Amanat Baghdad has begun carrying out a project to revive and develop the historic Adhamiyah district that surrounds the shrine of Imam Abu Hanifa al-Numan.
The three-stage project, which began at the beginning of April, is part of a series of projects to develop the capital and revive its historical districts.
According to Sabah Sami, director of relations and media at Amanat Baghdad, the first stage involves inviting specialised engineering groups to submit design proposals, the second stage will choose the winning contract, and the third phase will see the execution of the project.
Currently, five local, Arab and international engineering groups are competing to win the contract.
The competing groups are the German Uberbau, the Spanish AV62 Arquitectos, the Al-Qatif Engineering Bureau in collaboration with the Spanish Balam Consultores, the Italian City Architecture and Landscape Studio and Sami al-Musawi's Iraqi bureau.
The area surrounding the shrine encompasses four residential areas (sections 308, 310, 312 and 314) in the Shuyoukh, Haibat Khatoon, Hara, Safeena and Nassa neighbourhoods.
A 20-member committee of engineers and representatives from Iraqi universities, the General Commission on Antiquities and Heritage, the Sunni Endowment and the provincial council will study the designs submitted by the five companies and select the best one.
"There are many ideas on how to develop the area, including taking ownership of historic landmark houses to renovate them and turn them into places associated with heritage, culture, arts and literature, such as turning them into art galleries, cultural or literary clubs, or museums," Sami said.
He said the project also includes the creation of an Amanat Baghdad bureau that will maintain the heritage and historic landmarks in the area.
Large meeting halls, gardens and restaurants will be constructed, streets will be rehabilitated and refurnished with modern lighting systems, billboards, bus waiting areas and direction signs, and sidewalks will be re-tiled, he said.
The expansion of the structure of the Imam Abu Hanifa al-Numan shrine, and the construction of a guesthouse for visitors and guests, will also be included in the project, Sami said.
Abdul Salam al-Dulaimi, member of the Adhamiyah municipal council, praised the project for developing the heritage of the district.
"Adhamiyah deserves this attention because it carries a certain historical depth that cannot be ignored, and also in view of its exceptional location in the capital," he told Mawtani.
Al-Dulaimi called for the "inclusion of other areas of Adhamiyah in the renovation project because of their touristic importance, the most important of which is the Gerayat area overlooking the Tigris River, which is visited by tourists coming from all parts of Iraq to enjoy Iraqi cuisine served at restaurants floating in the river".
"There is a good chance of success for tourist projects resulting from the Adhamiyah development project," said Khalid al-Essawi, a member of the National Investment Commission.
"What makes Adhamiyah exceptional is the presence of a large number of shrines of many great scholars of Islam, which have become destinations for visitors coming from various Islamic countries, in addition to the presence of the royal cemetery in which members of the Iraqi monarchy family are buried," al-Essawi said. "There are also very old mosques that are hundreds of years old, in addition to its exceptional location on the shores of the Tigris River."
"Therefore, it needs the construction of modern hotels, large commercial malls and tourist restaurants. I believe the opportunity is viable for investors to achieve that," he said.
The project is one in a series that aims to develop the historic and heritage areas in Baghdad, which include renovating the Rasheed Street district, developing the area extending between this street and the Tigris River, and developing the area surrounding the Kadhimiya shrine.