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Basra governor says U.S. firm to build half billion dollar sports city - federal officials say otherwise
Al-Shaab International Stadium. Photo/Majid Al-Majid

From Alhakim Amer

Head of International Relations, Iraqi Sports Press Association       
BAGHDAD, February 13, 2009 -  
The Governor of Basra says a U.S. company has  received an approval from the Iraqi government to build a US half billion dollars sports city in Basra, however the Iraqi federal authorities have denied this, saying contracts will be let later this month. 

The southern gulf city will host the 21st Gulf Cup in 2013 after winning the approval of the seven Gulf Football Federations to hold the tournament. 

Mohammed Al-Waeli, the Governor of Basra province said that a tender has been awarded to a U.S company in conjunction with a local Iraqi firm after many foreign companies had tendered for the project. 

Al-Waeli was quoted as saying that the Ministry of Youth and Sports had considered all tenders  but eventually settled on the U.S. and local company. 

He went to say that the construction work will begin in two months. “The Iraqi government has allocated more than half a billion dollars to cover the expenses to build this sports city, which will be the  largest specialized sports city Iraq has ever had and will be constructed in accordance with world class sports venues.” 

Al-Waeli added: “In fact the sports city of Basra will be the best in the Middle East. " 


Meanwhile officials in Baghdad have denied reports in the Iraqi media that Al-Waeli had let the contract. 

Kamil Brahi, director of the engineering and technical department in the Ministry of Youth and Sports told Almada Alridi (Sports Term) newspaper that seven international companies have been chosen out of a first stage of 17 initial tenders. 

”Those seven companies obtained the best assessments in terms of design and things and it will be clearer on February 17 after a reviewing of offers by a special committee including specialists, consultants and Iraqi university professors formed by the ministry.” 

Brahi added that the two companies are among the seven chosen by the Ministry: “Presentations will be discussed separately, including those of the two debated companies to come up with a final recommendation to be submitted to the Cabinet”.

He expected that results are to be announced officially by end of June or at the beginning of July.
Brahi reiterated that the completion of the construction works to the sports city would be six months before the opening ceremonies of the Arab Gulf Cup 21st in Basra.

A source in the Ministry of Youth and Sports said that a top-level committee headed by the Minister Jassim Mohammed Jaafar and a group of experts in the Ministry, a number of university professors and specialists in sports, cultural affairs and heritage will decide which of the seven companies will get to build the sports city of Basra. The seven companies had all acquired more than 50 points in an assessment was conducted  by the Ministry.


The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the Al-Khorafi company came first in the assessment with 76.11%, the company of Abdel-Ellah Al-Jubouri  was second with 74.33%,  while Harlow, the British company came third in the assessment with 65.25% . The Chinese World Carnival received 65.45%  to be fourth, whereas the British-Swedish company Ganza Nordic Sports was in fifth place with 59.07%. The sixth in the assessment was the Turkish company Asian Group with receiving 56.89%, and in the seventh position there was another Turkish company, Mustash with 51.22%.

The source concluded by saying that Ministry of Youth has given the seven competing companies notice of a two month period to submit their tenders with the final presentations in order to choose one company that undertakes the building of the so-called, the largest sports city in Iraq.

Dream stadium

Iraq lacks  the appropriate infrastructure and facilities to organize large sporting tournaments and the Iraqi people still find it rather peculiar having only one stadium till now. Al-Shaab International Stadium had stood still  since its construction in 1966 making the sports city of Basra an obvious dream igniting the imagination of all those who are concerned with sports in Iraq.  

The development will include the construction of two stadiums – one for 65,000 spectators and the other with a 25,000 capacity, in addition to five training pitches. The complex will include sports halls, a top class residential hotel as well as administrative facilities. 

The construction works will include the establishment of the Shatt al-Arab resort as well as the rehabilitation of the old Basra Stadium. 

 “The sports city will be situated in an area near al-Zubayr district which is close to the Iraq-Kuwait border. This will make it easier for audiences living in the Gulf region to travel from Kuwait and other countries to Basra City”, Al-Waeli said. 

The Governor concluded by saying that the work to build the sports city will be completed at the beginning of 2012 and Basra would be ready to receive members of the Gulf, who were impressed by the engineering design company, designed for the U.S. city of sports and were impressed by the idea of reconciling with Iraq again through hosting the tournament in Basra demonstrating their full support to this request. 

“In fact, preparations began early after the end of the 18th edition of the Gulf Cup which was held in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi in 2007.  The idea of Basra hosting the 21st tournament was proposed then and has received the approval of all of the associations of the Gulf countries during a technical meeting. The idea of Iraq regaining its position among its brothers in the Arabian Gulf region has fascinated them, so they announced their formal approval and expressed their happiness that we will organize the Arab Gulf Cup  2013 in Basra City," the Governor concluded.



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