Earlier this month, the Iraqi Communications Ministry began studying a project to construct the first "smart village" in Iraq.
The village, which has parallels in a number of other countries, will be the headquarters for many local and foreign investment companies and will include a number of service facilities and buildings equipped with the latest, most modern means of communications and information technologies, officials said.
Among the village's attractions are a hotel, a commercial mall, an electronic library, a hall for meetings, conferences and special occasions, and a movie theatre.
The project aims to support "the process of reconstruction and national development by creating suitable circumstances and a comfortable environment for local and foreign companies investing in the country [as well as] those wishing to enter the Iraqi investment market," said Sameer Ali al-Hasoon, official spokesperson for the Communications Ministry.
He said the village's advanced communications network would enable companies to administer and develop their investment projects free of any obstacles, particularly at the level of technical services.
Once all the project's prerequisites are completed, the ministry "will approach the [Iraqi] National Investment Commission about the possibility of announcing the project as an investment venture, which could be carried out in collaboration with local and foreign private sector companies", he said.
"The project has great importance because it acts as a strong incentive to push forward the social, economic and development processes in the country," said Vian Dakheel Saeed, chairwoman of the Iraqi parliament's services and reconstruction committee.
Saeed told Mawtani the project will create thousands of work opportunities for the unemployed, particularly for graduates of colleges and institutes, and that it will be especially useful for training individuals on digital applications and advanced communications systems.
She said her committee members are currently discussing the village's construction with officials at the Communications Ministry to explore ways to implement this "vital project".
The Communications Ministry's deputy secretary for financial and administrative affairs, Kareem Mizel al-Saedy, told Mawtani his ministry has pinpointed a plot of land in the capital for the project. The ministry is about to complete the process of registering the land, he said, and he expects work on the smart village to begin early next year.
Designs for the project and preparations for its construction requirements are due for completion before September 2012, he added.
The ministry "is currently focused on preparing the plans, designs, and studies of this modern village," al-Saedy said.
"Once the design phase ends, and the comprehensive and final picture of the project becomes clear, we shall work on preparing all the necessary requirements to start the project," he said, adding that implementation will require securing sufficient funds for the project in co-ordination with the Finance Ministry and the Planning Ministry.