According to government officials, all the measures have been initiated to execute a plan for developing the cultural scene in Baghdad through the implementation of multiple projects to build and rehabilitate heritage buildings.
One of the key plans is to rehabilitate al-Mutanabbi Palace of Iraq which is a historic palace, was built in the year of 1930 as an administrative building. The new structure will have a historic facade and modern halls inside for meetings, seminars and art exhibits, the official also said.
"There are other projects to be built at the historic al-Qushla site which include the remodeling of the old governor's mansion and the building that housed the former ministerial cabinet under the monarchy," he said.
In addition, a new museum in the capital will house about 100 wax statues of Iraqi figures known for their contributions to science, politics, culture and innovation, while another museum will honor late former prime minister Abdul Karim Qassem, he said.
Other planned buildings include a house for old manuscripts and a publishing house for the Iraqi Writers and Authors Union. Abdul Razzaq stated that some of the other projects are in the schedule of Iraqi government, which will be completed by the time of end of 2014.
Through the new plan, the council seeks to "enhance and develop the cultural scene, and illuminate the civilized face of Baghdad as a capital city which has enjoyed a distinguished historical role and status among the capitals of the world", he said.
Local authorities have already begun work in this regard, he said, noting that in recent years several important projects such as the Baghdad Cultural Centre have opened, and the yards and halls of al-Qushla and its historic clock have undergone rehabilitation.
He mentioned, "The al-Qushla building has become a cultural beacon for Baghdad because we see today numerous literary and artistic activities going on there on both the local and international levels, in addition to activities held there every Friday with many intellectuals and activists in attendance."
In coming years, he said, he hopes additional attention will be given to old historic houses and buildings, al-Rasheed Theatre, and new exhibitions and museums.
Presenting honors to the Iraqi artists
The plan also aims to honor outstanding Iraqi contributors to the various fields of art "in order to spur them towards making further contributions in the service of their country," said Majed al-Saedy, chairman of the council's administrative committee.
"The Baghdad provincial council has allocated seven billion dinars ($6 million) from this year's cultural budget to finance the projects listed in the plan," he told.
Ali al-Shallah, chairman of the Iraqi parliament's culture committee, also applauded the plan. "There is an urgent need to continue the effort in building and developing all cultural facilities in the capital and to continue, at the same pace of enthusiasm shown in the activities for the project for Baghdad as 2013 Capital of Arab Culture," he said.
He concluded, "We consider any effort made in this respect by any group as a step that would ultimately help in showing the civilized and heritage landmarks of our capital, and creating the suitable grounds and the opportunity for our artists and intellectuals to show their creative works to strengthen Iraq's cultural accomplishments."