Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lake Habbaniya

I was intending to make my own posting about Lake Habbaniya one day, but I guess you should check this out as it is mentioned in the NewYorkTimes.
LAKE HABBANIYA, Iraq — A few hours outside Baghdad in the middle of Iraq’s vast western desert is a sight that could understandably be mistaken for a mirage: a long, sandy beach filled with thousands of people swimming and dancing barefoot under the hot sun without apparent care. A disc jockey — “Mr. D. J.,” he calls himself — is shouting into a microphone over a thumping Syrian dance song and blurts out something remarkable in its ordinariness.“A shoutout to everyone from Baghdad!” he says in Arabic.“Yea!” responds the crowd that has gathered around him.“Everyone from Adhamiya and Sadr City who came from Baghdad, show me what you got!” Mr. D. J. yells, referring to two neighborhoods in the capital — the first almost exclusively Sunni, the second nearly entirely Shiite.In response, energetic dancing breaks out all around, and Sunnis and Shiites share a rare moment of careless bliss together. It is amazing, but it is real: for the first time since the outbreak of the sectarian war in 2006, Iraq is enjoying a beach season.The water at Lake Habbaniya in Anbar Province is muddy, and today, a sandstorm has blotted out the sun. Back home, few people have air-conditioning or dependable electricity. And already this month, hundreds of Iraqis have died in the violence that continues to envelop the country.All that, say the sunbathers, is why a day at the beach is so important. “I’m here to get away — from the bombs in Baghdad, from the sound of generators,” said Aya Alshemari, a 22-year-old college student who, despite the fact that she was wearing a modest T-shirt and jeans, was drawing the gazes of dozens of male beachgoers. “We’re here to have a good time. There’s no difference between Shiite and Sunni. We are all Iraqis.”Most people had driven their cars right onto the sand, pulling up next to the water. And because it is Iraq, each vehicle has been carefully checked for explosives and every beachgoer frisked for a suicide bomb vest. On this particular August day, though, there is nothing more harmful than 115-degree heat and high-calorie food: beef and lamb kebabs, biryani, fried kibbeh. A few young men take furtive sips of cold beer. Read more!

Lake Habbaniyah, is a shallow natural lake in al-Anbar, Iraq, west of Baghdad. It has a surface area 140km². Traditionally the lake has been used to hold floodwater from the River Euphrates, and in 1956 a barrage was constructed at Ramadi for this purpose. The lake was also used for recreational purposes.
In the late 1930s and 1940s Lake Habbaniyah was used by Imperial Airways as a refueling point and hotel for flying boats flying from the United Kingdom to India. Nearby on the banks of the Euphrates had already been established the Royal Air Force airbase of RAF Dhibban, later renamed RAF Habbaniya.
Habbaniya is now also the site of a major United States military base known as Al Taqqadum.


Pan said...

Wow thats amazing!
Does this go on during Ramadan?
Have you been there to a dance party?
It's interesting how the young men are seperated...lol
Do the women dance as well?

AAA said...

صباح الخير
مبارك عليك الشهر
انت مقيم فالعراق؟؟

Caesar of Pentra said...

@ Pandora,
Well, I haven't been there since ages! My cousin told me about how cool it looks there. I may go there with some pals during eid. Women, i don't know but I doubt it. Clapping is enough! :P

@ Sahar,
مساء النور! و مبارك عليك الشهر.. نعم انا مقيم بالعراق

Anonymous said...

Weird white box thing on stilts aside, that could easily have been the Golfo de Vizcaya in San Sebastián in Spain or the Gulf of Mexico as seen from Alabama. What a great photo! What a great place just to chill out and escape the madness of everyday life over there! You ever gone there? What's Al Taqqadum mean in English?

Sandybelle said...

I have never been in al-habbanyya. I always wished to go, maybe the next mid-year holiday.!
thanks for the post, its very interesting :) :) :)

Pan said...

Women, i don't know but I doubt it. Clapping is enough! :P

Easy to say if you're getting down and not the one sitting there clapping like a lemon.
I hope you go anyway, it looks fun!

Caesar of Pentra said...

@ Matt,
I have gone there but that was before 2003. The last time I was there is back to 2001. Oh and AL Taqqadum means "progress" in English.
@ Sandy,
You welcome! But why are you going in mid-year vacation? That would be in winter and it would be freakin' cold. Go now, kill some time and get rid off this brain-damaging heat. ;)
@ Pandora,
I'm thinking of going but I need to pack as many pals as possible. The more the merrier! ;)

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Aha, Blogger seems to be working today.

Nice post Caesar. :) This sounds like a good place to visit. It's kind of weird to think of it being in al-Anbar, since all we heard was about the violence for so long there. But it's a good kind of weird. ;)

Reading that NY Times article, it does seem that it is possible to make some interesting connections. Or at least the one clever guy did! :D

MixMax said...

nice post to read after some time. Back in May I wrote about Al Habbaniya, mainly related to the old days

thought of sharing it with you

Take care

David said...

Hi Caesar,

I feel really good to read this article about Iraqis enjoying a day at the beach together with no worries about which religious sect they follow. I am smiling now. :)

The history of the lake as a stopping point for old flying boats is interesting. It must have been quite an adventure to travel the world in those big lumbering planes back then!

I hope you can get to the lake soon and I wish you a great time there! :)

Anonymous said...

was at habbaniya 1953/55.thoughly enjoyed it and met some super people would love to communicate with anyone who has been there recently