Considering the complexity of Baghdad’s history and the destruction that Iraq as a whole witnessed over the last few decades, it is not surprising that in the minds of many it still is a no-go zone.
In March 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq vowing to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein. However, incidences of weapons proliferation, communal violence, crime, political instability, riots, and poverty still linger.
But while security challenges in the country persist, everyday life in Iraq’s capital is not what some imagine it to be.
Here’s a photo story that offers a glimpse into the reality of everyday life in Baghdad that I witnessed, challenging the preconceptions about Iraq. As the adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Baghdad, home to almost eight million people, can be chaotic with traffic-clogged streets, constant sound of honking, and thousands of people spending days at local markets.
As dusk falls, though, shops close and streets become empty, completely transforming the image of the city.
Ever since the Iraqi government declared victory over the Islamic State, increasing and preserving stability has been a priority. Checkpoints can be seen at every corner of the city and security forces are regularly patrolling the streets.
Baghdad is safe now but memories of war are reflected in signs commemorating deceased soldiers.
Baghdad is wounded and traumatized, but it is also exceptionally strong and beautiful. Its beauty comes from people who have been trying to reclaim the nation’s identity that had been lost to decades of fighting.
If I were to choose one word to describe Baghdad, I would choose ‘generosity.’ Baghdad is a place where I encountered so many acts of kindness from strangers that putting my hand on my heart to express gratitude became a gesture, I would use daily.
Baghdad is a place where people who have almost nothing will go out of their way to make you feel welcomed. It is a place where I learned what it truly means to be selfless.