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Baghdad's dark days pass, Iraqis embrace nightlife after years of fear

Published on Mar 18, 2013 12:33 PM

BAGHDAD (AFP) - During Baghdad's darkest days, often the only light at night was that of gunfire and mortar rounds. But the Iraqi capital now looks a world apart, with packed restaurants, parks and even the odd nightclub.

Though still a long way from its once-lofty status as one of the region's most dynamic nightspots, and with the social scene out of reach for many Baghdadis, the options after sunset offer a rare bright spot for a violence-wracked country.

"Baghdad is beautiful at night," said Dhia al-Din al-Maliki, an investor in a bar on the top floor of the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad. "It's always beautiful, but at night, you have privacy."

The bar, which charges US$5 (S$6.25) for a can of beer and at least US$15 for all other alcoholic beverages, has a musician playing the keyboard while crooning for the mostly-male customers gazing out at the Tigris River.

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