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Conferences Overview


1st Joint Planning Conference


Conference Programme (Download)


Conference Participants (pictures by Jonathan Focke and Peter Gotzner)


1st Joint Planning Conference in Iraq
by Jonathan Focke and Peter Gotzner

In October the first German-Iraqi planning conference was held in Dohuk/Iraq. Planning
experts from Iraqi universities and TU Dortmund University discussed the revitalisation and
challenges of the countries growing cities. The conference "Challenges for Urban
Development in Iraq" was part of the DAAD supported "pliq" project to establish a German-
Iraqi university.
"We came here to help the country planning its reconstruction after the wartime", Professor Christa
Reicher, dean of the TU Dortmund faculty of spatial planning, said at the conference in Dohuk. "We
also want to build up a professional education for young people who are interested in the field of
During the three day conference Iraqi and German experts of science and politics were discussing
the revitalisation of historic cities, the rapid growth of the Iraqi cities and the ecological and social
challenges that are accompanied by it. "The Iraqi cities face some serious planning problems",
Professor Nazar Numan, chairman of the Higher Institute of Planning at Dohuk University,
explains. "The infrastructure for transportation is not well developed and we donʻt have a public
transport system. All the people use their own cars and so the cities become conjested with traffic."
A lack of green areas, pollution, a poorly developed sanitation and growing poverty in rural areas
also belong to the major challenges the country has to deal with.
"In Iraq we have to arise from the ashes", as Professor Numan puts it. In order to do that the Iraqi
planning experts rely on the experience of the german experts. "In Germany people know how to
reconstruct a whole country after a destructive war."

The confernce took place at the cultural centre of Dohuk University located at a hill on the outskirts
of the city with a phantastic view overlooking Dohuk.
In front of this astonishing landscape Christa Reicher sums up the results of three day working and discussing: "We really feel that our commitment to planning in iraq makes sense. We can help the
people reconstructing their country using our know-how."
But the scientific work of the delegations did not end with the conference. A small group of
iraqi and german scientists headed off to a one day trip to the historic city of Amedy. The unique
location of the city on a hilltop plateau limits any expansion. Its history goes back to 3000 years
B.C.. Centuries ago Amedy has been a strategic important place due to its protected position on a
mountain top. But most of the historic sites of Amedy are in a bad state of repair. "A lot of
revitalisation processes have to be initiated in order to apply for the title of UNESCO world
heritage", Shireen Y. Ismail from the University of Dohuk explains. "But first of all we have to change the
people's mind by making them aware of their valuable historic heritage."
Before leaving Iraq the group of german scientists travelled from Dohuk all through Kurdistan. The
delegation was interested in the structural problems of small villages as well as in the
ones huge cities deal with. After a short stop at a village two hours from Dohuk and a long
but impressive journey through Kurdistan the group arrived at Sulaymaniyah visiting the
modern and lively university with its almost 25.000 students.
The last hours before taking off back to germany the delegation spent in Erbil exploring the
histroric citadel right in the centre of the huge city. "I think it is very sad to see this old part
of the city decaying", expresses Dr. Thorsten Heitkamp, member of the german delegation,
his concern. "It's a mistake to keep it uninhabited. People that live here could take part in
saving this heritage."

Erbil Cidadel



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