Tuesday, May 19, 2009
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