A potential new honeymoon destination: Anbar Province

Graeme Robertson/Getty Images Forget Paris and Niagara Falls. The next hot honeymoon spot just might be Anbar province. Habbaniyah Tourist Village, built in 1979 on the shores of Lake Habbaniyah near Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar province, used to be a top wedding and honeymoon destination. In the 1980s, it even won an award for best ...

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595961_080317_iraq2.jpg

Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

Forget Paris and Niagara Falls. The next hot honeymoon spot just might be Anbar province. Habbaniyah Tourist Village, built in 1979 on the shores of Lake Habbaniyah near Fallujah in Iraq's Anbar province, used to be a top wedding and honeymoon destination. In the 1980s, it even won an award for best Middle Eastern tourist resort. Many Iraqis have sweet memories of the place.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, though, Anbar province found itself engulfed with a Sunni insurgency. The chalets of Habbaniyah Tourist Village filled with refugees, not lovers. Verdant gardens turned into scrub.

Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

Forget Paris and Niagara Falls. The next hot honeymoon spot just might be Anbar province. Habbaniyah Tourist Village, built in 1979 on the shores of Lake Habbaniyah near Fallujah in Iraq’s Anbar province, used to be a top wedding and honeymoon destination. In the 1980s, it even won an award for best Middle Eastern tourist resort. Many Iraqis have sweet memories of the place.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, though, Anbar province found itself engulfed with a Sunni insurgency. The chalets of Habbaniyah Tourist Village filled with refugees, not lovers. Verdant gardens turned into scrub.

The resort could be making a comeback, however. Violence in Anbar has decreased since local leaders started turning against al Qaeda and after more U.S. troops arrived on the scene last year. U.S. officials are trying to rehabilitate Habbaniyah Tourist Village, as a conference center initially, at a cost of $80 million. So far, though, the cash hasn’t been rolling in. The resort’s manager, quoted by Reuters, made the following plea at a council meeting in Fallujah:

Iraq is a country for tourism. It has pilgrimage sites, lakes, forests, mountains and history. It must take advantage of this. If you ignore tourism, you cut half of Iraq’s humanity.

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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