By Army Spc. Maurice A. Galloway
Special to American Forces Press Service
Sept. 24, 2009 - "If you build it, they will come" is a line made famous by the 1989 film "Field of Dreams." Iraqis and Americans in Basra are hoping it will hold true with the completion of the al Quibla market in Basra City. Al Quibla market will provide a venue for up to 22 Iraqi entrepreneurs to sell their goods and services in a safe and alluring environment. The market is expected to meet an abundance of needs in one key location with additional room for a café and pharmacy.
"Markets, in general, create both opportunities for employment as well as enhance the community overall, but with such an ideal location, this market could become a center piece for the area," said E. Walter Koenig III, economic leader for the Basra Provincial Reconstruction Team.
"I'm very impressed with the quality of work that the Iraqis put forth in terms of a design that is both exquisitely pleasing as well as functional," he said. "In addition to providing goods and services, this market will give the citizens of Basra a sense of normalcy."
Normalcy is exactly what the Army's 17th Fires Brigade, based here, is looking to return to the city, with several other markets approaching the end of construction in Faw and Dier.
Army Capt. Jayne Ellen Strathe, 1314 Civil Affairs Company, 17th Fires Brigade, said the importance of such projects is what makes her job so enjoyable. Strathe, who is part of the team that communicates with the public about ongoing projects like the market, expressed appreciation for the market's commercial value and worth as an avenue for employment. She also admired its design and functionality.
"I think this is an excellent facility," she said, "not only beautiful but practical, with its parking located within the complex. It's a wonderful community market."
"This is the only market in the area, so it's going to be very busy," said Peter Hunt, a project manager for British-owned MOTT MacDonald Group Ltd. designers.
Located in the heart of the Hayy Muhandisn district, Hunt said the market fills an immediate need for commerce in the area, as well as employment for Basra residents.
"What's important about this project is that it's being built by a local team of Iraqi contractors," he said. "Not only will the community benefit from the market, but the market's construction has provided jobs for the community."
"Our part is complete, we've spent a great deal of time and attention on building this market and we are greatly pleased with the results of our efforts," said Abul Azariq Muhammad, project manager for the al Zaquri Group, the local company that built the market. "With the completion of a few minor detail repairs, the only thing left will be for MOTT MacDonald to conduct their final inspection of the market and officially take control of the facility."