The cradle of civilization.

Beneath Iraq’s reputation for war and turmoil lies another almost forgotten reputation –  It’s status for being the cradle of civilisation. It is this reputation that will help make the idea of an Iraq holiday seem almost normal again.

Iraq is home to thousands of historic sites. From the Hanging Garden of Babylon to the Erbil citadel – the world’s longest continuously inhabited settlement.

It might be decades before foreign tourists gain the trust and desire to make the long journey back here.

it wasn’t always like this.

A once burgeoning tourism market

During the mid to late 1970s the Iraqi government at the time set aside tens of millions of dollars to build up its tourist infrastructure and marketing campaigns. The goal was to attract 500,000 foreign tourists per year. They were well on course before Saddam Hussein seized power and sparked an 8 year long war with neighbours Iran in 1980. Fast forward a turbulent 30 years which includes the gulf war, devastating sanctions, the 2003 invasion and the rise & fall of ISIS. For the first time since the 70s, Iraq can now enjoy a period of relative stability.

Once again an Iraqi government is seeking to breath life into a dormant tourism sector. This April the ministry of Culture, tourism and antiquities announced an $80 million allocation to improve the infrastructure around Babylon and other tourist sites. A much needed shot in the arm for a desperate sector.

Ur
Iraqi Kurdistan selfie
Boatman ferrying reeds in the marshes of Iraq

Rising from the ashes

A history of war and bloodshed has not stopped other once war