Iraq opens Najaf airport, hopes to spur tourism

The Dalmatian Coast and Marrakech are so 2007 — you aren’t a real hipster traveler until you’ve visited Iraq’s newly accesible tourist destination: Najaf.

Officially opening its doors this month, Al-Hamza airport was just revamped by Kuwaiti investors and is now geared towards bringing in tourist dollars. Najaf, a southern city in Iraq, is home to the shrine of Iman Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, and apparently attracts over nine million pilgrims each year. Their hope is that this airport will increase tourism by an additional ten percent.

Know what else might increase your tourism? Not being at war.

But perhaps this is an indication of the state of affairs in the war stricken country. As a country, when you’re able to concentrate some effort on development, infrastructure and tourism instead of security and defense, perhaps things are looking a little brighter.

As a destination, Iraq has plenty to offer. Before the war, the Antiquities Museum was supposed to be among the richest in the world, while what remains of The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are allegedly in Al-Hillah.

Given the current conflict, I’m still a little hesitant to book my trip out to Iraq. Hopefully some day I’ll be able to take my children to see what’s left of Babylon.