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'Fertile ground': Baghdad sees timid revival with investment drive

An Iraqi delivers a ball at a bowling alley in Baghdad
— Baghdad (AFP)

On a summer evening, Iraqis smoke shisha and go bowling at a sprawling riverside complex in Baghdad, one of the many new investments reviving the capital after decades of turmoil.

"Iraq is fertile ground for investments," said Falah Hassan, the executive director of the complex of restaurants and shops built on the grounds of one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces and named after the famed "One Thousand and One Nights" folktales.

In oil-rich Iraq, the fragile stability since the defeat of the Islamic State group in 2017 has paved the way for a building boom in a city that in recent years has mainly made headlines for wars and bloody violence.

Since taking office in October, Iraq's Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani has sought to rehabilitate Baghdad's infrastructure, much of which has been left dilapidated by conflict and neglect.

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