(Bloomberg) -- Iraq broke ground Wednesday on a $2 billion project to build a residential city outside of Baghdad, with two Chinese firms starting construction on 30,000 housing units.

The project is part of plan to construct five cities across Iraq. Four more are expected to be awarded soon and another 10 will be announced next year. Contracts were awarded to East China Engineering Science and Technology Co., Ltd. and China National Chemical Engineering Co., Ltd along with their Iraqi partner Shams Al-Binaa. Other new cities to be constructed are in Kerbala, Anbar, Nineveh and Babel provinces.

The goal is to build 250,000 to 300,000 housing units for poor and middle class families and address a housing crisis, according to a statement from Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani. The city will include universities, commercial centers, schools and health centers.

Salar Mohammed Ameen, vice chairman of the National of Investment Commission, placed the Jawahiri project cost at $2 billion, none of it financed by the government. It is expected to be completed in four to five years.

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