OPEC member Iraq has approved a new law for partnership with the private sector to build five new residential cities within post-war plans to tackle a festering housing crisis, an Iraqi official was quoted on Friday as saying.

The five cities will be constructed in designated areas in various parts of Iraq and would be similar to ‘Bismaya City’ under construction near the capital Baghdad.

“The five new cities will be offered on an investment basis,” said Nabil Al-Saffar, a spokesman at the Construction and Municipalities Ministry.

“They will be executed by developers in line with a new partnership mechanism approved by the government for the first time to promote cooperation with the private sector,” Saffar added without providing details of those projects.

Iraq awarded the $7.7-billion project to Hanwha Company of South Korea for the construction of 100,000 houses in Bismaya in May 2012. Work began in 2013 but was obstructed by internal hostilities and cash shortages.

(Writing by Nadim Kawach; Editing by Anoop Menon)