Iraq Is Turning Saddam Hussein’s Palace Into a Museum
Amid conflict with ISIS and a budget crisis, Iraqi officials hope new museum will herald a revival of the ancient port city of Basra.
BASRA, Iraq—Mahdi al-Musawi has a problem. His construction company is rushing to complete work on Iraq’s newest and most ambitious museum, which is slated to open by September. But above the main door, carved in sweeping Arabic calligraphy in beautiful wood, is the name of former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein and the soubriquet “Prince of Arabs.”
“Politicians will be here for the dedication,” al-Musawi says, eyeing the elaborate script. “They won’t be happy with this.”
Iraqi officials, however, are confident that converting one of Saddam’s former palaces into a museum—the first museum to open in the country in decades—will help spark a cultural revival in Basra, a southern port city and the country’s second largest and fastest growing urban center.
Given that ISIS