HUFFINGTON POST
05/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'Disneyland In Iraq': Multi-Million Dollar Entertainment Park Coming To Baghdad

Some would say the last thing that war-torn Iraq needs is an entertainment park. California businessman Llewellyn Werner says different (from Times Online):

Llewellyn Werner, a California investor, admits he is facing obstacles most amusement park developers never have to deal with. Such as insurgent attacks and looting.

But when the amusement park you're building lies in downtown Baghdad, those risks come with the territory.

Mr Werner, chairman of C3, a Los Angeles-based holding company for private equity firms, is pouring millions of dollars into developing The Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience, a massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the same firm that developed Disneyland.

"The people of Iraq need this kind of positive influence. It's going to have a huge psychological impact," Mr Werner said.

The Globe and Mail report on the story as well, noting Mr. Werner's thoughts on the effect his proposed theme park will have on Iraq's sectarian relations:

Mr. Werner says the time is ripe for a fun park: "I think people will embrace it. They'll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they're Shia or Sunni. They'll say their kids deserve a place to play and they'll leave it alone."

An Iraq government spokesman is equally excited about the entertainment park:

Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, is equally optimistic: "There is a shortage of entertainment in the city. Cinemas can't open. Playgrounds can't open. The fun park is badly needed for Baghdad. Children don't have any opportunities to enjoy their childhood," he said, adding that entry to the park would be strictly controlled through tight security.