In September 2016 a major new museum opened in Basrah, in no less a venue than Saddam Hussein’s old Lakeside Palace complex. This moment was the culmination of ten years of hard work. Qahtan al-Abeed, Director of the new Basrah Museum, tells its story from his initial dream, through the difficult journey of finding a building and developing the plan, through to its successful opening, and his ambitions for its future.
By Qahtan al-Abeed
The idea started when I came to Basrah in 2005, the year I got my first job as an employee at the Basrah Antiquities Department. I had spent the previous years in northern Iraq, but I’m originally from Basrah.
When I started, the department was working out of a digging house 15 km south of Basrah, in Al-Zubair, and there was no proper building. I asked them, what about the museum? But they replied that there was no museum: the old one had been looted in 1991, during the first Gulf war, and the building that had been used since as the antiquities office had been lost in the war of 2003. So on my first day, I was really sad: This was Basrah, with its great history, but without any museum at all for 15 years! I began to dream that I could take the opportunity to fix everything.