Contrasting responses to my call for Saddam’s palace to be transformed into Caesar’s Palace. From one reader:
I remember discussing a “private sector” approach to fixing Baghdad while wandering one of Saddam’s Baghdad palaces last fall. Some enterprising billionaire (of which there seems to be a few in that region of the world) could take on a project of creating a major tourist attraction in Baghdad, the by-product of which would address some of the major economic issues in central Iraq.
Appeal to western tourists; exploit the whole “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves”/”Alladin and the Lamp” theme, and create a “theme park” city based on it; minarets, bazaars, a magic carpet monorail, blue costumed djinns, etc. For the regional tourists, use the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates to create a wonderland of green (trees, grass, etc.), of which there is not an abundance in the Middle East. Start with a large piece of land along the rivers, wall it off and secure it, hire locals (Sunni, Shiite, Bhaalist, etc.), house and care for them on-site (thus ensuring their buy-in to the success and security of the project) and then build the hotels, attractions, and infrastructure then gradually move out from that “beach head” into larger parts of the city.
So as opposed to following the Las Vegas azimuth, the “Disney Land” approach to Baghdad would, in addition to further agitating the radical left, be a more practical approach to the sensitivities of that part of the world. Based on a recent trip to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, everyone I talked with (employee wise) appeared to have sold their souls to the Mouse and were more than happy to be part of the enterprise.
Create something like that in Baghdad, then we might be on to something.
On the other hand, a Civil Affairs officer writes:
Wayne Newton?! Sir, please – we are trying to remain friends with the Iraqis…