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U.S. millionaire plans Disneyland-style park in war-torn Iraq

DAMASCUS, May 5 (RIA Novosti) - A U.S. millionaire plans to revive a zoo and build an amusement park similar to Disneyland in the capital of war-torn Iraq, investing $500 million in the project, a Syrian newspaper said on Monday.

Llewelly Werner, head of a little known Los Angeles-based holding company C3 of private equity investors, has acquired a 50-acre (20-hectare) plot of land adjacent to the Green Zone, Baghdad's most heavily guarded area, for an undisclosed sum, Al-Thawra said.

The paper said a massive amusement park, Entertainment Experience, would include a skateboard park, rides, a concert hall and a museum, which is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland.

Baghdad's existing zoo, which was looted, left without electricity and abandoned after the American-led invasion in 2003, has 35 out of the original 700 species housed there before the war.

Werner was quoted by the paper as saying that he was aware of the danger posed by the ongoing violence in the city, but added people in Baghdad "need this kind positive influence," and the center will "have a huge psychological impact."

A $1 million skateboard park, the first phase of the project, will open in July, the newspaper said.

The newspaper quoted Werner as saying that Iraq was a country of vast investment opportunities for him, and not just its oil sector.

Some observers have labeled the project a part of U.S. war propaganda and psychological warfare, intended to instill American values into Iraqis and replace the gloomy reality with a Hollywood-style imaginary world.

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