Sep 24 2012
By Basem al-Rikabi
Azzaman, September 24, 2012
Iraq is tidying up the remains of the ancient city of Ur in hope of a proposed visit by Pope Benedict XVI.
The Antiquities Inspectorate in the Province of Dhi Qar of which Naisiyra is the capital says it has started restoration activities in Ur.
Ur, the metropolitan of the Sumerian civilization that flourished in southern Iraq, is a short drive from Nasiriya.
According to Biblical tradition, Abraham was born and raised in Ur before departing to settle in Palestine.
Generations of archaeologists have excavated the city and the digs have yielded some of the world’s finest artifacts, particularly those salvaged from a royal cemetery.
Amer Al-Zubaidi the head of the inspectorate said the ancient city will be supplied with power and that electricity poles will light up the place at night.
“There will be restaurants and other recreations centers,” he said.
Iraq hopes to turn its ancient riches to attractions luring tourists the world over.
According to a five-year development plant – 2013-2017 – the country is keen to diversity its hard cash income and investment tourism as a major foreign cash earner.
A visit by the Pope will put Ur and Iraq into international limelight, said Zubaidi.
Iraqi officials say the Pope, who has just ended a historic visit to Lebanon, has accepted an official government invitation to visit Ur, but no date has been set yet.
The officials even said that the Vatican has agreed to spend millions of dollars to rehabilitate Ur in anticipation of the visit.
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