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Image of peril hides Baghdad’s charm

Hadeel al Sayegh report for the National:

Iraq is not the first country that comes to mind as a top-10 travel destination after more than eight years of war there. A stream of bad news over the years has kept most people away.

But Baghdad, the capital, is experiencing an influx of business professionals as foreign companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and British Petroleum make major investments in the country.

For those brave enough to wander beyond a company's compound and with enough time to explore the city between meetings, Al Mutanabbi Street, which is named after the 10th-century poet Abu Tayib Al Mutanabbi, is a good place to see. This area is known as the heart and soul of the Baghdad intellectual community, and many publishing houses, printing companies and bookstores have their main offices there.

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