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Mosul restaurant features robot servers in first for Iraq

After all recreational activities, especially western ones, were prohibited in it, the first-ever resto-café opened in Mosul, serving Western dishes to customers using a robot.
A robot waitress at the White Fox Restaurant in Mosul.

A unique resto-café has opened in Mosul, serving Western dishes to its customers using robots, to convey a clear message to the world that the city has overcome war and destruction.

The White Fox resto-café is located on the left side of the city, which was liberated from the Islamic State (IS) in January 2017, and includes 60% of Mosul’s population.

Owner Rami Shakib, who is also a dentist, said that opening such a resto-café in Mosul is a clear message that the city has won the war and loves life more than evil, and it is a step to breathe new life into the city that has suffered from the war and terrorism.

After IS took over Mosul in 2014, its militants closed all cafés, casinos, entertainment centers and sports venues.

When Mosul was liberated in 2017, after 3,176 of its residents were killed, life began to gradually return. Entertainment venues reopened on the left side of the city, and young people and families would spend hours there, enjoying life after three years of IS rule.

Shakib told Al-Monitor that the robot is an electronic waiter in full uniform, and carries a tray to deliver orders. The waiter responds to special electronic menu placed on the tables, he noted, adding that it is very quick and accurate.

The robot was imported from international companies and programmed by an engineering team from University of Mosul, who linked it to the electronic menu. It has been very popular, Shakib said, especially since the population is still trying to alleviate the psychological pain of war and destruction.

Nashat Mazen, a journalist working for a local satellite channel in Nineveh, told Al-Monitor that the media should showcase Mosul's new openness, because although IS destroyed its infrastructure and killed its people, it failed to kill its spirit and its love for life.

He added that the residents of Mosul are in dire need of new entertainment venues that can help alleviate their daily difficulties. “Government agencies should work to support and develop other recreational projects, particularly those targeting youth, to restore psychological balance after the oppression they underwent when IS was in control.”

Mazen noted that recreational activities in Mosul have helped young people change their way of thinking and get them more interested in scientific and technological development, which distances them from extremist ideas and terrorist groups.

Amal Hussein, a White Fox customer, told Al-Monitor that under IS, women in Mosul were prevented from having a normal life. Hussein suggested opening more venues for women, such as gyms, and hiring female employees. Working in entertainment venues with men without any discrimination “would be very important for women, as it would help with their self-esteem and it would be the complete opposite of how IS used to treat women.”

Col. Mozen al-Houdi, media official of the local police in Nineveh, told Al-Monitor that the stability of the security situation has contributed significantly to reopening entertainment venues in the governorate. “These recreational venues have become an outlet for families and young people after they were deprived of this atmosphere during IS’ control,” he said.

Houdi noted that citizens are a major source of information about IS activities, helping security forces keep Mosul safe. “We have been able to eliminate and arrest many IS members and thwart many of the criminal operations that the group tried to implement."

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