The Maysan province announced last week it completed the engineering and technical designs for the Palace of Culture project, which is expected to replace the old library building in the centre of Amarah city.
Maysan governor Ali Daway Lazem said the project's overall cost is estimated at 20 billion Iraqi dinars ($16.8 million) and will be built on a plot of land with an area of 150 square metres.
He said the provincial government intends to award the project to a local company with a 260-day execution deadline.
Governor Lazem said the building will have 10 stories, with each floor featuring a meeting hall and internet-enabled administrative rooms.
The building will also feature an outside circular garden.
In addition, the governor said one floor will be used as headquarters for journalists and media outlets, another for the culture and arts, and a third to display the history and unique civilisation of Maysan province.
The third floor will display the most remarkable archaeological pieces and outstanding symbols of the ancient kingdom of Maysan.
"The Palace of Culture will be considered one of the most important cultural landmarks in Iraq and in Maysan, in particular because it will bring together various activities in the areas of literature, the arts, and media," Governor Lazem said.
In its 2012 plan for Amarah city, the province had included the Maysan Satellite television channel and the Palace for Culture and Media, which will be used as headquarters for all media outlets in the province.
Local artists, writers and journalists welcomed the announcement and said the Palace of Culture will help push forward the pace of culture and arts in the province.
"Building the Palace of Culture in Maysan is an urgent necessity because there is a lot of talent in this province," spokesperson for the Iraqi Writers Union, Ibrahim al-Khayat, told Mawtani.
"The union is in constant contact with local governments in Iraqi provinces and with leading politicians to promote its plans, which aim to support Iraqi culture," al-Khayat said.
"One of the projects we previously put forward was to build palaces of culture, which are now beginning to see the light. This makes us happy as intellectuals," he added.
Artist and photographer Mahdi Majeed said, "The palace of culture will be our home, and will encourage us to come up with outstanding works of art."
He told Mawtani that he and his colleagues were striving to find an infrastructure that would embrace the Maysan culture, adding, "We contacted local government officials several times to make our voices heard and succeeded in establishing this edifice of civilization."
Poet Ali al-Bahadly said, "We suffer from lack of media coverage for our many cultural activities, in addition to the rise of young literary talent not yet known outside the Maysan cultural circles."
"I believe, however, that the presence of a media headquarters inside the Palace of Culture will have a profound effect on supporting these young talents," he added.
Journalist Fadhel al-Ali said, "The importance of palaces of culture lies in supporting peace and it is no less important than the work of security forces confronting terrorism."
"Culture is a solid shield that the enemies of peace cannot breach once it is absorbed by the human mind. Therefore, we have called on and continue to ask local media to support culture, based on the fact that it is a means that some describe as defensive, though I see it as an offensive against terrorism and crime," he added.