Iraq to revive cultural life to heal war wounds
BAGHDAD (AP) - Sewing machines buzz inside the Iraq Fashion House as dressmakers work late into the night behind concrete blast walls, readying intricately embroidered costumes. Models rehearse for an upcoming show upstairs.
The energetic atmosphere is in stark contrast to the nearby Iraqi National Museum, which remains closed to the public a decade after it was looted along with other government buildings following the US-led invasion.
On Saturday, the Iraqi capital becomes this year's Arab Capital of Culture, and organisers are hoping to use the title to quicken the pulse of Baghdad's ailing cultural life. Manama, Bahrain, was the last capital to hold the honour bestowed by the Arab League under a programme set up in 1995 with the help of the UN Education, Science and Culture Organisation programme (UNESCO).
But there are signs that the battle-scarred city is not yet ready to reclaim its place among the Arab world's cultural jewels.