I almost thought I was reading another bad taste joke when I came across the post about an American businessman who is planning to build an amusement park with an integrated skate park in downtown Baghdad. Whhhhhhaaat?!!! This is definitely one of the strangest business plans I have heard about in a long time and of course this topic can easily get a heated discussion started up.
One side of me thinks immediately “why would the war weary people of Iraq want to have an amusement park which represents the values of the government/country which is occupying their country?”. Why build it in the middle of a zone which still gets hit by bombs and mortars? The part of the article from which I find a bit dodgy to understate it is :
“Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, is equally optimistic: “There is a shortage of entertainment in the city. Cinemas can’t open. Playgrounds can’t open. The fun park is badly needed for Baghdad. Children don’t have any opportunities to enjoy their childhood,” he said, adding that entry to the park would be strictly controlled through tight security.”
Sure, I support the fact that children need a place to play, to enjoy their childhood. A playground/zoo/skate park would be great. But if all of those extra troops can’t stop the bombings up until today, how are they going to do it at a playground park which openly represents what so many people of Iraq obviously dislike or even hate: the American way of life. Well, Mr Llewellyn Werner already has been granted a 50-year lease for the 20-hectar area of land next to the Green Zone with the Baghdad Zoo so it sounds like he is quite serious. Is Disneyworld coming to Iraq? Only time will tell but it looks more like a great target for the so-called insurgents.
On the other hand I love the idea that kids possibly could get a chance to do something they would never have the possibility to try, most likely because the financial possibilities are missing and a skateboard is most likely not at the top of their list of needs. As more than half of the population in Iraq is under 15, this could be something they have long awaited. I’m not so sure though. A lot of these ideas of getting investors into Iraq sound pretty crooked to me, a perfect place to make a quick buck off of a country which has little or no chance to say no.