Saudi Arabia’s King promises to build the world's largest stadium in Iraq
King Salman (right) is reaching out to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (left) in a bid to offset the influence of Iran.
On 28 February, Iraqi football team beat Saudi Arabia 4-1 in the friendly. This is the first friendly match between the two countries for nearly four decades. A few days after the event, in a telephone call with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Salman offered to build the largest stadium in Iraq.
'I have received a phone call from the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdul Aziz,' al-Abadi said.
'He hailed Iraqi's victory (in the friendly match between the two sides last week) and expressed his preparedness and commitment to expanding positive relations between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at different levels — economical, commercial, communal, cultural - at all levels that are of interest for the two countries.
'He also offered Saudi Arabia's contribution to build a main stadium in Iraq that accommodates 100,000 people. We have welcomed the initiative and it was proposed today to the Cabinet,' Arabnews.com reported him as saying.
Design of the 135,000-seat stadium
According to Arabnews.com, Salman changed his mind and promised to help Iraq build a stadium with its capacity of 135,000 seats, making it the world's largest stadium and breaking the record held by Rungrado May 1 stadium with 114,000 seats in North Korea.
'The Cabinet gave its directives to form a committee consisting of a group of key ministries concerned with this project,' Al-Abadi said.
'The committee will consist of the Cabinet's secretariat, the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Higher Education, which includes the Center of Urban and Regional Planning
'It will handle developing the general framework for establishing the stadium, which will be the main stadium. 100,000 people is not a small number. We must pick a suitable location in Baghdad along with the stadium's own additional facilities.
'The stadium will be established under the supervision and guidance of a higher Iraqi-Saudi coordinating council, which will specify the location and design in addition to following up on the project's progress.
'The outcomes and progress of the committee's work will be presented to the Cabinet.'
Basra Sports City is now the largest stadium in Iraq with the capacity of 65,000 seats.
According to DailyMail, Saudi Arabia is wooing Iraq as part of an effort to restrict the growing regional influence of Iran, while Baghdad is seeking the economic benefits of closer ties with Riyadh.
By: Christina Baker