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>> This is a former battlefield from the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq. Now it's a site of a new battle, Iraq's attempt to regain it's status as a superpower in dates. The country used to produce three-quarters of the world's supply. Now it's just 5%. But locals are overcoming old suspicions in a bid to turn the tide.
A Kuwaiti investor agreeing to grow 100,000 date palms and build a nature reserve here. Businessman Abdullah Zies al Batan is pouring $58 million into this state farm project in Southern Badea, some 150 kilometers from the port city of Basra. That's a turn around from decades of mistrust between the two nations.
It was Iraq's invasion of Kuwait that triggered the first Gulf War. Now the farm manager is dreaming big.>> We want to restore Basra's past glory in planting these date palm trees. There were once nearly 33 million of them.>> While Iraq still struggles in multiple ways, it's hoped this could be the start of something good for the country.
Reuter's Ulf Laessing is there.>> There's no electricity often available for farmers, water shortages, but this area seems perfect, several wells over the and it could be one of the biggest state farm projects in Iraq.>> Ties between Kuwait and Iraq remain strained even after Saddam Hussein was toppled in a US-led invasion in 2003.
Some Kuwaiti firms have been reluctant to return to Iraq after their land and businesses were taken away. This very farm was seized under Saddam Hussein's regime, but Iraq returned it, granting obtain tax exemptions in the process. Whether other business owners follow his lead could be critical to Iraq's dream of economic recovery and a new glory day for its dates.