Work has begun on a project to construct two tourist roads in the north of Karbala city at a cost of over $900,000, the head of the construction committee in the city's provincial council said on Wednesday.
"Two local companies have begun their work on two tourist and agricultural roads in al-Huseiniya district (20 km north of Karbala) at a total cost of 951.603 million Iraqi dinars," Fallah Hassan Atiya told Aswat al-Iraq - Voices of Iraq - (VOI).
"The first road is 2,300 m in length and 5 m in width, while the second d it 1,000 m in length and 5 m in length," Atiya explained, noting that the scheduled completion period of the project is six months.
Highlighting the significance of the projects, Atiya said that the two roads will link al-Huseiniya road to the public road in Baghdad and will serve a large number of residents.
Karbala, with an estimated population of 572,300 people in 2003, is the capital of the province and is considered to be one of Shiite Muslims' holiest cities.
The city, 110 km south of Baghdad, is one of Iraq's wealthiest, profiting both from religious visitors and agricultural produce, especially dates.
It is made up of two districts, "Old Karbala," the religious centre, and "New Karbala," the residential district containing Islamic schools and government buildings.
At the centre of the old city is Masjid al-Hussein, the tomb of Hussein Ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad by his daughter Fatima al-Zahraa and Ali Ibn Abi Taleb.Imam Hussein's tomb is a place of pilgrimage for many Shiite Muslims, especially on the anniversary of the battle, the Day of Ashuraa. Many elderly pilgrims travel there to await death, as they believe the tomb to be one of the gates to paradise. On April 14, 2007, a car bomb exploded about 600 ft (200 m) from the shrine, killing 47 and wounding over 150.
(Voices of Iraq)