Saturday, 23 July 2011

The changing face of Baghdad

What a difference 8 years makes! Baghdad, a city of culture and history has gone through many ups and downs especially after 2003 when the old regime was much has changed since then. Of course not all the scars of war have been erased, they stand as a reminder of the battles Baghdad and Iraq have been through to gain freedom. Baghdad today is a bustling city filled with colour and rebirth.

Small examples of the return to normalcy include the re-opening of multiple "Baghdady" institutions including the renowned 5-star Al-Rasheed Hotel, an establishment which was badly damaged during the war. The Swiss-based Kempinski have renovated the entire hotel at a cost of $65 million dollars making it once again a world-class establishment.
The infamous Al-Rasheed Hotel has been revamped, becoming Baghdad's most luxurious establishment
Other hotels which have received full-blown renovations include the Ishtar Hotel, Al-Mansour, Babylon Hotel and Palestine Hotel, a sign that Baghdad and its people are ready to let go of the past and move into a new era.
Many buildings which were battered over the years have also been beautified to reflect Baghdad's new state of mind. One of these buildings is the Baghdad Tower, formerly the Saddam Tower and communication centre. Gleaming glass and steel facades shimmer in the harsh sun as a testament to what the city will become.

The newly renovated Baghdad Tower and Communication Centrestandsas a testament of what can be achieved

Empty streets have now sprung back to life boasting new 5-star restaurants, cafes and vibrant shops offering everything from electronics to designer clothing. Fun is literally returning to the Iraqi people who have suffered so much during the wars and sanctions over the past 30 years. The Al-Zawra Theme Park's newest edition is a giant Ferris Wheel which is also a symbol of what can be done in this great capital. The breathtaking view from the top is well worth the long lines to board the newest amusement ride in this entertainment starved city.

If a ferris wheel ride isn't what you fancy, what about a screening at the only 4D in Baghdad? Small cinemas are also beginning to open after a sharp decline. The first cinema in the post-Saddam era was inaugurated recently highlighting Baghdad's desire to return to normalcy and bring back the fun to Iraqi families. The boutique cinema located in the lavish Iraqi Hunting Club screens new movies in a city where censorship dominated the screens.

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