaiti private companies.
In the last eighteen months, tremendous improvement and development has been carried out in Nejaf. The old water system has been replaced with a new one, and the Nejaf international Airport is being planned. This Airport will link Nejaf with the rest of the world and help trade, business and religious tourisms. This is what Nejafis want for their city.
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Nejaf and Arbil, one city in the South and the Shiite heartland, the other the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Both these cities are experiencing tremendous growth. Growth in commerce, infrastructure, expansion etc.. For obvious reasons, both these cities were ignored and neglected by Saddam’s government. These cities are playing catch up for the years of neglect and attacks by Saddam’s army. They are now benefiting from an open economy and better security and stability than in the Baghdad area.
These two cities are an example of what Iraqis can do once they take ownership of their cities. They dedicate their efforts and money to their neighborhoods and cities because they know the law protects them and their investments. Cities and provinces thrive when democracy, rule-of-law and security prevail, Nejaf and Arbil show this very well. There still is plenty to be done and a long road ahead.