Saddam's Superyacht Gets a New Use

Basrah Breeze will be used as a hotel of sorts, for sailors
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2018 5:57 PM CDT
Saddam Hussein's luxury yacht Basrah Breeze is docked at a shipyard in Perama, a port city and a suburb of Athens, on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
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(Newser) – Saddam Hussein's swanky superyacht, built for the Iraqi dictator in 1981 but never actually boarded by him, has a new use: It's a sailors' hotel, to be used by the sea pilots who guide shipping in and out of Iraq's port at Basra, many of whom live far from the port city. The 270-foot "Basrah Breeze" features a presidential suite complete with gold-rimmed bathroom, barber's chair, and silk curtains, plus 17 guest rooms, 18 crew cabins, and a clinic, Reuters reports. Per Boat International, it can hold 28 people and 35 crew members. It was built while Iraq was warring with Iran and was given to Saudi Arabia, then allied with Iraq, to keep it safe from air strikes. After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, however, Saudi Arabia gave the yacht to Jordan; from there, it's not clear what happened to it until Iraq found it in Nice, France.

After a court battle, it was returned to Iraq in 2010, and the government put it on the market for $30 million. No one bought it, however, and it remained moored in Basra; for the past two years, Basra University researchers have used it for trips to study marine life. But now, "the port needs the boat to be a station where sea pilots can rest," says a spokesperson. Basra Museum hopes to one day dock the yacht near its exhibition halls in one of Saddam's former palaces so that, the museum's deputy director says, "future generations could see how a dictator lived."

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