Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Al Habbaniya

Al Habbaniya is a huge lake in the middle of the desert located between the city of Falluja and the city of Ramady, west of Iraq. Its size is approximately 700 m2 and can take more than 60 thousands inhabitants.

In the late 1970, the government in Iraq launched an ambitious project that turned the area into one of the most luxorious tourist resorts in Iraq. People of all ages, families with children, group of young boys and girls and university students from Baghdad and neighoring towns and cities used to go there to enjoy the weekend or spend either Al Eid or other holidays there. In addition, many young married couples decided to spend their honeymoon by booking a room in the luxurious hotel or in one of the small bricked beautiful houses.

There are many facilities used to be available for the visitors in Al Habbaniy: there were tennis courts, basketball fields, bycycles can be rented. There was a small hall with electronic games, not to forget the swimming pools, and the two disco halls - one on the rare side of the lake.

In the late 1980's Al Habbaniya became a destination for foreign tourists. I remember seeing groups of men and women from the Gulf and western countries when I used to go there.

I have been countless time to Al Habbaniya. Since I was a child my parents used to take me there accompanied with other family friends, playing with the kids and enjoying the sun and the water. Things didn't change when I grew up, only that it was with group of friends from the neighborhood or joining with colleagues from university. That's why I have a lot of good (and some bad I won't talk about) memories related to Al Habbaniya. Thus, this place has a special meaning to me, until now.

After the 2003 war, the resort was converted into a shelter for poor and displaced families because of the secterian conflict. In addition, a new military base was installed with the purpose of training soldiers as part of the process of forming new army brigades and police squads for Al Anbar province - I even heard that the major military hospital for the American army is located there.

Below are pictures I found on Al Habbaniya during its golden period


PD FitzGerald-Morris said...

The military base is not new. It began life as a massive RAF training and communications base during the 1920s/30s mandate. It was the centre of the Anglo-Iraq skirmish in 1941.

MixMax said...

welcome PD, very true, what I meant by saying new was the main functionality of such a military base - just wanted to pointed the changes after the 2003.

Thanks for pointing out

سحاب said...

طبعاً الحبانية تعني الذكريات الجميلة وذكريات الطفولة حيث لم أزورها منذ الصغر
أعيد أفتتاحها هذه الأيام فأتمنى أن أزورها بعد أن كانت موطن للعوائل الهاربة من الفلوجة

Virginia Kooijman said...

My father was stationed at RAF Habbaniya from 1954-1958. I went to the local school, rode horses and had a wonderful time. We used to ride to the Lake through the desert. The horses swam in the lake and we then returned to the camp. I was a disc jockey and was picked up by helicopter and taken to Baghdad Radio station. Children from other military schools in the middle east wrote in with their requests and I would play them. I was paid in Pepsi Cola and flown back to the camp. Until the assassination of King Faisal we had an amazing time and I have lovely memories of Habbaniya.

Gina Kooijman
The Hague
The Netherlands
JanuaRY 19 2011