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Iraq gears up for $30 billion housing projects
By Aseel Kami
Wednesday, July 15, 2009; 10:14 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq is lining up at least $30 billion in housing and commercial developments over the next decade as Baghdad looks for homes for a rising population. and hopes to revive a city shattered by war.

Baghdad Mayor Saber al-Issawi said the city government had received bids from seven foreign companies to build 150,000 flats, stores, parks and cinemas over 10 years in one rundown area of northeastern Baghdad.

The Iraqi government, looking to lure foreign investment and resurrect an economy overly reliant on a promising but underproducing oil sector, has agreed to put $10 billion into the project over that period, he said in a interview this week.

After decades of war and crippling U.N. sanctions in the 1990s, Baghdad like other Iraqi cities is woefully behind the times when it comes to basic services such as water and power, not to mention an ever-more-desperate lack of suitable housing.

Sadr City, a largely Shi'ite area of northeastern Baghdad, is one of the most striking examples of the unchecked growth of Baghdad's population, which has grown to 7 million as Iraqis fled the countryside and a depressed farm sector.

Buildings in Sadr City have been reduced to rubble by American airstrikes and the area's poorest live in shelters cobbled together from scavenged materials. Electricity flickers on and off, people truck in their own water, trash is everywhere and people tend livestock on city streets.

The rundown area will be the site of one of three major construction projects, Issawi said. Projects will include stores and cinemas and the Iraqi cabinet has already allocated $870 million for the first year of Sadr City construction, he said.

The Baghdad municipality prequalified seven companies out of 27 which expressed interest in the Sadr City project, including UK-based architects Broadway Malyan, project managers Halcrow Group, structural engineers Buro Happold and consultants Pell Frischmann.

Another firm was Australian architects Woods Bagot, along with firms from the Arab world.

Issawi said winners would be announced in two months.

The second housing project is located in eastern Baghdad in an area that was a military camp in Saddam Hussein's time. The cost of that project, including 65,000 flats on some 5,000 acres, is $20 billion over 10 years.

A third housing project is planned in western Baghdad.

(Editing by Missy Ryan and David Holmes)

Iraq gears up for $30 billion housing projects -  Source

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