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Iraq hopes to consummate a deal with a developer to turn "Baghdad’s Honeymoon Island" into a world-class resort.

"Iraq’s Tourism Board is seeking investors for the development of Jazirat Al A’ras, also known as Jazirat Janin, a romantic island in the heart of historic Baghdad, on the Tigris River," the board said in a Tuesday news release.

Featuring a recreational lake on its north side, the island has a "history of being a romantic getaway for newlywed couples to honeymoon and relax," according to the board.

The project has an estimated cost of between $2.5 and $4.5 billion, and it is expected to take between four to six years once construction begins.

"Baghdad’s hospitality industry lacks world-class, five- and six-star resorts and does not capitalize on Baghdad’s legacy as the ‘cradle of civilization,’" the news release said.

The island is about 2,000 yards long and 1,100 yards wide. It is connected to the Green Zone by a causeway and is across the river from Baghdad University.

Developers must submit drawings with their proposals that include a "six-star" hotel, "five-star" spa, "four-star" resort and conference center, 18-hole golf course with clubhouse, helicopter landing zone and other amenities.

"When developed, several of the proposed resorts will become an attractive retreat to the more than 7 million residents of Baghdad and a drawing card for the other 21 million residents of Iraq, as well as a focal point for international visitors, whether in Baghdad on business or for pleasure," according to the tourism board.

But Baghdad has a long way to go before it cements its reputation as destination city.

In June, the State Department issued a warning to U.S. travelers that Iraq remains "dangerous, volatile and unpredictable" despite recent security improvements.

"Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the International (or "Green") Zone," the travel warning said. "Targets include hotels, restaurants, police stations, checkpoints, foreign diplomatic missions, and international organizations and other locations with expatriate personnel. Such attacks can occur at any time. Kidnappings still occur; the most recent kidnapping of an American citizen occurred in August 2007."

Noticeably absent from the State Department’s description of conditions in Iraq are the words "romantic getaway."


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