CHIBAYISH, Iraq -- Ecotourists have given southern Iraqi marshes new life and hope thirty years after Saddam Hussein had the wetlands yearning for water. Now, ecotourists can enjoy the marshes as they spend a day picnicking and paddling down the bends.
The marsh is a sight to see, evidenced by the increasing number of canoes peacefully gliding down the stream, giving tourists a taste of what Iraq really is. A dwelling with a single room made of elaborately woven palm floats on the river with a nearby grill for cooking fish. Tourists and locals alike enjoy the revitalized venue with music, songs, and some drum play."I think there is nothing more beautiful than this," Habib al-Jurani expressed his appreciation.
Habib al-Jurani left his homeland in the 1990s while the war was at its peak. The Iraqi went to the US to study and explore what Western civilization has to offer. Today, Jurani is back in his homeland to visit his family.
"A lot of people around the world don't know what Iraq is beyond the war. They only know of Iraq because of the war stories shown on television or in the videos online. Most people think it is a dangerous place, that there is nothing here but war and terrorism," Jurani added.
Iraq was indeed popular for the wrong reasons, as over the past years, media has broadcasted the country as the location for war and terrorism. With these disasters taken as the country's focal point, people have failed to see the beauty that Iraq has to offer. In fact, the marshes in the country's southern area have been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. Jurani added that there are plenty of interesting sites in Iraq that are just waiting to be discovered.
While enjoying a boat ride down the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in Iraq, explorers would encounter beautiful marshes that offer a rare ecosystem. In a country that has half its area covered in desert, these marshes are a majesty that the locals are most certainly proud of. Locals even talk about legends that the Garden of Eden lay hidden in these parts of Iraq.
After the war has dealt destruction over the land, Iraq deserves to be rebuilt as a nation once again. The ecotourism sites such as the said lush marsh is a step closer to Iraq's revival.