I Dream of Rain

gardens in the desert sun

“We¹re going to build a city to rival Dubai,” says governor Assad Abu Galal as he unrolls sheaths of architectural plans in his offices on the outskirts of the southern Iraqi city of Najaf. The 64-year old former exile, who usually cultivates an air of quiet, grandfatherly detachment, becomes suddenly animated as he traces the lines of new roads, housing projects, tourist complexes, and five-star hotels.

The centerpiece of his plan is the renovation and expansion of the Imam Ali Shrine, the golden-domed tomb that houses the body of the Prophet Mohammed’s grandson and draws millions of pilgrims each year. In one of Galal’s blueprints, a large swath of the old city has been cleared away to make way for shopping boutiques, underground parking and a sweeping piazza.

Islam’s Advance: PostGlobal on washingtonpost.com

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