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May 21, 2008 1:29 AM   Subscribe

Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience - “massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland.” Here's a quick roundup of some commentary. (last link with concept design sketches)
posted by infini (33 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wait. There’s more.

When the sport catches on Mr. Werner will start to sell the boards – which bear the slogan “Ride Baghdad Skate Park” in hot pink Arabic script – for cash.

posted by infini at 1:32 AM on May 21, 2008


"...a skateboard park..."

I think these guys misunderstand the meaning of the phrase "radical Islam".
posted by Rhaomi at 1:48 AM on May 21, 2008 [11 favorites]


And this isn't the only time the misinterpretation of outdated slang has posed a threat to our national interests. I mean, just look at the mess we got in after Tenet misheard the word "tubular".
posted by Rhaomi at 1:58 AM on May 21, 2008


Will they keep the lion eats live donkey attraction?
posted by uandt at 2:02 AM on May 21, 2008


A public Iraqi park is being privatized and sold to American investors. These investors then build an amusement park representing some of the worst aspects of American culture. All this while most of the country doesn't have 24 hour electricity and live under the military occupation of a foreign country.

Who exactly signed off on this? Who could possibly believe that the Iraqi people are going to be happy about this?
posted by wigglin at 2:22 AM on May 21, 2008


Hmm. You know, this is probably just another figurehead of American oppression, created to distract insurgent attention away from targets of actual value. Pretty clever, really.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:47 AM on May 21, 2008


“I think people will embrace it. They’ll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they’re Shia or Sunni. They’ll say their kids deserve a place to play and they’ll leave it alone.”

Mm-hmm. And what's more, God himself will shit a beautiful rainbow at the opening ceremony.
posted by Drexen at 3:02 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


I am supposed to be outraged because Iraq is getting a zoo/park? Really?
posted by srboisvert at 3:07 AM on May 21, 2008


These people never fail to amaze. They are totally cultural understanding disfunctional. Perhaps Mr Weimer, who has been sold a 50-year lease on the site by the Mayor of Baghdad for an undisclosed sum would also like to buy a bridge.
posted by adamvasco at 3:13 AM on May 21, 2008


So instead of actively going out to find large crowds of civilians to obliterate your local insurgent merely has to wait for feeding time at the python enclosure.
posted by PenDevil at 4:12 AM on May 21, 2008


I wish they'd just handed out a mobile phone with a year's worth of airtime to a bunch of kids instead.
posted by infini at 4:34 AM on May 21, 2008


Who exactly signed off on this?

The Mayor of Baghdad.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 4:57 AM on May 21, 2008


I am supposed to be outraged because Iraq is getting a zoo/park? Really?

I think this is the part of the story that has people outraged:

The AP reports that the Pentagon is backing a $5 billion dollar plan to “transform the U.S.-protected Green Zone” into a “centerpiece for Baghdad’s future,” resulting in “big paydays for early investors.”

For Washington, the driving motivation is to create a “zone of influence” around the new $700 million U.S. Embassy to serve as a kind of high-end buffer for the compound, whose total price tag will reach about $1 billion after all the workers and offices are relocated over the next year.

“When you have $1 billion hanging out there and 1,000 employees lying around, you kind of want to know who your neighbors are. You want to influence what happens in your neighborhood over time,” said Navy Capt. Thomas Karnowski, who led the team that created the development plan.

An incentive for the project, which would include hotels, resorts, and commercial development in the Green Zone, appears to be lining the pockets of investors and allies rather than re-building Iraq’s economy. In fact, Karnowski acknowledged that American officials would vet potential investors because of a “vested interest” — mirroring the cronyism of Saddam’s Hussein’s regime.

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:09 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


It really sounds like this will only end up being used by occupying American soldiers, staff, contractors, family... I mean a thousand years is LONG time to go without Splash Mountain.
posted by rokusan at 5:17 AM on May 21, 2008



I am supposed to be outraged because Iraq is getting a zoo/park? Really?


It's not exactly a "surely this...", but the idea that there are plans to turn Baghdad into a shallow, vapid, prefabricated al-Anaheim, of which the zoo/park is only a part of, to the benefit of "American investors" (read: Bush cronies) is pretty offensive, yeah. They used to shoot war profiteers, y'know.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:23 AM on May 21, 2008


Any bets it will end up like the Basra hospital? A project, by the way, that gets marked as successfully completed according to the government, since before they pull out of a mess like this, they "descope" the project, essentially saying "we only wanted to build 1/3 of a hospital, anyway."
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:34 AM on May 21, 2008


Is the war over? Has the mission been accomplished?
posted by furtive at 5:36 AM on May 21, 2008


Please forgive my maddening nit-picking but the guys designing this were FORMER Disney Imagineers and worked mostly on the Monorail at Disney World.
They did not "develop Disneyland".
Indeed I find the prospect of DesertDisneyland deeply unsettling.
("Hey-- we destabilized your country, killed your mommy and daddy, and doomed you to a wretched legacy of hate--- but with 6 Coke bottle-caps and our 'Give your Gun Back To Goofy' program we'll give you a 20% discount on the price of off-hour weekend admission!")
Yikes.
posted by Dizzy at 6:11 AM on May 21, 2008


Hey! A new Disney! That worked real good in France! Oh, wait, never mind.
posted by Goofyy at 6:42 AM on May 21, 2008


on non-preview: Dizzy, I ain't takin' no guns. hyuk hyuk hyuk
posted by Goofyy at 6:43 AM on May 21, 2008


A skateboard park? They're missing a great opportunity to combine two American favorites. Why not a skateboard water park? I can see it now: WELCOME TO BAGHDAD WATERBOARD PARK.


It's a sure thing.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:04 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


“I think people will embrace it. They’ll see it as an opportunity for their children regardless if they’re Shia or Sunni. They’ll say their kids deserve a place to play and they’ll leave it alone.”
...
posted by Drexen at 3:02 AM


This is an interesting sentence to highlight. [warning - rant] I hate to pontificate but what the hell, its the blue and almost 10pm and I'm supposed to be working on a newsletter but...

This sentence exemplifies the assumptions made when transporting business models, products and services across cultures, geographies and particularly, socio economic strata. We've just completed primary research that shows that the majority of the people in the developing world - with the exception of the elite and well off - have an entirely different mindset and value system since they've been under the radar of mainstream consumer culture up until now, they've never been conditioned by it.

So assumptions such as these, which are based on the value system espoused by mainstream consumer culture simply do not translate across as value propositions that resonate with the audience they intend to serve.

Just take the concept of "deserve a place to play and they'll leave it alone". UM, no. Each culture has different values that they espouse and children are not raised to the summits that they are in wealthier nations. Even breaking it down further into the concept of "deserve" [a sense of entitlement] and "play" [leisure] does not always translate among those whose children are often seen as members of the family business or extra hands that can earn income.

Of course, I acknowledge that this park could just be for the leisure class, those who haven't taken their valuables and fled the war zone that is their capital city. But its assumptions such as these made by people who have never had to live in or deal with the challenges of conditions in developing nations not to mention in a fucking war zone that result in failures of several high profile well meaning do gooder's projects. A certain laptop anyone?

/end rant
posted by infini at 7:06 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The idea of a recreational area is a good one, but for the love of GOD, why not work WITH an Iraqi team to design it, plan it, etc? It'd make the park "theirs" before it even was built, it'd give a team of people work, it'd be something everyone would see as organically THEIRS rather than something that was just foisted upon them.

Besides, the design sketches above are tacky as all hell.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:20 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


why not work WITH an Iraqi team to design it, plan it, etc? It'd make the park "theirs" before it even was built, it'd give a team of people work

Somehow I have a feeling Iraqi engineers and architects won't be short on business for a good long while. Indeed, they're probably a bit too busy de-rubbling their country to work on a project as trivial as this one.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:28 AM on May 21, 2008


Maybe they should worry about getting basic services working again first.

With pools of open sewage in the streets and little electricity, life for most Iraqis remains bleak.
posted by homunculus at 9:39 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm so proud of all the good things our puppet government is doing for Iraq.
posted by mullingitover at 9:46 AM on May 21, 2008


(can't resist the impulse)

I for one welcome our Mouseketeer overlords
posted by infini at 10:10 AM on May 21, 2008


why not work WITH an Iraqi team to design it, plan it, etc? It'd make the park 'theirs' before it even was built, it'd give a team of people work, it'd be something everyone would see as organically THEIRS rather than something that was just foisted upon them.

Those are all good points, but then we couldn't dish out no-bid contracts to Halliburton et. al. for 100s of times what it would cost Iraqis to build. This has been a giant missed opportunity since the initial invasion.

With pools of open sewage in the streets and little electricity

Aww, you say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:29 AM on May 21, 2008


They've basically just imagineered a midnight basketball program.

"Hey, maybe they won't be so eager to avenge the 'accidental' murder of their families if they're too busy having FUN!"
posted by Sys Rq at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2008


I wonder what our final act of fuckedupedness will be in Iraq.
posted by notreally at 1:55 PM on May 21, 2008


Well, they built some nice resorts on Cam Rahn Bay as well.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:08 PM on May 21, 2008


Callous, oblivious, greedy, sociopathic, ignorant. If this isn't proof positive that the "powers that be" are wholly incompetent to be doing anything, I dunno what is.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:33 PM on May 21, 2008


No Surge in Justice for Iraq’s Children

But at least they'll have their own Disneyland.
posted by homunculus at 10:30 AM on May 26, 2008


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