80,000 palm trees in the Iraqi desert

"We are planting palm trees in the desert, and that is a little bit difficult. Hopefully we will succeed, providing water and everything else this palm tree needs."

Flecks of green bursting out of barren earth in Iraq - tens of thousands of palm trees which Ali is helping to grow.

It's a massive $58 million mega project here, with natural wells being dug and even a desalination plant being constructed.

Why? To grow dates.

Sajad Salem Hussein owns a date shop in Basra.

"People come from everywhere, from all the provinces. From Baghdad, Kerbala, the north of Erbil, Kirkuk. From the central governorates. All of them come."

"Of course dates are important. It gives energy, strength, identity, especially during Ramadan."

Basra's is renowned for these fruit, but so many years of neglect put the industry is in decline.

According to the the city's agriculture directorate, from the 13 million palm trees once thriving in Basra, only about 2.75 million are left today.

That was until an investor from Kuwait, Abdul-Aziz al-Babtain, started this massive effort.

Alaa Abdelhussein is the head of Basra's investment commission.

"In reality, it is among the most important agricultural strategic projects in the Basra province. The objective is to reach an amount of 80,000 palm trees."

They hope that this will also provide 400 jobs to locals, as well as new green zones for raising livestock and setting up greenhouses.